Many women are finding that years of birth control use significantly delay or damage their
fertility , often resulting in longer times to conception, increased risks of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, or the need for assisted reproductive technology, like IVF.
Nearly all forms of hormonal birth control carry side effects of weight gain, which can be significant, and weight or obesity factors can also independently lead to fertility problems or the inability to conceive.
BLOOD CLOTS , BLOOD PRESSURE , STROKE AND HEART ATTACK
Many forms of birth control carry a potential side effect of raising blood pressure. When you factor in other causes of increased blood pressure, like genetics, age, smoking, or obesity, some women will face substantially higher chances of encountering a blood pressure related issue, like stroke or heart attack, or even preeclampsia later if a pregnancy is achieved.
Birth control, especially long-term use, disrupts the normal flora of the vagina, and can lead to increased occurrences of yeast infections. When candida, the bacteria that is commonly referred to as yeast, becomes a regular problem, it can overgrow into other areas of the body, particularly the intestines, leading to chronic candidiasis and other health problems, like chronic fatigue.
Hormonal birth control can lead to an increased risk for two forms of cancer: ovarian and breast. Beyond that, IUDs specifically carry an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Women are exposed to many daily factors that can increase a risk of female reproductive disorders and cancers that go well beyond a daily dose of birth control, including xenoestrogens in plastic products , cosmetics, and skincare products .
A common side effect of many forms of hormonal birth control includes a decreased
sex drive. Reduced sex drive while on birth control can also be tied to the other common birth control side effects like weight gain, breakthrough bleeding, acne, fatigue, and breast tenderness, all of which can quickly kill the mood for sex.
B. HEALTHIER ALTERNATIVES
Perhaps the most common non-hormonal method of birth control, condoms are cheap, convenient, and simple to use. Hormonal birth control options don’t protect against STDs, and condoms do, so these have an added level of protection.
Success rates of condoms are 98 percent when used correctly.
Less common than male condoms, female condoms don’t have quite as high of a success rate (79 percent). They are also a little less easy to use, and can cause vaginal irritation. But they do protect against sexually transmitted infections, and they are an option if male condoms don’t work.
SPERMICIDE AND DIAPHRAGM OR CERVICAL CAP
Similar to a female condom, the diaphragm or cervical cap must be inserted to fully cover the cervix. On their own, they’re about 80 percent effective, but this can increase with the use of a spermicide to ensure that sperm that do make it past the barrier don’t go on the fertilize an egg.
While hormonal IUDs carry a load of side effects, copper IUDs contain no hormones and carry less risk. They are longer lasting and can remain implanted for up to 10 years. They do have the potential to increase heavy bleeding during periods, since they don’t interfere with ovulation or normal menstrual cycles. They also have a slight chance of coming out, or slipping out of place and not preventing pregnancy, but they have a 99 percent success rate.
NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING
This form of birth control is the one that most truly preserves natural fertility and reduces exposure to synthetic hormones, barrier methods, and implants. While it’s really only ideal for partners in committed partnerships (since it doesn’t protect against STDs), it can present the most freedom.
With the advance of the smartphone, most women can track their fertility in an app using simple measurements like taking a daily morning temperature or monitoring cervical fluid around ovulation. Generally, women will need to avoid intercourse for 7-10 days each cycle. If you properly track your fertility signs, this method can be very effective.
BOTTOM LINE : Numerous alternatives to hormonal birth control exist, varying in degrees of effectiveness. The form of birth control you choose should best meet the needs of your health goals. When weighing the risks of hormones, non-hormonal options can be as effective and even empowering, since they don’t suppress a woman’s natural fertility, mood, or vibrant health.
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