Cycle characteristics after discontinuation of oral contraceptives

Gynecol Endocrinol. 2002 Aug;16(4):307-17.


Nearly 60% of the women between 20 and 40 years of age who do not want to conceive choose oral contraceptives (OCs) for contraception in Germany. In an ongoing prospective study on the use of natural family planning in Germany, 175 women have been observed for 3,048 cycles immediately after having discontinued OCs (post-pill group). They were compared to a control group of 284 women observed for 6,251 cycles, who had never taken OCs. Both groups were comparable in age and sociodemographic characteristics. After discontinuing OCs, 57.9% of all first cycles were ovulatory with sufficient luteal phases. However, for the total post-pill group the cycle length was significantly prolonged up to the ninth cycle. A significantly higher number of luteal phases were insufficient in the post-pill group. Major cycle disturbances (cycle length > 35 days or luteal phase of < 10 days of elevated basal body temperature or anovulatory cycles) were significantly more frequent in the post-pill group up to the seventh cycle. Cycle disturbances after discontinuing OCs were reversible but the time of regeneration took up to 9 months (significant) or even longer (not significant). These results will help to counsel couples who wish to conceive after discontinuing OCs or who want to continue contraception with alternative methods.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature
  • Cervix Mucus / physiology
  • Contraceptives, Oral / administration & dosage*
  • Ethinyl Estradiol / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Follicular Phase
  • Humans
  • Luteal Phase
  • Menstrual Cycle*
  • Menstruation Disturbances / epidemiology*
  • Ovulation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors


  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Ethinyl Estradiol