Natural Alternatives to Hormonal Contraceptives

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Natural Alternatives to Hormonal Contraceptives

While I’ve primarily dedicated this website to the everyday experience of being a mama, not everyone wants a large family. Some women feel their family is complete and it’s not in their plan to become pregnant again (or at all). Here are the non-hormonal birth control options I’ve used in my own family planning.

Birth control is common these days for a variety of reasons. According to the CDC, almost 25% of women aged 15 to 49 currently use a hormonal contraceptive. These include “the pill,” a diaphragm, or intrauterine devices (IUDs). 

So it’s no surprise that I’ve gotten dozens of requests for natural birth control options. Women are constantly asking for natural alternatives to hormonal contraceptives. As an introvert, I tend to shy away from controversy. Still, I decided to tackle this head-on.

How Do Hormonal Contraceptives Work? 

I have a plethora of non-medical reasons for avoiding hormonal contraceptives. But there are some solid medical/scientific reasons to make this decision, too. Hormonal contraceptives are artificial hormone-like substances that mimic the effects of naturally-occurring hormones. According to the FDA, these contraceptives work by: 

  • Interfering with ovulation. Estrogen and progestin in the pills stop the ovaries from releasing eggs.
  • Thickening the cervical mucus, which prevents sperm from reaching the egg in the fallopian tube.
  • Disrupting the ability of the fallopian tubes to move fertilized eggs from the ovaries toward the uterus. 
  • Preventing the buildup of the uterine lining which, inhibits implantation of a fertilized egg. 

For me, the possibility that you could conceive but the fertilized egg wouldn’t implant is disturbing. It’s enough to keep me from ever wanting to use hormonal contraceptives. And there’s a long list of other reasons. But it turns out artificial hormones also damage women’s health.

(They also damage environmental health when they end up in the water supply). 

Why Avoid Hormonal Contraceptives?

There are plenty of health reasons to avoid hormonal methods of birth control. Hormonal contraceptives impact way more than your hormones. Using them can undermine your health over time or even lead to new health conditions.

May Cause Nutrient Depletion

Many medications affect how we absorb nutrients, which can cause deficiencies. Hormonal contraceptives are no different. Researchers have found these medications deplete key vitamins and minerals. This can be detrimental to reproductive health, bone health, the brain, the immune system, and more. 

A 2011 randomized controlled trial found hormonal contraceptives deplete certain nutrients. This includes vitamin B6, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, and magnesium. These deficiencies can lead to other health problems thanks to the important role these nutrients play.

Vitamin B6 and magnesium are critical for hormone balance. The minerals zinc and selenium are crucial for the immune response. Phosphorus makes strong bones. 

Another hormonal birth control method is a transdermal patch. This method delivers synthetic estradiol directly into the bloodstream. It may cause significantly lower levels of coenzyme Q10 and alpha-tocopherol. When the body is low in these nutrients, it can lead to increased oxidative stress, inflammation, and calcification. 

Besides depleting these nutrients, the pill can also lead to an excess of copper, calcium, and iron. This can then exacerbate deficiencies in other nutrients.

May Cause Depression or Anxiety 

Depending on the type of pill and its ingredients, hormonal contraceptives can cause or worsen depression or anxiety. This seems to occur more often in those with a personal history of mood disorders or a family history of mood disorders.

May Lead to Low Libido, Sexual Dysfunction, and Infertility

While women often take hormonal contraceptives to help them enjoy sex risk-free, it doesn’t always turn out that way. The use of these pills may compromise your sexual health. A 2001 study in Human Reproduction found hormonal birth control may decrease your interest in sex.  

A 2014 study reports it may also cause issues down there that decrease pleasure. Plus, if you decide you want to have a baby down the road, it may be more difficult. 

May Cause Blood Clots

Blood clots are a significant risk of certain pills. While blood clots from taking the pill are rare, they’re a big deal because they can be fatal. Yaz and Yasmin in particular have been linked to blood clots. According to a 2011 warning by Health Canada, a woman using Yaz has a 1-½ to 3 times increased risk of blood clots compared to other birth control pills.

May Contribute to Cardiovascular Disease

Women who use low-dose oral contraceptives have double the risk of a fatal heart attack compared to those who don’t. A 1990 review found ladies who use oral contraceptives and smoke have 12 times the risk of fatal heart attacks. Their rate of fatal brain hemorrhages is three times higher.

The British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology conducted a clinical trial of women with a history of migraines.  They found that those who take combined oral contraceptives have 2-4 times the risk of stroke compared to those who don’t take the pill.

May Lead to Blood Sugar Issues

A 2003 journal article found oral contraceptives may aggravate insulin resistance. This is because they decrease insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. As a result, these medications may increase your long-term risk of diabetes and heart disease.

May Increase Your Risk of Cancer 

A study by the World Health Organization tied contraceptive use to cervical cancer. Women who have HPV and have taken the pill for five to nine years have a higher cervical cancer risk. They’re nearly three times more likely than non-pill users to develop cervical cancer.

HPV affects a third of all women in their twenties. And women with HPV who have taken the pill for more than ten years are four times more likely than non-users to develop the disease.

Scandinavian researchers looked at women who use the pill after age 45. They found this age group has a 144% greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who have never used the pill. That’s 144 percent! 

With all these potential problems, are hormonal contraceptives worth it? Is it worth risking cancer to regulate your cycles and improve the look of your skin? Thankfully there are much better options!

Taking The Pill For Balanced Skin and Hormones?

Many women use hormonal contraceptives to help “balance hormones,” or “regulate their cycle.” They may even use them just to prevent acne. The problem is that this treats the symptoms but doesn’t address the root cause. The body naturally moves toward balance, so if hormones are out of whack, it’s not from a contraceptive deficiency. It’s that the body isn’t producing optimal levels of natural hormones.

Treating some symptoms of hormonal imbalance with these medications fails to fix the root of the problem. It can also lead to more significant health issues in the future. The underlying imbalance can still cause other problems in the body.

I used to have horrible acne problems! Clean eating and the oil cleansing method really helped clear up my skin. If hormone balance is the goal, check out this article to learn many ways to balance hormones naturally. 

Supplements For Hormone Balance

I’ve also found some supplements that help a lot. 

  • Maca – This hormone-balancing root has a long history of use in Peru. It can help with fertility, reduction in PMS, and better skin and hair. It can also boost male fertility. Maca is a good source of minerals and essential fatty acids so I like using it in smoothies or coffee. You shouldn’t take it during pregnancy though. 
  • Magnesium – This mineral is vital for hundreds of functions within the human body. Most of us are deficient, but there are several different ways to get magnesium. I like this magnesium powder, especially for staying regular. Ionic liquid magnesium or magnesium oil are both really good.
  • Vitamin D – A pre-hormone that supports hormone function. It’s best to get it from the sun if possible, or you can take a D3 supplement. Ideally, get your serum Vitamin D levels checked to track your levels.
  • Gelatin or Collagen – A great source of minerals and necessary amino acids. These powders support hormone production and digestive health in various ways. Gelatin powder can actually “gel.” It works well in recipes like homemade jello and probiotic marshmallows. Collagen powder doesn’t gel but easily stirs into soups, smoothies, coffee, tea, or any other food.
  • Natural Progesterone Cream – Menstrual troubles are often due to hormone imbalances, like low progesterone. Progesterone cream is especially helpful for those with short cycles. It can also help if you have a short second phase of your cycle (ovulation through the start of menses). If you do use progesterone cream, do your research. Opt for soy-free and only use it during ovulation through menses. Check with a doctor or healthcare provider before using any hormone supplement.

Which Birth Control Methods I Don’t Recommend

There are some non-hormonal birth control methods I don’t recommend. This is due to their potential toxicity, effect on the body, or potential for miscarriage. 

Birth Control Sponge

The contraceptive sponge is non-hormonal but it has chemicals. It’s made of polyurethane — a squishy plastic. Then it’s doused with a chemical called Nonoxynol-9. This chemical can irritate your vagina, increasing your risk of infection. Nonoxynol-9 is considered safe for use in personal care products in the United States. But for some reason, the European Union has banned them… 

Copper IUD

Gynecologists often recommend copper IUDs as a natural type of birth control. While they’re technically non-hormonal, copper has a major effect on hormones. Copper, when it gets out of balance with zinc, can cause all kinds of health problems. Some of these include estrogen dominance, PCOS, and breast cancer.

Tubal Ligation or Vasectomy 

Tubal ligation and vasectomies are both forms of sterilization. They’re 99% effective but can come with risks.

Women often refer to tubal ligations as “getting your tubes tied.” Tubal ligation is a surgical procedure that blocks or removes a part of your fallopian tubes. It prevents eggs from your ovaries from meeting up with sperm in the fallopian tubes. That’s where they would otherwise be fertilized and implant themselves in the uterus.

A vasectomy is also a surgical procedure of blocking or removing tubes. In this case, the small tubes in a man’s scrotum are blocked or removed. The result is sperm cannot leave the body and cause a pregnancy.

Vasectomies can increase the risk of prostate cancer and autoimmune disease. And women with tubal ligations have a higher chance of dangerous ectopic pregnancies.

Any Form of Emergency Contraception

Copper IUDs are sometimes used as emergency contraception. Emergency contraception, whether it’s a Plan B pill or a copper IUD has abortion-inducing properties. While it is a non-hormonal birth control option, I don’t recommend copper IUDs as emergency birth control.

Why I Don’t Recommend Herbs For Non-Hormonal Birth Control

Some herbs can work as contraceptives, but I will not list them or recommend them for several reasons:

  • Many have abortifacient properties that can lead to early miscarriage.
  • Most also impact the body in the same way that hormonal contraceptives do. So, they can cause similar problems for the mother as well. Herbs are effective and potent, and should be used with care. It’s important to avoid certain herbs for these reasons.
  • None of the “contraceptive” herbs are 100% effective. They have side effects, and many can cause birth defects if conception does occur.

Natural Ways to Prevent or Delay Pregnancy 

Artificial hormones aren’t something I want to take. But what if balancing hormones isn’t the reason for taking hormonal contraceptives? Maybe you truly need to delay or prevent pregnancy. In that case, there are better birth control options.

The following methods of contraception are much better for your body.

Non-Hormonal Birth Control: Natural Family Planning (NFP)

Natural Family Planning (NFP) or Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM) are natural methods of pregnancy prevention. But they can also help you get pregnant. They do this by focusing on natural hormonal cues.

These methods carry no side effects and help women get to know their bodies better. Some women discover problems (endometriosis, anovulation, etc.) from practicing these methods. A side benefit is that they help women be more in touch with their natural hormonal cues. 

While these methods get a bad rap, they have come a long way from the Rhythm Methods of the past. Many are now as effective as hormonal methods (and more effective than barrier methods) when used consistently. It’s non-hormonal birth control that can either delay or achieve pregnancy. So if you decide to get pregnant, you don’t have to worry about infertility, birth defects, or delayed fertility after discontinuing.

The basic concept is to use cues to predict ovulation and avoid sex when you’re fertile. These are things like basal body temperature (using a basal or BBT thermometer), mucus production, and cervical position. You can also use an ovulation calculator to find the fertile window in your menstrual cycle.

There are classes teaching how to practice these methods across the country. But for those who can’t find a class, there are websites like Fertility Friend. This free website allows users to chart their symptoms and pinpoint ovulation. There are even apps and mobile features for easy tracking.

High Tech NFP 

After one of my pregnancies, I decided to go high-tech. I used a computer to do the NFP tracking and calculation for me. Thanks to emerging technology, there are several excellent options available now (I might use all listed):

  • The Kegg fertility monitor relies on electrolyte level changes in cervical mucus so it’s more accurate than basal body thermometers alone. You can use their free app to look at your daily readings, trends, and fertility predictions. It only connects with the app via Bluetooth once it’s outside of your body, so there’s no EMF exposure.
  • You can do NFP without a computer. All you need is a simple Basal Thermometer. Then you follow the method manually.
  • Methods like ClearBlue monitors measure Luteinizing Hormones and estrogen to pinpoint ovulation. Though cheaper upfront, these require buying more ovulation strips, which you use daily. So, they can be more expensive in the long run.
  • Fertile Focus – This is a simple and inexpensive fertility detector. The basic idea is that this microscope shows changes in saliva before ovulation. By examining saliva each day, you can predict when ovulation occurs.

Check out my complete reviews of these different fertility monitors here.

Good Old Fashioned Condoms 

Male condoms are still the most popular form of non-hormonal birth control around the world. People like condoms because they’re both simple and effective and available over the counter. But they need a proper fit. To ensure a good fit, have your partner go to myONE Perfect Fit to find one that fits well. They have ten lengths, nine sizes, and 60 total options.

While condoms are a popular option based on medical information, they may not be a good option based on your faith or religious beliefs. 

Caya Diaphragm for Non-Hormonal Birth Control

Using a diaphragm is another type of hormone-free birth control to look into. It’s a reusable cup that fits inside the vagina and over the cervix. The idea is to create a barrier between the uterus and sperm.

Most diaphragms are latex, which some people have allergies to. The Caya Contoured Diaphragm is silicone. Because it’s one-size-fits-all, it doesn’t need to be fitted by your doctor. You can buy it directly online or get a prescription from your pharmacist. It’s eco-friendly and gives you the option of occasional protection. It just requires a water-based spermicide. There are natural versions like lemon juice and others.

Be aware that because diaphragms can put pressure on your urethra, they are linked to urinary tract infections (UTIs). 

Cervical Cap

A cervical cap is similar to a diaphragm in that it fits inside the vagina and over the cervix. The one available in the United States is called FemCap® and is made of silicon. For the best performance, it should be combined with a spermicide of some kind. Again, you can use a more natural version of this non-hormonal birth control.

Withdrawal or “Pull-Out” Option

If you prefer unprotected sex, you can have your man pull out his penis before ejaculation. You have to make sure to do it correctly every time. That is likely why it has a 22% failure rate. This form of non-hormonal birth control is popular but risky. You can make it more effective by combining it with a male condom.

What do you think? Ever used natural methods for balancing hormones or delaying pregnancy? Have other suggestions? Share below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


233 responses to “Natural Alternatives to Hormonal Contraceptives”

  1. Karla Avatar

    I am newly diagnosed with Hashimoto’s after battling hypothyroidism for 10 years. I know that conceiving while my thyroid isn’t functioning properly would result in a high chance of birth defects. I saw how raising a child with a birth defect was with my parents and I can’t in good conscience be willy-nilly about relations with my husband knowing the high chances of birth defects and trauma. My cycles have also always been all over the place. I can’t rely on normal cues to predict anything. My last cycle length was 60+ days and then my period lasted 2 weeks. I feel awful banning my husband from sex, but I’m not sure what else I can do. Any suggestions? I found out that I am Vitamin D deficient and so I’m taking a supplement to increase that and I’m also going to start taking magnesium. Should the magnesium help to get my hormones under control?

  2. Jennifer Avatar

    I am 29 years old, married and just decided once and for all to go off of the BC pill. I’ve been on it on-and-off for about 2 years. I’ve never been comfortable with using it and it’s alarming how many doctors push women to start taking it from such an early age. I had extremely painful cramps in my early teenage years and the first thing doctors would want to do was put me on the pill to “regulate” my period. It just doesn’t seem right.

    I’m currently searching for a non-hormonal way to prevent pregnancy and this post really inspired me to start using my basal thermometer.

    Another thing that lead me to this post was migraines. I stopped taking the pill 5 days ago and came down with my very first migraine. It started on Memorial day and was completely debilitating. Caused me to remain in bed for 2 days along with vomiting. I am still feeling “off” today. I do not have a family history of migraine on either side. I truly believe the change in hormones is causing this. I will never look back on the pill ever again.

  3. Marie Milton Avatar
    Marie Milton

    Hey, Katie..
    I’ll be getting married soon.. And I am hoping to not have kids right away.. And I am quite firm on that.. Though my soon to be husband would be happy either way.. And I am really scared to take the risk… But I don’t think abstinence could be the option (poor man..hehe) and he was telling me about using condoms but I once heard it barely helps and I am really skeptic about it…. What do you say?.. Or anyone who has experience with it to share it with me!! Thank you ?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I was not interested in using condoms for similar reasons. While abstinence is really a sacrifice for both of us, we have found that our peace of mind is vastly improved. After all, if you don’t have sex, you don’t make babies! If you have not already done so, you might talk to your fiance about it. In order to maximize your time together (if you know what I mean) I’d invest in a fertility monitor and start using it now! It will help give you an accurate window during which you should abstain if you do not wish to get pregnant without too much guesswork and the overestimation that I used to build in before getting a monitor (I would add days “just to be safe” …No fun). Hope this helps!

    2. Hana Avatar

      I totally understand your worries and I would highly encourage you to keep charting your cycle, the best book is Taking Charge of Your Fertility and the best app and website to learn how is Knowledge and practice are the most reassuring thing! I have been married for 3 years and have used fertility awareness and condoms during my fertile window and haven’t gotten pregnant yet! I am a firm believer that this works and everyone should learn! Condoms are very effective if used correctly. When we first got married we were extra cautious and would abstain for about 3 of the peak days and then used condoms for 2 days on either side. I know when you’re not married yet you can’t imagine abstaining but it really isn’t that hard and it makes it so exciting for that green light and we always always have sex on that night! ha!

  4. Zheyan Avatar

    I have been having irregular period since last June, sometimes there is a gap of 35-60 days in between each cycle other time i have two period in one month. My hormones were tested and fertility specialist diagnosed me with Diminished Ovarian Reserve however, after retesting my FSH level during cycle day 2 the doctor wants to wait before they put on hormone replacement. In addition to all of this I found out my husband has zero sperm count. Do you have any recommendations for me to regulate my period, elimnates the hot flash, weight gain, fatigue sysmptom and how about male infertility? Any herbs, tea and additional advise you can offer is greately apperciate.

  5. Kelsey Avatar

    I know this post is a couple years old but this is a subject I’ve had a really hard time finding good information about. I am 26 and have been on the Pill for I think 5 or 6 years now — I’m not sexually active and don’t plan to be until marriage, but I went on the Pill to regulate my terrible, terrible periods. They used to be extremely heavy, last at least 9 or 10 days, and caused debilitating cramps and horrible acne. I absolutely love being on the Pill — my skin has cleared up, I rarely get cramps, and my periods only come every 3 months and are super light and easy.

    That being said, I’m not comfortable being on the Pill long-term due to the risks you mentioned, and I’m looking for more natural ways to regulate my periods. I absolutely can’t go back to the way my periods used to be… They were nightmarish and debilitating. What supplements or steps would you recommend to regulate hormones for someone who is concerned only with the misery and general gross-ness of periods — heavy flow, cramps, breakouts, mood swings, etc. — and not at all with actual birth control? Every discussion I’ve seen on the topic gets wrapped up in the issue of fertility, but since I’m not sexually active, that is at the bottom of my list of concerns right now. 🙂

    Thanks! Love your site!

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Hi Kelsey, thanks for reading. I can sympathize. I had horrible periods when I was younger. Vitex, Maca and natural progesterone cream (second half of cycle only) were really helpful and I actually took the “after ease” tincture (you can probably find it on Amazon) during periods to help reduce them. I also noticed a big difference after switching to natural menstrual options (diva cup, cloth pads and sea sponges) instead of disposable. My body really disliked the chemicals in regular tampons and pads. My period got shorter and completely cramp free. Hope some of this helps!

      1. Kelsey Avatar

        Thanks so much for the tips! I don’t know if I could ever switch to reusable products since I find the whole period process to be revolting enough as it is without having to clean any… equipment. But I will definitely look into the other things you mentioned! Even if I can’t bring myself to ditch the tampons and pads, it will at least be a relief if I can get off the Pill. Thanks again!

  6. Autumn Avatar

    I would like to try the LadyComp or the OvaCue Fertility Monitor, but I have to work one night shift a week. I am afraid my results might not be accurate because of this. Would either one of these be an option for me. I was previously on the pill, but it gave me migraines.


    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      From what I can tell, it would still work if you could take the readings at the same time each day. The ovacue now has a mobile version that attaches to a phone, so it is easy to pack in a purse and bring along if needed, but you could probably schedule around your work hours too. The mobile app is really user friendly and you could make notes on your night shift day and take that into account to be extra safe 🙂

    2. Eva Avatar

      In relation to Lady-Comp and shift work, see FAQ section: In fact the new Chip III generation of Lady-Comp was designed especially for these types of women. Thanks to its very long measuring period of six hours, women who have to get up several times a night (e.g. mothers of babies or toddlers) can almost always take their temperature, either at their scheduled waking time or at night before taking care of the child (since reading takes only 30 seconds, this should not be a problem). If you are a shift worker or want to sleep in, you can change the measuring period at any time within a cycle by simply setting the alarm clock accordingly. That way you can take your temperature at 7 a.m. on one day and at 2 p.m. on the next, provided you had your sleep before that. This means that Lady-Comp can be customised to meet your requirements on a daily basis.

  7. Lenah Avatar

    I am so glad you shared this with us all, I am so disappointed in my doctor for not telling me these things for the babies sake and my own health ;( it makes me so sad, and I’m really scared because when I was 18 I started birth control, I think it was nuvearing (pulled out during sex with hubby BC it hurt him and me and I forgot to put back in), and then depo provera shot (scared of needles, shots hurt, especially when your scared of them, then I didn’t have period forever and I had to pay for it and o thought its not healthy injecting your body with this unknown things, that could be doing any thing to my body and babies or future babies, when I got off that I thought I was going to die, cramp overload, period finally back, hardcore,,, then nuvearing (hubby didn’t like it neither did I, I was still not normal but getting there from depo withdrawal I guess.., then Nothing because we just wanted to put it in gods hands, and we had a home of our own (rented but Nice and we were happy) and I got pregnant some time later, healthy pregnancy and baby boy, as soon as he was born they were writing me out a prescription for mini pill because “breastfeeding wasn’t enough” and then upgrade to big pill, switched pills 2 years later and switched back to nuvea ring and I’m done with all this chemical horimone I
    Unbalancing crap, I want to take my birth control ring out right now and throw it in the trash, but I don’t know where to go from there, should I wait for this cycle, I’ll be calling my Dr on Monday,,, who can I talk to about natural family planning, (my husbands out of town a lot so we don’t have sex a lot.) But were not in a good spot to have another baby right now, but I would feel better leaving it in gods hands (if I get pregnant it was meant to be,..and ever since I started birth control at 18 my body and mind had gone down hill, everyday I hurt am depressed, lethargic (not me, the active girl) I do have PTSD and major depression from my childhood BUT before the birth control, I was WAY better off, everything is clicking in now, it seriously all
    Started or got 10* worse once I was on birth control…omgosh I’m so scared of during young BC I didn’t know better, I was young and dimn and.doing what I thought was right, if I knew what it does to the eggs etc I would never had done it ;( I’m so sad and mad at this world and drs and nurses and pharmacies and money makers who profit off this 🙂 I am very thankful for you Katie and the work you right on, so very much any advice where to begin, what to do would be lovely, I am so new to natural family planning, I word love to have a note full of kids, but I don’t even have my own house now, and my hubbies never home so it would be hard to have lots of babies and kids running around, but oh do I wish for them;) I just turned 26…

    1. Laura Avatar

      Hi – I have been using LadyComp for almost 4 years now. I have 2 girls already and I am now planning for my next baby, which will hopefully be a girl since she would make the last addition to our family. I’m very comfortable with LadyComp and as a physician it is important to me not to harm my body unnecessarily with [the likes of] the pill [or other unnatural methods]. Lady-Comp is so easy to use and straight forward for natural birth control! and I’m hormone-free – so I really recommend you Lady-Comp or other fertility monitors like Wink for example

  8. Angela Avatar

    Thank you so much for this discussion! We used the pull out method for 7 years with success. Then discovered I have PCOS and because of that my doctor pushed me into taking the pill as I felt like I had no other option. I was hospitalized twice in two years from major ovarian cyst ruptures. I didn’t know what was wrong and it seemed like it took a lot of money and testing to finally figure it out. Now I am having so many side effects from the pill that I just stopped taking it last week. I am actively looking for an alternative! I also have endometriosis caused from my first C-section. 2 kids = 2 C-sections. I usually have very painful cramps – when not on the pill. I am having anxiety attacks, weight gain, LOW libido from the pill. I called my OB a month ago and left a message for help and she has never called me back. I will check into the NFP option today. I would also like to know what I can do naturally to prevent the cysts and painful cramps from reoccurring? Help!

  9. Charity Avatar

    Katie, I’m totally new to all of this and would love some insight. I have been taking the pill for 3 years now and a little over a year ago I started having a lot of pain from ovarian cysts. My OBGYN basically shrugged, said there was nothing they could do since I was already on the pill, and gave me some drugs to take for the pain. I have spoken with my husband and I am quitting the pill. We would like to avoid pregnancy, so I will be looking into NFP, but I’m nervous about the cysts. They have never gone away and I have had pain from them at least once a week. Is there a natural way to deal with those too?

    1. Ewa Avatar

      Hi Charity – congratulations on making the wide choice of quitting the pill – there are many NFP professional associations (like Billings, Couple to Couple League, etc) where you can get right advice – if you still afraid, add technology (like Lady-Comp fertility monitor for natural birth control – which works effectively with irregular cycles and can even identify hormonal imbalances) – so you have many choices and for sure it is good to contact NFP advisers also…and quitting the pill is the best choice you could make, not only because of your health, but because of ethical issues also: see my previous post about anti-implantation mechanism of the pills, causing embryonic abortion…


  10. Stacey Avatar

    I wish this information had been available to me when I was younger! My aunt died of a “slow stroke” that we believe was due to long term use of birth control pills. I had to stop taking them because it raised my blood pressure so high and the doctor was afraid I would react the same way as my aunt. Over the years, I’ve also learned that some forms of contraceptives actually don’t block the conception of a life, they do the work after conception, which would have concerned me greatly had I known at the time. So, I couldn’t take birth control pills and then I had a very difficult high risk pregnancy and we did not want more children, so out of frustration, my husband had a vascectomy, which of course is very drastic and hard to reverse. This was in the early nineties and we had no computer or internet, so we were so uninformed! I really think all women should have access to this information above. I’ve seen many Christian women blog about trying to choose between no birth control or the pill and be torn due to their religious beliefs and likely think those are their only options. Thank you for putting this information out there!

    1. Ewa Avatar

      Hi Stacey – very good point…I’m also Christian (Catholic) and I’m very angry that I was not informed enough about natural methods of family planning (NFP) either classic (Billings, Rotzer, sympto-thermal) or the new NFP methods like, fertility monitors, which do all NFP, like Lady-Comp…every woman should have a right to be fully informed about anti-implantation mechanism of pills and IUDs (you mentioned their abortifacient mechanism) – regardless of a doctor’s personal opinions, few women are ever informed about this issue.

  11. Ewa Avatar

    I want to come back to this very important issue mentioned here: many fertility experts (including doctors) are concerned about the fact that women often are not informed that the birth control pill can cause an chemical abortion as well as prevent pregnancy.

    Despite the hormones’ ability to prevent the release of eggs, sometimes a “breakthrough ovulation” takes place.

    A woman can still conceive an embryo (baby), who because of synthetic hormones cannot attach to the uterine lining and is aborted. The pill’s third mechanism is to change the lining of the endometrium, which creates a hostile environment for a newly created human life.

    The similar and even worse mechanism works in case of IUDs (coils), like Mirena, where one of the mechanisms incorporates a physical intrusion to prevent implantation of already conceived embryo.

    I use NFP methods since the beginning, currently Lady-Comp, which works great for me….


  12. kenzie Avatar

    You write about the pill and IUD’s, but what about implants? I have Nexplanon and chose it because it gives me the lowest dose of hormones possible while still being on hormonal birth control. Would all of the facts pertaining to the pill also pertain to implants? Thank you!

  13. Kathy Avatar

    I recognize that you are a not a physician, but what would you suggest in place of the pill for cystic ovaries? My daughter has cystic ovaries with cysts that periodically would burst and cause extreme pain. Her physician put her on bc to reduce the cysts, stop new ones from forming and reduce scarring and further damage to her ovaries. She is young and unmarried so getting pregnant is not a remedy! ;0)

      1. Kathy Avatar

        Thank you! I had not considered a functional medicine doctor. When we visited our naturopath she didn’t indicate a different course other than following our primary care doctor’s prescription of b/c pills. Thanks, again.

  14. Aimee Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    I’m incredibly grateful that you shared this info with all of us loyal readers. I used to be slim, healthy, very active, etc. Due to being pressured by my OBGYN, I began taking hormonal BC. I wish I hadn’t listened to her. In just two years, I’ve noticed a significant change in myself. Weight gain, lethargy, mood swings, severe headaches (the type that will drop you to your knees, in agony), aches and pains (all over), decrease in libido, etc. I have been so desperately wanting to quit taking it, but my partner and I can’t use condoms (I’m allergic to latex). I had considered herbal methods, but assumed it probably wouldn’t be the best choice (due to possible side effects). I’ve always been very in tune with my body, so NFP would most likely work for me. I appreciate your informative research into all of this. I cannot thank you enough for this post, it gave me hope. 🙂

    One question I have though is, are you aware of how long it takes to return to a normal cycle after taking hormonal BC? Is it different for all women? I’d rather not ask my OBGYN, I’m sure it won’t go over well, and I’ll probably receive false information anyhow.

    Thank you again Katie, you are certainly a blessing from heaven.

  15. Rachel L Avatar
    Rachel L

    Hi, Katie, and thanks so much for this post! I wish I’d read it before I went on the Depo-Provera birth control shot. I was engaged to be married in 3 months, was a virgin, and had never been to a OB-GYN before. I had done (what I thought to be!) LOTS of research online before I went to my appointment for B.C., and my lady doc even said that I impressed her with all my knowledge about my B.C. options.
    Never having taken B.C. before, I wanted something super convenient, so I chose the Depo-Provera shot, which you only have to get as an injection every 3 months. It sounded too good to be true! I lived in Cincinnati at the time, and had no idea there was any other way to prevent pregnancy besides condoms or B.C.
    My doc said that she herself was taking Depo, and she’d been on it for a couple years, and she liked it. She said she was a runner (so was I), but she looked a little overweight, so perhaps that should’ve been my first clue.
    So I went on Depo and for the first 6-7 months everything was normal enough. I gained a few pounds, but I was also running and lifting weights, so I thought maybe it was muscle weight. I also bled and spotted for over a year (which they kept saying was a normal side effect) until finally my period completely stopped (which apparently is also “normal” for Depo users). But until then had to wear a pad every single day b/c of the non-stop period I had. That alone was terrible, but it was about to get much worse.
    I started having depression, lack of motivation, sadness, severe blood sugar drops (I had to eat something substantial every 3 hours or I’d get shaky, tired, weak, and light-headed) and the worst: severe weight gain.
    I ate better and ran more, but I still gained 50 pounds in 2 years. I’ll say it again: the Depo made me gain 50 pounds (of fat) in 2 years. I was unable to lose weight, unable to gain muscle mass even though I lifted weights, and unable to improve my running stamina.
    I was stuck in a terrible rut with my weight and my life, and it was only after I’d been on the Depo for around 2.5 years that my husband & I finally faced the hard fact: I had to quit taking this monster drug ASAP. I could attribute every single ailment to the Depo. It had destroyed my body (and almost my life) in 2 short years, and I was a completely different person than I had been just 2 short years ago. Gone was the active, slender, joyful, optimistic 22 year old who got married; now here was the 205-pound shell of a 25 year old whose body had turned on her and who felt like she was 60 years old.
    It’s been about 2.5 years since I went off Depo for good, and I can tell my hormones are still out of whack: I’m still over 200 pounds, but I’ve been gaining muscle mass recently, so that’s a great start. I have stretch marks on my breasts, my upper thighs, my butt, and even the backs of my calves. I didn’t know you could get stretch marks on the backs of your calves!
    So my body is still mostly ruined, but at least I’m making some progress. My blood sugar doesn’t have severe drops every 3 hours anymore, I’m eating the healthiest I’ve ever eaten, and I power walk, job, and lift heavy weights several times a week.
    I also have a gluten intolerance that makes me so constipated I only go #2 a couple times a week, so I’ve been staying off gluten for a couple years.
    I know most people start eating healthier and cutting out gluten and they lose a bunch of weight, but not me. But I’m trying not to lose hope; it’s just been a horrible waiting game of waiting while the Depo slowly empties out of my body.
    I’ve heard that the Depo takes at least as long to leave your system as years that you were on it; so I was on it for 2.5 years, and it’s been 2.5 years since I’ve stopped taking it, and it’s still in my system, but I believe it to be finally leaving. My periods returned a while ago, but they’re still not to the pre-Depo severity they were (they used to be very heavy and long, and that was “normal” for me).
    So anyway, sorry for such a long post, but if I could scream from the rooftops and warn women of the vast and severe dangers of taking Depo, I would! It’s such an unnatural, high-powered drug that completely changes your body, and I had (and am still having) a ridiculously terrible reaction to it. And I’m sure my fertility is shot all to pieces, and who knows when it will return. (I’ve read fertility takes at least 2 years to return for long-term Depo users like me)
    I will NEVER again use hormonal birth control of any kind!
    So thanks, Katie, for informing women everywhere that there are plenty of other options out there! I would not wish what I’ve been going through even on my worst enemy.

  16. Dawn Avatar

    Great info as usual. I am so relived to be off of hormones for about three years, and I have never felt better. To add to the list of tracking devices, I use the Cyclotest. The monitor tracks my temperature automatically and I can also add when I notice ECM. The temperature plus mucus system is said to be 99% accurate at detecting ovulation so it is a pretty safe bet!

  17. Jamie Avatar

    Thanks for this thorough article Wellness Mama! I’ve used Sympto-thermal NFP from the beginning. I’ve been charting for 15 years now. In the beginning it helped me learn my cycles better and drove to to learn more about what we put in our bodies affects our health. I has some cysts burst in college, and had heavy bleeding and long cycles. Over the years I was able to shorten those cycles, as well as conceive and postpone pregnancy without issue or barriers and anything artificial or abortifacient ever. Like you, my Catholic faith is how I learned about NFP, and I am so very grateful because it sent be down an path of continually improving my physical health. (For my husband and I it also improved our relationship because we forced ourselves to really keep the topic of pregnancy up at the top, instead of just being surprised, and our relationship grew deeper when we had to communicate our love in other ways.) It moved us to teach Sympto thermal together for a time, though we have now retired. I have 4 children, all about 3 years a part each. I breastfed and had long months of absence of period, usually about 18-22 months. My youngest is now almost 4. We are not in a time right now that is ideal to welcome another child. If my faith had not moved me down this path, due to the severe allergies I encounter in my life, I am not sure what options I would have had without reactions. I can not even have an epidural during birth, And my midwives taught me how to hydrate well to avoid even having an IV because they have to give me benadryl for even that!
    My reasons to be natural go well beyond my faith, but I feel blessed that my faith helped not to have to learn and find these methods the hard way!

  18. Janine Avatar

    FYI: If you are an Australian, the amazing Ladycomp Device is available here.

  19. Stephanie Avatar

    Thank you for this article. I have taken BC for 20+ years and all of a sudden had several health problems including migraines, high blood pressure and anxiety. My doctors just put me on more medicine to treat the symptoms. I didn’t feel good about it and come off of everything (including BC). My health started returning back to normal including my BP dropping back down. My doctor wanted me to go back on my BC and got upset when I said no I didn’t want to. Needless to say I switched doctors. My hormones are still imbalanced and I still get migraines once a month but I figure that might take a while to straighten out. I’m trying to eat better, take good vitamins, added light exercise, cut out some chemical exposure and have started taking vitex. I might need to also check out maca. Thanks again! Doctors won’t tell you everything you need to know and the risk with taking hormones.

    Oh and I also tried a IUD and instantly had health problems (aches and pains all over, swollen and sore glands in neck, hair falling out, etc..). I got it removed and felt better within about a week. Hormonal birth control can do really bad things to your body!!

  20. Taylor Avatar

    I have a question about the NFP devices/apps to track ovulation. Do I have to go off birth control before I can begin tracking my ovulation, or can I start while I’m still on it, and then go off it?

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Many forms of birth control suppress ovulation so it won’t be accurate while on it, but you could still begin tracking so you’ll see the change when fertility returns.

      1. Taylor Avatar

        Once I go off birth control will it initially be difficult to determine my ovulation time because it won’t have a normal cycle?

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