HEALTH & WELLNESS
An Alternative to Pharmaceutical Contraceptives: Natural Birth Control
Some women do not use medical forms of contraception for a number of reasons. For example, many women believe that they shouldn’t use pharmaceuticals or barrier methods to prevent pregnancy for religious or personal reasons, while in certain regions it is difficult to get access to or afford birth control.
Other women report finding using certain methods to be time-consuming, cumbersome or uncomfortable. Curiously, the most common reason women report that they don’t use various forms of birth control isn’t because of the uncomfortable side effects, but because they are concerned the medication will make them put on weight.
Whatever the reason, there are natural birth control methods which you may want to consider.
Sexual Outercourse and Other Types of Sex
A great way to enjoy sex without risking pregnancy can be by avoiding the penis and vaginal penetration altogether. For one, you can try outercourse in which there is no penetration at all but lots of hugging, kissing, caressing and mutual masturbation or stimulation.
Alternatively, you can engage in anal or oral sex. No matter what kind of alternative sex you prefer, just be sure that the man doesn’t ejaculate in or around the vagina.
So long as the man doesn’t ejaculate near the vulva and semen doesn’t come into contact with the vagina, the outercourse method is virtually 100% effective, and your natural birth control options look better and better.
Also called Lactational Amenorrhea Method, this natural birth control strategy is perfect for women who have recently given birth and are breastfeeding. If a woman continues to breastfeed, they can postpone ovulation, and thus pregnancy, for six months. However, to be really effective, you must breastfeed from both breasts, six times a day, every four hours during the day and six at night.
Within the six month time period, before you begin menstruating again, continuous breastfeeding is up to 99.5% effective.
Some methods do exist to prevent pregnancy using ‘natural’ means from all over the world. For example, wild carrot seed when eaten after intercourse and for seven days following it is thought to prevent conception in Asia.
Some Native Americans used to drink tea made from thistle to cause temporary infertility or consume cold stoneseed root and inhale smoke from the burning plant to produce sterility.
Since these methods haven’t been as thoroughly studied as other natural birth control remedies, the efficacy can be difficult to determine.
WARNING: Please keep in mind that there are many pseudo-science ‘alternatives’ on the market which do not have any empirical evidence to support their efficacy. Worse, some forms of herbal remedies which are said to prevent pregnancy contain toxic ingredients and even induce a miscarriage. Further, some of these methods can cause additional side effects and may not be reversible.
For these reasons, we strongly warrant caution when selecting herbal supplements.
This perhaps is the most common form of natural birth control. As the name (which is also known as pull-out sex) would suggest, a man withdraws his penis before climaxing. Obviously, since the vast majority of sperm is released during ejaculation, the lack of sperm reduces the chances of pregnancy occurring.
However, it is important to remember that during sex the man’s penis will release small amounts of semen – colloquially referred to as precum – well before climax. Consequently, even that small amount of semen can contain enough sperm to fertilize an egg.
On average, withdrawal is around 75-80% effective.
Family Awareness Method
The Family Awareness Method (FAM) requires a woman to carefully track her body’s signals to determine when she’s most fertile. By monitoring the body temperature, tracking exactly when you ovulate and menstruate, you can determine when it’s safe to have sex without worrying about pregnancy occurring.
Remember that an egg can live for up to 24 hours and sperm can live between five to six days in the uterus. Consequently, there’s a relatively large window for pregnancy to occur and it is recommended that you abstain from sex for 7 days before and two days after you ovulate.
While this method does require a great deal of attention to detail, there are plenty of smartphone-based fertility tracker tools to help you. As a plus, implementing this method in reverse is a great way to increase your chances of getting pregnant when you do want to have children.
While this method does take time to gather all of the information and requires a great deal of discipline for both partners, once mastered, it can be a great strategy to use. Plus, with the periods of abstinence, FAM can add a great deal of anticipation and intensity to your sex life.
When implemented correctly, FAM is about 95-99% effective.
Re-consider Medical Contraceptives
While these methods can be effective at preventing pregnancy, they can be quite risky and must be strictly implemented to be effective. While not impossible, keeping up with natural birth control methods can be extremely taxing, hence the reason why so few women opt to use it. Furthermore, if your chosen method fails the only immediate option available is pharmaceutical emergency contraception or the abortion pill.
If you have tried one or two versions of birth control but quit due to side effects we recommend consulting your healthcare physician about another method. So you have an idea of the various options available.