Many of my articles are dedicated to the side effects of the pill, especially those that no one warns you about. That absolutely does NOT mean I am against birth control. Many women like the pill because they feel birth control is in their hands. Other methods, such as the condom, require the cooperation of both partners. I believe each method has its place, depending on the time in your life. Here are the main birth control methods that DO not mess up your hormones.
The copper IUD
The copper IUD is considered the most effective form of birth control out there. It acts by stopping implantation and it can actually be used as an emergency contraceptive as well. The great thing about it is that you continue to ovulate and have a normal cycle. It does not affect your ability to have children in the future. Also, several studies were conducted to see if the levels of copper in those who had the IUD were higher than in those who did not. The findings? Good news! There was no significant difference between the two groups! Also, with the copper IUD, contraception is again in your hands. You do have to get it placed in by your doctor, but once that’s done, it can be kept safely for about 10 years.
Does it have side effects? It does have its risks, but their incidence is actually quite small compared to those of hormonal contraceptives. Some women report heavier periods, sometimes with clots, and worse cramps than before. There’s also a very small risk that the IUD will move out of place and perforate the uterus. So if you have a copper IUD and experience sudden excruciating pain that sends you to the ER, be sure to tell them about your IUD. Do not forget that the IUD does not protect you against STIs, so if you’re having casual sex, you will need to use a condom!
The diaphragm (used with spermicide)
The diaphragm is a barrier method. Unlike the condom, the diaphragm covers your cervix and does not protect you against STIs. It is more effective if it is used with spermicide. It is not the most effective method, its percentage is only about 88% (in theory, when used perfectly, its effectiveness goes up to 94%).
As for risks, the diaphragm itself has little risks, if you don’t count that it does not protect against STIs. The spermicide, however, contains some chemicals that can cause side effects in some women. UTIs can happen more often and it can also cause irritations that will put you at bigger risks for contracting STIs, including HIV. Again, not the best for casual sex, but if the spermicide doesn’t bother you, it can be a good alternative when you’re in a stable relationship.
The Fertility Awareness Method
I talked about FAM in another article and about how it can be a great method to use, not just for birth control, but for figuring out hormonal imbalances as well. I will say this again though – THE FERTILITY AWARENESS METHOD IS NOT THE RHYTHM METHOD. The rhythm method is extremely inefficient because it is based on the idea that every woman’s cycle is regular and pretty much the same every month. Which is absolutely wrong! Even those with the most regular cycle can be thrown off by unexpected stress, illness, or just traveling while on vacation. Through FAM you track several fertility signs. Through them you can know when you are fertile, you can confirm ovulation and thus know when you are safe to have unprotected sex.
Also, if you follow FAM by the book, you cannot go unprotected for at least three cycles of using the method. Why? Because not every woman’s patterns look the same and you have to gain confidence in understanding your own patterns. Again, you are not basing yourself on patterns or a rhythm, but you need to have a good understanding of how the temperature and the cervical mucus changes throughout your cycle. Once you get the hang of it, you can have unprotected sex after you confirm ovulation. In the fertile window, you have several options: condoms, diaphragms, the pull-out method (which needs to be used perfectly to be efficient), and good ol’ fashioned abstinence.
The downside? It requires a lot of diligence. You need to take your basal body temperature at about the same time each day. And you need to check your cervical mucus each time you go to the bathroom and record the most fertile one. Finally, this method truly requires the cooperation of both partners, which is why it is difficult to use unless you are in a very stable relationship.
Last, but not least, condoms are the only birth control method that actually protects against STIs. They exist both in latex and non-latex, so allergies are no longer an issue. Sure, some will say they feel weird with them, that the sensations are not quite as good. But you know what is worse? Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and other STIs. They are very efficient both in protecting against pregnancy and against STIs when USED CORRECTLY. If it’s your first time using one, maybe don’t wait until the big moment. Test it on a toy. They all come with instructions and it is important to take all those steps both when putting it on and after your partner finishes.
What is your favorite non-hormonal birth control method?
And why? Leave a comment below and let us know. And, as always, if you liked this article, don’t forget to share it and to subscribe to receive articles straight to your inbox.
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