Advice, Experience, Thoughts on natural birth (hormone free) control methods? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Which form of birth control would you suggest as the best -- both healthiest and most effective?
Vasectomy 6 37.50%
Female Sterilization 2 12.50%
IUD -- hormonal 3 18.75%
IUD -- copper 5 31.25%
Implant 0 0%
Shot 0 0%
Pill 0 0%
Ring 0 0%
Patch 0 0%
Diaphram 1 6.25%
Condom 6 37.50%
Withdrawl 3 18.75%
Sponge 1 6.25%
Cervical Cap 0 0%
Spermicide 1 6.25%
Fertility Awareness / Charting 29 100.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 16. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 17 Old 05-03-2012, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry for any TMI here, but I am desperate for answers... the more I think about this the more I want the Mirena OUT and since I'm meeting with a new, natural medicine doctor soon I am hoping to figure out what direction to go in relatively soon.

 

My husband and I have two children, and we have agreed that we would like to try for our next and final baby sometime in the next year or so. I am currently using the Mirena IUD, but have been frustrated with emotional swings, increased discharge, frequent cramping (think period without the bleeding... every two weeks). I can also feel the implant during sex and it can be quite painful -- has really changed both my desire for and enjoyment of sex.

I would like to stop all hormone-related birth control and return to natural cycles. However, we cannot have a "surprise" baby during certain months of the year due to my husband's very demanding career, and since we have agreed that we will only have one more child (I would have more, my husband does not want more) it is important to me that we find a reliable form of birth control that we can both feel comfortable with. Condoms are not an option (husband doesn't want to wear them -- they don't tend to stay in place, they make him feel like he's in high school, they're unsexy, and they mess with sensation).

I have suggested that we try NFP (tracking my cycles -- I have NEVER done this before, so using this as our main BC is a little scary, but the natural approach is appealing to me!) and using a diaphragm as our backup method to ensure that we don't get pregnant when we're not trying. I appear to become pregnant VERY easily (of course that might change with this next one, but my first two were conceived with a minimum of trying... so I want something pretty effective!) Are there other methods that you can recommend for us which would be natural and effective? Anything that we should be aware of when making this decision?

 

Thanks!

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#2 of 17 Old 05-03-2012, 06:29 PM
 
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I voted NFP.  It's the only one with absolutely no risk of side effects, and you can make it as effective as you need it to be depending on which method you chose and how strictly you follow the rules.  Many methods, when the rules are followed and you work with an instructor (basically you take a couple of lessons and then check in when you have any questions or doubts), are just as effective as any other method, including sterilization.  That being said, it has one big downfall:  if both you and your SO aren't totally committed to it, it can get frustrating and tempting to break the rules (decreasing effectivness). 

Good luck!


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#3 of 17 Old 05-04-2012, 06:43 AM
 
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There is one side effect...pregnancy!  LOL, NFP doesn't work for me, got pregnant twice from using it.  But I do highly recommend it anyway.  It works for most.

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Originally Posted by mt_gooseberry View Post

I voted NFP.  It's the only one with absolutely no risk of side effects, and you can make it as effective as you need it to be depending on which method you chose and how strictly you follow the rules.  Many methods, when the rules are followed and you work with an instructor (basically you take a couple of lessons and then check in when you have any questions or doubts), are just as effective as any other method, including sterilization.  That being said, it has one big downfall:  if both you and your SO aren't totally committed to it, it can get frustrating and tempting to break the rules (decreasing effectivness). 

Good luck!


Christian SAHM & birth doula.
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#4 of 17 Old 05-07-2012, 06:53 PM
 
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I have to say, I was very skeptical/scared to rely on FAM/NFP for birth control... 6 months later, I am SO amazed at how easy it has been. Seriously, I wish I hadn't wasted so much time on hormonal birth control now that I know about FAM. The rules and charting become second nature; it seems overwhelming now, but you will get there, too. I highly recommend the book 'Taking Charge of Your Fertility' to get started. Also, the FAM support thread on here is so knowledgeable and supportive; if you have any questions, the fine ladies there will try to help you out.

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#5 of 17 Old 05-14-2012, 12:28 PM
 
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We've used FAM (after reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility) as well as withdrawal for the last 3 years with success avoiding pregnancy. I, also, won't go back to any hormonal bc options. I think we'll end up doing the vasectomy at some point, so DH doesn't have to pull out forever and I don't have to worry every time I'm a tiny bit late or have breast tenderness.
But we just decided to try for one last baby, so no vasectomy yet.

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#6 of 17 Old 05-14-2012, 02:33 PM
 
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I have gotten pregnant twice using FAM and 5 times using withdrawal. I love the concept of FAM but I just can't follow the rules well enough for it to be effective and DH doesn't do withdrawal very well either. Now I am on a very low dose pill. I had some break through bleeding the first 2 months but that cleared up. Also with the low estrogen pill I don't have the nasty mood swings I had on other pills.


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#7 of 17 Old 05-18-2012, 01:07 PM
 
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what are you on now? i'm scared to use hormonal stuff again but think we might need to. thought i was pregnant and my husband flipped!

-nak


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#8 of 17 Old 05-18-2012, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was using the Mirena up until this afternoon when I finally gathered my guts and pulled it out. :) We want one more child, at some point in the next couple years, so it wouldn't be *horrible* if I got pregnant... I figure I will try it now so I know if I have to use another method following our third child or if FAM will be sustainable for us.

I printed out my charts today, and plan to begin temping/checking cervic/CF now, and I have a FemCap as a backup (also condoms, though husband is less than thrilled about that possibility) at least during the learning curve. Hoping it works well for us! I *really* don't want to ever have anything implanted or ingested again.....

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#9 of 17 Old 05-18-2012, 03:15 PM
 
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I have used the Paraguard IUD (copper) and really liked it because it is non-hormonal.  

It initially made my period very heavy for the 1st 2 months but then it settled down and I just noticed that I bled longer (instead of 4 days of bleeding, I'd have 7 days of bleeding) while on the Paraguard.


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#10 of 17 Old 05-18-2012, 03:30 PM
 
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For me & my husband, spermicide has been perfect. We usually use the VCF film, which is totally odorless/tasteless/drip-free. It's as easy as condoms to get- most drugstores carry some kind of spermicide- and easier to use than condoms because it does not impair sensation at all, and is not clumsy to use. The VCF is my favorite but the Encare brand suppository things, and the pre-loaded Ortho applicators full of goop, are pretty good, too. If you decide to get pregnant it's no problem, there's no waiting for your cycles to normal out. It is also an excellent supplemental to NFP/FAM. For instance, you can use spermicide only when you think you're fertile. I think spermicide alone is about as effective as spermicide+diaphragm. It does irritate some people, but the active ingredient, nonoxonol-9, is just basically a detergent, it's in lots of soaps and shampoos & stuff, and I've never found it irritating.

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#11 of 17 Old 05-18-2012, 04:56 PM
 
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Subbing as I am in a similar situation.  The IUD caused me problems (I had paragaurd) and I am not willing to do hormones.  We are not done having kids yet, and will likely consider sterilization when we are, but until then.....

 

I got pregnant on the first cycle without it (2 weeks after taking it out), so I suspect I'm pretty fertile. I want to try FAM, but nervous about how this will work during postpartum until my cycle returns to normal (I'm due any time now).  Does Taking Charge of Your Fertility talk about FAM during postpartum?


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#12 of 17 Old 05-18-2012, 05:46 PM
 
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we have a 15mo and used FAM to conceive her, and now we use it to know when i'm fertile (we're avoiding at the moment - pullout has served us well). i'll never return to hormonal bc.
my cycle didn't return until 12 months postpartum, and it's still not back to normal due to frequent breastfeeding (i ovulate late and have a short luteal phase so no chance of conception anyway) but i started charting as soon as my period came back. the risk of getting pregnant before the 1st postpartum cycle is low, though possible.
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#13 of 17 Old 05-18-2012, 07:00 PM
 
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I'll add another vote for NFP. I learned using the Couple to Couple League's book, but I know there are many other good resources. My husband and I have used NFP for over ten years now (after I got tired of pill-induced mood swings), through several years of wanting to postpone pregnancy and one planned pregnancy. An awesome secondary benefit has been a good understanding of my own cycle. It is important to learn the method well and chart fairly consistently to avoid being caught off-guard by atypical cycles, but with a bit of practice this can be a very easy, effective, and rather liberating method :-)
 

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#14 of 17 Old 05-18-2012, 09:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrokenFish View Post

Subbing as I am in a similar situation.  The IUD caused me problems (I had paragaurd) and I am not willing to do hormones.  We are not done having kids yet, and will likely consider sterilization when we are, but until then.....

 

I got pregnant on the first cycle without it (2 weeks after taking it out), so I suspect I'm pretty fertile. I want to try FAM, but nervous about how this will work during postpartum until my cycle returns to normal (I'm due any time now).  Does Taking Charge of Your Fertility talk about FAM during postpartum?


 Charting your cervical fluid tells you when fertility begins and ends, regardless of cycle regularity or irregularity; Basal Body Temps confirm ovulation (after the fact), and Cephalad Shift (cervix position change) is a general indicator that estrogen levels have dropped/ are dropping. Cervical Fluid works best with irregular cycles, and BBT is an important way to confirm both ovulation and also preganncy (if temps remain elevated more than 16 days post-ovulation). There is sadly still much misinformation out there about Fertility Awareness; I recommend Toni Weschler's book (already mentioned in this thread), "Your Fertility Signals" by Merryl Winstein, and "The Ovulation Method Charting Booklet" (a compendium of all the rules and guidelines for using any method of Natural Family Planning and/ or Fertility Awareness information with other contraceptive methods. Hope this helps! -- Suzannah Doyle, Certified Fertility Educator, author of "The Ovulation Method Chartling Booklet," "A Fertility Awareness Self-Instruction Course," among other books. (I'm no longer active in the field but encourage people to get the facts, take a class, and have a follow-up with a certified instructor BEFORE using any natural method to prevent pregnancy)

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#15 of 17 Old 05-19-2012, 03:57 AM
 
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I would be a bit careful looking at the studies which say that NFP is as reliable as the other, most effective forms of birth control.  That is a bit misleading when you realize that people with irregular cycles and other issues are excluded from participating in many studies of NFP - the people who are most likely to have a lot of trouble charting.  NFP has many good points, but it isn't always easy for many people to interpret the signs, and that can be stressful if they are very serious about avoiding.

 

TBH, I don't think there is a perfect form of birth control.  The choices are all either hormonal, invasive, or fiddly, and apart from (usually) sterilization, they all fail with some regularity.  It sounds to me though that NFP and diaphram are probably a good option for you.
 


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#16 of 17 Old 05-20-2012, 01:23 PM
 
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I have been using FAM since i got married 6 years ago, my son happened the moment I stopped paying attention, lol! Its very effective IF used properly. I highly recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility, and read the WHOLE book so you have a real understanding of the method. I use a diaphragm for back up but all methods have some degree of failure, so when you are at your peak fertility its best to either abstain or use a more creative method of sexual interaction then actual intercourse. While it does pose some challenges, especially with a toddler when you want to take advantage of the time you have when you have it, being "forced" to find more creative sexual interactions can also help revive a sex life that might otherwise become stagnant with the same-old thing. Good luck with whatever you choose!

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#17 of 17 Old 05-21-2012, 07:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm charting all three but nervous about the transition between the Mirena and FAM.. also complicated by still nursing through the night (particularly in the early morning hours, so I'm not sure if I can fully trust my temperatures!). So far relying more on CF than anything... Cephalad Shift seems to be skewed by the Mirena as well, at least from what I remember before having it in.

Anyone have experience with this method during the transition from the Mirena? I've read CYOF cover to cover and still feel a little unsure about the transition from IUD to FAM...  I think I'll feel better once I have an actual period and know for sure when my cycle begins. Right now I'm not sure if I'm having mid-cycle spotting following removal (three days past removal, some dark red bleeding but not as much as my normal periods pre-childbirth), or if this is a period. I did see a shift in my temperature between the last three days, but since I only took the Mirena out and started tracking three days ago, I don't have enough data to be sure that this was a sign of ovulation, or something else.

Since I plan to use all three measures, I'm confident in the method once I have a "normal" cycle -- it's more in the transition that I'm nervous (I know that the implant messed with my CF as well, so I don't fully trust that either... don't know if I'll return to dry days or not...)

 

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