The Most Accessible Method: Condoms
Condoms are probably the most accessible form of birth control to you. They can be bought online or at a supermarket. And, unlike most forms of contraception, you dont need a prescription.
Unless you have an allergy to latex or the lubricant commonly found on condoms, the side effects are usually pretty rare and mild.
A big advantage of using condoms is that they can also reduce your risk for contracting a STI.
They can also be used alongside other birth control methods, like an IUD and the pill, further reducing your chance of unwanted pregnancy.
However, in order for condoms to be effective, they need to be used correctly and consistently and its not always as easy as it looks. Even if you do use condoms correctly, theres a chance theyll break.
How To Choose A Non
The first and most important thing you should know before we proceed is that this is YOUR decision and that youre unique. What works for your mom, sister, or neighbor, wont necessarily work for you. Each of us needs to weigh the pros and cons in the context of our life and our bodies and make the decision we feel is best.
I recommend reading the list that follows and then taking questions to your doctor to discuss which non-hormonal birth control would be best for you.
Benefits Of Nonhormonal Birth Control
Whether youre on the pill, have a patch, or use a ring, hormonal birth control can be a total drag. It can cause annoying-AF side effects like bleeding between periods, boob pain, headaches, mood changes, and nausea.
Theres also a small chance that it could increase your risk of heart attacks, blood clots, or strokes.
You may want to opt for a nonhormonal method if you:
- have trouble remembering to take a pill every day
- dont want to change your bodys natural cycle
- experience bad side effects from hormonal birth control
- have certain health conditions like severe hypertension, heart disease, vascular disease, certain liver diseases, or migraine with aura
- Effectiveness: 99%
A copper IUD is a T-shaped piece of plastic thats wrapped in copper. A doctor inserts the device into your uterus through your cervix. Its more than 99 percent effective and gets to work right away. The copper is toxic to sperm, so it helps prevent fertilization. It can also prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall.
A copper IUD is a great choice if you want long-term protection it can last up to 10 years! It can also be used as emergency contraception for up to 5 days after you have sex without a condom or other barrier.
One downside is that insertion can be uncomfortable. Discomfort can range from a slight sting to WHY IS THERE A WASP IN MY VAGINA? But the entire procedure usually takes just 5 to 15 minutes.
- Effectiveness: 8598%
- Effectiveness: 7286%
- Effectiveness: 7688%
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How Well Do They Work
How well a diaphragm prevents pregnancy depends a lot on whether you use it correctly. Six out of 100 women will get pregnant with the diaphragm if they use it perfectly every time. Most people make mistakes sometimes, so the typical rate is more like 12 to 18 out of 100. Thatâs more effective than condoms or other barrier methods, but less effective than sterilization, intrauterine devices , or birth control pills.
There are some risks that come with a diaphragm. The most serious one is toxic shock syndrome, a condition you get from a bacterial infection. You can avoid it by not leaving a diaphragm in for more than 24 hours. The device also can cause irritation or a reaction if youâre allergic to latex. And some women get urinary tract infections more often when they use a diaphragm.
What Are Family Planning Clinics
Family planning clinics offer a range of reproductive and sexual health services to the general public. These include information and advice about contraceptive options. Clinic staff may also be able to prescribe contraceptive medicines, insert IUDs or contraceptive implants and refer people for sterilisation procedures.
Clinic services may have a cost so be sure to ask when you book an appointment.
- Find a Family Planning clinic near you using the healthdirect Service Finder.
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What Does Nonhormonal Birth Control Mean
Nonhormonal birth control is any contraceptive method that doesnt alter your bodys natural hormones. Instead, it uses other strategies to prevent a pregnancy.
Barrier methods are among the most common types of nonhormonal birth control. They work by blocking the sperm from reaching the uterus. Barrier methods include:
- copper intrauterine devices
Some people use behavioral changes as a type of nonhormonal birth control. This includes things like:
- pull-out method, or withdrawal
You can often use more than one type of nonhormonal birth control at the same time to further reduce your risk of a pregnancy.
If youre looking for a permanent way to prevent a pregnancy, you can also consider surgery, such as a vasectomy or abdominal, laparoscopic, or hysteroscopic sterilization.
No matter which option you choose, there are risks and benefits involved. Some methods can be more effective than others, while certain types can cause unwanted side effects. You may also need a prescription for some types of nonhormonal birth control.
Connect with a doctor to discuss the pros and cons of various types of birth control.
How Does It Work
“This is designed to make the vaginal environment for the sperm less hospitable,” Felice Gersh, MD, OB-GYN, founder and director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine in Irvine, CA, told Verywell Health via email. “It isn’t a direct poison to the sperm, but will not function in a viable manner, in most cases.”
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The Birth Control App
A new player in the contraceptive landscape, the birth control app, Natural Cycles, offers a non-hormonal birth control option for the modern woman. Unlike traditional fertility awareness-based methods, the app is assisted by an algorithm that works to identify ovulation through a rise in basal body temperature which happens after ovulation.
Natural Cycles requires women to take their temperature first thing in the morning when they wake up, and enter it into the app. The algorithm then learns the unique pattern of their cycle and can find the fertile window and give green days and red days . Natural Cycles is 93% effective with typical use.
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Are Birth Control Pills Safe
Yes, hormonal birth control methods, such as the pill, are safe for most women. Today’s birth control pills have lower doses of hormones than in the past. This has lowered the risk of side effects and serious health problems.
Today’s birth control pills can have health benefits for some women, such as a lower risk of some kinds of cancer.5 Also, different brands and types of birth control pills can increase your risk for some health problems and side effects. Side effects can include weight gain, headaches, irregular bleeding, breast tenderness, and mood changes.
Talk to your doctor about whether hormonal birth control is right for you.
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What About Side Effects
- The most common side effect is irritation of the vulva and vaginal area, such as a burning or an itching sensation. Nearly a third of women reported one of these symptoms.
- Less than 1% of women had more serious side effects, such as severe urinary tract infection.
- Nearly 10% of male partners reported some itching, burning, or pain as well after their partner used Phexxi.
Phexxi cannot prevent sexually transmitted infections , so women should continue to use condoms to prevent STIs.
Reversible Methods Of Birth Control
Levonorgestrel intrauterine system The LNG IUD is a small T-shaped device like the Copper T IUD. It is placed inside the uterus by a doctor. It releases a small amount of progestin each day to keep you from getting pregnant. The LNG IUD stays in your uterus for up to 3 to 6 years, depending on the device. Typical use failure rate: 0.1-0.4%.1
Copper T intrauterine device This IUD is a small device that is shaped in the form of a T. Your doctor places it inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It can stay in your uterus for up to 10 years. Typical use failure rate: 0.8%.1
ImplantThe implant is a single, thin rod that is inserted under the skin of a womens upper arm. The rod contains a progestin that is released into the body over 3 years. Typical use failure rate: 0.1%.1
Injection or shotWomen get shots of the hormone progestin in the buttocks or arm every three months from their doctor. Typical use failure rate: 4%.1
Combined oral contraceptivesAlso called the pill, combined oral contraceptives contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. It is prescribed by a doctor. A pill is taken at the same time each day. If you are older than 35 years and smoke, have a history of blood clots or breast cancer, your doctor may advise you not to take the pill. Typical use failure rate: 7%.1
Fertility Awareness-Based Methods
Lactational Amenorrhea Method
Permanent Methods of Birth Control
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Who Is Phexxi Best For
“Phexxi is great for those who are looking for contraceptive alternatives, don’t desire hormones, and are possibly not sexually active consistently,” Jessica Shepherd, MD, ob-gyn, CEO and founder of Sanctum Med Wellness, told Health. Phexxi can be a good fit for those who aren’t interested in taking a daily pill or using a long-acting form of birth control like an implant, IUD, or ring, Dr. Shepherd said.
Phexxi may also be an important choice for people who can’t use hormonal forms of birth control. “Not every woman can use a hormonal birth controlwomen who are at risk for blood clots, hormone-driven cancers like certain forms of breast cancer and other gynecological cancers may be advised to use a non-hormonal method,” Dr. Wider said.
For women who use lifestyle methodslike fertility awareness of the withdrawal or “pull-out” methodPhexxi may be a good addition to their routine, , an ob/gyn at The Women’s Group of Northwestern, in Chicago, told Health. “At worst, it’s 86% effective, but it could be much better if women are watching their cycle,” Dr. Levitt said.
There’s also this to consider, Dr. Wider added: “Non-hormonal methods would likely eliminate some unwanted side effects that women can experience on hormonal birth control like mood swings and weight gain.” If you are especially concerned about any of these things, talk to your healthcare provider about trying Phexxi.
How Does Birth Control Affect Brain Function
Studies revealed that women on oral contraceptives demonstrated enhanced verbal memory
As with many drugs, hormonal contraceptives can influence neurochemistry and therefore brain function. Functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, is a common technique used to study the inherent functional connectivity , as well as to determine which brain areas are involved in a specific task. Given that differences in hippocampal structure have previously been observed in women taking hormonal contraceptives, multiple studies have investigated the impact of hormonal contraceptives on working memory. Studies revealed that women on oral contraceptives demonstrated enhanced verbal memory , reduced memory impairment due to cortisol , and superior working memory during sleep deprivation compared to non-users. One study using fMRI during a verb generation task, in which participants were shown a noun and asked to think about the corresponding verb, found that women taking hormonal contraceptives displayed stronger activation in task-specific brain areas than non-users .
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What Are The Health Risks For Smokers Who Use Birth Control
If you smoke and are 35 or older, you should not use hormonal birth control. Smoking tobacco and using hormonal birth control raises your risk for blood clots and high blood pressure. Smoking and high blood pressure are risk factors for a heart attack or stroke. The risk for a heart attack or stroke also goes up as you age.
Can You Make Contraception Part Of Your Daily Routine
If youre a well-organised person with a reasonably regular routine, you have a wide choice of contraception.
This is because youre less likely to forget about your contraception by forgetting to take a pill or reapply a patch, for example.
You may want to use a method that you only need to use when you have sex, such as the male or female condom, or you may prefer a method that you need to take every day, such as the pill.
Or you may want to consider methods like the patch, injection or implant, which you do not need to use every day or each time you have sex.
The list below shows how often you need to use, replace or take each contraceptive method.
Once you have looked at the list, ask your GP or a doctor or nurse at your local clinic for more details.
Methods used each time you have sex:
Methods taken on a daily basis:
- the pill , but there are some types of 21-day pill where you have a week off each month
Methods replaced every week:
Latex: The most common. Only water or silicone-based lubricants can be used with latex condoms .
Plastic : May be useful for those with allergies and can be used with oil-based lubes .
Lambskin: May be useful for those with latex allergies. They do not protect against STIs because of tiny pores that could allow viruses to pass through . You can use any type of lubrication with these condoms .
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Diaphragm And Cervical Cap
Unintended pregnancy in one year of use: 17% typical use, 16% perfect use .
Diaphragms and cervical caps are barrier methods that are both placed over the cervix and used with spermicide . Cervical caps are smaller than diaphragms and fit tightly around the cervix . Diaphragms stay in place by sitting behind the pubic bone . Diaphragms and cervical caps do not protect against STIs . Both are available in the USA with a prescription.
There is also a one-size-fits-all diaphragm, Caya . A healthcare provider may have you insert Caya during the visit and then perform a pelvic exam to make sure that it was placed in the right position . Water-based spermicide should also be used with Caya .
How Effective Is Phexxi Compared To Other Contraceptives
According to data cited by the FDA, Phexxi is about 86% percent effective with typical use. . Planned Parenthood says this means about 14 in 100 women who use Phexxi will become pregnant.
That’s much less effective than the implant, an IUD, or male or female sterilization, which has about a 99% effectiveness. Even with typical use, the patch, the ring, the shot, and the Pillwhich range from 91% to 94% effectiveare all also more effective than Phexxi.
Instead, the vaginal gel is more on par with other non-hormonal methods like male and female condoms, diaphragms, spermicides, and the sponge, for preventing pregnancy. Worth noting: The CDC calls these methods “less effective” than their counterparts.
Planned Parenthood also says you can use Phexxi with plastic or latex condoms for extra protection against pregnancy as well as STDs. Phexxi can also be used with a diaphragm as well as some forms of hormonal contraceptives, like the patch, Pill, or shot.
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What Are The Benefits Of Phexxi
Like spermicide, Phexxi is non-hormonal birth control. So if you prefer non-hormonal birth control, or cant use methods with hormones because of medical problems, Phexxi may be a good option for you.
Unlike spermicide, Phexxi doesnt have nonoxynol-9 in it. So Phexxi doesnt increase your risk of STDs like spermicide can.
You only need to use Phexxi when you have sex. So you dont need to worry about using birth control or dealing with side effects when youre not having sex.
What Are The Benefits Of Nonhormonal Birth Control
Nonhormonal birth control can have fewer side effects than hormonal birth control. This may be an advantage to people with some health conditions or other sensitivities. Its safe for people who smoke, too.
Individual types of nonhormonal birth control have certain advantages, as well.
Condoms, for example, are the only contraception that can protect against STIs and theyre available over-the-counter at many stores. Copper IUDs can prevent against pregnancy for a decade. And birth control gel can be used discreetly in the moment, without active participation from a partner.
However, keep in mind that certain nonhormonal birth control methods can come with their own risks and side effects. For example, spermicide could increase the risk of a urinary tract infection , while a copper IUD can cause irregular and heavy bleeding. You may wish to discuss these risks with a doctor.
Ultimately, the benefits and risks of nonhormonal birth control depend on exactly what youre looking for and which type you choose to use.
Theres no birth control that is healthier than all others. The right birth control for you and your health will vary based on your:
For example, if you have sex with multiple partners or partners you dont know as well, the healthiest birth control method for you might be a condom because it can also protect against STIs.
If you have a blood clotting condition or youre a smoker, the healthiest birth control for you could be a nonhormonal one.
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