Top 5 Natural Birth Control Options

by Elise Schwartz | August 17, 2012 7:19 AM

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[1] 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[2] (totally worth paying for the Deluxe version)
FertilityFriend.com (FREE)[3]
Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition[4]
Sexy Hormones[5]
Taking Charge of Your Fertility[6]

 

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

cyclebeads[7]CycleBeads[8] 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[9].
 

#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[10] or buy one here[11].
 

#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[12] 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[13].  Natural lambskin condoms have a 95% success rate.

 

Copper IUDs Did NOT Make the List

copperiud[14]In 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.
Endnotes:
  1. Allison: http://www.goofymama.blogspot.com/
  2. Period Tracker App: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/period-tracker-deluxe/id289084315?mt=8
  3. FertilityFriend.com (FREE): http://www.fertilityfriend.com/
  4. Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002EWCOZG/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B002EWCOZG&linkCode=as2&tag=wwwhealingcui-20
  5. Sexy Hormones: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1554550157/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1554550157&linkCode=as2&tag=wwwhealingcui-20
  6. Taking Charge of Your Fertility: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060881909/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0060881909&linkCode=as2&tag=wwwhealingcui-20
  7. [Image]: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_w0eqksHBmeQ/Sh7IQ0NezlI/AAAAAAAAAxA/Cf4Gb9D-SWk/s1600/cyclebeads2nw=151&start=0&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0,i:79
  8. CycleBeads: http://amzn.to/1QoNMI3
  9. here: http://www.cyclebeads.com/
  10. Lady Comp’s site: http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?B=441996&U=917488&M=45030&urllink=
  11. buy one here: http://shrsl.com/?~bgb1
  12. FemCap’s website: http://ladytobaby.com/index.php
  13. here: http://amzn.to/1SUWFQz
  14. [Image]: http://www.managingcontraception.com/qa/images/iudhand.jpg

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