I am a huge proponent of all things natural. When it comes to contraception, most doctors are quick to put women on the pill. Even just for things like hormonal acne, they result to the pill. However, many women don’t actually realize the effects of this decision.
The pill can cause depression, weight gain, loss of sex drive, trouble getting pregnant when off the pill, gut problems and more. The pill might be a great option for many, however, there are potential risks when using synthetic hormones in your body that women should be made aware of.
If you want to avoid these potential side effects, check out the natural birth control methods below.
FAM: Fertility Awareness Method
For this method, you must have regularly occurring periods. You must also be dedicated to learning about your body and be willing to take a few months to collect data on your cycle before relying on this as birth control. Before you get started, read the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility in order to know how to proceed.
In general, what you’re doing is tracking your basal body temperature (which is your resting body temperature) every morning before you get out of bed. Keep in mind, you can’t move much or your temperature will rise. You need a special thermometer to take your BBT temperature. It will run an algorithm to see where you are in your cycle. Many women use the Daysy thermometer, but I use the Lady-Comp thermometer. Both will indicate which days are safe to have sex and which aren’t. The unsafe days you have to wear a condom or abstain. Green days are safe, yellow days you need to use protection and red days are fertile days.
To get a better sense of where you are in your cycle, you should take your temperature and plot it on a chart like this one:
Typically, before ovulation there will be a slight drop in your BBT, then after ovulation, you will have a sharp rise in BBT. You can get pregnant during this 24-hour window and up to 6 days before (sperm can live inside you that long!). After charting your temperature for a few months, the thermometer will recognize your temperature fluctuations and be able to provide you more green days than yellow or red. This method is 99.3% effective when done correctly, however, there is a lot of room for human error. If you don’t get 4 consecutive hours of sleep, if you have irregular sleeping patterns, if you drink alcohol the night before, and if you have a cold, your BBT could easily rise and throw off the algorithm. I accidentally got pregnant with this method for the reasons listed above, and 24% of women who use this method incorrectly will as well. I would still recommend it for those how are dedicated and have a more stable life. Many women have used this method for years without fail. Do your research, then decide for yourself.
We all know these little rubbers. They’re 98% effective when used correctly and 82% effective with typical use. They’re a great way to protect against STD’s and are easy and painless to use.
The female condom is similar to male condom and is inserted into the vagina. I don’t know much about the female condom. But I’m guessing that their lack of popularity remains for a reason. One reviewer wrote that sometimes you could feel it and it would move during intercourse. It can irritate your vagina and his penis as well.
However, it allows you to have control over the contraception process and is entirely natural, so it’s something to consider. They’re 79% effective with typical use and 95% with perfect use.
Diaphragm + spermicide
Diaphragms have been used since the 1880’s and were even recommended to me by my mom – so we know they’ve been around the block.
Diaphragms are a shallow, circular cup made of silicone that covers your cervix. If you use this method, pair it with spermicide to be safe. This will prevent any sperm from entering your uterus and spermicide should make it impossible for them to move. This method is 94% effective with perfect use and 88% effective with typical use.
You need to insert the device before intercourse and you can even leave it in up to 24 hours after. Some diaphragms need to be fitted to your body, while others like Caya, are a one-size fits all. You’ll still need to go to your doctor to get a prescription though. It might not be the easiest to always insert, but the little effort is worth it!
Copper IUD (Paraguard):
IUDs are some of the most effective methods of birth control, up there with permanent sterilization. They have a 99% efficacy rate. This is because it involves no work on your part, so there’s little room for human error. They’re a wonderful choice to consider, but they do come with potential side effects every woman needs to be aware of.
IUDs can be both hormonal and hormone-free. The hormone-free IUDs are made of copper because sperm despises copper and won’t be hanging out around it. They consist of a small, flexible t-shape form and need to be inserted into the uterus by a doctor. The insertion can cost anywhere from nothing to $1,300 depending on your insurance and provider.
IUDs stay in you for a long time, especially copper ones. They can live in you for up to 12 years! While insertion can be quite painful, the 12 year expiration can be enticing to many, and the procedure itself only lasts 5 minutes. If you want to lessen the pain, take pain medicine before showing up to your appointment and ask for a local numbing cream.
Many women will experience cramping after the insertion and heavy periods with worse cramps than before the insertion. They can also cause irregular periods and spotting. This is why I decided against the copper IUD, since my periods were already bad. I have a friend who had 2-day periods that were very light and she went on the IUD. However, her periods became so bad that, after a 6-month trial, she decided to remove it.
It’s important to give it a few months for your body to adjust like my friend did. Periods with your IUD will often become more manageable after that point in time. If they don’t, then at least you know tried your best!
There are rarer risks of the IUD shifting, coming out, or pushing through the wall of your uterus. This should not be painful, but worst-case scenario, would require surgery to remove it.
The IUD must ultimately be removed by a physician. There is a string attached to the t-shape that will be inside of your vagina (out of the way), which the doctor will use to remove it.