Hormone-free contraceptives you might want to start using

24 Jun 2019


Finally! I’m answering the number one question I always get asked in my clinic. What contraceptives can we all use that won’t interfere with the natural rhythm of our hormones and actually work? While hormonal contraceptives might agree with some women, for others they might not. From reports of heavier bleeds, tender breasts, lower moods and oh so much more, I've compiled a list of hormone-free alternatives you might want to give a go. 


Choosing the right option is not an easy task. The truth is it entirely depends on your lifestyle, sleep quality, relationship status, partner's opinion and the list goes on. That being said, I’m all about empowering you! I want to make this decision a little easier.  I’ve broken it all down and kept it super simple so you can work out the best choice for you. It goes without saying, double check your decision with your doctor as they can offer some really great advice to ensure you're using these options correctly, improving just how effective they can be. 



1. Fertility Awareness Method (FAM): my top recommendation 



What is it?

Tracking vital changes in your body throughout your cycle that help you predict an 8 day ovulation period when you should abstain from sexual intercourse, practice withdrawal or use a condom to avoid pregnancy. 


How does it work? 

There are four different methods to choose from. However, I only recommend the following two as it tends to be the easiest to understand and follow. 


           Standard method: 

  • Approximately only 12 percent pregnancy rate per year

  • The simplest method 

  • Abstain from sex or use barrier methods from days 8 to 19 of your cycle

  • Most effective for women that have a regular cycle length of 26-32 days


Symptothermal method: **highly recommended**

  • Approximately only 1.8 percent pregnancy rate per year (for accurate users); this drops to 0.6 percent after 13+ months 

  • Record basal body temperature (BBT) and cervical mucous (CM) daily, while following instructions on charting your cycles; apps like ovusense or naturalcycles.com are useful 

  • Changes in BBT and CM are noted with shifts in your hormones allowing for ovulation predictions

  • Abstain, withdraw or use barrier methods when cervical secretions are noted. Do so even four days after your last cervical secretion. 

  • Abstain, withdraw or use barrier methods for 6 days after a three day spike in BBT has been recorded 


What are the cons?

  • I don’t recommend the symptothermal method to women that suffer from interrupted sleep as this can affect thermal readings resulting in inconsistent and/or inaccurate predictions. 

  • Unless using a device like Ovusense, FAM increases risk of pregnancy with women that are breastfeeding, menopausal, have irregular cycles or PCOS. 

  • Requires support and cooperation from your partner during ovulation periods re abstinence, withdrawal or barrier methods 

  • Risk of pregnancy increases with poor compliance to the method; therefore a degree of effort is needed 

  • No protection for STDs 



2. Copper IUD


What is it? 

A hormone-free T shaped device that slowly releases copper. 


How does it work? 

The copper IUD is approximately 99% effective. 


The device is fitted into your uterus by a medical clinician and can last up to 10 years before being replaced. It slowly releases copper creating an environment that is hostile for sperm mobility and fertilisation. 


A regular natural monthly cycle is still experienced. 


What are the cons?

  • Long term exposure to copper has been shown to deplete zinc in some women, resulting in symptoms associated with zinc deficiency. Most commonly mental health problems like depression and anxiety. 

  • Periods can be heavier and cramps may be more intense. 

  • There is a 1% risk of pelvic inflammatory disease within the first month of the device being fitted; risk drops to 0.1 percent thereafter. 

  • There is a 3-5% risk among women below the age of 25 years, where the device can become dislodged and expulsed by the uterus. 

  • I do not recommend the copper IUD to anyone that has copper overload or diseases affected by elevated levels of copper.  


3. Condoms 



What are they?

A thin glove made from latex, lambskin or other synthetic stretchy materials that covers your partners penis. 


How do they work?

Approximately 98% effective if used correctly. 


The glove is worn during intercourse and creates a protective barrier between his sperm and your egg, reducing risk of pregnancy. 


Unlike the other methods discussed, condoms also offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases. For this reason, I tend to recommend this method to women that have multiple sexual partners. 


You should allow a bit of space at the tip of the condom, when putting it on. After ejaculation, your partner should hold on to the edge closest to him and withdraw before his erection is entirely lost. 


You only have one use per condom i.e. once your partner has ejaculated you cannot use this condom again. 


What are the cons?

  • Condoms can tear or there can be holes that increase risk of pregnancy. You should be cautious and check for holes before use. 

  • Condoms have an expiration date; again, they should only be used within date. 

  • Latex condoms are not recommended for individuals with latex allergies. 

  • Lambskin condoms are not suitable for vegans; they also do not protect against STDs and HIV. 

  • Excessive heat and moisture can damage condoms; ensure that they are stored in a cool and dry place. 


4. Diaphragms & spermicide 


What are they?

A silicone dome-shaped cup that is coated in spermicide. 


How do they work?

With correct use they are approximately 94% effective. 


You insert the diaphragm and fit it over your cervix preventing sperm from reaching your egg. The spermicide helps to create a hostile environment for sperm to survive reducing risk of pregnancy further. 


Diaphragms are reusable and should be thoroughly washed before each use. However if your weight increases by 10 pounds or you’ve had a baby, abortion or miscarriage, you will need to review and change the size of your diaphragm with your doctor. 


The Caya is a new breed of diaphragms that has a better anatomical design. 


What are the cons?

  • It can be difficult mastering how to fit it in 

  • I don’t recommend it to women that have a history of inflammatory pelvic disease, recurrent UTIs or toxic shock syndrome

  • Spermicides might sound appealing, but they have actually been shown to cut the shelf life of condoms and increase risk of pregnancy 

  • Spermicide can irritate the skin, especially with frequent use; this can increase risk of infection, STDs and HIV due to thinned skin

  • This method does not protect against STDs in general


5. The Sponge 


What is it?

An alternative to diaphragms, the sponge is a  two inch wide foam disc that contains spermicides.


How does it work?

The sponge can be up to 88% effective to women who have never given birth; it is 76% effective for women who have. 


They are inserted into your vagina, covering your cervix up to 24 hours before intercourse. This can be much more appealing than the diaphragm, which requires insertion within immediacy of sex. 

The sponge has a nylon loop, which allows for easy removal. 


The sponge offers a barrier between sperm and your egg, reducing risk of pregnancy.


Before it is inserted, the sponge must be soaked in water to activate the spermicide. 


It works immediately and needs to be kept in for a minimum of 6 hours post sex and a maximum of 30. 


What are the cons?

  • Spermicide can irritate the skin, especially with frequent use; this can increase risk of infection, STDs and HIV due to thinned skin

  • This method does not protect against STDs in general


6. Coitus interruptus a.k.a withdrawal 



What is it? 

The act of your partner pulling out his penis before ejaculation. 


How does it work?

This is pretty self explanatory and while it has a bad reputation, if done correctly it can be up to 96% effective. 


What are the cons?

  • You’re relying on your partner jumping out quick enough to prevent insemination 

  • This does not offer any protection against STDs


7. Tubal ligation 


What is it? 

A permanent method of birth control that involves surgery. 


How does it work? 

This method is approximately 99% effective. 

It’s a procedure that involves “tying up your tubes”. In science talk we call it tubal sterilization. 


Your fallopian tubes are blocked or tied up during surgery. 


You will still experience menstruation, but your egg will not travel down them for fertilization. Similarly, sperm cannot travel up. 


What are the cons?

  • This method is potentially irreversible; reversal requires very complicated surgery that does not always work 

  • It does not protect against STDs 

  • This method is only suitable to individuals that are absolutely certain that they no longer want any children


8. Essure Coil 


What is it? 

A permanent method of birth control that involves hormone-free coils fitted into your fallopian tubes. 


How does it work? 

Scar tissue develops around the inserted coils creating a blockade. This prevents sperm from swimming up or your egg from travelling down, reducing risk of fertilization. . 


What are the cons?

  • The coil can assemble and migrate; this results in exploded shrapnel into your pelvis 

  • The coil is made from various endocrine disruptors including PET fibres, nitinol and aluminium. 

  • Pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, autoimmune disorders, painful joints, skin rashes and estrogen dominance are common symptoms experienced with this method. 

  • I highly discourage this method. 


If you’d like to work with Kay on balancing your hormones please get in touch via info@youneedanutritionaltherapist.com.


References to research and claims are available upon request via info@youneedanutritionaltherapist.com.

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