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birth control without the hormones

I learned recently that my husband, an Army Reservist, was going to be mobilized in July. Just as if my reproductive system was storing up ammunition for the long time he'll be in Iraq, a few days later I felt the familiar mittelschmirz; after 22 months of ovulation hiatus since my son Monroe was born, I'm back. (Yay?)

Tonight I was chatting with another mama about how my body seems to want to get me pregnant before he leaves (hello, ovaries, I'm fine waiting! really!). I don't do hormones and haven't found any injected, oral or surgical (temporary) birth control that works for me. She also couldn't tolerate hormones and reminded me about the Fertility Awareness Method -- basically, learning to read your body's signs and, if necessary, charting your ovulation cycles. Once you've got a handle on it, you can avoid intercourse completely during the fertile window.

Smart thinking. It's probably hysterical, but as I've had two close friends accidentally become pregnant while on birth control with extremely high advertised success rates, I have no faith in anything but carefully timed abstinence. I wonder, are there other mamas out there who practice birth control without hormones or other commercial intervention? Any tips, tricks, or cautionary tales?


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Hey cafemama

I used Natural Family planning to GET pregnant but you can use it either way. I would read Toni Weschler's Book: Taking Charge of your Fertility. I think she is considered an expert on this method. It was easy to use to get pregnant because I didnt have kids. You do need to do the temperature/charting/mucus check every morning after a certain amount of sleep (I think the sleep thing is related to the temperature thing but honestly I cant remember). So if you have really broken sleep or are up several times in the wee morning it might not work.

But it was cool to chart the ovulation and to see an example of when I was delayed in ovulating due to high stress. You can literally see it through your chart. I got prenant on my 2nd try.

But again I didnt do this with the demands of 3 kids.

Oh besides Toni's book Providence actually has a class on this method which might be helpful.

Good luck!

I used Natural Family Planning, but I get my period every 28 days, almost on the nose! We would abstain (which is no fun because that's when you want it the most!) or use condoms (bleh) or a diaphragm in the "window". The diaphragm made me nervous, but it was fitted for me specifically and is supposed to be very reliable. After I got the hang of it, it was easy enough and comfortable. Worked for us!

Para-Gard makes a copper IUD that is good for 10 years and has no hormones!

the much maligned "withdrawal" method worked well for us to prevent pregnancy. just do it every time. kinda interrupts the moment, but not as much as a new baby. :)

you can use ovulation test strips to figure out when you ovulate and then avoid sex, during your window. a cheap place to get them is saveontests.com

Well, abstinence is the only SURE thing, but the "carefully timed" part makes it just as ineffective as the 1% of those 99% effective types! I used the natural family planning methods to learn about my body so I could carefully time as much as possible, but I wouldn't feel any more secure about that than anything else if I had 3 kiddos already and was trying to avoid that 4th! I effectively used it for about 10 years, but then both of my children were conceived after the black-out days, according to my calendar. I think my cycle changed with age and I had just stopped paying attention. If you're just getting your period back, you may be more spotty (sorry! couldn't help it) than you would like for a few months.

Check out this website:

Couple to Couple League International and NFP pros!!

we'll pray for your husband's safety.
Huge hug,

Copper IUD -- 10 years, no hormones. If removed, your fertility is restored in 1 month.

Not to be a naysayer, but I was using FAM, and according to my chart there was no possibility of pregnancy...but my son is now running around a happy little toddler.

I third Melissa and Erin's plug for paraguard (copper coil) IUD. I've had mine for five years and could spend hours singing it's praises.

Did the pill prior to having our first child. Had the Mirena IUD (with hormones) for almost 2 years and did not like it at all! So have been using a diaphram for the last 1 1/2 years and gotta say, eventhough it is a little incoveniet at times, it does the job.

I second the Fertility Awareness Method. I highly recommend that book by Toni Weschler: Taking Charge of your Fertility to anyone wanting to conceive and to anyone wanting to learn how to read their bodies in order to PREVENT pregnancy without using hormones, spermicides and IUDs.
After we married I left the birth control pills behind and charted my temperatures for a year, learning about my cervical mucous and my body's other fertile signs. I learned that I ovulate early - at day 11 of my cycle. We used abstinence or condoms if we really couldn't hold back on the fertile days. Of course, there was one day when we were "caught with our pants down" and didn't use protection and didn't withdraw and 17 days later the pregnancy test was positive.
Here we are 3 and a half years later. I don't chart anymore, I just rely on my calendar and my body's signals. A couple of months ago we stole a "quickie" moment on a different floor of the house away from our condoms. I warned my husband that it was a fertile day but that didn't stop him... What can I say - we're expecting our second baby around Christmas! Not what we had planned for this year!

My point is that FAM worked well for us for a year before my first pregnancy and for 3 years after my son was born. The important thing is maintaining abstinence or using barrier methods during your window.

Good luck!

We used the Fertility Awareness Method to get pregnant with our first (highly recommend the book too, BTW).

However, a cautionary tale...despite years of consistent proper use of the method, we did end up getting pregnant again when my cervical fluid and temp both showed I should not be able to. Oops! We have another lovely baby girl, but will be using an additional method in the future.

Is a vascectomy out of the question? In my opinion, it beats any other birth control method hands down if you feel your family is complete.

vascectomy is the best for the complete family! I agree.

Yes, the book and method are awesome. It's very empowering to understand your body so well and to be able to use that info to manage your fertility/life. And it does work. BUT...it must be used perfectly every single month. After years of using it, it's easy to start thinking you can get a little lazy with it because you "know your body" so well. All it takes is one weird cycle to really throw a wrench in things...which is how my first and third babies were conceived! The truth is, it gets really old to not be able to have sex when you most want it. Needless to say, we are pretty ecstatic to be taking charge of our fertility with a vasectomy now that baby #3 is here.

Oh and PS:
Can get a copper T at Planned Parenthood on a sliding scale. Many midwives put them in. Some clinics around town have subsidized programs for them and sliding scales. etc.

My husband and I have also used withdrawal successfully for 7 years. Maybe we were just lucky....but both times we decided to get pregnant, he got me on the first try!
We will go the vasectomy route as well, just as soon as we count all his fingers and toes!

I got pregnant with my second child smack dab in the middle of my period, when all of those high school health classes said it was impossible. And, I'm a walking testament to the fact that natural family planning doesn't work (my mother became pregnant with me just a couple of months after giving birth to my sister while she was using it).

All hail the vasectomy in our house...

I would echo the NFP/FAM option. What I love about Toni's book is the pictures. I know that sounds really weird, but it's true. She gives accurate examples of what you are feeling for when you use the cervix check. For example, if you have had kids, then your cervix opening is no longer a circle, but more line shaped. I find the cervix check to be the most accurate & the one that keeps us on track.

My Mirena IUD is fantastic. Lasts 5 years. Has a tiny amount of progesterone that only acts locally on your uterus--doesn't go elsewhere in the body. If you don't want even that, I loved my Copper-T IUD also.

If you are not sure you are done having small people, but if you want to be SURE about the timing (or not) of having any more, an IUD is your best bet.

Another one for the copper IUD. I haven't had any of the possible side effects, which can include a longer period, at all. I had the Mirena before and good god, I could go on for days about how terrible it was (low dose hormones, my ass!).

Copper IUD! Thoughtless, easy, non-hormonal, reliable family planning. And you can get it removed (also easy) and get pregnant fast. Whee!

I had one after my first baby 4 yrs ago and had it taken out for my next pregnancy. Once this one's born, I'll get one again. After fiddling around with a zillion different birth controls (cervix check? no, thanks)I landed on this.

Have Mirena IUD but have recently been diagnosed with ovarian cysts. Thinking about having the IUD removed. Also hair thinning. I don't know what to think right now. Anyone else having similar problems?

As one of the many women who cannot take the pill or use any other type of hormonal birth control, I am thrilled to see my favorite method is coming back soon http://www.mytodaysponge.com -- what a relief!

Just been thinking about your comment that your husband is being deployed in July. Hope you and your family are well.

thank you tracy! jonathan's paperwork is taking forever to process, so he's now probably mobilizing in early september... more waiting (and two more cycles to chart) but I'm thrilled we'll get him through the summer.

and I never responded to those who asked about vasectomy. yes, it's out of the question for now. I'm happy with three for this year at least. but I can't rule out the possibility of more. we both come from five-child families, and I can't bear not keeping my options open...

I love the book 'take charge of your fertility' and, tho I agree it's near-impossible to chart accurately using basal temperature when you never sleep more than a few hours in a stretch (Monroe's still nursing at night). I rely on mittelschmirz (the painful feeling when your ovaries release the eggs, which some women feel, while others don't -- I do, very markedly) and cervical mucus.

after having a terrible reaction to birth control pills (after a few years, I started bleeding profusely after intercourse; specialists couldn't come up with anything but "tender cervix," which righted itself years after stopping the pill), I'm very gunshy about pharmaceutical options, even the IUD, which seems benign but...

anyway. thank you all for your input!

I use a ClearBlue Easy Ovulation Monitor to know my fertile days, and I plan accordingly. A form of Fertility Awareness Method I guess. It's worked to both get pregnant, and prevent. :)

Is the sponge back on the usa market?

I use to do the know your body routine but I am definatly perimetapausal and now things aren't as they were . We use condoms cause i Just can't get pregnent we have two boys with an autistic spectrumn disability won't have any more but heard the sponge was back. I use to love the sponge some guys like it others don't . Why don't they put on the market one that prevents hiv > saw someting online but it isn't here think it's in france ... Would be good to have something that could kill Hiv virus too...Would make more sense. I used the today sponge and had no issues with it found it to be a good alteritive to hormone bc... If it is back that would be good.

shara Gilbert,

The todaysponge it seams to be reliable It was for me never had an issue with it learned to put it in right and when to take it out.

Can't wait until it's back on drug store shelfs it was the best option for me. Back in college took bc pill and almost died put on weight and swelled up like a balloon feet and arms...
When I had my frist son had that reaction with the first pregnacy extra fluid in the woumb and retained water ankels too. Didn't have that with my second child. odd. I guess the hormones set off an imbalance just weird...both boys are high fuctioning autism so don't know if it's genetic or just me .... not going to or trying not to... so we use condoms had a scare recently before when we weren't using them just rythem and my cycle had been off that was all... and the withdral... prior to that.
We have found some really good condoms that seam to be strong but thin to enjoy sex ... it is good I guess...they cost more trogin brand they are gold I forget their name but they get sold a lot at the drug store. sold six to a box and are costly but worth it.
Vascetemy my husband thinks he will not be able to get it up if he has one and won't do it men......

there is a male contraceptive a shot but it's new wonder if any of the men have tried it or it seams like contraception is just another thing left to women > anyone>
has anyone's man done the new injection or is this just wishful thinking?

can't get my hubby to try says he's worried about the side effects that they are not telling about ( possible side effects)

We used FAM as well, and accidentally got pregnant pretty quickly (still not sure what went wrong). But, I would still use it in the future, but be much more cautious and attentive. I personally have no desire to put extra hormones into my body, and I feel like men should bare the brunt of birth control (i.e. condoms) since it is the female body that will ultimately carry and give birth to children.

Why don't more women try the cervical cap? After struggling with pills, IUDs and the diaphragm for years, I finally got fitted for the cervical cap and never looked back. It was the only thing (except for condoms) that I was totally comfortable with and felt I could rely on.(By that point I was mature enough to follow the directions faithfully and not to take any chances.) Now I've reached menopause and don't have to think about b.c., but my daughter is now experiencing the same difficulties with pills, the vaginal ring, boyfriend who doesn't like condoms, etc. I wish women had more options, but if you're fed up with the effect of hormones on your body, I highly recommend the cervical cap.

I realize that I'm late to this conversation so you've probably already figured out what works for you. I'm a big fan of a natural family planning method called the Standard Days Method. You can use a product called CycleBeads or they now have an app that is based on this method. I've been using this method for 5 years and really like it. Unlike the FAM method you don't have to track mucus or take your temperature so it's a lot harder to screw up. It only requires that your cycles are usually between 26 and 32 days long and that you track when your period starts. It has a much lower failure rate than other natural family planning methods which seems to be a big problem for a lot of people. My understanding is that this is because it's much easier to follow. If interested - www.cyclebeads.com - Good luck!

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