Natural Birth Control Methods Alternative to the Mirena IUD
We’ve all been there: the annual physical exam with a gynecologist.
“Are you sexually active?”
“What are you using for birth control?”
“Um…just condoms” (or maybe nothing at all)
Usually, the gynecologist offers some choices for birth control: the Pill or an IUD. But maybe you’re tired of conventional medicine and tired of putting something artificial into your body. Maybe you’ve read about some of the risks of contraceptives, such as:
- 10 times the risk for breast cancer in Pill users versus non-users (particularly if used in teens and 20s, if used for 2 years or more, if used before first full-term pregnancy, and if the user has a family history of breast cancer.)
- 3 times the risk for cervical cancer in women with HPV who have taken the pill or 5 to 9 years, and 4 times more likely if taken more than ten years.
- 2 to 4 times more likely to have a stroke if the woman uses the Pill and suffers from migraines.
- 12 times the risk in fatal heart attacks and 3 times the risk in fatal brain hemorrhage in Pill users who also smoke
- 144% greater risk of developing breast cancer in Pill users aged 45+.
- The Pill also decreases the sense of smell which results in loss of sex drive since sexual interest is communicated through smell.
- If that’s not enough, the Pill also aggravates insulin resistance and adds to the long-term risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Doesn’t it sound great when the doctor says that with an IUD you won’t have to worry about birth control for five years? But the IUD carries its own risks. Conception can occur with an IUD in place, but the IUD can prevent implantation, resulting in an early abortion.
Additional risks are:
- Uterine perforation, leading to hysterectomy and infection.
- Increased incidence of pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Occasional pregnancy which is more likely to be ectopic (the leading cause of maternal death in the USA).
- Back aches, cramping, painful intercourse, painful menstrual cycles, and infertility.
- Copper build-up in the liver, brain, joints, and lungs if adrenal function is impaired, leading to copper toxicity.
You don’t have to risk your health in order to enjoy a fulfilled sex life, and you don’t have to risk your fertility in case you desire children some day.There are three types of natural birth control options:
- Barrier Methods
- Natural Family Planning
A Bit About Natural Birth Control
Natural Birth Control methods can be used in combination for maximum effectiveness. The barrier methods include male condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps.Male condoms are 98% effective, and female condoms are 95% effective. A diaphragm must be fitted by a doctor, is used and removed each time you have intercourse, and is 92-98% effective when used with spermicidal jellies. A cervical cap also must be fitted by a doctor but can be left in place for 48 hours and is 91% effective. Obviously, based on these percentages, the chances of pregnancy are still fairly good. If combined with natural family planning, though, barrier methods can be even more effective.
Natural family planning (NFP) involves taking control of your body by learning to track your ovulation and then avoiding sex or using a barrier when fertile. NFP gives a feeling of empowerment when women understand their bodies and can track the signs—often subtle—of fertility and ovulation. NFP is also helpful if you are trying to achieve pregnancy. However, it is not always foolproof. It’s best to learn NFP from an expert source and use a barrier method until you have it down. There are classes on NFP offered in most areas of the country.
Types of Natural Family Planning (NFP):
This method requires abstinence during the week of ovulation. It works best when a woman’s cycle is regular but has only a 75% success rate when used solely. Its effectiveness dramatically increases when combined with the temperature and mucus methods. With this method, a woman pinpoints the day of ovulation to avoid sex a few days before and after. Each morning, she takes her basal body temperature (BBT) with an accurate basal thermometer. Temperature will rise after ovulation; however, illness or lack of sleep (especially if using this after just having had a baby) can change your body temperature and make this inaccurate. It’s more accurate when also combined with the mucus method. Together, the two methods have a 98% success rate.
Mucus Method: If using this method, a woman tracks the changes in amount and texture of vaginal discharge which signals rising levels of estrogen. There’s usually no discharge after a period, but there will be cloudy, tacky mucus as estrogen levels rise. A high volume of clear and stringy discharge means ovulation is near; a return to cloudy, tacky mucus or no discharge means ovulation has passed.Both products are inexpensive, hand-held microscopes about the size of a tube of lipstick that monitor saliva for hormonal changes indicating fertility.
There are many websites and apps now that allow users to easily chart symptoms and pinpoint ovulation. Fertility Friend and Your Days are both free websites.
But, maybe the standard and sometimes time consuming ways of NFP don’t appeal to you. If that’s the case, there are also some high-tech ways of monitoring fertility and ovulation. For Example:
The Lady Comp Fertility Monitor requires daily input of BBT and it then gives a red light signaling high fertility, a yellow light indicating possible fertility, and a green light indicating lack of fertility. It is accurate even while breastfeeding, for irregular cycles, and in pre-menopause. The OvaCue Fertility Monitor uses the company’s own patented Electrolyte MethodTM. In studies overseen by the National Institutes of Health, the OvaCue Fertility Monitor has been demonstrated to be 98.3% accurate in predicting ovulation. It tracks changes in electrolyte levels in saliva over time and uses the data to determine when you are most fertile.
ClearBlue monitors measure luteinizing hormone and estrogen to pinpoint fertility. OV-Watch takes computer readings every 30 minutes during sleep to accurately predict ovulation.
Using Herbs and Other Natural Sources for Birth Control
In addition to the barrier methods and NFP methods, you can also use herbs to induce sterility for a short amount of time. If you choose to use herbs, it’s recommended that you enlist the help of an experienced herbalist or acupuncturist, as improper use of herbs can cause unwanted side effects. The Dakota Indian tribes and Shoshone tribes used a stoneseed root infusion steeped in cold water for several hours. They drank a cup per day for six months. In order to induce permanent sterility, they breathed in the smoke of the plant as it burned.
The Jack in the Pulpit root is less powerful than the stoneseed root but still can prevent conception for one week. It’s prepared by mixing 1 tsp of the dried, powdered root in a half cup of cold water, and then liquid is strained. This was used effectively by the women of the Hopi tribe.Quinault Indians induced temporary sterility by boiling an entire thistle plant and then drinking the resulting bitter liquid.
There are a few herbs that actually prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. If you have religious beliefs that life begins at conception, you will want to avoid these herbs as they prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the wall of the uterus.
- Taking 1 tsp of carrot seeds immediately after intercourse during ovulation and then each day after for seven days can prevent implantation. Research has proven this to be effective in mice. Smartweed leaves are a common weed that contains rutin, quercitin, and gallic acid which interfere with the initiation of pregnancy. One ounce of dried leaves or 4 ounces of fresh leaves in a quart of boiling water consumed liberally prior to menstruation is effective.
- Taking rutin, a phenolic compound that can be bought in tablet form, at 500 mg daily for several days before and following ovulation, after intercourse, and up until menstruation begins also prevents implantation.
- Two additional herbs that will initiate menstruation following intercourse during ovulation are ginger root and vitamin C. Ginger root is the fastest-acting herb to encourage menstruation. Put 1 tsp of powdered organic ginger root, pour boiling water over it, and drink when it is still hot but not uncomfortable. Drink 4 cups per day for no more than 5 days. Taking vitamin C at 500 mg every hour for 12 hours each day and for up to six days also promotes menstruation, but caution is advised as loose bowels are a potential side effect.
Despite all the advances in medicine, disrupting the natural balance of your menstrual cycle with artificial hormones is dangerous. Birth control is not only in the hands of medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies. Knowing your natural birth control options and how to use them will give you the key to enjoying a fulfilling sex life, preventing pregnancy, achieving pregnancy, and maintaining maximum health.