We dug through all birth control and infertility statistics to determine how birth control affects fertility, its effectiveness, how many uses it, and more.
Birth control lets us enjoy sex without the fear of making a child, which makes it one of the greatest inventions in human history. But does it have long-lasting effects on a woman’s fertility after she stops taking it?
There’s a lot of misinformation about birth control, and experiences vary from woman to woman. So, we dug through the data to find out how birth control affects fertility, how effective it is, how many women use it, and more.
Here are some of the best bits of data from our research:
- In one study, 21% of women achieved pregnancy within one menstrual cycle after stopping oral contraceptives.
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs) can last 5 to 10 years but can be removed anytime.
- 35% of reproductive-aged American women used hormonal contraception from 2015 to 2017.
- Data from 22 studies show that 83.1% of women who stopped taking birth control became pregnant within the first 12 months after.
- After stopping the pill, fertility typically returns to normal within 3 menstrual cycles.
Can Birth Control Cause Infertility?
No one wants a kid every time they have sex, but they might want to procreate someday. So does taking birth control affect a woman’s ability to carry a child?
The short answer is NO. These data points paint a clearer picture.
- Infertility is the inability of the male or female reproductive system to cause pregnancy after one year of consistent unprotected sex. (World Health Organization, 2020)1
- Regardless of duration or type, contraceptives don’t make it harder to conceive a child after a woman stops using them. (Contraception and Reproductive Medicine, 2018)2
- Women can choose the type and duration of any contraceptive they want without worrying about any negative effects on future fertility.
- Birth control is designed to temporarily delay fertility and prevent pregnancy. Normal fertility levels will eventually return once a woman stops taking birth control. (Healthline, 2021)3
Want to learn more about infertility facts and statistics? Head over to our study here.
How Common Is Contraception?
Over a third of American women use birth control, and the percentage has been increasing over the past few decades. As contraceptive options become more accessible, more women are opting to delay or prevent pregnancy.
Here’s a look at the numbers.
- In 2019, about 22% of reproductive-aged women worldwide were using hormonal contraception. (BMJ Clinical Research, 2020)4
- From 2015 to 2017, 35% of reproductive-aged American women used hormonal contraception. (BMJ Clinical Research, 2020)4
- 2% of American women aged 25 to 34 used reversible long-acting contraceptives in 1995, which increased to 13% from 2015 to 2017.
- 9% of reproductive-aged women in Europe reported using reversible long-acting contraceptives in 2019. (BMJ Clinical Research, 2020)4
Do Women Experience Infertility After Stopping Birth Control?
While there aren’t any long-term effects of birth control on fertility, it can take some time for your body to return to normal. Most women can get pregnant within a year of stopping their birth control.
Here’s a breakdown of the rates by contraceptive type.
- Data from 22 studies show that 83.1% of women who stopped taking birth control became pregnant within the first 12 months after. (Contraception and Reproductive Medicine, 2018)2
- Contraceptive Pill: (Contraception and Reproductive Medicine, 2018)2
- Women in the studies used oral contraceptives (the pill) for 24 to 84 months.
- 87.04% of women who stopped using the pill became pregnant in the 12 months after.
- One study reported a 95% pregnancy rate after ceasing oral contraception.
- Another study found that 79% of women became pregnant within a year of stopping oral contraception. (IVI, 2020)
- Contraceptive Injection: (Contraception and Reproductive Medicine, 2018)2
- The average duration of injectable contraceptives is 21.3 to 35.7 months.
- Women who stopped using injectable contraceptives had a pregnancy rate of 77.74% within their first year of stopping.
- Contraceptive Implant: (Contraception and Reproductive Medicine, 2018)2
- On average, women use contraceptive implants for 29.1 to 55.8 months.
- 74.7% of women who get their implants removed achieve a pregnancy within a year.
- Another study found that only 48.8% of women with Implanon implants and 37.5% with Implant II-VI implants were able to achieve pregnancy within a year.
- One study found that 90% of ex-implant users were pregnant within a year of stopping.
- Intrauterine Device (IUD): (Contraception and Reproductive Medicine, 2018)2
- Women, on average, use IUDs for 19 to 28 months.
- 84.75% of women who had an IUD, but got it removed, were able to get pregnant within a year.
- There is no significant fertility difference between IUDs and other types of birth control.
- One study found that ex-IUD users had a pregnancy rate of 96.4% within a year of stopping.
Effective Birth Control Methods
While they may not prevent fertility in the long run, birth control is very capable of preventing it in the short term.
Let’s flip the question and see how effective birth control is by type.
- “Perfect use” is when birth control is used correctly every time. (National Health Service, 2017)5
- “Typical use” is when birth control isn’t always used correctly. Some methods are less effective with typical use, while others have no chance for user error. (National Health Service, 2017)5
- If not used correctly, many contraceptives are less effective at preventing pregnancy.
- Combined contraceptive pills can be over 99% effective if used properly – fewer than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant on a combined pill with perfect use. (National Health Service, 2017)5
- With typical use, the combined pill is around 91% effective.
- Contraceptive injections can be over 99% effective with perfect use. (National Health Service, 2017)5
- With typical use, they are about 94% effective.
- Contraceptive implants are over 99% effective with perfect use. (National Health Service, 2017)5
- These implants work for three years but can be removed sooner.
- Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) are over 99% effective with perfect use, but older IUD types may be less effective. (National Health Service, 2017)5
- Depending on the type, an IUD can last 5 to 10 years but can be removed at any time.
When Does Fertility Return to Normal After Birth Control?
Most women are able to conceive within a year of stopping their contraceptive use, but many achieve pregnancy sooner.
It could be as soon as your next menstrual cycle or as long as a year. Here’s some data on when your body returns to normal after birth control.
- No matter how long women take the pill, it won’t affect their ability to conceive a child. (Human Reproduction, 2002)6
- One study found that 21% of women achieved pregnancy within one menstrual cycle after stopping oral contraceptives. (IVI, 2020)7
- One study found that normal fertility typically returns to women after the following periods: (BMJ Clinical Research, 2020)4
- Users of injectable contraceptives – 5 to 8 menstrual cycles
- Users of patch contraceptives – 4 menstrual cycles
- Users of oral and ring contraceptives – 3 menstrual cycles
- Users of hormonal and copper intrauterine devices – 2 menstrual cycles
- Users of implant contraceptives – 2 menstrual cycles
While the side effects of using and stopping birth control change from woman to woman, there are some consistently reported symptoms.
This data is anecdotal, but it’s worth a look if you’re planning on ceasing contraceptive use.
- Women report experiencing some of the following side effects when they stop using hormonal birth control: (Medical News Today, 2020)8
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- Heavier periods
- Cramping during ovulation
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Changes in mood
- Weight changes
- Unwanted hair growth
- Tender breasts
- Changes in sex drive
Birth control is used by over a third of American women to prevent unplanned pregnancies from sex. However, some women experience side effects, and others worry that contraceptive use may reduce their chance of having a child in the future.
There’s no evidence to suggest that using any kind of birth control will reduce a woman’s fertility in the long run. While some side effects may be uncomfortable, they won’t prevent you from conceiving a child.
Overall, birth control is safe and effective. After stopping birth control, most women can conceive again within a few menstrual cycles. However, if you have any doubts, talk to your doctor about whether or not birth control is right for you.
For more sex studies and statistics, consider checking out our guide here.
- World Health Organization, 2020. An article on the key facts about infertility, including its definition, causes, and symptoms.
- Contraception and Reproductive Medicine, 2018. An analysis of fertility after birth control use in women that uses data from 14,884 women across 22 studies.
- Healthline, 2021. A medically-reviewed article on how reversible birth control treatments can’t contribute to infertility or harm future pregnancies.
- BMJ Clinical Research, 2020. A study of the effects of birth control on fertility in 17,954 North American and Danish women.
- National Health Service, 2017. An article on the effectiveness of different contraceptive methods.
- Human Reproduction, 2002. A study on the effect of oral contraception before planned pregnancy in 8,497 planned pregnancies in England.
- IVI, 2020. An article on different types of birth control and how they affect fertility citing data from several studies.
- Medical News Today, 2020. A medically-reviewed article on what women should expect when they stop using birth control.