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Sexually Speaking

Dear Alexis,

I have been on birth control pills consistently for five years. Within the next few years, I might be ready to have kids with my significant other, but I’ve heard that the longer you’ve been on birth control, the harder it becomes to get pregnant when you get off it, maybe even impossible for some women. Is this true?


Concerned about contraception

Dear Concerned about contraception,

Some women who have been on the pill may require more time to become pregnant than women who use other methods of contraception. This lengthened time frame is necessary for reversibility (or the return of the ability to become pregnant) to occur and for hormone levels to regulate after a woman has stopped taking the pill. Doctors generally recommend women plan about three months off the pill before they begin attempts to conceive. The majority of research shows that oral contraceptives do not affect future fertility. In fact, it is shown to have many positive attributes.

Not only does the pill protect against pregnancy, it may help to regulate menstrual cycles and reduce menstrual cramps as well as acne. It has been found to lower the risk of certain cancers, such as ovarian and uterine cancer, as well as ovarian cysts by up to 50 percent. Of course, negative symptoms may also occur during or after use of the pill.

Some forms of the pill may increase risk of circulatory diseases such as heart attack or stroke. If a woman is obese, diabetic, hypertensive or a smoker, another form of contraception should be used instead of the pill. If the research available on reversibility is not convincing enough or if the pill no longer seems like an adequate form of contraception for you, there are other forms of contraception available that do not use hormones and therefore would have no effect on reversibility.

Be safe and have fun!


Non-Hormonal Forms of Contraception:

Male Condom: If used correctly and during each act of intercourse, male condoms are about 97 percent effective at preventing conception. They help a man control ejaculation and provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some males complain of reduced sensitivity. Condoms are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain. USF students can pick up one free bag of condoms per day at Student Health Services.

Female Condom: If used correctly, these are about 95 percent effective at preventing conception. They can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse. They also protect against STIs and have less interference with sensitivity for males. They provide an important woman-controlled alternative to male condoms. Do not use male and female condoms together.

Diaphragms/Cervical Caps: If used correctly and with spermicide, diaphragms and cervical caps are about 80 percent effective at preventing conception. They must be inserted before intercourse but can be kept in place for many hours. They have no effect on future fertility. However, they do not offer adequate protection against STI’s, therefore a condom should be used to prevent STI transmission.