There are many myths surrounding hormonal contraception. Although it is commonly used to prevent unwanted pregnancy – still many women wonder how taking the medication will affect their fertility. Are birth control pills or patches safe? Will I be able to get pregnant without any problems after stopping contraception? Researchers in Africa have analyzed hundreds of publications to answer these concerns.
Before a medicine can be put into use, it must go through a long procedure, including numerous clinical trials to confirm its safety and possible side effects. It is no difference with hormonal products, which are used to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Despite the numerous scientific evidence, fear of future fertility accompanies many women considering hormone therapy as a form of contraception.
Researchers in Africa set out to gather existing knowledge to answer the question of what effect hormone use has on the resumption of reproductive function after withdrawal. They looked for data on pregnancy rates and the length of time women tried to have a baby after stopping taking contraception. They also looked at possible side effects and risks.
The researchers analyzed in detail the results of studies published in scientific journals between 1985 and 2017. They used major bibliographic databases and libraries such as PubMed/Medline, the Global Health Database, Embase, the Cochrane Library, and the African Index Medicus. Twenty-two studies were included in the final analysis which included a total of 14,884 women who had stopped using contraception.
The overall pregnancy rate was 83.1% (95% CI = 78.2-88%) within the first 12 months of contraceptive discontinuation. It was not significantly different between women using hormonal preparations and IUDs. Similarly, the type of progesterone in a given contraceptive option and the duration of oral contraceptive use had no significant effect on fertility return after contraceptive cessation. In contrast, the effect of the number of previous pregnancies carried to at least 20 weeks on the resumption of fertility after contraceptive discontinuation was inconclusive.
The conclusions were optimistic. According to the researchers, the use of hormonal contraceptives, regardless of duration or type, does not have a negative impact on women’s ability to conceive after stopping their use. Nor does it significantly delay the point at which fertility returns. Therefore, appropriate counseling is important to ensure that women are able to use methods consistent with their needs.
Caution: the use of hormonal contraceptives should be preceded by consultation with a doctor. In some cases, hormonal contraceptives can mask existing fertility problems. It is also not recommended for women with a genetic predisposition to thromboembolic diseases. A specialist will assess the possible risks and help you choose the best method for you.