You’ve been on the Pill for years but now you’re ditching it because you want a baby. Can you get pregnant the next day? And would you want to?
The quick answer is yes, you can get pregnant straight away.
Around one in three UK women of childbearing age take the pill.
With 3.5 million of us using it to prevent unwanted pregnancy, it is a hugely popular form of birth control. Until your thoughts turn to babies and you wonder how long its effects will last, you may never have given a second thought to how it works.
How the Pill works
The most common contraceptive Pill is the combined one, which contains two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. Its main effect is to stop you from ovulating every month. And without an egg you can’t get pregnant. Taken correctly, ie you never forget to take a tablet, your chances of getting pregnant while on it are almost zero.
Less commonly prescribed is the mini-pill, which contains only the progestogen hormone and is mainly used in women over 35 and breastfeeding mothers. This is also now prescribed for women who have any history of aural migraines.
Coming off the Pill and trying for a baby
Once you have stopped taking the Pill there is no medical reason why you can’t start trying straight away, even if you’ve been taking it for years.
But there is a good reason you may want to wait for one or two months.
‘I suggest to my patients that when they’re coming off the pill, they use condoms until they have had their first proper period,’ says Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, from the Royal College of General Practitioners. ‘That way they have some idea what their cycle is doing.’
When you come off the Pill, you’ll first experience a withdrawal bleed which doesn’t count as a normal period but is the effects of the hormones leaving their system.
Ovulation can be delayed when first coming off the Pill so it can be difficult to estimate a due date if you do get pregnant.
Getting your cycle back after the Pill
For some women, periods may not return straight away after stopping the Pill. A condition known as post-pill amenorrhoea, the good news is that it normally sorts itself out within a few months.
‘It can last up to nine months,’ says Dr Stokes-Lampard. ‘It almost always rights itself but we have no way of predicting who that is going to effect.’