Packet of oral birth control pills against a pink background

Does birth control affect fertility? Effects of birth control on fertility

Medically reviewed on August 1, 2022 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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The many different types of contraception available today provide us with options to control and protect our reproductive health. Contraceptives can help you avoid becoming pregnant when you aren’t ready and can help manage several health conditions. Certain types of contraception can even help protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

But does birth control affect fertility? No, birth control does not interfere with your ability to become pregnant in the future.

There are many misconceptions out there about birth control and fertility. This guide will walk you through some of those myths and help you better understand the true potential causes of infertility.

Birth control fertility myths: how birth control affects your fertility

Now, you can rest assured that the answer to the question “does birth control affect fertility?” is a solid no. Let’s talk about some of the myths you may have heard.

Birth control is designed to delay, not harm, your fertility. This means it prevents you from becoming pregnant while you’re actively using it. Once you stop, your fertility levels gradually return to normal.

Some common misconceptions circulating involve specific types of birth control, including: [1]

  • Hormonal birth control pills – Dubbed "the pill" or hormonal contraceptives, are the most commonly prescribed forms of birth control method. There are many types of hormonal contraception. The contraceptive pill is typically a combination of estrogen, while the mini pill is a progestin-only oral contraceptive. [2] If a woman cannot take any oral birth control with estrogen, she can use progestin only pills instead. [3] If you take or have taken birth control pills, you probably know it’s critical to follow a schedule and take them around the same time every day. This is because even skipping one or two pills can open the window to an unwanted pregnancy. The hormones in birth control pills provide temporary contraception that wanes once you stop taking them.
  • Non-hormonal IUDs – The copper IUD is an excellent option for those who don’t want to or can’t use hormonal birth control. The copper IUD can provide protection against pregnancy for up to ten years. However, you can opt to have it removed at any time. Once the IUD has been removed, your fertility levels will return to normal almost immediately. [4]
  • The birth control shot – The birth control shot can delay fertility after use for up to a year. However, after that time, your fertility levels will return to normal. [5] The longer-lasting effect doesn’t impact everyone who uses the shot—some people can get pregnant in as few as 12 to 15 weeks after their last dose.

So, why do so many people believe birth control harms fertility?

Often, people take birth control for reasons outside of pregnancy prevention. In fact, birth control pills are often used to treat a variety of health problems, including: [6]

  • Endometriosis
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Heavy, painful periods
  • Other menstrual disorders
  • Acne
  • Migraines

Birth control doesn’t affect your fertility; however, the other conditions that birth control can help with may impact your fertility levels.

While these conditions may be under control while using contraceptives, the harmful effects on fertility might return once you stop using oral contraceptives and other forms. Therefore, instead of causing infertility, the birth control method was helping manage the condition or conditions that are the true cause of infertility.

Other causes of infertility

Infertility has many causes, some of which aren’t fully understood. Some of the more common reasons for infertility include: [7]

  • Endometriosis – Endometriosis is a debilitating disorder that can leave behind scarring in your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. This scarring can interfere with your ability to become pregnant and can cause you to become infertile. Though laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis and fertility treatment may help improve fertility rates. [8]
  • Menstrual disorders – Other menstrual disorders, such as PCOS or uterine fibroids, can also make it difficult for you to become pregnant. If you don’t ovulate regularly, or at all, there won’t be an egg to be fertilized.
  • Hormonal problems – Any imbalance in your hormones can impact your ability to get pregnant. PCOS interferes with the hormones needed to conceive. Even a thyroid problem can spell trouble for your fertility levels.
  • Infections – If you’ve had a sexually transmitted infection that went untreated, you might have trouble conceiving. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HPV can cause lasting problems with fertility if not treated.
  • Autoimmune diseases – Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks your cells, confusing them with an invader. Some common autoimmune disorders that can harm fertility include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroiditis.
  • Physiological issues – Sometimes, the causes of infertility stem from structural issues. Perhaps your uterus isn’t formed correctly. Other people have sperm or eggs that aren’t properly developed. Any of these problems can cause you to have trouble conceiving.

Check-in on your fertility levels with Everlywell

Using common birth control methods, such as oral contraceptives, IUDs, and the birth control shot doesn’t impact your fertility. After discontinuing the contraceptive use, your fertility levels will return to normal. Sometimes, birth control methods are used to help with health concerns. These concerns might affect fertility, which is why birth control is sometimes falsely blamed.

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for over a year without success, it’s time to check your fertility levels. The Everlywell Women’s Fertility Test is a good place to start. This simple, at-home test measures the hormones responsible for regulating ovarian function. The results of your test can provide you with helpful insight into your fertility levels. Armed with this data, you can make informed decisions about your reproductive health.

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  1. Return of Fertility After Discontinuation of Contraception. PubMed. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  2. Birth Control Pill. Planned Parenthood. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  3. The progestogen-only pill. NHK. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  4. Paragard. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  5. Planned Parenthood. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  6. Contraceptive Benefits and Risks. PubMed. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  7. Possible Causes of Female Infertility. NIH. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  8. Surgery for endometriosis-associated infertility: do we exaggerate the magnitude of effect? NIH. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
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