The Pill and Fertility

Will taking birth control pills harm my future fertility?

Only 1% of post-pill women have amenorrhea and resulting fertility problems, after discontinuing the Pill. With such a low rate, it is likely that this is merely a coincidence.

The biggest risk to fertility in Pill users is that they are not protected from sexually transmitted disease unless they use condoms as a secondary method. STDs can turn into Pelvic Inflammatory Disease--a severe infection of the female reproductive tract. Infection of the tubes can lead to infertility. But, as I will discuss below, the Pill can also protect you here.

Many aspects of the Pill protect fertility via its non-contraceptive benefits. In other words, the Pill prevents diseases and conditions that could impair fertility. For starters, even though the Pill leaves the door open for STDs, if you should be unlucky enough to catch one, it will still help you out. The Pill decreases the build-up of the lining of the uterus. So when the organism of the sexually transmitted disease tries to make its way up the female reproductive tract, the diminished lining gives it less to hang on to. As a result, it is less likely to reach the tubes and therefore less likely to cause the damage that results in infertility. A woman on the Pill has 50% less risk of pelvic inflammatory disease. Likewise, since the Pill usually works by preventing ovulation, there is less ectopic pregnancy in Pill users. Again, this protects against a malady that can damage tubes. The last way it helps guard against tube damage is by preventing growth of endometriosis.

Recent studies have confirmed these theoretical advantages in practice. There are in deed higher fertility rates in former Pill users when compared to those who have never used them.

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