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Do You Ovulate On Birth Control? How Your Menstrual Cycle Really Works On The Pill

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Do You Ovulate on Birth Control?

Birth control, more specifically in the form of a pill, is one of the greatest inventions of the last century. Since the invention of the pill, women have been able to gain more rights, reduce unwanted pregnancies, and also choose to focus on their careers. The pill is a great thing, and most women will use it at one point or another.

Despite the common usage of the pill, most women don’t really know how their birth control works. Or, rather, they might know bits and pieces of the story rather than the full picture. Some ladies know that it prevents sperm from reaching the egg, but they don’t know how. Others aren’t really sure if it actually prevents fertilization, but believe it could be preventing implantation.

RELATED: A Guide To The Best Birth Control For Every Type Of Woman

There are so many questions that most people have about birth control, and all of them are pretty important. Does it thicken cervical mucus so that sperm can’t penetrate eggs? Does birth control just avoid implantation, rather than allow you to avoid fertilization? Do you ovulate on birth control? Is birth control safe to use if you’re trying to have a baby?

Have you been wondering how your birth control works, or if it could be altering your ovulation clock? Here’s the scoop on what your birth control does to your ovulation, according to the experts.

What’s ovulation? When a woman fully matures, she starts going through a cycle of hormonal changes every month. One of the changes that happens is ovulation. During ovulation, you release an egg cell into your Fallopian tube.

When you have a mature egg cell in your Fallopian tube, you can potentially get pregnant if a sperm is able to reach it. If a sperm cell fertilizes an egg cell, it will then try to implant itself in your uterus, where it will become a fetus ready to be born. If you aren’t ovulating, you can’t get pregnant.

Your ovulation really depends on the type of birth control you’re on, so let’s take a look at what you need to know.

There are two main categories of birth control out on the market today: There’s non-hormonal birth control, and hormonal birth control. The category of birth control you choose will determine how the birth control works.

With non-hormonal birth control, like condoms, copper IUDs, and surgical sterilization, your hormones will continue to work the way they always have. Since hormones are what regulate ovulation, there’s no reason to even think that these forms of contraception will change your ability to ovulate.

RELATED: 10 Weird Things That Happen When You Ovulate

Hormonal birth control, such as pills, insertable, and hormone IUDs, on the other hand, can alter how your ovulation works.

So, do you ovulate on birth control when it's the hormonal type?

Yes. What hormonal birth control typically does is use hormones to alter your ability to ovulate through the use of three hormones called estrogen and progesterone. Most pills use a progesterone analog called progestin to work. 

When you are using the pill or an implant, the birth control releases estrogen, which prevents your ovulation from happening by delaying your body’s ability to produce a mature egg. Some pills also use progestin, which prevents ovulation by blocking the hormones that signal that it’s time to release your egg.

You might be wondering why hormones would tell your body to avoid ovulation, but the answer is quite simple. As Dr. Lauren Streicher from the Northwestern Medical Group points out, "The hormones in the pill, particularly progesterone, are tricking your body into thinking you are pregnant." In other words, if you're pregnant, there's no biological reason to be ready to conceive until you give birth.

Hormonal birth control doesn’t just prevent ovulation, though. The progestin also works as a way to thicken cervical mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to reach the cervix, and keeps your uterine lining too thin to have a fertilized egg implant.

Some forms of birth control, including the "mini pill," skip out on estrogen and deliver progestin-only shots. Even so, the progestin alone means that you won’t ovulate during your time using birth control.

What happens if you decide to start trying to conceive?

Women who are trying to conceive might find that the effects of certain types of hormonal birth control could take a while to fully subside. Depending on the type of hormonal birth control you’re using, it could take you a little bit longer to start ovulating again.

Though some forms of birth control, like the pill, will typically allow couples to conceive within a month of cessation, there are some forms that may take a bit longer. High-potency forms of birth control like Depo-Provera, for example, could take as long as three to six months of waiting time before you first ovulate.

If you want to have a baby sooner rather than later, it’s a good idea to talk to your OB/GYN about the type of birth control you should be using. You might find that sticking to the pill or using an IUD is a better choice.

RELATED: 3 Crazy Ways The Pill Messes With Your Body, Says Studies

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a Jack-of-all-trades writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey. When she's not writing, she's drinking red wine and chilling with some cool cats. You can follow her @bluntandwitty on Twitter.