Before conceiving, how long do you need to be off the pill?

When you’re planning a pregnancy, do you need to go off the pill several months before trying to conceive? Obstetrical Nurse Wanda F Steele answers this common question.

Your question
I am 28 years old and considering my first pregnancy. I was on birth control pills for nearly 10 years. My doctor said I should be off the pill for three months before trying to conceive. Is there any medical reason for this, or is it just to get your periods regulated? – Lynn, Ohio

The expert answers
Hi Lynn,

First off, let me say what a good choice you have made to “consider” a pregnancy. In this day and time, there are so many things you can do to help yourself achieve a healthy pregnancy and getting off on the right foot is a great start.

Yes, I am afraid that the only reason to make you wait to become pregnant after being on the pill for 10 years is not medical, as much as it is a convenience. Your periods may be a little irregular after being on the pill and if you wait a couple of months, it will be easier to say exactly when you got pregnant and “dating” (the choosing of the due date based on the last period and ovulation) will be easier. Since your periods and ovulation would hopefully be regular after a few months, it also might be a little easier to get pregnant. BUT there is no problem if you should become pregnant just after stopping the pills. Ultrasound tells us so much these days, we rely a lot on them for dating.

While “considering” this pregnancy, it might be a good idea to see your caregiver for preconception counseling. Starting prenatal vitamins before you become pregnant is also a great idea.

Good luck to you!

Wanda 🙂


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