Can Birth Control Pills Cause Infertility?

Married couples today aim for lives better planned with professional and social stability, so that they can provide a more secure future for their children. You are PLANNING YOUR FAMILY, which indirectly means that the normal course of events is altered with medical advice from your gynecologist. One is normally advised various treatment options to choose from to delay pregnancy, such as:

Contraceptive implants
Birth control pills
Injections for birth control and others.

While we all know how condoms work, getting information on other birth control methods is as necessary.

Birth control methods

Pregnancy in a woman is mainly controlled by two hormones, namely Progestin and Estrogen. The presence of these hormones in the blood restricts the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). LH and FSH play a vital role in the process of pregnancy. They develop the egg and the uterine lining for pregnancy.

Contraceptive Implants

A progesterone implant is planted in the woman’s arm. When the implant starts releasing small amounts of progestin in the blood, it controls the LH and FSH hormones released by the pituitary gland, thereby preventing ovulation and thickening of the cervical mucus. When the cervical mucus thickens the sperm penetration becomes difficult.

Other implants are IUDs (intrauterine devices). Small T-Shaped implant made of copper or levonorgestrel (Hormonal) is inserted into the uterus. While the success rate of these birth control methods is good, there is no protection against sexually transmitted infections.

The above two treatment options are easily reversible.

Birth control pills

Our body is a complex mechanism, which is motored by nerves, structured by bones, pumped by the heart, and regulated by hormones. Women get pregnant with the help of two such hormones, namely estrogen and progestin. The birth control pills, or the oral contraceptive pills (OCP)as they are called, are preformulated pills of a combination of these hormones or just progestin.

When these pills are consumed, the pituitary glands are unable to release follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone (these are responsible for developing the uterine lining and the eggs). Progestin surrounds the egg with uterine mucus, which the sperm cannot penetrate. Progestin can also control the release of the egg.

While birth control pills are used to delay pregnancy, they are also used while preparing the woman’s body for IVF.

Injections for birth control methods

Again, these are either a combination of synthetically made estrogen and progestogen or only progestogen. Injected monthly, every two months, or every three months, depending on their duration of protection.

Many women believe that these methods of birth control cause infertility.

Do birth control pills cause infertility?

If a woman depends on birth control pills for a very long duration, reversing the effect will take time. Once you stop taking the pill, regularizing the menstrual cycle may take almost three to six months, depending on an individual’s response to medication. The age of the woman plays a vital role when the menstrual cycle is in the process of regulation.

One may experience either extremely heavy blood flow, significantly less blood flow, or no flow at all. This irregularity of the menstrual cycle is temporary. So, the difficulty in conception is also temporary. In sporadic cases, infertility is permanent which may be due to some pre-existing conditions as well. Therefore, one needs to consult a gynaecologist before opting for any form of birth control.

Regularization of the menstrual cycle depends on how old you are and how long you have been using the OCP. If you are 35 years or above and have been on the pill for a long duration, the chances of a reversal will take longer. A couple should try to conceive naturally for at least a year. However, in case of an issue post that period, an expert’s advice will help out sort out the issue


When the human body’s natural mechanism has been altered in its functioning, it will take time to behave normally. There is no evidence to suggest that birth control pills cause infertility. However in the rarest of cases which pose an issue, procedures such as IVF, IUI, and other ground breaking procedures can help you conceive and help you to be fertile.


The article is contributed by Dr Hrishikesh Pai, Consultant Gynaecologist & Infertility Specialist attached to Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai, D Y Patil Hospital, Navi Mumbai & Fortis Hospitals in New Delhi, Gurugram & Chandigarh.




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