If you’re struggling to conceive, you might be looking at all the options available to you. In this search, you might wonder, “Can birth control help infertility?”
There are multiple birth control options to prevent pregnancy—but can any make conception harder in the long run?
Read on to learn how different birth control types affect fertility. Plus, we’ll discuss the one method that could speed up baby-making.
Does birth control affect fertility?
To understand how birth control affects fertility, we need to look at the different types and methods of contraception.
1. Menstrual cycle tracking can help fertility by increasing awareness
Tracking your menstrual cycle has been used as a natural form of birth control. But it’s also used for boosting your chances of conceiving. It can help you find your optimal window to have sex by teaching you to recognize the days before ovulation.
There are 3 main ways to track your cycle:
- Temperature: Your temperature rises slightly when you ovulate.
- Cervical Mucous: You’ll typically have more clear mucous 2 to 3 days before ovulation.
- Calendar Method: Tracking your menstrual cycle on a calendar.
To help, you might use a menstrual cycle tracking smartphone app. One study tested several apps and found they increased the likelihood of conception by 12 to 20%.
2. There’s no increased risk of infertility after using IUDs
There are some misconceptions surrounding IUDs and long-term fertility. IUDs are T-shaped devices inserted into the uterus. There are two types: copper and hormonal.
Hormonal IUDs (AKA Mirena or Skyla) release the hormone progestin. Myths about the device originate from the first version, which had a design flaw that caused certain health problems. The devices were reinvented and the safer version is now widely accepted.
A 2018 review of studies looked at 13 papers specifically relating to IUDs. They found that both types aren’t correlated with a risk of infertility. After getting the device removed, the one-year pregnancy rate was 84%, similar to other forms of contraception.
3. Hormonal birth control doesn't have any lasting effect on fertility
It’s a common myth that oral contraceptives can cause infertility. Research doesn’t back that up. Studies say that there might be a brief period where you can’t conceive as the hormone clears from your blood. After that, the average one-year pregnancy rate is 87%.
A vaginal ring (AKA NuvaRing) is a clear ring that’s inserted into the vagina to release hormones. When the same hormones were tested on rats, their fertility returned after they stopped treatment. Similar to oral birth control, a brief period of infertility is expected as your body adjusts.
This birth control method (AKA Ortho Evra) involves a patch that sticks to your body and releases hormones. There is no evidence it leads to infertility after you remove it. Compared to other methods, people who use this form of birth control might have to wait longer to get pregnant after they discontinue use. One study showed it took four months on average to return to normal fertility.
The shot (AKA Depo-Provera) is an injection of progesterone given every three months. Of all the forms of birth control, the shot seems to have the most short-term impact on fertility. One study noted that it took five to eight months on average for fertility to return to normal.
A review looked at eight studies on birth control injections. They found that after they stopped using the injection, 74.4% of women were able to get pregnant within one year.
An implant (AKA Nexplanon) is a small plastic rod inserted under the arm skin to release progesterone. Research shows that it takes about two months (or two cycles) for a person’s fertility to return to normal after. This is one of the shortest “transition” periods for all birth control forms.
It’s important to remember the device needs to be removed and replaced every three years. Doctor’s guidelines suggest that failure to remove the implant could compromise fertility.
4. There’s a correlation between not using condoms, STIs and fertility levels
In some cases, not using “barrier” contraception can lead to infertility. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause problems conceiving. This is why condoms are recommended for people with multiple or untested partners.
Final Answer: Can birth control cause infertility in the future?
There’s no evidence that birth control affects fertility in the long term. However, a short period of adjustment is expected after you discontinue use. While keeping this in mind, consider the one birth control method that can help boost your fertility: Menstrual cycle tracking.
Starting your fertility journey? Download our patient referral form for more guidance.