I’ve been shouting from the rooftops the pros and cons of hormonal birth control for a while now (years and years actually!) and decided it’s time to revisit. I wanted to share a comprehensive, all options included post on how to avoid pregnancy.
I’ve broken down each of the options into categories and listed the main pros and cons for each type. Ensuring you have all the information to make the best decision for your health is one of my passions in life, so join me in exploring all the options:
Fertility Awareness Based Methods (or FABMs) are a non-medication based contraceptive (or conception!). They involve observing the signs and symptoms our bodies give us, showing us when we are fertile or not. FABMs can be further broken into two general categories.
Sympto-Thermal Method (STM): STM involves monitoring your temperature and cervical fluids daily. With the information you collect, you can tell when your fertile window opens and when it closes, allowing you to either abstain or use further contraception (such as condoms) when you are fertile to avoid pregnancy. My Debunking Ovulation Masterclass explains exactly how to monitor these signs your body gives you. (get on it asap as the price is going up in the next week or so). The great thing about this method is with perfect use, its 99.6% effective at preventing pregnancy. What’s not to love? For some women, learning this method can be intensive and complex, which is where my favourite piece of hormonal tech comes in, the Daysy. At 99.3% effective at preventing pregnancy, all this little device requires from you in taking your temperature, and it does the rest! Take a read here about my take on the Daysy.
Calendar/Rhythm method: this is the best known, but least effective natural method of birth control. Through the use of your own calculation, or using one of many ‘period tracking apps’ available, an estimate of your fertile days is determined based on your past cycles. While this method can be incredibly simple, especially with the help of an app, however its accuracy isn’t great, generally sitting at about 75%. If you have irregular cycles it can be fairly useless and not a solid means of pregnancy prevention.
The most widely known contraceptive is the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP). COCPs contain synthetic versions of the hormones that rule our menstrual cycles, as I explained in this post, although there are versions with bio-identical hormones too. The benefits of the pill regularly shared by doctors are that it prevents pregnancy (which it does, at around 95%, depending on the specific medication), and is also used to treat a whole host of other conditions, like heavy bleeding, acne, PCOS, endometriosis just to name a few. The downsides? I’ve talked quite a bit about these, including what happens without ovulation, bone density conditions, hair loss, compromised gut health, fatal blood clots… The list goes on. While some women find for their particular situation the pill is the best solution, or don’t experience any side effects, it’s important to me that I do my best to inform you all of the downsides.
The other oral pill is often called the mini pill, as it only contains a synthetic progestin. While it only has one of the hormones the combined pill has, it often comes with all the side effects of the combined pill.
Implants & Injections
There are two types of injections & implants, hormonal and non-hormonal. All of these options come with the benefit that they don’t require daily management – they are “set and forget” options for preventing pregnancy, which is great for the stressed or time poor. The IUD, in particular, is regarded as being over 99.5% effective at preventing pregnancy, so that can make it seem very appealing. However, like any hormonal intervention, there are side effects. I’ve spoken before about the stories I receive from readers about their experiences with the Mirena, and even the non-hormonal copper IUD comes with side effects (though is probably the lesser of a handful of “evils” here) – if you held me down and forced me to speak to which is the ‘best’ of the options, I’d advocate for the copper IUD.
Barrier methods, from the condom to cervical caps & diaphragms work on the principle that if the sperm and the egg can’t physically meet, there can’t be any pregnancy. Sounds simple, right? While these options tend to be the least effective options, sitting at around 75%, depending on the option used, the do come with a handful of other benefits. No other contraceptive option protects against STDs, which is incredibly important to remember if you’re not in a long term, safe relationship. Not to mention, barrier methods can also be combined with any of the other methods mentioning above, increasing your chance of preventing pregnancy. Use a condom with a sympto-thermal method and you’re getting very close to 100% protection to pregnancy.
The final ‘barrier method’ is abstinence! Abstinence doesn’t have to mean never having sex, of course, it can simply mean abstaining from unprotected hetrosexual penetrative sex during your fertile window. Abstinence, when practiced properly, is the only method which can 100% prevent both pregnancy and STDs.
Withdrawal is also a relatively effective form of pregnancy prevention and considered around 96% effective when practiced properly. Theres one rule (besides your partner being ready to withdraw before ejaculation), if you were to have sex again after ejaculation, it’s important your partner urinate in between for this method to be effective.
So many readers tell me they don’t feel like there were presented with all of their contraceptive options when asking their doctors, and I hope this list has given you a wider range of options to consider. It is my mission to empower women to making the best choice for them, and in this case, knowledge truly is power.
If you’re keen to dig really deep and get more on contraception, options, pro’s/con’s with expert advice, I’ve teamed up with my favourite wholistic Gynaecologist Dr Shawn Tassone to create an extra special resource that covers all of this and more – think of it as his opinion, my opinion and then everything else that is in between. Titled Contraception Deception, the pre-sale is now available and the release is just weeks away. Get on it and reserve your copy to be the first to get in and amongst it!
I maintain that understanding your body and your menstrual cycle is such a gift. Once you know your own rhythm and fertile times, you can never not know. Let me help put the magic into the wonders of your body – Debunking Ovulation is your best guide to understanding your body better. Be quick, prices rise June 18th.