Return to fertility after cessation of a continuous oral contraceptive

Fertil Steril. 2009 May;91(5):1654-6. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.02.122. Epub 2008 May 7.


Objective: To evaluate the return to fertility among women planning to become pregnant after the use of a continuous regimen of levonorgestrel 90 microg and ethinyl E(2) 20 microg.

Design: Descriptive analysis of pregnancy outcomes after participation in a contraceptive trial.

Setting: Multicenter trial.

Subject(s): Participants in a phase 3 contraceptive trial who discontinued to become pregnant.

Intervention(s): Eligible subjects were contacted at 3 and 12 months after treatment discontinuation to determine if and when they had conceived.

Main outcome measure(s): Kaplan-Meier analysis displaying the time until conception after oral contraceptive discontinuation.

Result(s): In the phase 3 trial, 34 of 2,134 subjects cited a desire for pregnancy as a reason for discontinuation. Of these, 4 were already pregnant before stopping treatment, 4 initiated other contraception, and 5 were lost to follow-up. Of the remaining 21 subjects at risk of pregnancy, the pregnancy rate was 57% at 3 months, 81% at 12 months, and 86% (18 of 21) (95% confidence interval 64% to 97%) at 13 months after discontinuation of treatment.

Conclusion(s): These findings suggest that a continuous oral contraceptive with levonorgestrel 90 microg and ethinyl E(2) 20 microg does not delay the return to fertility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined / pharmacology*
  • Ethinyl Estradiol / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Fertility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Levonorgestrel / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate
  • Prospective Studies


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined
  • Ethinyl Estradiol
  • Levonorgestrel