When you decide to get pregnant you can stop barrier methods like condoms or the diaphragm immediately, but other methods may need more planning.
If possible it’s best to stop taking the pill one month before trying to conceive so you have at least one normal period before becoming pregnant. However, there is evidence that women are more fertile immediately after stopping the pill, so you might want to bear this in mind if you need time to get used to the idea, or if you’ve had problems conceiving in the past.
It is also advisable to have one monthly period before conceiving to help with dating the pregnancy. This is because pregnancy due dates are worked out from the first day of your last monthly period (or LMP), because most women know when this is but cannot tell exactly when they conceived. You can work out how pregnant you are with gurgle's Due date calendar. If you do not know, a dating scan can be performed at 12 weeks. This scan measures the size of the fetus and the midwife can work out your due date from the size. Your antenatal care will then be structured towards your baby's gestational age.
Once you have made the decision to try for a baby, it might be worth visiting your GP who can advise you on how to stop your current contraception.
The intrauterine contraceptive device
The ICUD or coil works by causing changes in the uterus that prevent fertilized eggs from implanting. A very small amount of women do get pregnant whilst using the ICUD and although removing the coil increases the risk of miscarriage, leaving it in place can cause problems later on in the pregnancy. Seek advice from your GP if you suspect you are pregnant with an ICUD fitted.
If you are planning to get pregnant and have a coil fitted, you can have it removed by a GP at any time, but it is most comfortable to remove just before the end of your period. Your fertility should return after a month or so.
For women who have had a depo prevera injection and are planning to get pregnant, it may take a little time. The injection is injected every 12 weeks and works by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg each month, thickening cervical mucus so that sperm cannot easily swim to the egg and it stops the egg from implanting into the womb. After the injections have been stopped it may take up to a year for your fertility to return so if you are planning a family, plan early! Talk to your GP or family planning advisor if you are having the injection but want to get pregnant.
Don't be alarmed if your period does not return back to normal straight away. It may take a couple of cycles for your period to feel like it did before you started taking contraceptives. Bear in mind that you may not fall pregnant straight away either.
If your periods don't return to normal after six months, see your GP who may carry out some basic checks just to see that everything is ok.
The length of time it takes to get pregnant is completely different for each couple, and while your health, lifestyle, age and when you decide to start trying for a baby are factors to consider, how long it takes is a lottery for most couples. It’s worth remembering that if you have regular intercourse without protection:
- 25% will conceive in the first month
- 60% within six months
- 75% within nine months
- 80% within a year
- 90% within 18 months
So if you are under 35 and have had regular intercourse (sex every two to three days) without protection for a year and haven't fallen pregnant, it’s probably time to seek medical help. If you are over 35, it is recommended that you seek medical advice after six months of trying.
However, timing sex around ovulation will improve your chances of getting pregnant. Use our Ovulation Calculator to work out your most fertile times.
The information in this feature is intended for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health, the health of your child or the health of someone you know, please consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.