A smooth transition from a hormone-based birth control method to a non-hormone-based method needs to take into account what you’re actually going to use. There are several very effective hormone-free options, and I’m going to take you through four of the most effective. Each has its pros and cons. So it’s a matter of deciding which is best for you and your unique situation. All methods allow natural ovulatory cycles to occur, which is vital for overall health for women.
Efficacy of Non-Hormone Based Birth Control Options
A well-known option. There are very effective at both birth control and STI protection. And while it may seem obvious, this birth control method only works if you use it!
- Generally easy to access
- They are effective for both contraception and STI prevention if used properly
- Risks and side effects are low
- A high failure rate when not use properly
- They do diminish pleasure for both partners
- Not very environmentally friendly
- Folks can be sensitive to latex, lubricants, spermicides, fragrances and other chemicals used in condoms (ut there is a vast range available so it may take some time trial and error.)
Diaphragms may seem old fashioned, but they have come a long way. You no longer need to go to a nurse practitioner or doctor to get one prescribed and fitted. Brands like Caya have come onto the scene, using medical-grade silicone and an innovative design that makes it easy to insert and remove.
I will often recommend them for folks who are practising the symptothermal fertility awareness method (what I’m trained in, use myself and teach) to use during the learning phase with spermicide, which significantly increases its efficacy.
- It’s affordable, environmentally friendly and zero waste
- Can be inserted hours before having sex
- Can be used for multiple sessions before it needs to be taken out
- Can’t be felt during sex
- Doesn’t require a prescription
- If you have an allergy to silicons or spermicides, this is not an option for you
- Not recommended if you’re prone to UTIs, bacterial vaginosis or thrush
- Can be moved out of place during sex
- Doesn’t offer protection against STIs
- Does require planning and organization, making it trickier for spontaneous sexy times
- Don’t perform favourably in terms of efficacy compared to other methods
Tip! There’s a good chance your health insurance covers a diaphragm, so make sure you check with your provider.
3. Symptothermal Fertility Awareness Method.
There are many methods, apps and devices that claim to be a fertility awareness method, but not all are created equal. The Symptothermal Fertility Awareness Method is grounded in science and boasts an impressive efficacy rate of 99.6%. To achieve this, you need to learn the method thoroughly and go through a three-month learning phase before relying on it for birth control. This is the method I personally use, what I’ve trained in and what I teach others in my group program, Moon School.
- It’s practically free. There is usually a setup cost of investing in education and as basal body thermometer, but once it’s part of your awareness and routine, it’s a skill you have for life
- It not only provides you with knowledge for birth control but can also help you conceive if you decide that you’d like to have kids in the future
- It shares the responsibility of birth control with your partner
- It’s environmentally friendly and zero waste
- This method is very empowering to use
- Provides another insight into your overall cycle and hormonal health
- Can be used, even if you have an irregular cycle
- It can be used while breastfeeding
- It takes time, practice and patience to learn your unique pattern and be confident interpreting your fertility signs
- It requires that your partner is 100% on board
- Does not protect against STIs
- Requires daily awareness and organization
4. Copper IUD
Globally, this is a prevalent option. It has a very high efficacy profile with less than 1 in 100 women becoming pregnant in the first year. Fortunately, the modern copper IUD has a good safety profile. Some folks who come to me wanting to transition from a hormone-based birth control method to the Fertility Awareness Method but feel that the gap between the two feels too big and scary. In these cases, I will recommend this as a good stepping stone. It allows you to have a natural cycle, so you can still observe your cervical fluid patterns whilst learning fertility charting. Once you feel confident with your charting and applying the fertility awareness method birth control rules, you can then have it taken out, and it will be a very smooth transition.
- Highly effective
- Fertility of returns to normal once removed
- Low maintenance and long lasting: up to 5–10 years
- Can be used as emergency contraception
- Requires a minor procedure to have it inserted or removed
- Some folks may experience increased pain and bleeding during their period
- There is a “settling in” phase of up to six months
- There is a small risk of perforation and expulsion
- Can have an impact on your vaginal microbiome, therefore if you’re prone to UTI as thrush or bacterial vaginosis, you may experience an increase in symptoms
Tip! Ensure you find a doctor who has lots of experience in IUD procedures, it will make the experience as painless as possible.
It’s always your choice
As you can see, there are many effective options available to you. Ensure you are aware of all of your options, do your research and feel into what best suits you, your circumstances and sex life. If you’d like to learn more about the fertility awareness method and how you can learn from me. Have a look through these posts:
- A Naturopath’s Guide for Coming off the Pill
- The Beginner’s Guide to the Fertility Awareness Method
- “The 4 All Important Rules” of the Fertility Awareness Method
- Using the Fertility Awareness Method While Breastfeeding
Pin “4 Effective – and Hormone Free – Birth Control Methods” for later:
Frank-Herrmann, P., Heil, J., Gnoth, C., Toledo, E., Baur, S., Pyper, C., Jenetzky, E., Strowitzki, T., & Freundl, G. (2007). The effectiveness of a fertility awareness based method to avoid pregnancy in relation to a couple’s sexual behaviour during the fertile time: A prospective longitudinal study. Human Reproduction, 22(5), 1310–1319. https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dem003
Trussell, J. (2011). Contraceptive failure in the United States. Contraception, 83(5), 397–404. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.contraception.2011.01.021
Weschler, T. (2015). Taking charge of your fertility: The definitive guide to natural birth control, pregnancy achievement, and reproductive health ; 20th Anniversary Edition.