Could birth control pills hinder your pregnancy chances?

Infertility is a common and serious problem that many women worry about. In fact, about 10 percent of American women have a difficult time getting pregnant.

We got this email from a concerned viewer:

Dear Dr. Manny,
I've been on birth control for 10+ years. I would like to have kids within the next couple of years but am worried about the effects my birth control usage might have. Are there any infertility risks to being on the pill for so long?

The good news is that being on birth control for a long period of time will not hurt your chances of getting pregnant in the future.

Birth control pills are made of hormones that keep your eggs from ovulating and make your cervical mucus thicker, in order to keep sperm away from your eggs.

Once you stop taking the pill, the hormone supplements are usually out of your body within a couple of days or weeks. Without the hormones, your menstrual cycle should return to normal within three months or so.

The birth control and infertility myth has been circling around since the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pill in 1960. In 2010, it was estimated that 100 million women across the globe were using oral contraceptives. It is one of the most thoroughly tested medications, and some research has even shown that prolonged birth control use could make it easier to conceive.

A study in the journal of Human Reproduction found that women who used the contraceptive pill for more than five years were actually more likely to get pregnant within six months to a year than women who never took the pill.

Bottom line? Whether or not you used birth control pills for six months or 10 years, once you go off the pill, your body should go back to ovulating normally.

If you are still concerned about your fertility or any underlying ovulation problems, you should speak with your primary physician or OB-GYN.

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