A conversation that repeatedly comes up among women is how to have an active sex life, prevent pregnancy, and avoid hormonal birth control all at once. Can we ever have it all? The following 4 natural contraceptive methods are hormone-free and one of them just may be right for you.
The truth is, as long as you are having sex, there is always the risk of getting pregnant or contracting an STD (unless you and your partner have both tested negative). There are ways to significantly lower that risk, but no form of contraception, besides complete abstinence, is 100 percent foolproof.
However, with the rise in the health movement and the increasing awareness surrounding the disadvantages of hormonal methods of birth control, natural forms of birth control are garnering well-deserved attention.
4 Natural Birth Control Methods
The first resort: condoms. For many, condoms are convenient, easy, and more-or-less effective (98 percent if used consistently and correctly), especially in preventing STDs. But, they come with their setbacks.
Many men (and women, for that matter) feel that intercourse is less satisfying with a condom – the physical sensation is just not the same. According to research, as much as 28 percent of guys lose their erections while putting on a condom and 20 percent struggle to maintain an erection once the condom is on. Eloquently put by late author Norman Mailer, "The only thing you can depend on with condoms is that they will take 20% to 50% off your f***."
Another drawback to condoms is that they interrupt couples in the heat of the moment, making the experience less romantic. In trusting, long-term relationships, condom use can put a slight, albeit poignant, damper on a couple’s love life.
Still, other forms of natural contraception can be exhausting for some, and condoms often surface as the best alternative.
2. Pulling Out/Withdrawal
Subject to much controversy, pulling out is a method that is looked down upon by many as irresponsible, ineffective, and overall ill-conceived. Withdrawal involves the man pulling out just before ejaculation. Despite it being deemed as sexual taboo and not the kind of thing couples are necessary proud to admit they do, a CDC report names it as the second-most commonly tried form of contraception among teenagers. Meanwhile, some 60 percent of adult women in the U.S. report having used the method at least once, although this figure is likely much higher.
Stigma aside, the withdrawal method may be a reliable method among those in loyal, long-term relationships. Why?
When practiced perfectly, withdrawal is about as effective as condoms at preventing pregnancy. Say what?!
International journal on reproduction, Contraception, published the results of a study, stating that when the male partner pulls out before ejaculation during every incidence of vaginal intercourse, only 4 percent of couples will get pregnant within a year. Imperfect use hikes the rate up to 18 percent.
But, what about precum? Or, rather, the myth of precum. The chance of pregnancy occurring from precum is negligible. The National Institutes of Health conducted two studies and found no sperm in pre-ejaculate fluid. Another study conducted by Connecticut State University and Princeton University ended up with similar results, as did many other studies. Despite the overwhelming proof, the myth continues on.
The pullout method’s reputation remains tarnished, and maybe for good reason – as a safety net. Successful use of the withdrawal method requires a skilled partner who can time the process well, each and every time. There’s no playing around there. The method can also drain the feeling of satisfaction among men who would prefer to have completed sexual intercourse in their partners, and not necessarily on them.
3. Calendar Method
A woman has a chance of her egg joining sperm about five days before ovulation, the day of ovulation, and a day or two after ovulation. The calendar method requires women to develop a close relationship with their cycles and be more cautious of the signs of ovulation.
The calendar method requires keeping a record of the length of each menstrual cycle in order to determine which days in the cycle a woman is typically fertile, and which days she is not. Days 1-7 of a woman’s menstrual cycle are considered infertile, days 8-19 are considered fertile, and day 20 through the end of the cycle are considered infertile. With perfect use, the method is 95 percent effective in the first year. With typical use, it is 88 percent effective. There are even birth control apps that can lend a hand in tracking cycles.
The calendar method has a relatively high failure rate compared to other methods. To prep for more accurate estimation, you need to track your period for at least 8-12 months prior to using the method. If your cycles are not regular or are too long/short, the calendar method is not for you.
4. Basal Body Temperature Method
Ovulation lasts for about 24 hours, during which time the ovaries release an egg and it travels through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. If there is no contact with sperm, it will travel through the opening of the uterus and into the vagina, where it is expelled. When ovulation is over, progesterone levels decrease, causing the body temperature to rise slightly and a woman is deemed infertile.
Monitory basal body temperature is a method that relies on woman taking her basal body temperature on a daily basis, each morning just upon waking and before any physical activity or consumption of anything. Temperatures are tracked on a chart so changes can be compared from day to day.
Basal body temperature monitoring is 99 percent effective in the first year of use, if used correctly and consistently. However, the method is less effective if altered by other external influences, such as the environment, alcohol, illness, etc.
German-manufactured technology the Lady-Comp makes the basal body temperature method a breeze to administer. The Lady-Comp is a fertility monitor with a built in thermometer that tracks your menstrual cycle. It learns, analyzes, and indicates ovulation with 99.3 percent accuracy. It has a database of more than 900,000 cycles and uses bio-mathematical forecasting calculations and the latest computer techniques, adjusting to your individual cycle regardless of irregularities. The device takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process and is lightweight and portable!
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