Hormone pills are widely used birth control option all over the world. They change the hormone levels to keep the eggs from being released, thicken the cervical mucus so that the sperm cannot get through or thin the uterus lining so that the fertilized egg can’t attach and grow.
Some females cannot use hormonal contraceptives because of health reasons, breastfeeding, side effect or other reasons. Some women need only occasional pregnancy protection and would not prefer using full-time birth control method.
Also, there are certain inconvenience caused by hormone pills such as:
- Making sure that the pill is taken at same time every day.
- You need a doctor’s prescription to purchase the pills or insert the device.
- Hormone contraceptives do not provide protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
- There may be side effects such as mood swings and weight gain and chances of blood clots and breast cancer are increased.
- There are chances that the hormone passes to the baby through breastfeeding.
Non-Hormonal Birth Control Options
There are various hormone-free and cost-effective birth control options which are effective for pregnancy protection.
Barrier method prevents the sperm from entering the uterus. They have to be used only during intercourse and should be used correctly.
The diaphragm is a small flexible cup which is made of silicone. It has to be inserted into the vagina of a female so that it covers the cervix. It is essential to put a spermicide along the edges of the diaphragm before inserting it.
If used correctly, diaphragm proves to be 94% effective in preventing pregnancy(1)
Reduced effectiveness is because many females do not follow the instructions properly.
It is a reusable device and can be used for up to 2 years. The diaphragm does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases and cannot be used during monthly periods.
The cervical cap is a small silicone cup, similar to the diaphragm but smaller in size. It is inserted into the vagina, fitting over the cervix.
The failure rate is between 14-29 percent.(2) A cervical cap is more effective when used with a spermicide. Before using it check for any holes or weak point by filling water in it.
It does not contain hormones and can be inserted before intercourse and can be used for up to 2 years.
A cervical cap is an effective option for those females who haven’t given birth before. It cannot be used during the periods.
Spermicides are the creams, gels or ointments which are placed in the vagina before sexual intercourse to stop the sperms from entering the uterus.
If used alone, spermicides fail around 28% of the time, because of which they are mostly advised to be used with a condom, sponges, and other barrier methods(3)
It is easy to use, inexpensive contraception methods and does not require a prescription. Some females might experience slight irritation and allergic reaction, on using spermicides.
Male and Female Condoms
Male condoms are the best way to guard against the STDs. It is also effective in keeping the semen from entering the vagina.
If used correctly, they are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy.(4) It is simple and safe to use and also do not require doctors prescription.
Female condoms fit into the vagina and prevent the sperms from entering the cervix and uterus. They are mostly made from polyurethane and are a good option for those allergic to latex. If correctly used, they are 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.(5)
Female condoms do not contain hormone and can be inserted up to 6 hours before having sex.
A sponge is made from plastic foam and contains spermicide. It can be inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse. It contains a nylon loop making it easy to remove afterward.
It covers the cervix preventing the entry of the sperms and also releases spermicide to immobilize sperm.
Sponge proves to be less effective in females who have previously been pregnant. With perfect use, it is found to be 80-91% effective(6)
A sponge can be used just once, and then used sponge should be thrown away in the trash. It should not be flushed down in the toilet.
Those allergic to polyurethane, sulfa drugs, and spermicides should not use the sponge.
Long Term Solutions
IUD is a T-shaped device that is placed into the uterus by the doctor. It is of two types, hormonal and non-hormonal.
The non-hormonal IUD contains copper and is known as ParaGard. The copper releases into the uterus and creates a toxic environment for the sperms. The copper IUDs are 99 percent effective(7)
IUDs can protect against pregnancy for up to 10 years and can be removed anytime you plan to conceive.
Heavy bleeding and cramps are the common side effects of using IUDs.
Sterilization is a permanent birth control method. It involves surgery that is difficult to reverse. It does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
It is known as tubal ligation in females and vasectomy in males.
Sterilization method is 99 percent effective and those not wanting kids can go for this procedure.
Choosing a birth control method is a personal choice and each woman should consider what best suits her lifestyle. All should make sure they pick the most effective and convenient method.