Least Invasive Forms of Birth Control
June 20, 2017 4:09 PM   Subscribe

I would like to minimize my risk of getting pregnant as much as possible without having anything placed into my body, and without taking synthetic hormones. What has worked for you?

Currently my plan is to use condoms every time, have my partner pull out, and only have PIV sex at the end of my period (which apparently is the time when a woman is least likely to get pregnant). I was considering being fitted for/getting a prescription for a diaphragm, but I do not want to use spermicide with one due to having very sensitive skin and tissues. I've read that when properly placed, a diaphragm does prevent pregnancy without spermicide, although it can lessen its effectiveness. These are about the only things I can think of that do not require me to take synthetic hormones, and that do not require any implanted/placed devices. Any personal preferences and success stories with natural or less invasive methods would be great
posted by Avosunspin to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Your partner could have a vasectomy....
posted by aetg at 4:18 PM on June 20, 2017 [23 favorites]

While it was very invasive for about an hour, I got my tubes tied (NOT the Essure thing) and now I don't have a need for any hormonal or physical birth control at all. For the *rest of my life*.
It's rad.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 4:28 PM on June 20, 2017 [13 favorites]

Advice for the paranoid: I would do everything you've already mentioned (assuming the vasectomy/tubes tied is not an option). Plus I would also track your ovulation, whether by cervical mucus or you can pee on an ovulation stick and it will tell you the best time to get pregnant. Obviously , you would avoid those times.
posted by Jubey at 4:30 PM on June 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Don't use an ovulation stick, read "taking charge of your fertility" and follow that! It's a must-read if this is what you want to do. Good to read even if you decide to go some other route.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:49 PM on June 20, 2017 [13 favorites]

Do not have your partner pull out during ejactulation. Doing so increases your risk of pregnancy.

If you want to double up on birth control, condoms + temp/mucous charting via reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility (TCOYF).
posted by DarlingBri at 5:16 PM on June 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

You should read "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" and your partner should too! While it is clearly tilted toward getting pregnant, it is also a how to not get pregnant book.
posted by rockindata at 5:17 PM on June 20, 2017

Currently my plan is to use condoms every time, have my partner pull out, and only have PIV sex at the end of my period (which apparently is the time when a woman is least likely to get pregnant)

Just the first one of those three is plenty effective as long as you're practiced at it (many reports of failure rates include user error, which includes the error of not using it. or so I have been told.) I would not personally endorse any method that involves tracking fertility and abstaining at certain times, since for most women with regular hormonal cycles, that means don't have sex whenever you most want to, and do have it when you don't want to. and at that point, what's the point. (So, no PIV intercourse at all in your sex life is a natural and non-invasive option that's no more drastic than involving multiple barrier methods plus math.)

Do you want to avoid hormones always, no matter what, or just avoid taking them on a continuous daily basis? because condoms plus a store of emergency contraception for the rare case of condom failure is the simplest and least burdensome option by a mile. this is what I have done ever since I said no more to pills and never to IUDs. I have needed emergency contraception exactly once in a decade and a half and I have never gotten pregnant. success!
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2017 [21 favorites]

I don't know when you last investigated the diaphragm option, but the newer spermicides like ContraGel aren't nearly as irritating as Nonoxynol-9 jelly...it might be worth a second look.

only have PIV sex at the end of my period
Is this something both you and your partner(s) are 100% okay with? Having your birth control limit how you can express your sexuality can hurt a relationship far more than you'd anticipate, so there's that.
posted by blerghamot at 5:34 PM on June 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

I agree with queenofbithynia. Use condoms and plan b as needed. I used condoms for over twenty years. Just condoms. I have two kids now and that was only after deliberately not using anything. I'm noting my pregnancies only because I had no trouble conceiving and so the condoms had worked.
posted by biggreenplant at 5:39 PM on June 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

The today sponge is back on the market. I'm not sure how that may affect your sensitive skin.
posted by raccoon409 at 5:45 PM on June 20, 2017

Just wanted to say that I don't think you are correct about the end of your period being the time you are least likely to get pregnant. Typically that's actually a more dangerous time to have sex if you are trying to avoid pregnancy, because you are ramping up towards ovulation. If you had a 100% textbook cycle, you would begin your period on Day 1, finish somewhere between Day 3 and Day 7, ovulate Day 14, and then have two weeks of time between ovulation and the start of your next period on Day 29/Day 1. Obviously this timing is not true for every person who ovulates, but the general pattern of it is true. Furthermore, sperm can live up to 5 days or so in your body after an ejaculation, meaning that the 5 days prior to ovulation is an ESPECIALLY dangerous time for having sex if you are avoiding pregnancy. The safest time to have sex is post ovulation and, possibly, during your period.

This requires you be able to tell when you ovulate, of course. I nth recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility to learn how to track these things and also to learn more about your body/cycles; you can also use ovulation prediction tests, but it's also good to know what's going on with your body. Definitely keep using condoms and do it correctly! But knowing when you are likely to get pregnant and when you are not likely to is also helpful.
posted by Illuminated Clocks at 6:21 PM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Nthing condoms plus Plan B. Did that for years and got pregnant on our second cycle without them so I can vouch for them. My mother also used condoms successfully for years.
posted by peacheater at 6:56 PM on June 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Anecdata: I got pregnant during a supposedly infertile time. With spontaneous twins. Condoms work super well when you use them properly every time. (Just so it doesn't seem like a horror story, we ere trying for a baby, it was just a stressful month we wrote off trying...)
posted by Valancy Rachel at 7:21 PM on June 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

So, not sure if it's right for you where you are in life. But, for men - VASECTOMY. Short term discomfort, life long lack-of-worry. For women, tubal ligation.

If you don't wan't to make a baby, ever. These are the choices. If you want to preserve fertility but delay conception, I can't help.
posted by BrooksCooper at 9:01 PM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

What worked for me was really careful use of condoms each and every time. Over the course of 20+ years, there were three months were we didn't use condoms and I got pregnant each and every time and no case of pregnancy when using them. There are two issues with condoms - sometimes they can break (just 2% on average) and second, you have to really trust your partner to be careful. (That's why real life failure rate is closer to 18% per year of use - a scary number if you plan to being sexually active for many, many years. But a lot of that is avoidable - for example, condoms don't work if they are in a drawer!)

It looks like is could be reasonable to combine condoms for him and diaphragm without spermicide for you - they are unlikely to fail at the same time as long as you both are 100% reliable about using them carefully each and every time. There is also a thing where you keep in diaphragm in continuously without spermicide (just take it out and wash it every time you take a shower) that would also help protect you if you think you might ever have impromptu sex without protection. It was a small study but it looks like the failure rate is quite low, especially when you compare the use rate failure to regular diaphragm use where you have to remember to use it correctly in the moment.
posted by metahawk at 9:27 PM on June 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you rely on condoms do use them properly. It's not at ALL to talk down to anyone but many people don't leave room in the tip which can lead to breakage. Also be sure they are the correct size to avoid slippage or breakage. Always use condom safe lubricant.

Also my husband got a vasectomy. We used condoms for a few months between me stopping birth control and his procedure being effective.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:51 PM on June 20, 2017

"There are two issues with condoms - sometimes they can break (just 2% on average)"

metahawk - the Planned Parenthood link doesn't say that condoms have a 2% breakage rate. Taken with the sentence that follows, you can see that they're saying they are 98% effective over a year - theoretically if you use them perfectly over the course of a year, you have a 2% chance of getting pregnant.

Do not have your partner pull out during ejactulation. Doing so increases your risk of pregnancy.

DarlingBri - I assumed "have my partner pull out" meant have the partner pull out before ejaculating. According to Planned Parenthood, using the pull-out method "perfectly" has a 4% failure rate over the course of a year. But because it's harder to do perfectly, the effective failure rate is 27%.

(I'm guessing these percentages are averages that will go up or down based on your circumstances, including how many times you have sex each year. The effective rates quoted at Planned Parenthood and elsewhere take into account that many people who use condoms or the pull-out method don't do so 100% of the time over the course of that year.)
posted by mistersix at 10:18 PM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

FAM (the fertility awareness method) - (which has been mentioned here, like..twice already?) is taught step by step in the book Take charge of your fertility.

tbh the name of the book kind of put me off at first (fertility? really?), as well as the idea of taking your temp every morning and checking fluids and stuff, but i got the damn thing anyway. whats cool is that FAM is actually really simple (and more importantly, not woo).

you can pick up the book for like 6 bucks on amazon, and i'm sure you have a thermometer lying around somewhere.

also, condoms are awesome. have you tried female condoms? some like them a lot too. here in f-land at least (dunno about stateside), plan b is encouraged tops 3 or 4 times/year. its a pretty hefty dose, so knowing whats going on with your cycle, and when you're most likely to conceive is pretty cool, too from that perspective.
posted by speakeasy at 6:46 AM on June 21, 2017

Yeah, I'd just like to strongly support what queenofbithynia said about the downside of focusing on your fertile period. It absolutely is the time you may want to have sex most, leading to second-guessing, risk-taking etc. IMO it's a bad option for a woman with an avid, enthusiastic sexuality in a relationship with someone she really fancies. It's not invasive, it's in tune with your body, and your body may very well be longing to get pregnant.
posted by glasseyes at 12:12 PM on June 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thank you for all of your replies. I purchased Taking Charge of Your Fertility a long time ago and couldn't get past the first chapter. I cannot imagine myself taking my basal temperature and checking myself constantly, plus I have PCOS, so with irregular/erratic fem issues going on I probably don't fit the bill for successful FAM application. I am going to use a condom every time and make sure it's from a fresh box that has been stored in a cool dry place. I'll do the checking/applying and make sure everything is good to go before each romp. I'm going to keep Plan B on hand. I actually was able to purchase it locally at an upscale grocery store near me. I also purchased some Clear Blue sticks just in case! I feel confident that I will be fine
posted by Avosunspin at 10:06 AM on June 22, 2017

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