Pill vs pregnant?
Will taking the Pill affect your fertility? Gynaecologist Dr Malikah van der Schyff has the answers.
It is said that women have difficulty falling pregnant after being on the Pill for a while. Is this myth or fact?
This is myth. There is no evidence that the Combined Oral Contraception (COC) can cause any permanent loss of fertility. The return of ovulation or fecundity might be slightly delayed but the risk of impaired future fertility is very low.Is it true that the longer a woman is on the Pill, the longer it will take to fall pregnant? And what causes this disruption?
What are the factors that influence whether or not you fall pregnant right away?
- The Pill suppresses ovulation, so the return of ovulation is often slightly delayed. Although it can be immediate, it is generally considered to occur between 60-90 days after discontinuation.
- There may generally be a delay in falling pregnant even in women who have not taken the pill but when a slight delay occurs in women who have been on the Pill, it is easily blamed for it.
- Not having a period (amenorrhoea) for more than 6 months after you stop the Pill is uncommon (<1%). Not having a period must be investigated to establish the cause.
What role does being on the contraceptive Pill play in terms of miscarrying?
- The most important factor is whether your menstrual cycle was regular before going on your oral contraception. In other words; was there any bleeding dysfunction or gynaecological pathology which motivated starting on the pill? These include irregular bleeding, skipping periods or excessively painful periods.
- There are other factors as well which would apply with regard to any attempt at falling pregnant. These include age, diet, excessively low or high body weight and general medical health.
- Also, let's not forget that there are also male factors which influence fertility. It does take two to tango.
The Pill doesn’t seem to cause this kind of problem. If there is any pregnancy loss post-Pill, it is important for your gynaecologist to elicit the likely causes – the same as in a patient who miscarried whilst not on the Pill. If you're on the Pill to regulate your PCOS does that increase or decrease your chances of falling pregnant after you stop taking it?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a condition which is associated with difficulty in conceiving. This is due to the changes in ovarian function. Fertile ovulation is often impaired and there is sometimes a delay or absence of the release of an ovum or egg.
- This disturbance of the menstrual cycle is often what motivated the need for the commencement of a COC.
- There is a possibility that if the pre-Pill abnormal pattern of menstruation returns fertility will be impaired. However, if a normal menstrual pattern (and therefore ovulation) returns fertility will be achieved.