Trying to get pregnant after coming off pill!
September 9, 2007 7:16 PM   Subscribe

Trying to get pregnant after coming off pill! Help!

I am a 32 year-old woman. I've been on birth control since I was in my teens. I came off the pill 4.5 months ago, in anticipation of trying to get pregnant. So far, my cycles remain irregular. Sometimes four weeks, sometimes five, sometimes six... Pretty skimpy output (sorry). Been trying to get pregnant for the last month -- with no results. I don't expect overnight success, but how long do I have to wait until my cycle returns to normal? How long should I wait before worrying?
posted by It ain't over yet to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What pill were you on?
posted by k8t at 7:24 PM on September 9, 2007

It took me 12 months to get normal after getting off depo-provera (6 months of no period, then 6 months of irregularity). Your OB-Gyn can probably answer this question better than we can.
posted by clh at 7:28 PM on September 9, 2007

It can take up to a 1.5 years for people to return to normal cycles, especially after being on the pill for so long.

(From speaking with someone at Planned Parenthood just the other day)

However, IANAD.
posted by PinkButterfly at 7:28 PM on September 9, 2007

Response by poster: Was on Kariva.
posted by It ain't over yet at 7:30 PM on September 9, 2007

Best book ever: Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. Get it! Read it! You'll be able to figure out what's going on right away, and catch ovulation when it happens, no matter how crazy your cycles are.
posted by xo at 7:32 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm going to second Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
posted by drezdn at 7:33 PM on September 9, 2007

It took me at least six months to regulate my cycle, and another five to figure out when during that cycle I was able to get pregnant (ovulation sticks, lots of em, and temperature measuring). Hang in there.
posted by nkknkk at 7:33 PM on September 9, 2007

And here's a good thread too:
posted by nkknkk at 7:37 PM on September 9, 2007

"Conventional wisdom" says it takes one month for every year you were on the pill before your cycle is normal.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:43 PM on September 9, 2007

You might want to think about the fact that given how long you were on the pill, you really don't know what your "normal" cycle is. Some people are just irregular. Also, a gynecologist told one of my friends that your cycle changes every 6 years or something like that (sorry I know that is vague second hand knowledge).
posted by whoaali at 7:50 PM on September 9, 2007

Thirding "Taking Charge of Your Fertility." It's a book I wish someone handed to me when I first menstruated. There is a LOT that you can figure out on your own with a thermometer and a sticky finger (sorry, guys). An irregular cycle does not mean that you aren't ovulating. Of course you should see a doctor, too, but learn more about your cycle first, and then you'll have something to discuss. Good luck!
posted by tk at 8:01 PM on September 9, 2007

Thirding "Taking charge of your Fertility" but I also think I trip to the Ob/Gyn is a great idea. Something like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome could be affecting your fertility, and yet you wouldn't have known you had it while on the pill.

I also was very irregular after going off the pill, and I think going on Clomid helped to regulate my cycle, although it still took three years of on and off trying before I conceived.
posted by saffry at 8:05 PM on September 9, 2007

Fourthing, fifthing? TAKING CHARGE OF YOUR FERTILITY - if you're having irregular cycles, I would suspect that you're not ovulating yet, and charting your cycle (TCOYF sells brilliant software for this, or you can just do it on paper- all you need is a good thermometer) will let you know either way.

TCOYF has literally changed my life. I wish I'd read it earlier. It's interesting to know exactly when you're fertile, whether you're trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy.

Good luck!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:55 PM on September 9, 2007

As a counter-point to those who spent years attempting to get pregnant, last year my wife came off the pill for us to start trying, and it only took about three months. She had been on the pill for nine years straight, ever since our first child.

For us it was simply a matter of trying, trying, trying, but also trying, trying, trying to make sure that the pressure and stress of trying didn't take it's toll. Stress and pressure shut unnecessary biological processes down, especially baby-making processes, so it's important to approach the trying with as much fun and relaxation as you possibly can.

We didn't attempt to get the cycles correct, temperatures correct, moment correct. We thought about the additional stress of adding the science to it, and decided against going that route. We simple had as much baby-making as we could possible fit into a week, and hoped that this would be an easier fix than trying to get the "timing" right. We can clearly pinpoint the day of conception as a day that we tried twice on the one day - proof that effort pays off!

Our second son was born two months ago. Good luck!
posted by Neale at 9:55 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I haven't read Taking Charge of Your Fertility (which may contain the following information), but it's important for you to know that there's only a very small window (2 or 3 days) during any "month" in which you can get pregnant and the best way to find that window is by paying attention to the viscosity of your vaginal discharge -- clear and somewhat runny, not too sticky. (Sorry again guys.) Worked for me, twice.
posted by blackfoot dazy at 9:59 PM on September 9, 2007

Taking Charge of Your Fertility changed the way I felt about my body, I shit you not. It was a revelation. I was on the pill for four years and, on stopping, I wasn't having periods for two or three months at a time. I was scared. On recommendation from AskMefi, I got that book and learned about my cycle. About a year later, my cycle finally normalized and we have been best buds ever since.

If you don't want to read it (do read it!), you are looking for a vaginal fluid the consistency of uncooked eggwhites about 5-2 days before ovulation. Begin taking your temperature every morning as soon as you open your eyes. Your temp should rise a few points on ovulation and stay up until your period (the luteal phase) about 13 days later. You are looking for several days of eggwhite, followed by a tiny temp spike. The eggwhite is a fluid that nurtures sperm and indicates your cervix is open.

It took me a long time for my body to right itself. You might not be having fertile cervical fluid at the right time or your luteal phase may not be long enough to give the egg time to start sending out "you're pregnant" signals to stop the period. Don't get too anxious. You may have to wait a bit longer.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:22 AM on September 10, 2007

Go on holidays.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 2:11 AM on September 10, 2007

1) Read Taking Charge Of Your Fertility, as everyone else has recommended. It's a big book so you won't sit down and read it in one sitting, but check out the part on charting your temperature. Start doing this immediately! You will need to buy a basal body thermometer at the drugstore. Make this your priority - keep the thermometer next to the bed with paper and pen. The book explains what to do. It's really easy and it's a great way to really understand what's going on with your cycle. Start tomorrow morning!

2) Make an appointment with your OB/GYN. Tell her/him what you told us and ask for an FSH test (follicle stimulating hormone). This will tell you how hard your body is working to produce an egg. Ask for their advice/thoughts on what you can be doing, besides the obvious, to get pregnant. When you go to your appointment, take your temperature chart with you. It contains good information your doc will want to see.

3) If you don't feel like your doctor is your partner (so to speak!) in helping you achieve a healthy pregnancy, then switch. Ask your friends with children who they recommend.

4) Start taking prenatal vitamins now.

Good luck!
posted by Kangaroo at 5:58 AM on September 10, 2007

“but it's important for you to know that there's only a very small window (2 or 3 days) during any "month" in which you can get pregnant”

This? Is not true. In theory, yes. In the actual messy complexity of the human body and reality, no.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:02 AM on September 10, 2007

Ethereal Bligh writes "This? Is not true. In theory, yes. In the actual messy complexity of the human body and reality, no."

Care to expound on that thought?
posted by chiababe at 8:07 AM on September 10, 2007

Care to expound on that thought?

I don't get that, either. Once you combine the maximum time sperm can stay viable with the maximum time an ovum does, sure, you get more than two or three days, but not THAT much more. It's not like people are fertile for three weeks a month or anything.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 8:25 AM on September 10, 2007

The ovum stays alive for one to two days. Sperm can stay alive for at least to eight days, there's a known pregnancy resulting from an eight-day-old sperm. But five days are pretty common. That gives you something near a week that is common for most people, with something like ten days within the realm of possibility. No responsible birth control source ever talks just about the two day maximum for ova as the period for risk of pregnancy. It is much longer.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:32 AM on September 10, 2007

That may be technically correct, EB, but conventional wisdom in the trying-to-get-pregnant crowd holds that the sperm best be hanging out and waiting for that egg to emerge if you want to maximize your odds of conception.

Nthing Taking Charge of Your Fertility, and adding the anecdotal evidence that it took me well over a year to get pregnant after going off the pill.
posted by ambrosia at 9:14 AM on September 10, 2007

Another yes for TCOYF and definitely yes to starting to chart your cycles. My cycles were pretty irregular after going off the pill and even with well timed trying and charting it still took 16 months after stopping b/c for us to conceive - I'm 21 weeks now. Having a blood workup with your gyn wouldn't hurt either and might give you some additional answers about your cycle and hormone levels, best of luck to you.

Re the window of opportunity, regardless of how big or small that window is (and I think it would vary for every couple), even if you time it exactly right you're still not guaranteed success. We had many months where it just didn't even seem possible that with everything we did I still wasn't pregnant.
posted by justjen at 9:50 AM on September 10, 2007

EB, a responsible birth control source would obviously emphasize the wider end of the range, as being the time within which one could conceivably get pregnant. A responsible fertility treatment source would emphasize the shorter end, as being the time within which one is most likely to get pregnant. Same time range overall, but for the OP's purposes, the fertility perspective is what she's looking for.
posted by expialidocious at 9:54 AM on September 10, 2007

Mod note: comment removed - please take the metafertility issues that aren't on this topic to email or metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:59 PM on September 10, 2007

A dear friend of mine is an acupuncturist who specializes in infertility patients, and she's just CRAZY about the cycle-charting. She also regularly recommends the book The Infertility Cure (by Randine Lewis), FYI.
posted by at 1:25 AM on September 11, 2007

Same thing happened to me - wacky cycles off BC. Will nth suggestion of TCOYF and charting. Got me knocked up with triplets within three cycles. And thank god I was charting (and using ovulation predictor kits) - otherwise we would have mistimed.

I don't necessarily recommend triplets, though.
posted by pyjammy at 12:23 PM on September 12, 2007

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