What Are Signs of Ovulation After Stopping the Pill?

What Are Signs of Ovulation After Stopping the Pill?

And how long after stopping birth control can you get pregnant?

So you've been on birth control pills for a while now, and you're considering coming off them. Or perhaps you're hesitant to start taking birth control pills due to the common belief that they may affect your ability to conceive when you're ready.

First and foremost, we'd like to dispel any misconceptions: birth control pills do not diminish your chances of getting pregnant. In fact, according to studies, 83% of women conceive within the first year after discontinuing birth control pills. In this article, we'll discuss  signs of ovulation after stopping the pill, giving you insight into the best times to have sex.

How does birth control affect ovulation?

Before we delve into the signs of ovulation after stopping the pill, you need to understand the concept of ovulation and how oral contraceptives affect it. 


Ovulation is the process by which a mature egg is released by the ovary into the fallopian tube. There, it stays viable for 12-24 hours, awaiting fertilization by a sperm. For most people, this process is typically mid-cycle (i.e. 14 days after menstruation if you have a 28 days menstrual cycle).   


Birth control pills mostly work by preventing ovulation. They contain bio-synthetic hormones, typically estrogen and progestin, which regulate the menstrual cycle and inhibit the release of eggs. Additionally, some birth control pills temporarily make it harder to get pregnant by thickening cervical mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to reach the eggs, and thinning the uterine lining, making it less easy for a fertilized egg to implant itself and grow. 

Signs of ovulation after stopping the pill

Contrary to popular belief, menstruating after stopping the pill doesn't necessarily mean you are ovulating—You may experience something known as anovulatory bleeding, where you menstruate just fine but don’t ovulate. While everyone's experience is different after coming off the pill, here are some common signs that you are ovulating and not just menstruating.


Cervical mucus 

Mid-cycle, you may notice that your vaginal discharge is more slippery, sticky and egg-white in color. This consistency makes it easy for sperm to travel to the fallopian tube, to fertilize the egg that is released. 


Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

BBT is a natural way to confirm ovulation. BBT is the lowest natural body temperature after resting (i.e. first thing in the morning, before you’ve eaten or drank anything). During ovulation, BBT increases by 0.5-1 degrees fahrenheit. Compared to ovulation test kits, BBT is hard to track reliably, so it may be inaccurate. 


Pelvic or abdominal pain

This pain is also known as the mittelschmerz pain or ovulation pain. It may be like mild period-like cramps or it can be sharp, and one-sided. Not all people experience mittelschmerz.

Breast tenderness/pain 

During and after ovulation, your breasts or nipples may feel sore and swollen, in response to changing progesterone levels. It usually manifests as a dull ache or heaviness, which can last until the start of your period.  

Bloating

Before ovulation, hormones like luteinizing hormones and estrogen surge, which can trigger bloating similar to bloating before your period. 

Mood changes

As your body adjusts after stopping birth control pills, hormonal fluctuations become pronounced, which can cause mood swings. The birth control pill helps keep hormone levels low throughout the cycle, so a natural ovarian cycle can cause bigger shifts in levels. 


The return of pre-birth control symptoms

If you were taking oral contraceptives to manage hormone-related conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, you would start to see those symptoms again. These symptoms may include irregular periods, longer or heavy periods, acne, dark hair growth, painful cramps, weight gain, and painful periods. 

How to track ovulation

There are several ways to track ovulation. An ovulation testing kit (OPK) is a simple and reliable method. It tracks the level of luteinizing hormone (LH)  in your urine. A surge of this hormone shows a positive result which means you will ovulate in the next 24-36 hours. 

Another way to track ovulation is, of course, measuring basal body temperature. During ovulation, BBT elevates; however, this is not the best way to track ovulation, because there are many other reasons why BBT may elevate, such as infection, jet lag, stress, smoking, or even drinking alcohol. 

Alternatively, you can visit your doctor for a hormone blood test. Your doctor will order a test to measure your LH and estrogen levels to determine if you are ovulating. This is the most accurate method of tracking ovulation. 

How soon can you get pregnant after stopping birth control?

Again, birth control pills, regardless of the hormonal birth control methods and duration, do not affect your ability to get pregnant. The best way to know how soon you can get pregnant is to track your ovulation, which usually resumes 14 days/mid-cycle, or takes several weeks. 

Remember that everyone is different—what will be immediate for someone may take weeks or even months for another. 

Here's a rundown, in very general terms, of what the time to pregnancy can be after stopping hormonal birth control:

  • The pill: immediately after stopping use.

  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs): you can get pregnant right after removal. 

  • The patch: within 1 to 2 weeks after stopping use.

  • The implant: within 1 to 2 weeks after removal.

  • The ring: within 1 to 2 weeks after removal.

  • The shot: within 1 to 9 months after stopping use.

The bottom line

If you've been wondering if birth control pills will affect your ability to get pregnant, I have some good news for you. Research shows that birth control pills don't affect fertility in any long lasting way. Birth control pills, when you are taking them, control the hormones so that you don’t ovulate. With time, as the hormones fully leave your system, your natural ovarian cycles should resume!

The most crucial thing after stopping the pill is to recognize times of ovulation in order to get pregnant. Common signs that you are ovulating or soon to ovulate are slippery cervical mucus, elevated BBT, pelvic or lower abdominal pain, breast tenderness, bloating and mood swings. Additionally, expect the return of pre-birth control symptoms if you were managing conditions like PCOS or endometriosis. 

Aside from these signs, you can use ovulation testing kits or undergo hormone blood tests to pinpoint ovulation after birth control pills more accurately. Remember, the ability to conceive typically resumes right after you’ve stopped birth control, but individual timelines vary. 

Image 1Image 1

Ready To Take Your Fertility Health Into Your Own Hands?

Still have questions? Check out our FAQ