Does Birth Control Cause Infertility?

Does Birth Control Cause Infertility? Does Birth Control Cause Infertility?

About 1 in 5 women in the U.S. use birth control regularly and the Pill is the leading form of birth control in the U.S.

Does birth control cause infertility?
You may wonder if there is a link between certain types of contraception and infertility. Recent studies have shown that a link between birth control and infertility is unlikely.

Here are the most common methods of birth control and how they might impact your fertility. 

Natural birth control
For generations, women have used this natural form of birth control. Fertility tracking includes using various methods to chart the following:

  • Changes to your cervical mucus
  • The rise and fall of your basal body temperature
  • Other physical signs to know exactly when you ovulate so you can avoid pregnancy

Since fertility tracking is all natural, it is impossible that it would hinder your future fertility. 

Barrier Methods
Barrier methods of birth control are worn by the female or the male. This type of birth control keeps the man’s sperm from entering the woman’s body and includes:

  • Male condom
  • Female condom
  • Spermicides
  • Sponge
  • Diaphragm or  cervical cap
  • Lea’s Shield

One benefit of using barrier methods as birth control is that they protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some STDs are known to cause infertility and other health problems, so barrier methods may protect against infertility in the future. 

Hormonal Methods
This type of contraception contains hormones – estrogen, progestin or a combination of both – that are effective in preventing pregnancy. Commonly used hormonal methods of birth control include:

  • Birth control pills
  • Skin patch
  • Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring
  • Injections
  • Implants
  • Emergency contraception (not a regular method of birth control)

After stopping some hormonal methods of birth control, it may take several months before your ovulation and menstrual cycles become regular again. Talk to your doctor if you have trouble getting pregnant after stopping hormonal birth control. 

Depo-Provera and infertility
It may take longer for you to get pregnant after discontinuing Depo-Provera. Depo-Provera sometimes takes longer to leave the body compared to other hormonal birth control methods. 

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
A doctor places the IUD inside your uterus to prevent pregnancy. Popular IUDs include:

  • The Mirena intrauterine system (IUS), which releases the hormone progestin to prevent conception
  • The Copper T IUD that’s shaped like a “T” and can stay in the uterus for a decade

Your doctor will give you advice about when you can start trying to get pregnant again after removal of your IUD. Women who use copper IUDs may expect their fertility to remain normal after it is removed. Overall, IUDs are not known to cause future problems with fertility.

Sterilization
Sterilization is used by those who want a permanent method of contraception. A tubal ligation or “tying tubes” is a popular type of sterilization for women. Studies show that ectopic pregnancies are more likely to occur after female sterilization reversal.

For men, a vasectomy is a common form of sterilization. This relatively simple procedure leaves a man able to maintain an erection and ejaculate normally. His body will continue to produce sperm but the sperm will not be present in his ejaculate. This procedure can take several months before it is completely effective. Vasectomy reversal may help to restore male fertility. 

Remember that after a tubal reversal or vasectomy reversal, there is no guarantee of pregnancy. 

Ask a doctor about infertility symptoms

If you are interested in learning more about the link between birth control and infertility, talk to a fertility specialist. 

Sources
  • National Institute of Health: Reproductive Health 
  • Womenshealth.gov: Birth Control Methods: 
  • American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Sterilization by Laparoscopy 
  • American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology: The Intrauterine Device 
  • American Pregnancy Association: Depo-Provera: Quarterly Injection 
  • American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Birth Control 
  • Centers for Disease Control: Unintended Pregnancy Prevention: Contraception