Bringing a child into the world is an exciting time — but it also brings new responsibilities and countless lifestyle changes. Fortunately, if you don’t want to have a child, or if you’re just not quite ready, that’s okay. Birth control is becoming more widely available, and if you’d like to explore what option is right for you, we’re here to help.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 65.3% of women in the United States between the ages of 15 and 49 used some form of birth control in the years 2017 to 2019. The most common forms of birth control in the United States are hormonal birth control pills, condoms, sterilization procedures, and intrauterine devices (IUDs). Plus, many forms of birth control can help protect yourself and your partners from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Choosing the right birth control methods for your body and lifestyle is critical to staying consistent and protecting your sexual health. We know the idea of taking a new medication or altering your hormones may not be what’s best for you. But fortunately, there are many methods of non-hormonal birth control available, and not all of them require a prescription or even a medical appointment.
Why Do Some People Choose Non-Hormonal Birth Control?
Some contraceptive methods use hormones to affect or stop the users’ menstrual cycle, change conditions in the users’ cervix to make it more difficult for sperm to reach and fertilize an egg, or prevent implantation of a fertilized egg into the cervix. But some people may prefer to avoid hormonal birth control options for many reasons.
1. Avoiding hormonal side effects:
Some hormonal birth control methods — like birth control pills, shots, rings, patches, and implants — are known to have side effects that some people would like to avoid. Because hormones affect every part of our body (not just the uterus), these birth control methods can cause hormonal imbalances that contribute to mood swings, weight gain, nausea, or mental and emotional challenges.
2. Health conditions and risks:
Hormonal birth control can interact with certain underlying health issues and make them worse. Birth control can pose risks for patients with a history of blood clots, migraines, liver disease, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. These health risks can become agitated by birth control, or can interfere with birth control’s effectiveness — potentially leading to unwanted pregnancies. Depending on your medical history, your provider may advise against hormonal birth control.
3. Breastfeeding complications:
Many parents want to wait to get pregnant again after giving birth for both health and personal reasons. However, use of hormonal birth control containing estrogen can decrease the milk supply in people who are breastfeeding. Progestin-only contraceptives can prevent this decrease in milk production, but some parents may prefer to forego hormones in their birth control methods altogether.
4. Personal preference:
Some people simply prefer non-hormonal birth control for personal reasons. Whether due to their faith, their health, or their history, everyone should be able to request and use the birth control methods that work best for them and their lifestyles. There are so many different forms of birth control available, patients should always talk openly and honestly with their doctors to determine which method they feel most comfortable with.
Healthcare providers can share accurate information, assess individual needs and health considerations, and help select the most suitable birth control option for you. It’s important to understand the benefits, risks, and efficacy rates of different methods to make an informed choice that aligns with one’s preferences, lifestyle, and health requirements.
Non-Hormonal Birth Control Options
There are many forms of birth control, both with and without hormones, to choose from. Aside from considering whether or not you prefer hormonal birth control, you should also think about how you want to use birth control, and which methods you will be consistent with in the long run.
Some birth control is used on an as-needed basis, meaning you and your partner(s) will need to use it before each sexual encounter. Other forms are more long-lasting or even permanent, so you don’t have to think about when to use it. Certain forms of birth control can protect you from both unwanted pregnancy and STIs, while others only prevent fertilization but leave you susceptible to diseases.
By considering all these factors, and discussing them with your healthcare provider, individuals can make an educated decision about their preferred contraceptive method. And remember: if you try one and don’t like it, you can always go back to your doctor to request a change and try something different.
Here are some common birth control methods that don’t involve hormones:
Barrier methods like condoms can help protect users from both unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Male condoms are placed on the penis before sex and provide a barrier between the penis and the interior of the vagina. Male condoms can be made out of several materials: latex condoms are the most common, but some people may be allergic to latex, making them uncomfortable. Plastic or polyurethane condoms are a great replacement if you’re allergic to latex. Some people prefer natural or lambskin condoms due to allergies, but these are not as effective as latex or plastic condoms at preventing the spread of disease.
Female condoms are pouches made of polyurethane or nitrile that are inserted into the vagina before sex. They provide a barrier that prevents both pregnancy and STI transmission. Female condoms can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse, so partners don’t have to stop and remember contraception right before engaging in sexual activity.
Diaphragms + Spermicide
Diaphragms are small, soft, reusable silicone cervical caps that can be placed in the vagina before intercourse to block the entrance of the cervix and prevent sperm from reaching an egg. Diaphragms should always be used with spermicidal gels to disable sperm as they swim to the egg. Diaphragms do not protect users from the spread of STIs, so they may not be the best option if you are sexually active with people who have many sexual partners. Be sure to clean your diaphragm whenever you use it. These can be kept for about a year before they should be replaced. While you can buy diaphragms over the counter, it’s highly recommended that you consult with a medical progressional to ensure you buy the correct size and shape and know how to insert it.
Copper intrauterine devices (IUDs)
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small T-shaped birth control devices that are inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy for years, making them a great, long-lasting, low-maintenance option if you don’t want to have children for a long time. There are both hormonal and non-hormonal options available. Non-hormonal copper IUDs are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and can remain in place for up to 12 years. However, copper IUDs do not prevent the spread of STIs.
If you are confident that you don’t want to have children, or if you’ve already had children and don’t want to have more, sterilization is a great option. Tubal ligation — also known as “having your tubes tied” — is a surgical procedure during which a medical professional will cut or tie off the fallopian tubes that carry eggs to the uterus to be fertilized. This procedure is semi-permanent: it can sometimes be surgically reversed, but can severely limit someone’s ability to get pregnant after reversal. Due to the more invasive nature of this procedure, you may not always be eligible for this method of birth control.
If you have a penis and do not want to have children, vasectomies provide long-term, semi-permanent sterilization. During a vasectomy, a doctor will disconnect the tube that carries sperm from the testicles into the semen. The vasectomy can be done with local anesthetic, meaning the patient can be awake during the procedure and just the area of incision will be numbed. Vasectomies are also reversible, with sperm levels in the semen returning to pre-vasectomy levels in 79% of patients even after 10 years. Having a vasectomy does not affect sexual functioning.
Talk to Your Provider About Your Sexual Health Needs
At Community Access Network, we want to empower you to make the best decisions for your health and well-being. Whether you want to get pregnant, are done having children, or don’t want children for many years, we are here to help with a broad range of services for patients at any stage of life.
Our services are completely confidential, so you can feel safe asking questions and making decisions about your health and care. Managing your own sexual health is the responsibility of any sexually active person and protects those you love. Our dedicated, compassionate team is here to provide judgment-free sexual and reproductive health care for you, your partners, and your family.
Don’t wait for a problem to arise to take charge of your sexual health. Call us to make an appointment today.
Call us: 434-818-7880