These 3 all natural birth control methods (including the fertility awareness based method) are great alternatives to hormonal contraceptive! Many women, like myself, have many unwanted side effects on hormonal birth control and luckily there are other options. In this post ill be going over 3 all natural birth control methods and their effectivness. Spoiler alert, each of these can be just as effective as the pill when used properly.
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Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be as these are solely based on my experiences. Please consult your family doctor before considering any recommendations listed in this post. Thanks!
WHAT BIRTH CONTROL DOES TO YOUR BODY
Hormonal contraceptives were made in the 1900s for the sole purpose of avoiding pregnancy (as it mentions in the name). However, it is often being prescribed to women who have hormonal imbalances which I do not agree with. Of course, hormonal HC’s have a place and some women do need them but most do not.
Little fun fact for those who think the pill “regulates your cycle”. The 7 day bleed was actually implemented into the trials when the pill first came out. This is because many women did not feel comfortable in the test study unless they got their period. Therefore, that withdrawal bleed was implemented but it is not necessary to have.
Hormonal birth control cause side effects like mood swings, depression, anxiety, and low libido, or even more serious effects like blood clots. Everyone experiences different side effects but its not a matter of whether you will, more like which ones will you experience.
The barrier method of all natural birth control
This all natural birth control method includes the most commonly known, Condoms. You know those infamous rubber balloons everyone blew up in health class? Yeah, those. Condoms are reported to be around 88% effective. They are also the only forms of birth control that also protect against STDs.
Female condoms are similar and are placed inside the vagina to prevent sperm from entering the cervix. Female condoms are less effective than male condom as there is more room for human error when using them.
There is also the Cervical cap/diaphragm which is inserted into the woman’s vagina. It is placed over the cervix to prevent any sperm from entering the uterus. This method can be effective but is more prone to falling out of place than condoms.
Lastly, the sponge which soaks up the ejaculate which prevents any sperm from entering the uterus.
Out of the 3 barrier methods, male condoms are the most effective at preventing pregnancy.
Fertility awareness based method for all natural birth control
This method of birth control is not widely known as many doctors usually suggest against it. I would also suggest against it if you are not willing to learn about your body and the signs of ovulation because that is a very important part of the fertility awareness based method. However, if you are wanting to learn and apply the rules of the fertility awareness based method, it can be 98% effective with perfect use. Just as effective as the pill!
The wrong way to do fertility awareness (FAM)
There is a wrong way to use the fertility awareness based method and that is called the “rythme method”. This is when you dont know the signs of ovulation and predict ovulation day based on your past cycle. This method can be effective but I highly suggest against it if you really are trying to avoid pregnancy! A much more effective way to use fam is called the sympto-thermal method.
The Sympto-thermal method of all natural birth control
Sympto (symptoms) and thermal (basal body temperature, BBT). The 2 data points you need to track in order to use the fertility awarenss based method effectively. Lets dive into it!
How to chart your cycle using bbt
Every morning before getting out of bed, you would take your temperature under your tongue. In the follicular phase, your temperature should range from 97.2 F to 97.8 F. When your ovaries releases the egg, progesterone will be produced and raise your BBT. This increase in temperature will cause a noticeable increase in BBT and can be viewed on your chart! Your luteal phase temperature should read between 98.7 F and 98.3 F.
Since an egg can only last 12-24 hours in your body without fertilization, unprotected sex is safe after 3 consecutive days of high temps. After 3 days, the egg has been release and has died. No egg = no pregnancy.
Some things can cause a discrepency in temperature readings like: Alcohol or poor sleep. If your hungover or had 2 hours of sleep, just cancel out that day’s temp. These factors will cause a spike in temp which is not ovulation.
The rule is: unprotected sex is safe the night of the 3rd day of consecutive high temperatures.
In addition to this rule, another rule applies which states: unprotected sex is safe the first 5 days of your cycle (day 1 is the start of your period) IF you ovulated 12-16 days prior to the start of your period. If you have had any cycles shorter than 25 days, the rule still applies, however, you are only safe the first 3 days.
below is an example of temperatures pre and post ovulation.
The second thing to look for is cervical mucus.
You know the “wetness” you feel down south from time to time? Not the kind you get when aroused, but the kind you find in your panties when you use the washroom. That is the cervical fluid I am referencing. During your period cervical mucus can be masked by blood. However afterwards you may notice a dry spell followed by sticky mucus. Then wet egg white mucus around ovulation followed by another dry spell. The dry spells are considered infertile days. To be sure of dry days, it is best to do an internal check. To internally check, rub a clean finger over the cervix to detect if it is a dry day.
Cervical mucus rule: on the evening of every dry day, unprotected sex is considered safe.
In addition to this rule, another rule applies which states: you are safe to have unprotected sex 4 days after your “peak” day (peak day is the most fertile mucus day). this rule implies ovulations would have already occurred. Peak mucus is the day you experience the most cervical mucus during your cycle.
You may use either temperature or cervical fluid to determine ovulation. However, to get the most effective use of the sympto-thermal method you must use both.
Therefore, the last and final rule is: “peak mucus +4 days” and “raise in temp + 3 days” must be satisfied before you are considered infertile.
Finally, The copper IUD as “natural” birth control
This is a controversial topic as I have had the copper IUD and would not consider it “natural”. However, there are no hormones in it. I have spoke to many women with it and they have loved it for years. However, I had it for a few months and did not want to deal with the side effects any longer.
Read more about my copper IUD experience: HERE
In short, the copper IUD releases copper ions into the uterus to create a toxic environment for sperm and an egg. There have been studies that show a copper iud can increase one’s copper levels in the body which in tern raises estrogen levels. Therefore, estrogen dominance is an issue I had.
The hormonal IUD does have progestin in it which is a reason I opted for the copper. However, the progestin released is quite minimal and only stops about 15% of your cycles, so that is also an option if you want something super low maintenance. I have had the Kyleena IUD before for about a year and did experience side effects such as acne and mood swings. Everyone is different so do your research and talk to your doctor about and concerns you have!
To close things up, I personally use the symptom-thermal method of natural birth control. I find it empowering to learn about and know my body well. It does take work and practice so if you are unwilling to do so, I would suggest against it. However, there is now an app called “natural cycles” that is an FDA approved app for birth control. Look into it here
There are so many forms of contraceptive out there. This is just some insight on the natural forms I have used or enjoy using. I know so many women who struggle with their mental health on the pill and I would love to let you know about the options you have! Maybe some your doctor may not have mentioned.
let me know what birth control method you use and why in the comments below
until next time
For more information on fertility awareness, check out “Taking charge of your fertility”. It is a game changing book for those what want to learn about the menstrual cycle.