Getting pregnant when the pill is gone

Q: I’ve been on the pill for 8 years. About 1 year ago I started taking the Depo-Provera for about 6 months and stopped. so I haven’t received the Depo since February 98 and I want to get pregnant. I’ve heard it takes 1 year to conceive. Any advice on how to speed things up?

A: Depo provera is an old and excellent method of contraception for many women. However, one of its major debits is that because is can be stored in the body, its effects can hang around a long time. For most women, the effects will be gone by 6 months, so by all means go ahead and start trying. Indeed, some women will conceive shortly after the three month effective period is up.

There is very little that you will be able to do on your own to speed up the process. If you are getting periods now, you can use ovulation predictor kits that you buy at the drugstore to see if you are ovulating. Your caregiver can also order a progesterone blood test, to see if you are ovulating well. If that is a problem, a medication called clomiphene could help you ovulate.

The most important thing you should be doing now, as you attempt to conceive, is to make sure that you are taking folic acid daily. It has been shown that women who are receiving even a small amount of folic acid (400 mg per day) conceive many fewer babies with spina bifida and other birth defects. Of course, as a potential mother I assume you do not smoke, but if you do, please stop. Smoking has bad effects even in the early stages of pregnancy. And I would avoid drinking more that two drinks on any one occasion.

The women who are considering contraceptive choices, if you are debating the pros and cons of depo provera, I would encourage you to factor in a potential slight delay in conception, so that might sway you towards temporary use of either oral contraceptives or a barrier method.

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