When Is the Earliest I Will Ovulate After Stopping Birth Control?
Looking to get off birth control and start TTC? Learn the various factors that impact your cycle when stopping the pill and how soon you can expect to ovulate.
By OBGYN and fertility expert, Dr. Kenosha Gleaton
If you’ve recently stopped or are thinking about stopping birth control, you may be wondering how long it takes until you start to ovulate again. First, let’s talk about the different kinds of birth control and how they impact your menstrual cycle.
Types of birth control methods
Birth control or contraceptives are different objects or medications that are used to prevent pregnancy. There are a few different kinds of birth control, including barrier methods, hormonal methods, sterilization procedures, and naturally family planning. 
Barrier birth control
The most well known and widely used barrier birth control method is the condom. Condoms and other barrier methods block sperm from reaching the uterus. These methods do not interfere with the menstrual cycle or ovulation.
Hormonal birth control
Hormonal methods of birth control include the pill, patch, vaginal ring, injection, IUD, and implant. These work by releasing estrogen and progestin to disrupt the normal hormone cycle and prevent ovulation.  Many hormonal birth control methods stop ovulation, but not all. If ovulation does occur, some hormonal methods as well as the non-hormonal copper IUD change the conditions of the uterus and cervical mucus to repel sperm from reaching an egg.
Sterilization refers to a permanent surgery done to prevent pregnancy. This includes tubal ligations or tubal removal for those assigned female at birth, and vasectomies for those assigned male at birth. A tubal ligation will tie or block the fallopian tubes so that an egg cannot travel to the uterus or reach sperm, but ovulation and menstruation are usually not impacted.
Natural family planning
Natural family planning or fertility awareness methods (FAMs) involve timing sex around the fertile period using ovulation tests, cervical mucus tracking, and other methods to track ovulation. FAMs do not alter ovulation, but do require tracking of the menstrual cycle.
Signs of ovulation after stopping the pill
If you have recently stopped using the birth control pill, you may begin ovulating soon if you haven’t already. It’s normal for the body to adjust to new hormone levels for a while so your cycles may be a bit different from how you remember. One of the most effective ways to see if you’re ovulating is by using ovulation tests. These can be taken at home and are simple urine tests that measure luteinizing hormone (LH), which signifies that ovulation is approaching. These tests do read a bit differently than other urine tests, so make sure you know how to read an ovulation test. Aside from this, there are a few physical symptoms you may notice around ovulation:
Different cervical mucus
The fluid produced by the cervix is known as cervical mucus and can actually tell you a lot about where you are in your cycle. Cervical mucus around ovulation tends to be slippery and clear, resembling egg whites. You can check your cervical mucus by inserting a clean finger into the vagina.
Increased basal body temperature
Your basal body temperature (BBT) is your lowest body temperature when resting. Data shows that many (but not all) people will have a slight increase in BBT when nearing ovulation . This isn’t something you will feel, but a digital or basal thermometer can give you an accurate reading. You will need to track your temperature for some time in order to establish a pattern.
Cramping or bloating
Bloating and abdominal pain are often associated with premenstrual syndrome or menstruation, but up to 40% of people also report feeling ovulation pain . This may feel a bit different than normal cramping, as it’s often one-sided pain that only lasts for a few hours to a few days. Pain should not be severe, so if you experience any cramping or pain coupled with bleeding, fever, or nausea, you should see a healthcare provider.
Expected time frame for ovulation
Restarting ovulation after hormonal birth control can take a few days to a few months. [1,3] The good news is that there are no reports of birth control use impacting fertility, even if you’ve been on birth control for years. [1-2] So if you are hoping to get pregnant soon, you don’t need to worry about your previous birth control method impacting your ability to conceive. A study among women who stopped using combined hormonal contraception found that 57% were pregnant after three months, and 81% were pregnant after a year. 
What a lot of people don’t realize is that you can actually ovulate before your period returns. Some will experience irregular periods after stopping birth control and assume that they aren’t ovulating, but this isn’t always the case.  For those that don’t have an underlying condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, ovulation is likely to return within a few days after discontinuing use of most hormonal birth control methods.  In fact, anyone on oral birth control pills is at risk of ovulating if they don’t take their medication for 48 hours, which is why back up contraception is often recommended. 
The injectable form of birth control, commonly known as Depo Provera®, is the only hormonal birth control method that might delay ovulation for an extended period of time after discontinuing. Research shows that ovulation may not resume for up to 10 or so months after the final injection. 
Additional fertility factors to consider
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant after stopping birth control, there are a few things you may want to consider. The basics of fertility include healthy sperm, a healthy egg, and a clear pathway for the two to meet. Some factors that contribute to fertility include age, lifestyle factors, overall health, sperm health, egg health, structural anatomy, and so much more.
If you’re curious about your fertility, you can take fertility tests to measure vital reproductive hormones, sperm testing kits to get a read on sperm health, and you should always speak with your healthcare provider about any of your questions or concerns. Some conditions such as PCOS or endometriosis can make it more difficult to conceive, but there are many fertility treatments and other family planning options available for you to consider, such as ovulation induction, IVF, and more. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology does recommend that anyone planning to get pregnant in the near future begin taking a prenatal vitamin every day. 
What to do if you're experiencing an irregular cycle
It’s considered normal to experience an irregular cycle for up to three months after stopping birth control. If you’re still experiencing an irregular cycle or haven’t had a menstrual period at all after discontinuing hormonal contraceptives, you should see a healthcare provider to rule out underlying conditions. Irregular periods are a common side effect of PCOS, endometriosis, perimenopause, medications, and more. 
Seeking professional guidance is essential to address these issues and support your reproductive health. Consider taking myo inositol 2000 mg for hormonal balance, but consult your healthcare provider first for personalized advice.
- There are multiple types of birth control, but only hormonal birth control impacts ovulation and the menstrual cycle.
- Ovulation usually begins a few days after stopping birth control, but can take a few weeks to a few months, especially for those that were on the birth control injection.
- The best way to tell if you’re ovulating is to use an ovulation test. These measure the hormone responsible for ovulation.
- Other ovulation symptoms include slippery cervical mucus, an increase in basal body temperature, and ovulation pain.
- There are no reports of birth control use negatively impacting fertility.
- It may take up to three months for the body to get back to a normal menstrual cycle. If you haven’t had a period or your cycle is irregular after three months, see your healthcare provider for guidance.
- Britton LE, Alspaugh A, Greene MZ, McLemore MR. CE: An Evidence-Based Update on Contraception. Am J Nurs. 2020;120(2):22-33. doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000654304.29632.a7
- Barnhart K, Mirkin S, Grubb G, Constantine G. Return to fertility after cessation of a continuous oral contraceptive. Fertil Steril. 2009;91(5):1654-1656. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.02.122
- Nassaralla CL, Stanford JB, Daly KD, Schneider M, Schliep KC, Fehring RJ. Characteristics of the menstrual cycle after discontinuation of oral contraceptives. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011;20(2):169-177. doi:10.1089/jwh.2010.2001
- Moghissi KS. Accuracy of basal body temperature for ovulation detection. Fertil Steril. 1976;27(12):1415-1421.
- Brott NR, Le JK. Mittelschmerz. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; May 8, 2022.
- Good Health Before Pregnancy: Prepregnancy Care. ACOG. Reviewed December 2021. Accessed March 2023. URL.
- Your Contraception Guide. National Health Service. Reviewed March 2022. Accessed March 2023. URL.
- What causes menstrual irregularities? National Institutes of Health. Office of Communications. Last Reviewed Date1/31/2017. Accessed March 2023. URL.