Do contraceptives or birth control pills impact fertility? Expert decodes

Updated on Jul 31, 2021 10:52 AM IST  |  155.1K
Do contraceptives or birth control pills impact fertility? Expert decodes

Most of us are familiar with the concept of birth control pills and other contraceptives. For those who are not familiar here is how birth control pills or other contraceptives work once they are in the body. 

Birth control pills are medication used to prevent the chance of unwanted pregnancy. These pills contain some hormones that go into the body and suppress ovulation. They interfere with the normal menstrual cycles to prevent ovulation. The menstrual cycle is controlled by multiple hormones in the body that are secreted by the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries. 

The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries create the gonadotropin-releasing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and estrogen and progesterone, respectively. The two main hormones required to ovulate are FSH and LH, the other two hormones estrogen and progesterone are at high levels after ovulation (in the second half of the cycle). 

These hormones suppress FSH and LH, preventing the ovaries from releasing additional eggs. If the egg is fertilized during that time the levels of estrogen and progesterone continue to remain high during the pregnancy (which provides a continued suppression of ovulation). So, the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the birth control pills mirror the hormonal state of the body after ovulation, deceiving the ovaries into thinking that the ovulation has already occurred, hence FSH and LH are suppressed, and no egg is released. 

Now, many questions have been raised regarding the impact of these birth control pills and contraceptives on the natural fertility of a woman in the long run. 

This is where the birth control pill and other contraceptive pills stand with respect to future fertility:

It has been a misconception for a long time that taking birth control pills for an elongated period will harm one’s future fertility and chances of getting pregnant naturally. However, this is not true at all. The birth control pill does not hurt one’s fertility. In turn, by taking the birth control pill for a long period of time one has effectively reduced their chances of getting ovarian cancer in addition to endometrial and colon cancer. 

Doctors and a study done by them, claim that the women who have not been on the birth pills and the women who have been on the birth pill, there is no difference in the infertility rates between the two groups - according to a fecundability test (a fecundability test is a probability or chance of getting pregnant per menstrual cycle). At times birth control pills and other contraceptive pills can help you uncover the underlying issues with your menstrual cycle. Hence by taking the birth control pills you have not harmed your fertility; in turn, you have helped your body to correct some hormonal imbalances in the body.

According to gynaecologists who have been asked by patients when they should stop the pill if they wanted to get pregnant, the answer generally is three months. So, one must discontinue having the pills for three months ahead of time if they want to get pregnant, and if after three months you do not receive your period it is advised to visit your general practitioner to figure out what the problem is (like PCOD, PCOD, thyroid issues, and other abnormalities) and get it treated. 


Birth control pills can have a different effect on different people and may not be advisable for each female and hence it is better to talk to your gynaecologist before going on the pill to prevent any unforeseen conditions.

About the author: Dr Hima Deepthi, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Hyderabad.

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