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Birth Control and Fertility

Many doctors will prescribe oral contraceptive (pill) birth control if you have fertility issues such as PCOS, Endometriosis, Ovarian Cysts or irregular menstrual cycles.

 

While birth control may work for some time for those conditions the birth control does not address the key issue of why you have that fertility issue to begin with. Birth control may reduce pain, reduce the incidence of ovarian cyst or regulate your cycle for some time and then when you stop taking it your symptoms may come back. Many of you with these fertility issues still want to have children and taking birth control prevents that from happening. It is important to have clear communication with your doctor if you are still wanting to get pregnant while healing your body of your fertility issues at the same time. Some women have said that their doctors did not make it clear to them that the pills they were prescribed for their fertility issues were actually birth control, which prevents pregnancy.

 

It is very common to hear of women trying to get their menstrual cycles to regulate after coming off of birth control. When I speak of birth control I am speaking of the kinds that contain hormones or IUD (which may affect the uterus and menstrual cycle). Birth Control Pills, Intrauterine Device also known as IUD (Copper T, Mirena, Progestasert), Implant (Implanon), The Ring (NuvaRing), The Patch (Ortho Evra) and Injectable Progestin (Depo-Provera) all contain synthetic hormones except for the Copper T IUD.

 

Anytime between the time you stop using it and up to a year afterward is considered a normal time frame in which it will take for your body, on it’s own to regulate your hormones and start a regular menstrual cycle. If you were taking birth control to help regulate your cycles or for other fertility issues this average may not apply because your cycles may have not been regular to begin with. There are no guarantees that the birth control use is going to keep them regulated like when you were using it.

 

For some methods like the Implant or Depo-Provera some women do not get their menstrual cycle at all and it seems that these women have a harder time getting their menstrual cycles to come back.

 

To understand contraception that affects our natural menstrual cycle take a look at the following chart to help you learn what hormones are in each of the above birth control methods.

Types of Birth Control

 

Methods & How They Work

 

Birth control Pill

Most birth control pills are combination pills, they contain estrogen and progestin. Some contain only progestin, but the majority of women use combination pills. These work by preventing the ovary from releasing eggs. They also thicken cervical mucous making it hard for sperm to reach the uterus. This method also thins the uterine lining which may prevent implantation.

 

Implanon 

A thin flexible, plastic implant that is the size of a cardboard matchstick. It contains Progestin. The Progestin keeps the the ovaries from releasing eggs (ovulation). This hormone also thins the lining of the uterus which may prevent implantation.

 

Ortho Evra

This patch contains estrogen and progestin. These work by preventing the ovary from releasing eggs. They also thicken cervical mucous making it hard for sperm to reach the uterus. This method also thins the uterine lining which may prevent implantation.

 

Depo-Provera

This injectable shot contains progestin. Progestin keeps the ovaries from releasing the eggs, thickening cervical mucous to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus and thinning the uterine lining which may prevent implantation. Note: continued use of Depo-Provera may stop the menstrual cycle completely and it may take longer than average (9 months-1 year for the menstrual cycle to regulate after stopping it). Once you have gotten a shot of Depo-provera, side effects will not dissipate for 12-14 weeks.

 

Nuva-Ring 

This ring contains the same hormones as combination birth control pills.

The progestin and estrogen prevent ovulation, thicken the cervical mucous, and thin the uterine lining which may prevent implantation.

 

IUD 

The IUD prevents the sperm from moving correctly, preventing the sperm from meeting and connecting with the egg. It may also affect the uterine lining which may cause implantation problems, but there is no proof of this.

 

Mirena IUD 

This IUD contains progestin which prevents ovulation as well as thickens cervical mucous. It also prevents the sperm from moving correctly toward the egg, preventing conception.

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You can see how these birth control methods directly affect hormones and the entire natural menstrual cycle. Progestin and estrogen contained in birth control is chemically created in a lab to imitate our natural progesterone and estrogen. When we use these birth control methods they are releasing hormones in our bodies at times they naturally would not, disrupting the menstrual cycle and preventing pregnancy.

 

Some estrogens are made from pregnant mare’s urine, but is more often used for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in older women. Continued use of progestin has been linked to thinning of the bones when it is being used, it is important to talk to you doctor about this serious risk.