The Pill and Pregnancy
Since its inception, the birth control pill has become one of the most popular methods of birth control in North America. It is used by more than 16 million American women and 60 million women worldwide. Not surprisingly, though, many women taking the pill worry about how it can affect pregnancy. How many women get pregnant while taking the pill? Can the pill interfere with fertility? Before you begin taking the birth control pill, it is a good idea to become as informed as possible about the pill and pregnancy.
What is the Birth Control Pill?
The birth control pill was introduced in North America in the 1960s. It is a once-daily pill that helps to prevent pregnancy, thus allowing women more control over their own fertility. Birth control pills contain a combination of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones work to prevent pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation. Without ovulation, fertilization and pregnancy cannot occur. The pill is highly effective and there are numerous types of birth control pills available on the market today.
Birth Control Pill Derivatives
In the past years, researchers have developed alternatives to the birth control pill, which also use estrogen and progesterone to prevent pregnancy. The birth control patch is as a transdermal adhesive that can be applied to your skin. The patch then releases hormones into your bloodstream to prevent ovulation. The birth control ring is a soft, flexible device that is placed inside your vagina. Like the patch, this ring also releases hormones that work to stop ovulation. These contraceptives are also highly effective and becoming very popular.
Birth Control Failure Rates
Unfortunately, the pill and its derivatives are not 100% foolproof when it comes to pregnancy. Average failure rates are:
- Birth Control Pill: 2 in 100
- Birth Control Patch: 1-2 in 100
- Birth Control Ring: 1-2 in 100
The birth control pill, ring, and patch can be up to 99.9% effective, if taken perfectly. However, few women are able to take the pill perfectly, forgetting to take the pill at the same time everyday or skipping a day accidentally. For this reason, average failure rates for the birth control pill are higher. The pill, patch, and ring can be compromised for a variety of different reasons.
Factors Affecting Birth Control
The pill, patch, and ring can become less effective if they are taken with certain medications. The antibiotic Ramifiren, certain antifungal medications, specific antiseizure medicines, and St. John’s Wort can all reduce the effectiveness of these forms of birth control Taking the pill, patch, or ring incorrectly can also impair their effectiveness.
Factors Affecting the Pill
- missing a pill or taking the pill inconsistently
- taking the pill at different times of the day
- starting the pill late
Factors Affecting the Patch
- moving the patch to different areas on your body during the week
- removing the patch for more than three hours
Factors Affecting the Ring
- exposure to high temperatures or sunlight
- removing the ring for more than four hours
- leaving the ring in for more than three weeks
Getting Pregnant on the Pill
Many women worry about the effects that the birth control pill may have on a growing fetus. Some women do become pregnant while on the pill. There is no evidence to show that the pill will harm your baby in any way. Babies exposed to the pill are not at increased risk for developing complications or birth defects.
Pregnancy After the Pill
There is no reason to worry about becoming pregnant after you stop taking the pill. The pill will in no way affect your fertility and more than 90% of pill-users become pregnant within a year of coming off the pill. This being said, it does take some women longer to become pregnant after stopping the pill.
Typically, it takes about three months for full fertility to return. Some women may find that it takes closer to six months for them to become pregnant. Other women become pregnant immediately after going off of the of the pill. It really depends upon your body’s own natural cycle. Though you can try to get pregnant immediately after coming off of the pill, it is usually recommended that you wait a little while. Allow your body to go through one or two regular menstrual cycles. This will help your body get back in sync again, and will also help you to pinpoint your ovulation dates.
If you are trying to get pregnant after using the pill, here are some tips that may help you improve your chances.
- Eat as nutritiously as possible.
- Begin taking folic acid supplements.
- Quit smoking.
- Limit your intake of alcohol.
- Try to manage your stress.