Ask the doctor: Can contraceptives make a woman infertile in the future?

Ask the doctor: Can contraceptives make a woman infertile in the future?

Ask the doctor: Can contraceptives make a woman infertile in the future?

Ask the doctor: Can contraceptives make a woman infertile in the future?

To this day, many girls,women are still confused about the effects of using contraceptives. In fact, a short while ago, a good girl friend of mine told me that 3 of her friends are convinced that contraceptives could make them infertile. So sad, i thought to myself, considering that these are very educated career women, who i would expect to have access to health information but hey,not so!

So what are contraceptives? Contraceptives are basically birth control measures. Any method that can be used to stop the occurrence of pregnancy in a normal fertile woman can be considered contraceptive. Contraceptive methods most commonly used here in Uganda are:

  • condoms
  • pills
  • Dipo Provera Injections
  • implants
  • Intra Uterine Devices(IUD)
  • Sterilization including vasectomy and tubal ligation
  • Fertility patterns of the menstrual cycle
  • Withdrawal(very unreliable)

Of course there are many more methods but which are less commonly used e.g

  • diaphragms
  • spermicides
  • sponges
  • cervical cap
  • Vaginal Ring
  • contraceptive patch

The use of contraceptives in Uganda women is still much a controversy, partly due to fears that contraception could result in future infertility. It’s no wonder that contraceptive use stood at only 30% of the population by 2011, according to the Uganda Demographic Health Survey.

In reality, the only contraceptive method that directly affects a woman’s fertility permanently is tubal ligation, which is a form of sterilization. Here, the tubes are tied off and cut off from the ovary, if it’s done surgically. Sometimes the sterilization can be achieved non-surgically by using scarring.But apart from tubal ligation, none of the other methods actually affects the future fertility of a woman.

Worried about the pills?

You shouldn’t. A danish study carried out in 2014, on 833 women (aged 19-46 years) from August 2011-April 2014, showed that contraceptive pills only caused a short time reduction in the ovarian reserves in women who were actively using them. Ovarian reserve refers to the number of viable eggs a woman has at hand(in the ovary) that could effectively be fertilized for pregnancy to occur. When a woman is actively taking her contraceptive pills; ovarian reserves go down but if she stops, the reserves go back to normal within only 3 months and she’s back to full fertility. Isn’t that great to hear? Key markers of fertility called AMH(Anti Mullerian Hormone) and AFC(Antral Follicles) were found to be 19% and 16% lower in pill users but return to normal values 3 months after stopping the pills.

Worried about the injections(Dipo provera)?

A number of Ugandan women also worry about the dipo provera injection. This injection is given once in every 3 months. The injection does not affect a woman’s future fertility in any way. Should a woman stop taking dipo provera injections, the effects of the injection will wane off after about 9-10 months, and she returns to full fertility. Because of this time lag, that’s why we advise women who would want to have a child within the next 12 months to avoid using this injection. But please note that the injection does not in any way affect a woman’s future fertility.

You can also read: Painful menstruation and how to deal with it.

What about the implants?

Well implants contain the same hormone compounds as the pill(progesterone) which they release slowly into the blood stream. A woman whose implant has been removed could return to full fertility within about 3.8 months according to a study done on Indian women. Conception rates at first year stand at well over 88%. Therefore do not worry about the implants also, they have no effect on future fertility of a woman.

Well, i hope you’ve gotten some insights and i encourage all women to use contraception and have planned pregnancies, which will result in planned families and reduced rates of abortion. But remember; contraception may not exactly stop you from catching sexually transmitted diseases e.g HIV, gonorrhea because many methods are not barrier control methods except condoms.

If you still have issues on contraception, please visit your doctor for more explanations, or consult any of our online doctors at for professional health advice and prescriptions.Our doctors are always available to help you live healthier and better.

About the author

Samuel Kagamba is a medical doctor,computer programmer and entrepreneur; very passionate about developing technologies to improve healthcare delivery in Africa.Off duty, he loves soccer and making new friends.Follow him on twitter
@samuelkagamba or email him at facebook account: Samuel Kagamba.

Samuel Kagamba – who has written posts on Aferdoc Blog.

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