Throw the pill overboard!
If you plan to become pregnant in the near future, but still use hormonal contraceptive methods like the pill, you should stop using them sooner rather than later, to give your body enough time to adjust your hormonal balance and thus prepare optimally for a pregnancy.
A woman’s ovulatory cycle is coordinated through a communication pathway in the body known as the HPA axis (a.k.a. hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis). The HPA axis consists of the brain, the pituitary gland and the ovaries. The brain and the pituitary call the shots on your ovarian activity. When hormone levels are low, the brain and the pituitary have to do some work to initiate the possibility of conception. However, when hormone levels are high, the brain and pituitary can sit back and relax until the next cycle of egg development.
This is also the point in the cycle that is mimicked by the pill. Rather than having dynamically fluctuating hormones across the cycle like naturally cycling women do, women who take the pill get the same hormonal message every day. The pill is making the brain think, that it is continuously in a cycle phase in which FSH and LH aren’t needed. When FSH and LH aren’t released, this prevents ovulation from happening. Not ovulating equals not getting pregnant.
Quitting the pill?
It takes the female body some time after quitting the pill to return to a regular cycle. Some women already ovulate in the next cycle, others may have some cycles without a fertile egg. It always depends on the woman, her body and the chemical composition of the pill. Therefore, it is not entirely accurate to say that with pill XY it would take exactly so and so many cycles for everything to return to normal.
Chemically speaking, most modern anti-baby-pills are combination products that not only suppress ovulation by inhibiting follicular maturation but also keep the consistency of the cervical mucus viscous and reduce the mobility of the fallopian tubes, in order to make pregnancy unlikely. Artificial hormones are the main actors in this process. The “natural hormone show” could take some time to get started, especially if the pill is taken for a longer period of time. Yet it could also work out as soon as quitting the pill. Nevertheless, it is advisable to plan a time buffer to allow the menstrual cycle to settle.
It is also important to not let the possibility of it failing to immediately work get to your head. Remind yourself of the fact that your body has a lot of work to do in preparation for pregnancy. Grant yourself that time.
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