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Birth control pills can temporarily reduce a woman’s future fertility

A recent study suggests that being on birth control pills can temporarily reduce a woman’s fertility.

Researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital measured the levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) and antral follicles (AFC), in 833 women between the ages of 19 and 46 years old. AMH and AFC are common indicators of the quantity of a woman’s remaining eggs (ovarian reserve). They found that AMH and AFC levels were 16% – 19% lower in those who were taking birth control pills. Those taking birth control also produced fewer eggs (ovarian volume), particularly women under age 30.

According to lead researcher Dr. Katrine Birch Petersen, the team was surprised at the effect birth control pills appeared to have on ovarian reserve as measured by AMH, AFC, and ovarian volume. However, she stressed that this effect is likely only temporary:

“We do not believe the pill changes the ovaries in any permanent way…But we still need to know more about the recovery phase after women stop the pill…The pill is unlikely to change the basal ovarian biology of egg depletion – but it certainly changes the appearance of the ovaries and the secretion of AMH.”

Dr. Petersen recommends that in order to gain an accurate assessment of their ovarian reserve, women should have their fertility should be tested three months after stopping birth control pills.

Read more about the study here.


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