How many types of natural birth control can you think of? If on average a woman in the US wants to have 2 children, that means she needs enough birth control for about 30 years. That’s a lot of contraception. Of course, our needs change as we go through different stages of life, but being able to make an informed choice about our options is an important step in finding the optimal method. Here’s a breakdown of the non-hormonal birth control methods on offer today:
An oldy but a goody, the condom has been around for centuries. Since the invention of vulcanized rubber in 1839, it’s thankfully become a more sleek and user-friendly option than it was back in the day. Our forefathers used primitive sheaths made from animal intestines which were, wait for it… reusable. We think that probably is taking natural birth control a little too far.
The condom comes in two versions, the more popular male condom (worn on the penis) and the female or internal condom (inserted into the vagina). With typical use, the condom has a birth control effectiveness rate of 85%, while the internal condom is 79% effective. Condoms are also a popular natural birth control option because they protect from sexually transmitted infections.
The Copper IUD
A form of long-acting, reversible contraception, the copper IUD, or copper coil, works by creating a hostile environment for sperm in the uterus and fallopian tubes. As well as creating a ‘toxic’ space for sperm, the IUD works by causing inflammation of the uterus so implantation can’t happen even if an egg is fertilized. This means the copper IUD can also be used as a form of emergency contraception if it is fitted up to five days after unprotected sex.
The copper IUD requires fitting by a healthcare professional. Once inserted in the vagina, the copper IUD can be used for five to ten years. This form of non-hormonal birth control has a high effectiveness rate of more than 99%. This is because once it is inserted it requires no maintenance. Side effects from this birth control method can be different for everyone. The ones you get depend on which type of IUD you have and your medical history. Some of the side effects are:
- Irregular or heavy periods
- Ovarian Cysts
- Infection (An IUD slightly raises your odds for an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries, called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Bacteria that cause PID can get into your body when the IUD is inserted)
- Ectopic Pregnancy
The Calendar Method
Another ancient non-hormonal birth control, the calendar method is a form of fertility awareness-based contraception. There are documented references to periodic abstinence which are over 1000 years old… However, in the 21st century, we have the luxury of modernizing the calendar method and can keep track of fertile days on our phones.
The calendar method works by abstaining sex in the fertile window, which is calculated by average cycle length, predicting that most women are fertile about two weeks before they get their period. However, since we are all different our fertile window varies from woman to woman. Typical use effectiveness for fertility awareness is between 77% to 98%.
The birth control app
A new player in the contraceptive landscape, the birth control app, offering a non-hormonal birth control option for the modern woman. We rounded up the best fertility apps based on their useful content, excellent reviews, and consistent reliability.
- Period Tracker Period Calendar
- Natural Cycles
- Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker
- Clue Period Tracker, Ovulation
- Ovia Health
Understanding your own biology can be particularly helpful if you’re trying to conceive. And today, technology can make tracking your cycle and fertility days so much easier!