Natural Birth Control Methods

Birth control can be a controversial topic, but it’s an important one to discuss when it comes to our overall health.

baby comp machine

For years, I took birth control pills, unaware of the toll they might have been taking on my body. I had only heard positive things about birth control pills from my doctor, who encouraged me to take them whether I was sexually active or not.

When I became more interested in studying health and nutrition, I was disturbed to hear some of the down sides that can also come along with taking the Pill. Had I been more informed, I may not have chosen this option in the first place!

First, let’s discuss how the Pill works.

When you take birth control pills, you impose synthetic hormones on your natural cycle.

Many birth control pills contain high levels of estrogen that effectively convince your pituitary gland that you are pregnant (this explains some of the side effects of the drugs) and that you don’t need to ovulate. Because your body thinks you are pregnant, the uterine lining thickens. Once you start the placebo pills, however, your estrogen level drops suddenly, and your body menstruates “normally.”

This abnormal cycle is what millions of women experience every month, and yet few doctors discuss the consequences of taking these prescriptions for year after year.

Some physical and emotional changes take place that are permanent while you stay on the pill. Many of these changes occur as your body’s response to synthetic estrogen.

These changes include:

  • Larger breasts
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Reduced or increased acne
  • Slight nausea
  • Emotional sensitivity right before your period
  • Mood swings throughout your cycle
  • Irregular bleeding or spotting
  • Breast tenderness
  • Decreased libido

And even scarier than the “mild” side effects are the serious health risks that accompany birth control pills. These include:

  • Increased risk of cervical and breast cancers
  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Migraines
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Infertility
  • Benign liver tumors
  • Decreased bone density
  • Yeast overgrowth and infection
  • Increased risk of blood clotting

[source]

Needless to say, after learning more about the real effects of birth control pills on my body, I was anxious to ditch them as soon as possible.

And that’s exactly what I did when I got married in 2009. This was the catalyst that led me to search for an effective, more natural form of birth control, so that my husband and I could postpone starting a family until we were good and ready.

To get started, I read the popular book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility Book

This book gave me a thorough introduction to reproductive health (a must read for all women!) as well as my first understanding of the Fertility Awareness Method. The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is a systematic way for tracking your monthly cycle, using your basal body temperature and cervical mucous as your guide. When used correctly, it has a similar effectiveness as the birth control pill.

Tracking your basal body temperature consistently each morning is a crucial step to using the FAM system effectively. You must take your body temperature before sitting up and leaving your bed– which means you need to keep your basal thermometer right next to your bed and consistently take your temperature before getting up to use the bathroom. It’s also important that you have had at least 4 hours of consistent sleep before taking your basal body temperature to get an accurate reading, which makes this method difficult for any mothers with young children.

While a basal thermometer is a cheap birth control tool, setting an alarm right next to my bed and remembering to take my temperature, as well as charting my results each month, was a challenge for me. The thermometer would beep loudly every 5-10 seconds, letting me know that it was still working, but after nearly 60 seconds of consistent beeping, it was also becoming quite annoying each morning while laying next to my sleeping husband. I found that I couldn’t become consistent with this method, until I committed to a better piece of technology: The Baby Comp.

baby comp machine

I grappled with this decision for months, because the Baby Comp is a pricey piece of equipment. However, I’ve owned it for over 2 years, and it’s already paid for itself, taking into consideration how much I used to spend on my monthly birth control pills. (It also comes with a 10-year warranty, so I’ll never have to buy one again.) It is an alarm clock, a basal thermometer, and a charting computer all in one handy travel-size gadget. The alarm gently wakes you (the beeps start softly then grow louder if you don’t wake up) and all you have to do is reach over, hit a button and put a thermometer in your mouth until it beeps at you once more to remove it. That’s it!

As the Baby Comp gets to know you, it will give you an increasing number of “green light” days– meaning you will not risk pregnancy on these particular days. It gives you a “yellow light” on days when your ovulation window is approaching, and “red light” days when you are primed for conceiving. Even better, when used consistently, the Baby Comp will give you a “boy” light or a “girl” light during your ovulation period, letting you know which days you are more likely to conceive one gender over the other. (Keeping in mind that gender swaying is not always 100% accurate.)

*Note: If you’re not interested in the gender prediction aspect, the Lady Comp is a much cheaper option for fertility monitoring.

As our family planning window got closer, my husband and I used the Baby Comp exclusively as our form of birth control for months, and we didn’t get pregnant until we actively tried to conceive. I’m also convinced that this little gadget allowed us to conceive much faster than expected! The average couple takes 6 months to get pregnant, even if they are fertile and time everything right, so it’s nice to have this additional support when you’re anxious to start a family.

It can take a lot of patience and understanding to get a grasp on the Fertility Awareness Method, so I wouldn’t recommend it for those who are strictly looking to avoid pregnancy– though, I would recommend it for any couple that is aiming to get pregnant in the future, as it’s very helpful in narrowing down the ovulation window!

Other hormone-free forms of birth control include:

Condoms & Diaphragms: Condoms have a 98 percent effectiveness rate when used correctly. A water-based lubricant will increase the effectiveness; do not use an oil-based lubricant, however, as they break the latex. Diaphragms, which must be fitted by a doctor, act as a barrier to sperm. When used correctly with spermicidal jellies, they are 92 to 98 percent effective. [source] For a latex-free condom, try natural lambskin condoms.

The Pull-Out Method: The man withdraws his penis from the woman’s vagina before he ejaculates. This doesn’t always work; even before ejaculation, the penis releases small amounts of semen that can contain sperm, so this is only 60 to 80 percent successful at preventing pregnancy. [source]*When used in combination with the FAM system, avoiding intercourse during the fertile window, the effectiveness of this method will increase.

Reader Feedback: Any other methods that I missed? Anyone else willing to share their experience using the Baby Comp? I’d love to hear if it has worked for anyone! (We’ll know soon enough ourselves…)

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Comments

Heidi

My husband and I bought the lady comp a few months after we first got married because my body was freaking out from the hormones in the Mirena. I am so so so grateful for the lady comp. We have been successfully using it for 6 months now. I got it off the recommnedation from a friend who has used it for over six years, preventing pregnancy and then getting pregnant with their two children (using the gender predictor). I would HIGHLY recommend this to anyone so they are not putting the hormones into their body.

VanillaMacaroon

My husband and I have been using the FAM for almost 3 years now. I find it’s wonderful because my husband is more aware of how my body works than most men usually are. I think it’s a great way for couples to share the whole “family planning experience” from the get go, whether you are ready to conceive or not. It’s not just “my” problem because I should be popping “my” pill every day. When we are ready to conceive and get a positive pregnancy test, his engagement in the matter will have started a long time ago. I know I found it a little overwhelming in the beginning and was scared of human error (just like you Megan) but with time you get to know your body and it just becomes so natural 🙂

Susan Yockey

Thank you for this share. I have not used birth control since my 2nd son. That was 21 yrs ago. I had one of those IUD’s twice and got pregnant. I disliked the side effects of birth control. My husband & I have 4 boys and after our 4th son went to condoms and he faithfully used them.

I was wondering though my sister is on birth control because she has indometriosis (spelling?) if she does not take them she experiences Extreme pain. She gets her relief from the BC pills this way. Do you kn ow of other natural remedies that would help her.

Suzy

Hi Megan–My husband and I use the Creighton Method. It is super easy and no temperatures required. There is charting and monitoring of cervical mucus–(but never internal)–in fact, I chart in pocket calendar. We are done having children but still of child bearing age. I have used this method for 7 years and I always know my fertility. This method can also help you determine when something is not right. I highly recommend that you and everyone reading this post to look into it. It has been a life changer!! and is soooooooooooo easy!! Thanks! Suzy

Kerryn

It’s interesting to read your comments regarding ‘lubricants’ and ‘spermicidal jellies’. Do you not consider using these to be toxic to your body?

We have been married for 16 years, and had 10 rounds of IVF to successfully have two boys (5 and 2). About a year ago, I stumbled onto your site, and some Paleo and Whole Foods sites. So we’ve both been ‘healthy’ for a year. We also switched from a store bought lube to using coconut oil. We also just accidentally conceived a bub, due in Dec! Nearly everyone I tell says “Oh, it’s cause you stopped thinking about it!”… but I can pretty much guarantee that it’s due to the fact that:
1) We stopped filling our stomachs with chemicals
2) We are a lot healthier
3) We stopped using harmful chemicals in our sex life!

Thoughts/comments – anyone had similar experiences?

Julie

So glad you’re promoting the Fertility Awareness Method! I, too, took the Pill and Nuva Ring for months before realizing the toll that hormonal birth control was taking on my body and my moods. I discovered Taking Charge of Your Fertility and it’s such a wonderful resource.

I use an app I got for free (though I think they’re charging now) called Kindara, which is really easy to use and even has an option to email your charts for feedback. It tells me when I’m still fertile and when I’m not (though I always refer to the rules from Taking Charge of Your Fertility). I have two thermometers which give me almost exactly the same temperature readings. One is a basal thermometer (with the annoying beep that always woke my husband) and the other is just a regular thermometer I had gotten somewhere for my first aid kit. It doesn’t beep, and I prefer using that.

My total birth control costs since switching have probably been less than $30 (the book, the basal thermometer and another book called Honoring Our Cycles, which gave me a briefer overview while I was still learning). This method of birth control is one of the most effective. I’ve been using it for about 1 3/4 years to keep from getting pregnant. We also use condoms a lot to be on the safe side, before and during ovulation.

Gina

Glad you discovered that birth control was bad for you. You never mentioned that it was not only bad for the woman, but it could end the life of unborn babies!!

Diana

I like the article and I am looking online to purchase the baby comp but then it does not seam to be available. Is there any other method for me to obtain this device please. Thanks Diana

Roxy

Hi, I quickly scanned through the comments and i didn’t see one on the counting method. This is the method my husband and i chose and it worked great for me. It is much like checking your temp. but easer. I have an app on my phone that i plug in when i start my period and how long the period lasts. I am fairly consistent so this method works really well. My app will tell me when I have the potential to become pregnant. When i see this I Know we need to use a condom. On the other days I know we don’t have to worry about a condom. This saves a lot of money because we don’t need a condom every time. Plus once we were ready to conceive I was already aware of my body, so our 4th try was a success. I am now 12 weeks pregnant!

Delphine

Hi Megan,

I hope that you are well.
I was wondering if you used baby comp again after you got pregnant and if you did, how it worked for you.
My baby is now two month old and it is recommended to use baby comp again no later than 6 weeks…
However, as you know, the nights are always light and short and it seems that i never have enough hours within the time frame for the temperature to be accurate, Please let me know if you have some advices and/or want to share your experience.
Your help would be very much appreciated.Thanks.

    Megan Gilmore

    No, I haven’t used it again, mostly because I read somewhere that it’s only accurate if you get at least 5 hours of sleep in a row– and that didn’t happen for me for at least a year after I had my baby!

Elie

Hey Megan,
I’d like to ask you about your opinion on another device – daysy (https://www.usa.daysy.me/)? It seems related to the baby comp. It also seems more modern, but I don’t know if it would be as good.

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