Millions of women use hormonal birth control methods without experiencing any issues, but for others, hormone-free is the way to be. This may be due to a personal preference, a health caution (hormonal methods are not recommended for women who smoke or have a history of blood clots and migraines) or a negative physical reaction to the hormones (common complaints are breast soreness, nausea or a lower sex-drive). Regardless of the reason, there are some highly effective hormone-free options out there today.
- Let’s start with one of the most effective methods around: the Copper-T or ParaGard Intrauterine Device (ParaGard IUD). This tiny plastic T-shaped device has copper tightly wrapped around it, which is what actually kills sperm, preventing egg fertilization for up to 10 years with zero hormones. There are also very low-dose hormonal IUDs available, which have fewer hormones than pills, patches, rings or the shot. Both forms are safe for almost all women, including teens and women who have never been pregnant. Plus, they’re covered by insurance. Heck yeah!
- Next up: condoms. Male condoms reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy and STDs, plus they’re super inexpensive—even FREE if you know where to go. Condoms keep body fluids from mixing, so when they’re used every time, they’re a great way to stay safe without the use of hormones. Female condoms are a little less familiar to most people, but they work similarly to male condoms. The difference is that they’re pouches that fit loosely inside the vagina instead of snugly over the penis, and this method just gives the woman more control because she can insert the method herself.
- Then there’s withdrawal. This not-so-effective method of birth control relies on the male pulling out of his partner’s body before he cums. While this is better than not using any method at all, about 30 out of every 100 women who rely on this method become pregnant within the first year of use. Not to mention withdrawal doesn’t provide protection against STDs/STIs like chlamydia or HIV.
- A diaphragm is another non-hormonal option. This prescription method is a shallow dome-shaped device made out of latex or silicone that is placed inside the vagina every time you have sex. You then take it out no earlier than 6 hours after doing the deed. Diaphragms are designed to block and kill sperm (they must be used with spermicide) before it can fertilize an egg. A couple of watch-outs though: (1) some folks are sensitive to the chemical in spermicide and may experience irritation, and (2) this method will not prevent the spread of STDs.
- Next on the list is the contraceptive sponge, which is kind of like a diaphragm and spermicide all in one. It is a soft, spongy device with spermicide in it that is placed inside the vagina over the cervix before sex, and then removed a few hours after sex. Sponges can be purchased at most grocery and drug stores and do not have any hormones, but it’s a good idea to use them with latex condoms. Keep in mind that sponges aren’t super effective for preventing pregnancy, especially for women who’ve already given birth. Plus, they don’t protect against STDs.
- Last, permanent sterilization for men and women is an option for those who are certain they do not want any (or any more) children.These are very common procedures that are considered nearly 100% effective for preventing pregnancy because they surgically close a woman’s fallopian tubes or block a man’s tube that carries sperm out of the penis. If you’re not quite ready for something so “final,” go for a long-term method like an IUD.
See? There are all kinds of hormone-free methods to choose from. We know that finding the right option for you can be frustrating, but don’t worry—there’s something out there for everyone. To learn more about all of the available birth control methods, check out our handy-dandy Birth Control Method Selector.
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