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Wednesday, January 4, 2017


I've got lots of requests to share natural alternatives to hormonal contraceptives. As many of you may have known already, I went through some terrible side effects (nutrient deficiencies, gut dysbiosis, candida, hormonal imbalance as well as hormonal cystic acne and alopecia) and developed serious and permanent health problems (PCOS) after using hormonal birth control - NuvaRing.
There are many natural contraceptive methods which are worth to reconsider if we want to choose the method with the least health impact and the most suitable to our lifestyles. In this article I will also write more about tools (like fertility computer) I’ve been using successfully for more than a year as a natural birth control.

In the era of constant technological change and common access to miscellaneous medicaments and other medical supplies we often forgot about natural and effective methods of healthcare, also in the subject of contraception. The exception are of course condoms, as the most widespread and available conceptive method that additionally protects also from sexually transmitted diseases. Natural contraception is often linked with calendar method that most of the people associate mainly with deeply religious human beings. What’s more, other methods of natural contraception – besides condoms and cervical cups (without hormones) seem to be too demanding or time-consuming for always busy modern society. Keeping this in mind, which factors speak in favor of natural contraceptive methods and when they are worth to apply, and which are against the hormonal contraception?

Why birth control is not really good for you?

First of all, taking birth control pills (the most common hormonal contraceptive method) involves the interference of natural rhythm of our organism. With every pill we deliver to our body a certain amount of hormones to which not only the whole menstrual cycle get used to, but also our mood and health. Many women sometimes take birth control pills in order to mitigate painful cramping or irregular periods which in effect may even compound the problem. Cramping or painful and irregular periods are often due to a deficiency of progesterone and an excess of estrogen and the most commonly prescribed pills on the market have only one component – estrogen. This is the reason why many women suffer from intolerable estrogen-induced side effects when they are on birth control pills like: weight gain, mood swings or breast tenderness.

Furthermore, when we decide to set aside hormonal contraception we have to face the possibility of hormonal imbalance what can in fact cause, for example: hair loss (in many cases also alopecia) and skin (hormonal acne) condition, breast reduction, mood changes (depression). By the time the organism come back to hormonal balance it can last even half a year, but of course it’s an individual matter. I had experienced some of these terrible side effects and since then, I still struggle to get in shape I was in before using birth control.

This picture shows how my skin looked after using hormonal birth control vaginal ring NuvaRing. I experienced hormonal imbalance which resulted, among other things, in PCOS, hormonal acne, as well as alopecia

Common Hormonal Contraception/Birth Control Side Effects:

- Increased risk of breast cancer
- Increased risk of blood clotting, heart attack and stroke
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased risk of benign liver tumors
- Increased risk of gall bladder disease
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Increased risk of Candida/yeast infections
- Weight gain
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Hair loss
- Androgenic alopecia
- Hormonal acne
- Reduced libido
- Migraines
- Nausea, Irregular bleeding or spotting
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood changes
- Breast tenderness

Types of natural contraception

- Male Condoms (about 98% of effectiveness of contraception, but can sometimes rip, tear or slip off)

- Female Condoms (about 95% of effectiveness of contraception, not very popular, less likely to break than male condoms)

 - Hormone-free Cervical Caps (about 91% effective, block sperm from entering the uterus, creating natural, hormone-free birth control)

- Calendar Method - Ogino-Knaus’ method (depends on avoiding sex during ovulation, circa 75% of effectiveness of contraception, it’s effectivity could be higher if combined with temperature and mucus method)

- Fertility/Ovulation Tests (help evaluating the date of ovulation by using test stripes that measure concentration of hormones in urine, they can be used as an additional method while using other natural contraception)

- Electronic Calendar

- Temperature Method

- Menstrual Cycle Computers

- Sympto-thermal Method - Rötzer’s Method

- Mucus Method - Billings Method

Is copper IUD better than hormonal IUD?

There's also less natural, but still hormonal free type of contraception called IUD Long-Term Birth Control. ParaGard is a tiny copper filament. It's T-shaped and it must be put into place by a gynecologist for 2-6 years. It's mostly recommended for women that have already gave birth.

Copper is toxic to sperm. It makes the uterus and fallopian tubes produce fluid that kills sperm, which contains white blood cells, copper ions, enzymes, and prostaglandins.

picture: source

"Most women who use ParaGard have heavier, longer, or crampier periods, especially for the first few months. After 6 months, many women’s periods return to normal. If you already have really heavy or uncomfortable periods, or you are anemic (too little iron in your blood), you might prefer a Mirena."

"When conception occurs with an IUD in place, the IUD can prevent implantation, thus causing an early abortion.
(Additional risks) include uterine perforation, which may lead to a hysterectomy, and infections, such as a pelvic or tubo-ovarian abscess. Use of all IUDs has been associated with an increased incidence of PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease). The IUD may occasionally result in pregnancy and if this were to occur, an ectopic pregnancy would be more likely to occur. An ectopic pregnancy is one in which the unborn child implants himself/ herself in a location other than in the mother’s uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. According to Rossing and Daling, two prominent researchers, women who had used an IUD for three or more years were more than twice as likely to have a tubal pregnancy as women who had never used an IUD even years after the IUD had been removed. Ectopic pregnancy remains the leading cause of maternal death in the United States. The IUD may also cause back aches, cramping, dyspareunia (painful intercourse), dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cycles), and infertility."

How to use some of Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FAMs) - natural contraceptive methods?

Calendar method and Ovulation Tracker apps for iPhone and Android

You need to keep a record of the length of each menstrual cycle in order to determine when you are fertile. You can use an ordinary calendar, but it's a lot more convenient to use electronic calendar or ovulation tracker apps like Clue, Glow, Kindara, Period Tracker, Ovia. You can keep track of your monthly cycle by entering data about your period, pain, mood, fluid, sexual activity and personal notes. It’s necessary to enter data concerning the length of your menstrual cycles (including the longest and the shortest cycle) during at least a half year period. The device is able to evaluate during which days woman should measure the LH (luteinizing hormone) concentration and estrogens with ovulation tests and when the infertile period begins. From month to month the electronic calendar or the app learn more precisely how to determine fertile and infertile periods and it also memorize data from the whole year. The price and the necessity of buying the ovulation tests are the main disadvantages of this method as well as the fact that it doesn’t report the changes in menstrual cycle due to illness or stress.

To predict the first fertile day in your current cycle:
1. Find the shortest cycle in your record.
2. Subtract 18 from the total number of days.
3. Count* that number of days from day one of your current cycle, and that day is your first fertile day.

To predict the last fertile day in your current cycle:
1. Find the longest cycle in your record.
2. Subtract 11 days from the total number of days.
3. Count* that number of days from day one of your current cycle, and that day is your last fertile day.

*Make sure to include day one when you count.

Temperature method

Temperature method is one of the most common of fertility awareness-based methods (FAMs).You can use this method to determine your fertile days. Some women also use it when they're trying to get pregnant to know when they should have unprotected vaginal intercourse.

Woman's body temperature is lower during the first part of the cycle. It usually rises slightly after ovulation, when an egg is released, and then the body temperature stays elevated for the rest of the cycle. It falls again just before the next period. Tracking the temperature every day can help to determine the ovulation. If you want to  prevent pregnancy, you should not have unprotected sex until 3-5 days after you ovulate each cycle.

1. Chart your basal body temperature (BBT) every morning. You need to get at least 3-4 hours of sleep before checking your temperature. You should check the BBT while still in bed, you shouldn't talk or kiss anyone before that. BBT is the temperature of the body when it's completely at rest. Everyone has slightly different basal body temperature.

2. Before ovulation, 96 to 98°F is normal for most women.

3. After ovulation, the temperature raises to 97 up to 99°F.

4. The changes will be in fractions of a degree (from 1/10 to 1/2 a degree). That's why you need to get a special, large-scale thermometer that only registers 96 to 100°F (the ones I recommend are: Lady-CompPearly or Femometer, since they additionally track the data you provide).

5. Some basal thermometers are to be used in the mouth and some are to be used in the rectum. Rectal thermometers are generally more reliable, but mouth thermometers are a lot easier and more convenient to use.

6. Keep in mind that your BBT may change when you are stressed or don't get enough sleep. Illness, jet lag, and even smoking may also affect your body temperature.

Menstrual cycle computers

Another way to avoid pregnancy naturally without subjecting your body to artificial methods, but easier to follow for newbies is menstrual cycle computer. There are few different ones available on the market, like for example Lady-CompPearly and Femometer. They are intelligent, non-invasive, natural method of contraception. Fertility monitors learn, analyse and indicate ovulation, fertile and non-fertile days with 99.3% premium accuracy. This method is free of invasive hormones and side effects. Personally, this works the best for me.

"Femometer is an intelligent basal body temperature (BBT) thermometer that syncs to your phone, tracks and predicts your cycle, and alerts you to important natural changes in your body.

Whether you're tracking your period, timing your cycle to prevent pregnancy, or getting ready to start a family.

Use the power of Basal Body Temperature to calculate your 6-day fertility window for pregnancy.

Know the days that you're at high risk for getting pregnant. Used in conjunction with other contraception methods, the Fertility Awareness Method decreases risk of pregnancy."

My opinion
This is the tool I use personally for almost a year now. I'm pretty happy with it! I love everything about this little gadget, except one thing - it takes about 1 up to 3 minutes to take the temperature in the morning, and I wish it was a little bit faster. But apart of that, I can't say anything bad about Femometer.

Femometer is available on Amazon.

"Lady-Comp is very easy to use. Based on your morning temperature, taken orally, the fertility computer determines your fertile days and shows when you are ovulating by recording, analyzing and storing your menstrual cycle data. 
It monitors your daily status of fertility and will alert you on the days when intercourse may lead to pregnancy: 
on the day you ovulate – and the five days before ovulation.

Take your temperature each morning.
Enter M on the days you are menstruating.
View your fertility for the day.

Lady-comp keeps track of all your data and lets you view it in graphical form. Easily access your own data at any time.
View your temperature curve, including temperature, M-inputs, fertility, and moon phase.
See your cycle statistics, including average cycle length, temperature rise, ovulation range, length of luteal phase and number of cycles with a CLI.
View past, present and forecasted fertility shown on a monthly calendar.
You can even add your own personal notes.
The newest generation Lady-Comp allows you to adjust the brightness and volume of your device and even pick your alarm melody.

No matter the stage of your life, there is a Lady-Comp that’s right for you. From the young, on-the-go student, to the newly engaged young woman, to the accomplished woman looking to expand (or limit) her family, Lady-Comp has you covered."

Lady Comp is available on Amazon.

"Pearly is smaller, natural, ethical birth control / family planning computer with the same premium effectiveness equal or higher than the most popular, but harmful and intrusive contraceptive methods.

Simple and non-invasive, pearly® is perfect for everyday use; with a size of 2.5 x 4 inches, the battery-operated pearly® is small enough to fit into any handbag."
Pearly is available on Amazon.

Cervical Mucus method (Billings method)

Hormones make the cervix produce cervical fluid, which collects on the cervix and in the vagina. Quality and quantity of it changes just before and during ovulation.

1. Dry days/Nothing - after the period, there are usually a few days without cervical mucus. These days are often called "dry days". If the cycle is long, then there is usually more dry days. Dry days are also "safe days".

2. Sticky - more mucus is produced when an egg starts to ripen. It is normally yellow or white and it feels sticky.

3. Creamy - mucus is similar to sticky but has a wetter quality (it's smoother, almost like cream/lotion) to it and it's also milky/cloudy.

4. Wet - on days when you have wet mucus, your vagina may feel slippery, sometimes it feels like you’re sitting in a pool of water), but often you may don’t actually see any cervical fluid.

5. Eggwhite - it looks clear and feels very slippery, like raw egg white (you can feel it especially when wiping with toilet paper). It's stretchable between the fingers. It's the peak of your fertility, which means it's the most fertile type of cervical fluid.

After about four days of "eggwhite cervical mucus", you may have a lot less mucus and it will become cloudy and sticky again, and after that you may have a few more dry days before your period starts again. These are also "safe days", until flow starts again. As you can see on the chart below.

Symptothermal method (Rötzer’s method)

Sympto-thermal method include these methods:
1. Temperature Method + Calendar Method
2. Cervical Mucus Method
3. Cervix Position
This method is way more accurate than when you only use one method (of the above) alone. For example when your temperature chart is confused by illness or emotional stress then keeping track of your cervical mucus pattern can be really useful.

1. At the beginning of cycle (during menstrual period) the cervix will be low, hard and feel like the tip of your nose, it will also be slightly open.
2. After the menstrual period is over, the cervix will be low, hard and closed.
3. Closer to ovulation the cervix will start to rise and begin to feel softer.
4. During ovulation your cervix will be soft, high, open, wet and it will feel similar to your lips.
5. After ovulation the cervix will be low and firm, and again it will like the tip of your nose.
6. If pregnancy has been achieved then the cervix will usually shift up and stay closed.

How to recognize fertility return after childbirth?

Female puerperium period is the time since the day of childbirth to the day of first period. Duration of it depends on the way of feeding a baby and individual characteristics of organism. It usually ends about 5 weeks after birth but sometimes it can last even up to 12 weeks.

You can start observations about 3 weeks (or more) after childbirth. You should avoid any sexual intercourse during that time due to the fact that ejaculatory fluid can have an impact on observations. For 10-14 days you should observe your sensations and mucus in vulvar vestibule in order to determine the basic model of fertility.
There are three sorts of fertility model: “dry” model (no mucus, the feeling of dryness), a model with constant mucus (the same constant mucus of similar density and constant feeling of moisture in vagina) and mixed model (alternating period of dry model and constant dense mucus). Moreover, you should also measure the core body temperature as early as possible, especially when you notice changes in monitoring your fertility model and few days after the peak of mucus.

If the basic model of fertility was determined, you should observe sensations in the vulvar vestibule. Every aberration from determined model should be treated as a beginning of fertility. The peak of mucus means the last day of any mucus or aberration from determined model. If there wasn’t any increase in temperature, the 4th day after the mucus peak is treated as the end of potential fertility. Lack of temperature changes indicates that there was no ovulation. In that time bleeding can occur without being preceded by temperature increase. Then this period is treated as a potentially fertile. If temperature increase occurs, the end of fertility is determined by the rule of chosen method. First time of the last phase (luteal phase) of menstrual cycle can be very short, even just 4-5 days.

With this method monitoring the changes of cervix can be very helpful. The confirmation of returning fertility can be occurrence of typical symptoms of fertile period like softness, opening, higher position of cervix, combined with mucus.

Final Thoughts

If you want to read more about natural contraceptive methods I can strongly recommend you to read the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, written by Toni Welscher. Thanks to that book I’ve found out that natural and effective (!) contraception does really exist. I had even read it two times - first time the hard copy of first edition and then later the new 20th Anniversary edition on my Kindle. I also talked about this book in my youtube video (on my polish channel) some time ago. You can check it out by clicking on the picture below.
The best method is to combine three different methods of checking the fertility (temperature method, mucus method and cervix position), because in that way you can better evaluate fertile days.

How to start?
1. Buy Taking Charge of Your Fertility
2. Buy Lady-CompPearly and Femometer or a basal body thermometer
3. Use an app or notebook to track your temperature, cervical mucus and cervix position.
4. Clean your hands before checking your cervix and mucous
5. Use a barrier method for when you are fertile (for example condoms)
6. Track your fertile symptoms regularly, every single day

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The information on this website has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. 

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