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Combined oral contraceptives also known simply as "the pill" are still among the most popular birth control methods in the world. If you are currently using the pill, but are planning to try to conceive in the near future, are there any special rules?

How long do you need wait before you can try for a baby? How soon after quitting the pill will your fertility return? 

The great de-pilling myth

How long do you need to wait before you can actually start trying to conceive, after coming off the pill? This very question comes from a very widespread belief that women who come off the pill should not try to conceive for at least two to three months. The pill has been around for a long time now it was first approved for use in the United States in 1957!

Medical professionals once held the belief that all the hormones used in the pill needed time to leave the user's body. It was thought that trying to conceive immediately after stopping the pill may lead to miscarriages. Since the late 1950s, a lot has changed. Studies have proven that there is no link between miscarriage rates and prior contraceptive use. This means that the need to de-pill before being able to try for a baby is essentially nothing but a myth. Women who have just stopped taking the birth control pill can expect to see a return to fertility within two to six weeks. This quick return to fertility is one benefit of the pill that makes it a wonderful choice even today, when we have so many other contraceptive choices.

There is one thing that could lead individual women to the decision to wait for a month or so before trying to conceive. If you get pregnant during the cycle after you stopped using combined oral contraceptives, you do are not sure when your last menstrual period was "periods" on the pill aren't really menstruation, as you see it with natural hormones, after all! But this should not be too much of a problem. Early ultrasound scans can determine a new baby's gestational age very accurately, so it isn't like you will not be able to find out what your estimated due date is.

Preparing to get pregnant before you stop taking the pill

Since there is no need to wait two to three months to try to conceive after you come off the pill, you should ideally start preparing for pregnancy before you stop using combined oral contraceptives. You and your partner can start making positive lifestyle and health changes three to four months before you are going to take your last pill (and remember, you should always finish a whole pack to avoid messing your cycle up).

What kind of changes should you make?

The changes pill users should make are the same ones that every women who wants to get pregnant in the future should consider. You will want to start taking a 400 mg folic acid supplement every day to reduce the chance of conceiving a baby with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Folic acid stores need to build up within your body for two to three months before you make a difference. Did you know that men who want to become fathers also benefit from taking folic acid? That's right it makes their sperm quality better.

You will also want to work on stopping smoking at this time, or help your partner through the quitting process. Quitting smoking can be really hard, and you have the highest risk of lighting up again within the first few months. Stress can also trigger the urge to smoke, and some folks find that trying to conceive brings them quite a lot of that. Couples who are preparing to try for a baby should rethink their dietary habits. Those who have healthy eating habits and don't suffer from nutritional deficiencies are more likely to conceive within a menstrual cycle. Mothers to-be who have healthy eating habits give their babies the best possible start in life as well. While you're at it, think about weight loss or weight gain, depending on your BMI. A healthy BMI is best for your fertility, and also for your baby when you do get pregnant.

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