Top 5 Natural Birth Control Options

We’re going a little PG-13 with today’s post.  Continue with discretion!

Recently I had a follow up consult with a women who is new to our holistic health clinic.  She is middle aged, single, and completely embracing a natural lifestyle.  She gets her spine adjusted regularly following her corrective care recommendations.  She has been following her nutrition plan strictly for a few months with weight loss and hormone balance as her health goals.  She has drastically reduced her daily toxic burden by switching to all natural body care products, make up, and cleaning products.  She is burst training at least three days per week.  And WOW has her mindset done a 360 in the last few months — from a negative “I’ll always be sick” mindset, to a positive, glowing, “I’m in charge of my health!” mindset toward change!  I am so proud of her!

During this follow up appointment, we were to discuss where she is at with meeting her health goals (weight and menstrual/hormonal issues) and talk about ways to speed up her healing process.  The biggest issue this woman wants to overcome is regulating her menstrual cycles and getting her hormones back in sync.  I have explained to her it will take some time, and that toxicity is the major component to an estrogen imbalance.  Not wanting to go back on a synthetic birth control pill, patch, or IUD, she asked about natural birth control options.  “What do you use?” she asked.  She knows that I will not put my health at risk by using something that is potentially toxic or messes with the natural cycle of my body.  I gave her my recommendations, and thought many of you could benefit from knowing the truly natural options that are out there for pregnancy and birth control.

Elise’s Top 5 Natural Birth Control Options

#1 – Fertility Awareness Methods & Natural Family Planning

menstrual-cycle-chartFertility awareness methods allow you to identify days in your menstrual cycle on which you are most likely fertile.  Most commonly you see movies and TV showing women using this information to help them get pregnant, or try to.  But did you know that it can be used to help you avoid pregnancy and it is proven 99% effective when used properly?  That’s more effective than using a condom or birth control pills/patch/ring/shot!

The only “tricky” part if you’re trying to avoid becoming pregnant is that you’ll need to either abstain from intercourse during your potentially fertile days or use a barrier method of contraception (like a diaphragm, natural lambskin condom, or the FemCap).  I say it is tricky, because when a women is in her fertile period, she is usually the most aroused.  But even so, this is the birth control method I use personally and have been for about 6 years now.  Once you (and your partner) get in tune with your body, you really learn the warning signs of your fertile period.  And once you learn your body’s rhythm, it’s rather easy to stick with one of the Fertility Awareness Methods.

There are a few different methods out there.  Some work better than others.  Some have a religious stigma.  Natural Family Planning is the type that my husband and I use, and yes we are Christians but that is not the only reason we choose Natural Family Planning.  We use it because it works and is the healthiest for us and our future children.  I actually first learned about Natural Family Planning when my friend Allison gave me a book on it and how to chart.  For about 6 months in a row, I monitored my basal body temperature, cervical mucus, moods, and food cravings on a chart as I learned my body’s pattern of fertility.  Once I learned my patterns, I now simply watch the calendar and mark down my flow days, always paying attention to mucus/mood/cravings as warning signs of fertility.  Natural Family Planning has been shown to be the most effective Fertility Awareness Method with a 99% effectiveness rate when used properly. The key is understanding how the method works and sticking to it 100% of the time.

Other Fertility Awareness Methods are not as successful, and also not as involved and detailed.  I won’t go into the differences of the methods here for sake of time, you can look into them on your own if you wish.  Other methods are: Standard Days Method,  Symptom-based Method, Ovulation Method, Two Day Method, SymptoThermal Method, and the Calendar Rhythm Method.  Many of these still have high success rates and may be a good fit for you.  Do your research and find your best fit!

Resources I use for Fertility Awareness & Natural Family Planning

Period Tracker App (totally worth paying for the Deluxe version)
FertilityFriend.com (FREE)
Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition
Sexy Hormones
Taking Charge of Your Fertility

 

Fertility Awareness & Breastfeeding

Maybe you just had a baby and are wondering how a Fertility Awareness Method can fit in to your sex life?  If you’re like me and still breastfeeding, you’ll be pleased to know that breastfeeding is God’s natural birth control!  Most women will stay infertile until their milk starts to dry up naturally (for most women who do “extended breastfeeding,” this will fall around the 1.5 to 2 year mark.  In my research, this pertains to the on-demand style of breast feeding, and exclusive breastfeeding for at least the fist year.  Also, breast milk only.  Doing part-time with formula can signal to your body that baby doesn’t need as much milk anymore and your hormones start to switch back.  You can actually become fertile faster by feeding your baby only part-time from your beast.).  But if you find yourself weaning your child sooner than 2 years, begin watching for fertility signs as soon as you begin the weaning process.  You need to have had three regular periods to begin using a calendar-based method.  And to test your basal body temperature, you need to measure it at the same time each morning upon waking after at least 3 hours of restful sleep.  These are some things to think about as you notice your baby beginning to wean.  You could ovulate before your first period returns while breastfeeding.  I am finding, personally, that cervical mucus is the best indicator of fertility while I am still breastfeeding.  I continue to monitor daily for any changes…and so far, 11 months in, no changes since giving birth.


#2 – CycleBeads

cyclebeadsCycleBeads are an affordable way to help make the Fertility Awareness Methods easier.  The beads can be used either virtually on your computer/phone or physically hands-on to monitor your cycle.  CycleBeads are a color-coded string of beads representing a woman’s menstrual cycle.  You move the rubber band around the bead string each day of your cycle.  Different color bead represent different days of your cycle so you’ll know when you are fertile and when you’re not.  Read more on CycleBead’s website here.
 

#3 – Lady Comp

LadyCompThis machine runs on the higher end compared to everything else we’re discussing today, BUT I can see why people fall in love with their Lady Comp.  I don’t own one myself, but would seriously love to try one out for a while.  It takes the guess work out of Fertility Awareness!  It’s a computer that does all the fertility monitoring for you.  You keep the small device on your night stand and take your temperature orally every morning at approximately the same time.  Once it gets about 3 cycles worth of data, it will give you a Red light for “No” or a Green light for “Go” whether or not you can have sex that day.  HOW COOL!  I have friends who use this machine and that’s all they’ve ever had to use, no worrying about numbers or phone apps or graphs or calendars.  I hope to try it myself some day!  Check out Lady Comp’s site or buy one here.
 

#4 – FemCap

femcapI have not used a FemCap or a diaphragm personally, but many many many of my girlfriends use the FemCap and tell me they prefer it over a regular diaphragm.  FemCap is a non-hormonal latex-free contraceptive device made of silicone.  It is reusable and hand washable with soap and water.  My friends that use the FemCap tell me they like it as their regular birth control method because it is has fit to their size options (never pregnant, c-section, or vaginal birth) but doesn’t require a professional fitting with their midwife or OBGYN.  And they say it just feels good in, no pain or discomfort, as well as easy to remove.  You can read more on FemCap’s website to see if this option is the best fit for you.  Diaphragms have a 90% effectiveness rate.

 

#5 – Natural Lambskin Male Condoms 

Natural lambskin condoms are made from the intestinal membrane of a lamb, and, believe it or not, are the oldest type of all condoms.  There are records of lambskin condom use during the early part of the Roman Empire.  Kind of amazing if you think about it… The other condom options out there are made of synthetic latex or polyurethane, both highly toxic and used to make things like mattresses, paint, and tires.

In case you need a condom for other than just birth control, you should know that small natural pores in the lambskin condoms make them ineffective in protecting against sexually transmitted diseases.  The viruses that cause STDs can enter through the pores.  Lambskin condoms do provide pregnancy protection since the pores are too small for sperm to pass through.  Find natural lambskin condoms here.  Natural lambskin condoms have a 95% success rate.

 

Copper IUDs Did NOT Make the List

copperiudIn general, I am not a fan of inserting foreign man-made objects into my body for any amount of time, let alone 10 years!  I am against both the copper IUDs and the hormone IUDs.  The latter is a given (the artificial hormones!).  Why copper in the first place?  Copper kills sperm.  But, does that mean we should put copper in our vaginas??  Maybe you have seen the recent (ParaGard) commercials on TV for, what the drug companies are marketing as, the “natural copper IUD” or “safe copper birth control.”  I strongly disagree.  The copper in IUDs is absorbed by the body over time, and yes it is possible to get copper poisoning.  It takes about 2-3 years for your body to build up so much eroded copper from the IUD that symptoms get so intense that your immune system crumbles.  But even a little too much copper in your blood stream throws your hormones off and causes extreme immune compromised health symptoms. And remember, this copper leaching happens to EVERY WOMAN who uses a copper IUD.  It is listed as a risk on ParaGard’s packaging.

And, did you know there is a 1% chance that you can get pregnant while using the copper IUD??? (That is the same effectiveness as the Natural Family Planning method, but the copper IUD is toxic to the body!)  I alone have 3 close girlfriends who each got pregnant with the copper IUD inserted for many months prior.  And the chance of having an ectopic pregnancy if you do get pregnant with the IUD in is high.  For me, that’s too many risks, plus the laundry list of symptoms that can go along with the IUD…. I’ll pass and stick with a truly natural method by listening to my body for ovulation signs.

That is my Top 5 list for natural and non-toxic birth control.  Do you have a natural method you’d like to share?  Comment below!
*This post was cleaned up and updated on February 18, 2016.

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Written by Elise Schwartz
Elise Schwartz

Elise has been living a sugar-free natural lifestyle since 2008, after discovering her PCOS, infertility, and inability to lose weight were caused by toxicity in her food and daily life. She became a certified nutrition and body detox coach, and provides consultations to clients across the world. By living the principles she teaches, Elise proudly welcomed her son, Austin, into the world in 2011. She and her husband, Dr. Dave, own and operate a natural health clinic, Triad Health Center, in Greensboro, NC.

18 Comments

  1. Thanks for another interesting and informative post. I am getting married next week, so this article is perfectly timed for me. We will eventually try to have children, but not right away, and in the meantime I won’t be ingesting synthetic hormones. After several rounds of heavy metal detoxes (ML style), not using the copper IUD was a no-brainer for me, but I honestly didn’t know how many natural options were available and kind of thought latex was it.

    The Lady Comp looks neat – I hope they send you one to review!

  2. I appreciate this a lot! I just got my period back for the first time since before pregnancy. My baby is still nursing at 18 months. One word of caution though – you said “most” women stay infertile until their milk starts drying up, but I find he opposite to be true. Out of all the moms I know, I’m one of the few whose period took this long to come back while still breastfeeding. Everyone is different. One of my friends believed she would be safe but she ovulated while her baby was 4 months old (still nursing) and got pregnant again.

  3. Congrats on your upcoming wedding, Jessica!! I have been peeking at your blog and love to see your plans/updates. We’ll be thinking of you next weekend! :) Glad this post found you in the perfect timing.

    Christiems – That is a valid point, but it is my fault for not clarifying. Breast feeding absolutely does work. God designed us perfectly. However, a mom (myself included!) needs to monitor her body changes for signs that fertility is returning even while breastfeeding. Cervical mucus is the best way at this point, as basal body temp could be thrown off due to infant’s sleep pattern. It’s also important to note that I am talking about exclusive breastfeeding for the first year and using on-demand nursing style, vs the ‘standard American’ way of nursing. These days, moms like to put a timeline or schedule on to baby’s feedings, or try to force food on to baby before baby is naturally ready. It’s all about staying in rhythm with your body. Your baby helps you (and your hormones) do that. Hope this clarified what I was getting at on the post..I’ll go back and revise, too :)

    • I agree and think it’s important when you add solids or other sources of nutrition to consider another form of birth control if that is important to you. I got pregnant without ever having a period between my second and third child. I had always heard as long as you were breastfeeding and didn’t get your period yet you were good. My second was 15 months old. I am so glad I was misinformed, our third child is a wonderful blessing.

  4. This is such a great post! I just went off birth control, and sooo wish I would have done it earlier! I had no idea there were so many options available, but for now, I think we are fitting in the Natural Family Planning method.. I don’t know what book you got, but I got Natural Birth Control Made Simple by Barbara Kass-Annese, and man it has been eye opening! Thanks for all this great info!

  5. I have been using Fertility Awareness Method since I was engaged (about three years now), and I love it! I like how it keeps me engaged with my body and my cycle. Taking Charge of your Fertility is a great resources, one every woman should have on her shelf!

  6. That is so great to hear, ckbovenmyer! And yes, Taking Charge of Your Fertility is every woman’s must-have. So glad you’re doing it the natural way! :)

  7. I am working on living a maximized life right now and have never been on birth control but just got engaged. One of the women in my office sent me to your post and it gives me hope! I didn’t realize there were this many natural options! We definitely don’t want kids right away. Do you suggest only sticking to one method or would it be productive to do a few at the same time? I’ve never tracked my cycle and am starting now so I’m new at this.

  8. Hi BeeStudios! That is great that you are starting to change your lifestyle and live a cleaner Maximized life! Yes, you can definitely use a combo of these natural methods together, especially while you get the hang of your cycle trend. Some women can go just off their body cues for the Natural Family Planning method, but if you are new to getting in tune with your body I do suggest a combo method for 6 months or more. You might find a combo of the Cycle Beads and the natural condoms or FemCap the most helpful. Or, if you can afford it, splurge a little on the LadyComp. Using it alone will be all you need! Stay tuned until December as LadyComp is giving away a gift certificate right here on Healing Cuisine PLUS a discount! I LOVE LadyComp for all-in-one fertility management! Thanks for your message :)

  9. Wow thanks so much! I’m looking forward to that. I’m pretty sold and so is my fiance. Can’t wait! Thanks :)

  10. Hi Elise! I missed out on the gift certificate for the LadyComp a couple days ago, but noticed you also mentioned a discount. Are those one in the same or will there also be a discount released?

  11. Hi BeeStudios! Sorry you missed entering for the gift certificate from Lady-Comp. They are not offering any discounts for my blog followers at this time. You can do a payment plan option through their website. The details are on their Order Now page.

  12. […] Top 5 Natural Birth Control Options from Healing Cuisine by Elise […]

  13. I have used NFP for 20 years, and love it. I would, however, caution against using only temperature to avoid pregnancy. There are so many things that can make temps fluctuate, including illness, inadequate sleep, thyroid/adrenal issues, hormone imbablance, etc. Personally, I have always used the mucous observation, and now use both. I have noticed that if I went by temp alone, I would not be able to pinpoint ovulation, as my temps are all over the place. However, my mucous observations are always obvious to me. As far as the breastfeeding thing, I did not ovulate until I started weaning, but I know many women who ovulated early on, even with exclusive breastfeeding. I think there is a lot of confusion about what is required for breastfeeding to truly be birth control, and I think the majority of people aren’t meeting the requirements, but think they are. Because of this, I really hesitate to suggest to people that they can depend on it as birth control. As others have said, you really need to be in tune with your body to see the approaching signs of ovulation. I think one of the best things about these natural methods is that they can also be used to achieve pregnancy, and even help diagnose fertility or hormone issues.

    • Elise Schwartz

      Hi Colleen! Yes, that is one of the most common misconceptions out there, and not necessarily with the moms but with the health care providers teaching the moms incomplete information. I’m glad you’re in tune with your body and having great success with NFP!

  14. […] 5 Natural Birth Control Options from Healing Cuisine by Elise […]

  15. I have been using the Billings Method (awareness of fertility cycle) for three years now, and am very happy with it, and plan to continue long-term. I use it mostly to avoid conception, but when we wanted a third child, we used the same knowledge to fall pregnant “first try” and know the exact date our daughter was conceived.
    I will never go back to a contraceptive pill or progesterone implant in the arm.

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