- Birth control
3 reliable non-hormonal contraceptives
Written by: Editors
What is non-hormonal contraception?
The pill is the first thing that comes to mind for lots of people when they think about birth control. The pill contains hormones that stop your ovaries from releasing eggs to avoid pregnancy. For many years, it has been the most popular contraceptive method. Recently, however, the pill has come under increasing scrutiny. In fact, more and more women are turning away from the pill due to the side effects.
This is reflected in the figures: in 2014, 38.1% of women were on the pill, as opposed to only 32% in 2020. The decline in pill usage is most evident in women between the ages of 16 and 20. In 2020, 45.3% of women in this age bracket used the pill as a method of contraception, compared to 59.8% in 2014. (Source: NRC.)
Experts expect this trend to continue. So, what should you do? What other contraceptive options are there? Are non-hormonal contraceptives perhaps a better idea?
Women are done with the side effects
Bart Fauser, professor of gynaecology (UMC Utrecht), knows why so many millennial women are rejecting the pill. In the 1960s, he says, feminists accepted the side effects, but this has changed.
By side effects, Fauser means mood swings, weight gain and low libido, among other things. And these are only ‘mild’ complaints. As the package leaflet states there are some side effects that are more serious but rare, such as cancer and thrombosis. This also applies to other forms of hormonal contraception, such as hormonal IUDs (e.g., Mirena), hormonal injections and contraceptive rings.
3 alternatives to hormonal contraceptives
In these health-conscious times, more and more women want to avoid oestrogens and progestin. An alternative could be to switch to a non-hormonal contraceptive.
This doesn't mean that we have to revert to coitus interruptus (the pull-out method). There are other reliable ways to have sex without the risk of pregnancy. We have listed some reliable hormone-free birth control options below.
- Copper IUDs. An IUD (intrauterine device) is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device. It releases a small amount of copper, which makes sperm cells inactive. The IUD is inserted into the uterus by a health care provider and lasts up to 10 years.
- Condoms have many advantages: it is still the only contraceptive that offers optimum protection against STDs such as gonorrhoea, HPV and hepatitis. Make sure to use a high-quality condom, preferably one containing a spermicide. As long as you follow the instructions for use carefully, condoms offer a reliable, hormone-free method of birth control.
- The temperature method. Your body temperature decreases before ovulation. So by measuring your temperature daily, you can map out your fertile days. During these days you can avoid having sex (or have sexual intercourse with a condom or other device). If, in addition to the temperature method, you also check changes in cervical mucus and the level of luteinising hormone (LH) in your urine, then the risk of pregnancy is extremely small. There are advanced devices available that give you a complete fertility profile based on your basal body temperature.
Non-hormonal contraceptives yet to be released
As we discussed, there are various non-hormonal birth contraceptives. However, each option has its disadvantages. Copper IUDs can cause heavy periods, and the temperature method is very time consuming.
New methods of contraception are being developed that are more effective, easier to use, and safer than existing methods. For example, a method is being considered that makes it impossible for sperm to penetrate through the egg's external shell. However, this is not yet scientifically possible. Until then, it might be a good idea to stock up on condoms. Of course, you can also choose to practise abstinence...