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How Soon After Coming Off The Pill Can You Get Pregnant?

How Soon After Coming Off The Pill Can You Get Pregnant?

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. Once your periods have returned to a more regular cycle, use our ovulation calculator to work out your most fertile days. 

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.’

Trying to conceive? Take a look at these ovulation facts: 

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The average woman’s’ cycle is 28 days, but your cycle can be anything from 22 to 36 days long. Ovulation normally happens about two weeks before your next period, so if your cycle is 28 days, you will ovulate around day 14. Work out when you are ovulating by using our ovulation calculator. 
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Your egg lives for up to 24 hours after leaving your ovary, so if you are having sex around your most fertile days, you’ll have the best chance of conceiving. 
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That said, your partner’s sperm can live for up to five days, so it’s a good idea to also have sex before ovulation occurs if you are trying to conceive. 
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Your partner will release around 250 million sperm during ejaculation, however only around 400 of these sperm will make the ten-hour journey from your vagina, through your cervix and up the fallopian tube, where it can penetrate the egg. Only one can burrow through your eggs outer membrane. 
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Ovulation can be affected by a number of different things including stress and illness. If you’ve been trying for a baby for a while, it might be time to take a look at your job stresses, or workout routine. 
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The sex of your baby is actually determined from the moment your partner’s sperm meets your egg – if the sperm is carrying a Y chromosome, you’ll have conceived a boy and if it’s an X chromosome, it’ll be a girl. 
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Every woman is born with millions of immature eggs – half of these will be absorbed by your ovaries before you reach adolescence, the other half will sit waiting for your ovulation cycle to begin. Only 300 to 500 of these eggs (medically referred to as oocytes) will become mature eggs in your lifetime.  
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You can have a period even if you haven’t ovulated and you can ovulate without having a period. 
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Some women experience some bleeding as their fertilised egg burrows into the lining of their womb, this is called implantation bleeding and can often be confused with a period. Here's how to tell the difference between implantation bleeding and a period
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If an egg is not fertilised by a sperm during the ovulation period, it will disintegrate and be absorbed into the lining of the uterus or pass out with the menstrual flow. 
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Ovulation happens thanks to two different hormones – during the most fertile week of your cycle, your levels of lutenising hormones (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) will rise. This stimulates the production of follicles in your ovary. 
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Each month, one follicle will become larger than the others and produce an egg. Usually only one egg will be released during each cycle. This follicle will also start to produce oestrogen, which tells your body to start thickening the lining of the womb for implantation. 
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Once the egg has been released, the same (now empty) follicle will produce another hormone – progesterone, which prevents the release of any more eggs this cycle. The empty follicle is medically referred to as corpus luteum. This level of progesterone remains high enough to prevent any more eggs from being released for the next 12 to 16 days, after which your cycle will start again. This is the same horomone that is in birth control pills. 
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Your egg is smaller than the head of a pin when it is released during ovulation. 
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Although a lot of women do not experience any physical signs of ovulating, one in five will experience lower abdominal pain, known as mittelschmerz – a German word meaning ‘middle pain’. 
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Another physical sign you are ovulating is a clear, somewhat elastic discharge in the days leading up to ovulation. It might sound gross, but try stretching it between two fingers so you know what to look out for each month. 
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If you want to be really sure when you are ovulating, monitoring your basal body temperature (BBT) is a good indicator. Your basal body temperature averages around 36.1-36.4°C before ovulation, and rises to between 36.4-37°C after ovulation. The downside to this method is that your body temperature changes 12 to 24 hours after ovulation has actually occurred, meaning there can be little time left to conceive. 
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Research has proved your sense of smell increases when you are ovulating. Science tells us you also look more attractive to your partner when you’re ovulating. 
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Home pregnancy tests work by checking your urine for the hormone hCG, that your body starts to make once a fertilised egg has been implanted in your uterus. However, this process can take several days, so if you take a test straight away, you might want to re-take it nearer to when your period is due. Find out more about when to take a pregnancy test here. 

 
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