Contraceptives may Change the Natural Fertility of a Woman

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Women who are using any type of contraceptives often expect to gain their natural fertility back right after they stop using it. however, it is not the case and a recent study reports that women should wait for a few months to gain their fertility back. This study is published in the journal The BMJ.

The researchers worked on the time that women’s body takes to get back to fertility after trying a number of contraceptives. Interestingly, the time to get natural fertility back was different from the different types of contraceptive methods used. And the fertility was unaffected on the duration of using the contraceptive methods.

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Nearly 22% of women worldwide prefer using the hormonal contraceptive method. Oral contraceptive pills and condoms are the preferred and most widely used contraceptive methods in major parts of America and Europe. The long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) techniques such as IUSs, patches, contraceptive implants, and injectables are also getting popular among women of reproductive age.

Some of the previous researches on fertility after using contraceptives for the long term were confined to smaller samples and were inconsistent. That’s why the effects of leaving contraceptives were still not clear. Also, most of these studies targeted the effects and after-effects of contraceptives and not specifically the duration to expect natural fertility after stopping their use.

A research team from Boston University School of Public Health under the supervision of Jennifer Yland worked on this collaborated project along with the researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark. The purpose of this project was to find the link between using contraceptives and retaining the chances of getting pregnant again.

To understand this connection, they extracted data from three major studies based on women in North America as well as Denmark. Data of 18,000 women who opted for planned pregnancy from 2017 to 2019 was analyzed as a part of this new study.

All the women had a clear history of contraceptive usage along with lifestyle information and medical history.   All of them were asked to fill the follow-up questionnaire sent to them every two months for one year or until they were expecting. Nearly 80% of these participants were able to fill out at least one follow-up questionnaire form before they got pregnant.

Among these 18,000 women, 10,729 pregnancies were confirmed showing that 56% of them were able to conceive within six months of leaving contraceptives and 77% within one year.

Among these women, the most widely used contraceptives were oral contraceptives and 38% of women confirmed to use it. Next in line were the barrier based contraceptive techniques such as condoms which were reported 31%. Nearly 15% of women were on natural contraceptives such as no sex on fertile days, the withdrawal method, etc.

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Only 13% of women were using highly efficient reversible contraceptives such as IUDs. Nearly 8% of them were using the hormonal IUD’s and only 4% were using the copper IUD to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.

All of the women experienced a short-term delay in returning back to their normal fertile potential. Surprisingly, those who were using the injectables experienced the longest delay along with patch contraceptives and oral contraceptives.

Despite revealing such significant results, this study has its own limitations. For example, there was no information on when did these women had their last contraceptives and they mainly relied on the self-reported information. So there are still some chances for this information to be not fully accurate. However, more studies will help to determine the time for conceiving after quitting contraceptives and plan a pregnancy.

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