Coming off the pill – what then? We compare some of the natural methods of birth control.

Two people are lying under a quilt, only the legs are seen

Do you want to use some form of protection but not upset your already complicated hormonal balance? You are not alone. More and more women want to stop taking the contraceptive pill and are looking for alternative, hormone free methods of family planning, that don’t interfere with their natural cycle.

The list of hormone-free contraceptives is surprisingly long and varied. We have summed up the most popular alternatives to the pill and Co, because hormonal contraception is yesterday’s news!

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Natural Family Planning means listening to your body

Natural family planning, or NFP for short, is the umbrella term for a variety of different methods of natural birth control which are used in combination, for effective family planning. Whether the temperature method, rhythm or calendar method or the sympto-thermal method, they all have one very important common denominator – close observation of the menstrual cycle and the signals the body gives at different phases of the cycle.

To use NFP correctly it is important to monitor and document your cycle accurately so that you know in which cycle phase symptoms can be expected. Changes and signs can be recorded on paper or in an app. The femSense app has been designed so that, in combination with the femSense sensor patch, you can record a wide range of symptoms and cycle relevant details.

The effectiveness of NFP is dependent on how meticulous you are in measuring and charting, how long you have been using it and how well you can recognize and interpret your body’s signals. When used correctly NFP is a very reliable form of contraception and has a Pearl Index of 0.4 to 1.8 which is in fact comparable to that of the pill.

The Pearl Index is a way of reporting the effectiveness of a birth control method. It shows the number of women, out of 100, who get pregnant within the period of one year while using a specific form of contraception. For example, the number of women, out of 100, who get pregnant in a year while using the copper IUD.

Long-term protection using copper

If you want to stop taking the pill but don’t want to have a baby for at least the next few years, a copper IUD (Intrauterine device), otherwise known as a copper coil, could be just right for you!

A copper IUD is a small T-shaped plastic frame wrapped in copper. Like the hormonal IUD it is inserted into your womb where it can remain for up to 10 years. The copper coil releases small amounts of copper ions that restrict the mobility of the sperm and kills them. In addition, the copper ions change the composition of the uterine lining preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The copper chain and the copper ballerine are more recent developments of the IUD and they differ from the IUD only in their shape.

All three copper IUD variants are a very reliable from of contraception with a Pearl Index of 0.1-3. However, insertion and removal can be painful, and some women have reported heavier periods while using the device.

Old but gold – the condom

The best-known and most popular hormone-free contraceptive is without doubt the condom. It is also the only contraceptive for men. The big advantage of the condom is that it is easy to use, and it protects against sexually transmitted diseases.

The reliability of the condom depends, for example, on whether the man chooses the correct condom size. That is why the Pearl Index of the condom is 2-12.

Acouple lying in bed, only the feet are visable under the covers

Condoms for women? Yes, the diaphragm and the internal condom femidom

Complicated name, but simple idea! The diaphragm looks like a large, unrolled condom that you place in your vagina. The diaphragm forms a barrier for the sperm. It is used in combination with a gel, which reduces sperm activity. The disadvantage of the diaphragm is that it must stay in your vagina for at least six hours after intercourse to kill all the sperm. This can be really inconvenient for example if you have plans for the day, you must always allow time for the removal of the diaphragm.

In addition, the effectiveness of the diaphragm varies greatly depending on how well you handle it. The Pearl index here is 1-20.

Only men can protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases. Not true! The femidom is the only contraceptive that also offers protection to women. It looks like a giant condom and works like one too. You insert the femidom into the vagina and it attaches itself to the vaginal walls like a thin skin. In this way, it blocks the sperm from entering the uterus. The femidom has the same Pearl Index as the condom, namely 2-12.

Contraception using chemicals instead of hormones

The vaginal suppository is not used to treat fever, but as a form of contraception. It is inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse, where it dissolves and releases a spermicidal agent. This inhibits the sperm’s freedom of movement and partially kills them. When the suppository dissolves, a foam is produced in the vagina, which also forms a barrier in front of the cervix. However, one suppository is only enough for one ejaculation, and it is not considered a safe contraceptive. 6-21 out of 100 women who use this method for one year fall pregnant.

Sources:

https://www.swr.de/swr2/wissen/hormonfrei-verhueten-konkurrenz-fuer-die-pille-swr2-wissen-2020-10-21-100.html

https://www.health-rise.de/hormonfreie-verhuetung/

https://magazin.med-specialists.com/medizin/hormonfreie-verhuetung/