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Planning Pregnancy and Discontinuing Birth Control Pills

Q: My husband and I are planning on getting pregnant in the future, but I'm currently taking birth control pills. Prior to trying to conceive, when should I stop taking the pills? 

- B.A.P.

Dr. Donnica:
Good luck with your new project! There is no data to support any specific optimum time to stop taking the Pill prior to conceiving. Some doctors recommend 3 months, but we don't have any scientific basis or current reason for that. Many doctors, myself included, simply recommend one month just so that you can have your first normal menstrual period before conceiving. This gives us a fairly reliable basis on which to estimate your due date, without having to do an ultrasound.  Rest assured that birth control pills are cleared from your system fairly quickly, which is why women can get pregnant if they miss even 1 or 2 pills. I do recommend that women planning to conceive in the near future, whether they are on the Pill or not, begin taking folic acid (400 micrograms per day) in order to reduce the risk of certain birth defects. For more information on preparing for pregnancy, click here.

Best regards,
Donnica L. Moore, MD

Created: 8/8/2002  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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