My husband and I live a pretty strict Paleo lifestyle and bit by bit I'm trying to incorporate it into every last element of my life. Right now I'm stuck on birth control. I've been on birth control pills for over a decade and I'm pretty convinced that it's wreaking havoc with my body. Does anyone have any advice on non hormone based birth control methods (other than condoms)? How are other women dealing with this?
Fertility Awareness Method
I've used fertility awareness method (FAM) with my husband for 3.5 years and it's been effective thus far! You just have to get used to taking your temp every morning (or just during your fertile phase) and to checking your vaginal fluids. It's super easy we just avoid sex when I'm fertile (or we use a condom). And we have sex when I'm not fertile. Takes the guess-work out of it!!
Get this book: Taking Charge of Your Fertility
And visit this website: Taking Charge of Your Fertility
The information in the book will blow your mind. I was sooo mad that I hadn't been taught any of the information found therein while I was in biology class or sex ed in high school. We should all know this stuff!!
And yes... GET OFF THE PILL!!
Birth control pills were a disaster for me - I got migraines along with other fun side effects. I had very few issues with progesterone only pills. You do have to take those exactly on time and consistently, or they don't work, since they don't always prevent ovulation, just implantation.
I used to use a cervical cap, which I loved, but they don't make them any more. All the current options bear no resemblance to the Prentif cervical cap. I mostly use sponges now, and they beat the heck out of condoms.
While spermicide isn't "natural", condoms are coated with the same chemical (nonoxnol-9)
Does anyone have thoughts or experiences with Paraguard (copper, non-hormonal IUD)? I'm curious about them (I'm on the pill now, have been for about 5 years) but I've heard of people have significant bleeding, muscle pain and rejection issues.
The rhythm method, based on basal body temperature and cervical observations, is free (besides the cost of the thermometer) and has been practiced for ages. You need to be diligent about tracking and it can take a few months to learn how to identify when you're ovulating, especially if you have irregular cycles, but it works. Whatever you do, GET OFF THE PILL!
I went off the pill after about 10 years, and it was the best decision I could have made. I can't say exactly how I felt better, I just did. It also helped me control my weight, I think. I thought condoms would be a big fat pain to use, but really once you start, it's not that big of a deal. Except if you go away for a weekend and forget to take them!
Really, your options break down into the following categories. They are roughly in the order of their effectiveness. The different techniques, methods, formulations, etc. within each category vary in effectiveness, too.
Contraception (not getting pregnant)
2) physical barrier methods
3) hormonal manipulation
4) chemical barrier methods
Birth control (becoming un-pregnant)
Using these definitions, most women prefer "contraception" to "birth control". I understand your question to say that you'd like to avoid the hormonal and chemical methods and that abstinence is undesirable, too. That leaves physical barriers and timing.
If you have a latex allergy and can't use regular condoms you can find polyurethane condoms. (Female condoms are also polyurethane, I believe.) Many condoms come with a spermicide called nonoxynol-9 to which some people are sensitive but you can get them without. Barrier methods work better when used in conjunction with spermicidal/chemical barrier methds. (The study Melissa cites says the condom failure rate was ~2% where as perfect withdrawal - iffy at best! - runs at a 4% failure rate. I'd want to see how they controlled for that!)
I put both withdrawal and the rhythm method in the timing category though obviously the time scale is different. Both rely on probabilities like how much sperm is in the pre-ejaculate (> 0) and how long sperm can remain viable (longer than you think - the probability drops off rapidly but doesn't reach zero for quite a few days). The withdrawal method has the added disadvantage of relying on the man to retain self-control at a point when self-control is least available. (Think paleo for a minute: Our bodies are set up to increase the chance of pregnancy!)
Assisted timing (like Persona/Clear Blue - I don't know anything about these) would be ways to improve the odds but can not reduce the odds to zero.
I hear the safest and easiest medical intervention is for the man to get snipped, not the woman. (sorry guys..) The males I have known had no side effects except for a short recovery period. -Eva
Did you know withdrawal is just as effective as condoms? If I were married (IE getting pregnant would not be the end of the world) I would use this + Clear Blue (and ALWAYS withdraw, just don't have sex at all when Persona says not to).
There has never been a study finding sperm in the pre-ejaculate that I know of.
My wife and I used Persona (Clear Blue in the US). It's 95% effective, according to the box. She pees on a stick each morning and presses some buttons at certain times in the month on the main device and it tells us when it's safe to get busy. You do have to get used to the idea that this will only be a fraction of the time - but you can just use condoms or other approaches the rest of the time. It's not the cheapest mothod around - those sticks are not that cheap. But it's hormone free.