For centuries, couples have prevented unwanted pregnancies naturally without the use of medications. What Are Natural Birth Control Alternatives?
There are many safe and effective contraceptives to consider that are time-honored strategies, now even being researched and backed up by science. Several birth control options that are natural and don’t require taking medication include:
- Male Condoms: With an approximate 98 percent effectiveness rate when used correctly, they’re nearly as effective as the pill.
- Female Condoms: While these are not as familiar to most people, female condoms are 95 percent effective and are less likely to tear than male condoms. A female condom consists of a small pouch that fits inside the vagina before sex, protecting sperm from entering the female’s body where it can fertilize an egg.
- Diaphragms: These must be fitted by a doctor and are 92 percent to 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. They’re thin, soft rubber mounted on rings that are inserted into the upper part of the vagina to cover the cervix and act as a barrier to sperm.
- Cervical Cap: This is a heavy rubber cap that fits tightly over the cervix. It must be put into place by a doctor and can be left in place for 48 hours. These have around a 91 percent effectiveness rate.
- Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness: This is an all-natural method for allowing women to track their natural cycles, identify times of fertility, treat premenstrual symptoms and evaluate the effects of stress.
- Calendar Method: Abstention from sex during the week in which a woman is ovulating helps prevent conception from taking place. This technique works best when a woman’s menstrual cycle is very regular and accurately timed. The calendar method doesn’t work very well for couples who use it by itself (about a 75 percent success rate), but it can be effective when combined with the temperature and mucus methods described below.
- Temperature Method: This is a way to pinpoint the day of ovulation so sex can be avoided for a few days before and after. It involves taking the basal body temperature (your temperature upon first waking) each morning with an accurate basal thermometer and noting the rise in temperature that occurs after ovulation. While this method won’t work to prevent pregnancy the first month you start using it, once you have tracked your cycle for several months you can pinpoint which days are the most fertile, and avoid sex on those days. Note that factors like illness or lack of sleep can change body temperature and make this method unreliable by itself, but when it’s combined with the mucus method, it can be an accurate way of assessing fertility. The two methods combined can have a success rate as high as 98 percent.
- Mucus Method: This involves tracking changes in the amount and texture of vaginal discharge, which reflect rising levels of estrogen in the body. For the first few days after your period, there is often no discharge, but there will be a cloudy, tacky mucus as estrogen starts to rise. When the discharge starts to increase in volume and becomes clear and stringy, ovulation is near. A return to the tacky, cloudy mucus or no discharge means that ovulation has passed.
- Herbal Contraception: Use of anti-fertility herbs (Wild Carrot Seed, Smartweed Leaves, Rutin) along with a simple barrier method such as the female or male condom that is not treated with chemicals (such as natural lambskin) work very effectively for preventing pregnancy. This option is especially attractive for health conscious women who are not particularly turned on by the thought of charting their cycles, taking their basal metabolic temperature every morning, checking the stretchiness of their vaginal secretions and practicing selective abstinence a la Natural Family Planning which for some ladies over analyzes and saps the spontaneity out of what should be a very natural, uncomplicated and enjoyable event.
Sources: dr.axe.com; thehealthyhomeeconomist.com