Planning

Oral Contraceptive | Effects on Fertility

6 min read

Key Points

  • Your hormones are imbalanced, it could be impacting your success trying to conceive (TTC)
  • The egg that is going to be fertilized is affected up to three months before that ovulation cycle whether or not the body has been receiving contraceptive therapy
  • Detoxes after oral contraception are being discussed as viable options to prepare the body prior to conception
  • Preventing pregnancy is just one reason people take birth control (or are prescribed birth control)
  • As you transition off birth control your hormones need to regulate
  • Some people report better hormonal regulation after detoxing

 

Article Written by: Jess Kimball

Your Hormones

When it comes to trying to conceive, fertility is so important. The way our hormones behave plays such an important role in our fertility. If your hormones are imbalanced, it could be impacting your success trying to conceive (TTC). When it comes to preventing pregnancy or treating a hormonal imbalance, birth control choice matters. There are many options besides the birth control pill, but many times that is the first option people try. If you are using birth control to prevent pregnancy, discuss your other options with your provider. 

 

The birth control pill works by altering your hormones to prevent you from ovulating. It would be wrong of us to assume the body goes back to normal right when we stop using our birth control. 

 

The birth control pill usually contains either estrogen and progestin (combination pill) or progestin-only. When you stop taking the birth control pill it can take about two to three months for your hormones to completely balance. However, you may notice changes in as little as 48 hours. Two to three months can feel like a long time when you are eager to begin TTC. You can still get pregnant in those months, but you may want to wait until your hormones are slightly more balanced. 

 

Hormones are important for fertility and the egg that is going to be fertilized is affected up to three months before that ovulation cycle, so we want to do everything we can do to prepare our body three months in advance. 

 

There are various recommendations about what you should do to help support your eggs' quality. Recommendations typically include things that support your well-being and healthy lifestyle, like working out, eating a balanced diet, decreasing alcohol intake, and maintaining a healthy weight. 

 

Detoxes after oral contraception are being discussed more and more. This is a bit more unconventional and there is not much evidence backing this method of hormonal regulation, specifically for after taking oral contraception. While deemed medically unnecessary, some people do report improvements. More research may be necessary on what detoxes can improve fertility. 

 

Types of Oral Contraception

There are many forms of the birth control pill. You may have tried one option and used it for years or tried multiple options before finding an option that worked well for you. Preventing pregnancy is just one reason people take birth control (or are prescribed birth control). Some people use it to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, acne, or irregular periods. 

 

Combined Pill

 

21-day packs: 1 pill per day for 21 days, followed by 7 days of nonuse for menstruation 28-day packs: 21 or 24 hormonal pills (brand dependent). The remaining pills either contain estrogen-only or do not have hormones.

 

Progestin Only

 

28-day packs: All pills are active. Suggested to be taken daily at the same time within a three-hour window.

 

Extended/Continuous Use

 

91-day packs: 84 days of active hormone pills followed by 7 inactive pills, and/or low dose estrogen (results in 4 periods/year) 365-day pack: Consist of 365 hormonal pills; no inactive pills.

Source: KFF

 

 

Types of combination oral contraception:

  1. Monophasic:  Each active pill contains the same amount of estrogen and progestin.
  2. Biphasic: Active pills contain two combinations of estrogen and progestin.
  3. Triphasic: Active pills contain three combinations of estrogen and progestin.

The main difference in the type of oral contraception pill is the hormonal makeup of the pill. 

Some common brand names of oral contraception:

Apri, Alesse, Aranelle, Aviane, Beyaz, Desogen, Estrostep Fe, Gianvi, Kariva, Lessina, Levlite, Levora, Loestrin, Lybrel, Lo Ovral, Nordette, Ocella, Low-Ogestrel, Ortho-Novum, Previfem, Reclipsen, Safyral, Velivet, Yasmin, Yaz, Azurette, Mircette, Caziant, Enpresse, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, TriNessa, Velivet, Natazia, Seasonale

Seasonique

Lybrel

 

Side Effects of Birth Control 

Unfortunately, there are many side effects to the birth control pill including:

  • Spotting between periods
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches and migraine
  • Weight gain
  • Mood changes
  • Missed periods
  • Decreased libido
  • High blood pressure
  • Bloating

 

Combination birth control can also increase the risk of:

  • Blood clots in the legs
  • Heart attacks and stroke, especially if you smoke
  • Liver disorders
  • Gallbladder disease

 

You should consult with your doctor if you experience:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Breast lump
  • Chest pain
  • Depression
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Eye problems — such as blurred or double vision or loss of vision
  • Fainting
  • Jaundice — yellowish discoloration of the skin
  • New or worsening headaches
  • Seizures
  • Severe allergic skin rash
  • Severe leg pain or swelling
  • Severe mood swings
  • Two missed periods or signs of pregnancy

 

The risk of side effects is increased in the following cases:

  • are older than 35 and smoke
  • have a history of breast cancer
  • have a history of high blood pressure
  • have a history of heart attacks or heart disease
  • have a history of stroke
  • have a history of blood clotting disorders
  • have had diabetes for more than 10 years

 

Transitioning Off Birth Control Symptoms

As you transition off birth control your hormones need to regulate. This typically takes 90-days but begins within 48- hours. This can result in a variety of symptoms that may include: 

  • Breast tenderness
  • Changes in breast tissue
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Pelvic pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Acne
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Mood changes
  • Irregular periods or absent periods

 

What to do when you stop birth control and want to conceive?

Before stopping birth control (with the intent of TTC) or as soon as you stop it you should begin a fertility supportive diet! Try foods like beans, quinoa, avocado, sunflower seeds, Greek yogurt, cheeses, salmon, asparagus, and lentils. Strongly consider ayurvedic tea formulated to increase the uterine’s performance that contains herbal ingredients like containing saffron, lemon balm, and Dong Quai. Eating a fertility-boosting diet and drinking herbal fertility-boosting teas are just two ways you can begin balancing your hormones and boosting your fertility. 

 

Some people may do a birth control detox as well, there is currently no research saying this is necessary after you stop taking birth control. It is important to support your body through this transition by eating a well-balanced diet, getting proper sleep, and using supplements that are high in; Vitamin C, Magnesium, fish oil, collagen, and probiotics. You can read about unconventional ways to boost fertility here!

 

 

Detoxing From Oral Contraception 

While detox is not necessary and research is limited, some people do report better hormonal regulation after detoxing. There are a variety of “birth control detoxes” available for purchase online, but it is important to note that many of the ingredients are not safe in pregnancy. A common home detox regimen after birth control is a liver detox. 

 

Liver Detox:

Birth control has an impact on the liver. Estrogens are associated with slow bile flow, dilatation of spaces in the liver, liver adenomas, liver cancer, clotting of the veins in the liver, and an increased risk of gallstones. A liver detox could help you after stopping oral contraceptives! 

 

Try removing toxic foods, increasing raw vegetable juice intake, increasing potassium intake, eating liver meat, and researching coffee enemas and their effects on liver detoxing.

 

What is a Coffee Enema, you ask?

A coffee enema is conducted by combining 2 tablespoons of coffee with three cups of water. Once done simmering you use it in your enema kit. Release after 10 minutes. Throughout this process coffee is retained in your bowel, allowing the fluid to enter the liver through the intestinal wall. This is said to increases bile flow. Check it out for yourself to see if you should consider discussing this as an option with your provider.

 

 

References:

Clinic, M. (2020, December 17). Combination Birth Control Pills. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/combination-birth-control-pills/about/pac-20385282

Commerce, B. (2018, March 30). Addressing oral contraceptives, the liver and ways to Detox. Agent Nateur. Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.agentnateur.com/blogs/agent-tips/addressing-oral-contraceptives-the-liver-and-ways-to-detox

 

KFF. (2020, June 26). Oral contraceptive pills. KFF. Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/fact-sheet/oral-contraceptive-pills/#:~:text=Oral%20contraceptive%20pills%20(OCP)%20consist,and%20the%20continuous%20use%20pill.

 

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