One of the most common myths in fertility is that the use of birth control has an impact on a person’s ability to conceive in the future. Dr. Kari Von Goeben explains the ins and outs of contraception and answers whether or not its use impacts future fertility.
What is birth control and how does it work?
Birth control is any method used to try to prevent pregnancy. Methods include, but are not limited to, oral pills, hormone injections, and intrauterine devices that are placed into the uterus with or without hormones. Condoms and surgeries, like vasectomy and tubal ligation, are also a form of contraception.
Are certain options better than others?
Yes, certain options have higher success rates when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancies. For example, surgical measures tend to be more successful than condoms.
How does someone choose the option that’s right for them?
A patient needs to have a discussion with their physician to choose the option that is right for them. There are many factors that go into making this decision including examining the patient’s medical history and how reliable the patient thinks they would be at using that type of contraception correctly. For example, if considering a pill, a patient needs to ask themselves “will I remember to take this as indicated?”.
How far in advance should someone stop using birth control if they’re trying to conceive?
It really depends on the patient and why they were on birth control to begin with to determine how far in advance they should stop using it, if they are trying to conceive. With that being said, if a patient does NOT want to get pregnant, they should continue it until they are ready to get pregnant. My recommendation is usually to stop the month prior to when they want to try to conceive.
Can prolonged use of birth control impact fertility?
Prolonged use of birth control is not thought to cause infertility. For example, if a patient is taking oral pills, they are not ovulating an egg that month. When they come off the pills, that ovulation should resume unless there is something else going on. When patients utilize an intrauterine device (IUD), there is a small chance of scar tissue in the uterus predominantly IF they have an infection while they have the IUD in place. With that being said, having an infection in the uterus or the tubes with or without the IUD in place could also impact fertility.
Why do you think the myth surrounding birth control and infertility exists?
I’m not sure why there is a myth that birth control impacts fertility. Possibly because it can take a bit longer to ovulate the first month off of the pill. Historically there was something called “post pill amenorrhea” which meant not getting a period the first couple of months off the pill.
It is important to note that there are issues that can be masked while on birth control. For example, if someone isn’t ovulating regularly they would not know it while on birth control. Therefore, conditions that impact ovulation would be masked until they get off it.
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