Contraception is a very broad and complex topic. Not only are there heated debates and discussions about different types and methods of contraception, but there are also many other concerns regarding their pros and cons, the levels of protection involved, ease of use, health risks and many other factors.

When it comes to contraceptive pills, it seems that the confusion is even greater as compared to other methods. For example, while barrier contraceptives have a pretty straightforward and understandable mechanism of action, hormonal contraceptives can appear rather complex and hence, not completely reliable.

What’s on this page?

There are other situations – some couples might have used contraceptive pills for ages, but are now thinking about trying for a baby, while others might want to return to the pill following birth. There are many questions and uncertainties regarding this. And that is why we decided to compile this list of most frequently asked questions regarding contraceptive pills and pregnancy.

Can I get pregnant while on the pill?

Most birth control pills are advertised as being 99% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy. This means that there is a small chance of getting pregnant when taking contraceptive pills. And the studies focused on this question confirmed that roughly one in every 100 women on the pill will actually get pregnant, regardless of whether combined contraceptive pill or progesterone-only pill is in question. Despite this, birth control pills remain one of the most efficient and safest contraceptive methods.

Can I take a pregnancy test while on the pill?

Yes, contrary to popular belief and widespread myth, contraceptive pills of whatever type will not affect the results of the pregnancy test. This is so because the hormones that the active ingredients of oral contraceptives emulate are of a completely different class than those hormones which are detected by the pregnancy test. In the former case, we are talking about synthetic versions of progesterone and oestrogen, while in the latter scenario, human chorionic gonadotropin (or HCG for short) will be detected.

When to stop taking the pill if I want to get pregnant?

Most doctors advice to halt contraceptive treatment roughly a month before you begin trying to conceive. Of course, there is a chance to get pregnant even straight away after you stop taking your contraceptive pill, but a majority of women will have to wait for their menstrual cycle to return to normal before attempts to conceive can lead to a success. Some doctors even advise women to wait for one period to pass without pills prior to attempting to conceive.

Should I stop taking the pill for some other reasons?

There are several scenarios when the doctor might actually advise you against using oral contraceptives if you are:

  • Active smoker older than 35
  • Affected by thrombosis
  • Affected by heart disease
  • Had stroke recently
  • Diagnosed with lupus
  • Diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Diagnosed with gallbladder disease or liver disease
  • Affected by daily migraines
  • Diagnosed with diabetes

There is no need to make pauses in taking the pill otherwise, as there is no build-up of active ingredients over time. If you are a healthy non-smoker, you will be able to use contraceptive pill up to roughly 50 years of age.

Can contraceptive pills cause miscarriage?

No, birth control pills cannot be used as an abortive method and the research contacted so far has produced no evidence that oral contraceptives can harm the foetus if they are taken during the early stages of pregnancy.

Should I use oral contraceptives after giving birth?

Many women suspect that it is impossible to get pregnant immediately after giving birth. There is some truth to this as the first three weeks after giving birth are marked by the relatively low chances of conceiving again. However, within this period, it is unlikely that woman will feel comfortable enough to have sex either way. So, the final answer to this question is yes, you should continue using oral contraceptives after giving birth if you want to avoid conceiving again.

Can I use contraceptive pill while breastfeeding?

Not all contraception methods are suitable for women who are currently breastfeeding. Combined contraceptive pills, vaginal rings and implants are not considered appropriate or safe as the hormones they contain can be transmitted to the baby through milk. However, progesterone-only pills, as well as barrier contraceptives, IUDs and IUSs are perfectly safe both for you and your baby.