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Article Gapianne : tout savoir sur la contraception naturelle
Contraception

Everything you need to know about natural contraception

Are you tired of hormonal contraceptives, your intrauterine device or even condoms, while remaining aware of the importance of protecting yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? Are you looking for a more natural solution that is in harmony with your health? Natural contraception methods may well be an effective solution for you. We explain everything to you in this article, enjoy reading!

Contraception, a women's affair?

We found it interesting to start with this little aside, to recall a few facts.

Today, the responsibility for contraception unfortunately still rests largely on the shoulders of women. An American study also tells us that in 2018, 65% of women of childbearing age used a contraceptive method, and more than 99% of sexually active women aged between 15 and 44 had already used at least one contraceptive method. a given moment. This therefore highlights the fact that, despite the many options available, the burden of contraception falls predominantly on women. However, these contraceptives, and we will see in the rest of the article, are not without health risks. They can also be a real mental burden for women. This is why more and more of them are deciding to turn to so-called “natural” contraception.

What is natural contraception?

Natural contraception , like hormonal contraception, intrauterine devices or even surgical interventions, can prevent pregnancy. However, natural contraception is based on learning and monitoring your body's fertility indicators. The main objective of these methods is to avoid sexual intercourse during fertile periods, but not only that! Let's look at this in more detail.

Why consider natural contraception?

Not all contraceptive methods are without health risks. This is why some women are turning to more natural contraceptive alternatives . But health concerns are not the only reason for this research. Let’s explore these reasons a little more:

For a health concern:

This is often the main reason - women who are interested in natural contraception often do so out of concern for their health. They want to avoid the imbalances caused by the synthetic hormones contained in many hormonal contraceptives. These hormones, while effective in preventing pregnancy, can disrupt the body's natural hormonal balance. This can cause various unwanted side effects like mood swings, changes in weight, menstrual cycle , and nausea.

Continuous exposure to these hormones also promotes certain medical conditions such as:

  • Cardiovascular risks: Hormonal contraceptives may increase the risk of blood clots, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism, and cardiovascular problems, particularly in smokers or women over 35.
  • Hypertension: They can cause an increase in blood pressure in some women.
  • Breast and cervical cancer: Some studies have suggested a link between the use of hormonal contraceptives and an increased risk of breast and cervical cancers, although oral contraceptives have also been associated to a reduction in the risk of certain other types of cancer, such as ovarian and endometrial cancer.
  • Effects on mental health: Although research is less conclusive in this area, some women report negative experiences of hormonal contraceptives on their mental health, including depression and mood swings.
  • Metabolic changes: Hormonal contraceptives may also influence metabolism, with potential effects on body weight, body composition, and risk of type 2 diabetes.

This is why many women are looking for methods that are more respectful of their body's natural physiology.

To avoid side effects:

We quickly touched on this point previously, side effects are quite common when taking hormonal contraception, or an intrauterine device.

Mood fluctuations, weight variations, headaches, menstrual problems, intense pain during periods, changes in libido, acne, breast tenderness... so many side effects that can be avoided with natural contraception.

Furthermore, these side effects are not limited to temporary inconveniences but can profoundly influence daily life, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships, which can be complicated to live with every day.

Because it is a non-invasive method:

Another reason why this type of contraception is popular is its non-invasive nature. Unlike medical contraceptive methods, such as implants, intrauterine devices (IUDs), or hormonal injections, which physically intervene in the reproductive system or modify the hormonal balance of the body, natural contraception offers a gentle alternative, without direct physical effects.

In addition, for those on the pill, you no longer need to think about it every day!

For environmental reasons:

This reason is a little less common, but some women decide to turn away from hormonal contraception for ecological reasons.

You may not have known it, but hormonal contraception has a deleterious impact on aquatic wildlife. A study led by Lund University has highlighted the harmful effects of estrogen in contraceptive pills on all aquatic wildlife, demonstrating how these hormones can alter the endocrine balance of aquatic organisms and potentially disrupt these populations. For example, Emma Haziza, renowned hydrologist, explains to us in this video that the contraceptive pill feminizes fish and all aquatic fauna.

Disclaimer:

After reading us, the idea of ​​choosing a more natural method of birth control may seem even more appealing to you, which is understandable. However, it is important to consider that traditional contraceptive methods, despite the potential side effects they may cause, are often favored for their high level of effectiveness and safety.

It is also essential to remember that “zero risk” does not exist when it comes to contraception, whatever method you choose. Each individual may respond differently to different contraceptive methods, and what works for one person may not be ideal for another. The decision to change contraceptive method should always be taken with a wide reflection phase.

5 methods of natural contraception

1. The calendar method (or Ogino-Knaus method)

The calendar method, also known as the Ogino-Knaus method , is a form of natural contraception that relies on tracking the menstrual cycle to determine the days when a woman is most likely to be fertile.

The principle of this method is quite simple, it is based on the identification of the fertile window in the menstrual cycle. As a reminder, the cycle is divided into fertile and non-fertile days. To use the Ogino-Knaus method effectively, you must first observe and record the length of your menstrual cycles to determine their regularity and predict the time of ovulation .

Typically, this method calculates the fertile period by subtracting 18 days from the shortest cycle and 11 days from the longest cycle over a series of recorded cycles. In fact, we highly recommend using a menstrual cycle tracking app . The remaining days between these two calculations represent the fertile window during which couples seeking to avoid pregnancy should abstain from sex or use barrier contraception, such as a condom.

Good to know :

Although the calendar method can be helpful for women with regular cycles, it has limitations. The effectiveness of this method may be affected by the variation in the length of a woman's cycles and the unpredictability of ovulation. It requires rigorous discipline and a thorough understanding of the menstrual cycle. This is why it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional or fertility specialist for personalized advice before choosing this method as your primary method of contraception.

Failure rate:

⚡️Perfect use: 5%

💦Actual usage: 25%

2. The basal temperature method

This natural contraception is based on basal temperature. Basal temperature is the daily measurement of a woman's body temperature immediately after waking up. This method relies on the fact that body temperature increases slightly after ovulation. By identifying this change in temperature, it is possible to determine the days when a woman is potentially fertile.

To use this method, it is necessary to take your temperature every morning at the same time, before getting out of bed or carrying out any physical activity. And don't take your temperature with an ordinary thermometer. It is important to use a basal thermometer and record your temperature every day.

Generally, before ovulation, the basal body temperature is lower, ranging from 36.1°C to 36.4°C for most women. After ovulation, this temperature increases by at least 0.2°C and remains high until the start of the next menstruation. This rise in temperature is caused by the hormone progesterone, produced after ovulation.

Good to know :

A woman's fertile period is in the days before the temperature rises and the day the temperature begins to rise. By avoiding unprotected sex during this period, one can use the basal temperature method as a means of contraception. However, like the calendar method, it requires discipline and a good understanding of its cycle, and it can be influenced by various factors such as stress, travel, and sleep disturbances, all of which can affect temperature. bodily. So be careful all the same!

Failure rate:

⚡️Perfect use: 2%

💦Actual usage: 20%

Basal monitoring thermometer for cycle monitoring and conception - Cyclotest

3. The cervical mucus method (or Billings method):

The Billings method relies on observing changes in cervical mucus during the menstrual cycle . This mucus, produced by the cervix, changes texture, color and volume depending on the different phases of the cycle, in response to hormonal variations. By learning to recognize these changes, we can identify the days when we are potentially fertile.

The cervical mucus method works in 4 steps:

  1. Daily observation: Every day, you must observe your cervical mucus. It is important to carry out this observation every day to monitor the evolution of losses throughout the cycle.
  2. Follow up: Discharge characteristics such as color, consistency, and feel (dry, wet, slippery) should be noted. Right after menstruation, it is common for there to be no visible mucus (dry period). As ovulation approaches, mucus becomes more abundant, clear and elastic, resembling egg white . This “fertile” texture makes it easier for sperm to travel through the cervix.
  3. Identification of the fertile window: The fertile period begins when discharge begins to become more abundant and ends 48 hours after the most fertile mucus (clear, slippery, and elastic) is observed. Avoiding unprotected sex or using a condom during this time can help prevent pregnancy.
  4. Abstinence or condom use: People who use this method for contraception avoid sex or use condoms during the fertile window identified through observation of discharge.

Good to know :

Here too, it is important to emphasize that identifying cervical mucus requires learning and practice. This requires being very attentive to your body and its cycles. As with any natural method of contraception, its effectiveness can be influenced by different factors, such as infections, use of douching, and certain medications that can alter the appearance of cervical mucus. To increase its effectiveness, the cervical mucus method can be combined with other fertility monitoring methods, such as the basal temperature method.

Failure rate:

⚡️Perfect use: 1%

💦Actual usage: 23%

4. The symptomothermal method:

The sympto-thermal method combines the observation of cervical mucus (Billings method) and the measurement of basal temperature.

As a reminder, monitoring cervical mucus involves examining its texture, color and sensation daily, which helps identify periods of high fertility. At the same time, basal temperature, measured every morning immediately after waking up, shows a slight rise post-ovulation, which indicates potentially fertile days. We remind you that the use of a basal thermometer is recommended to note temperature variations. This method can also be enriched by the observation of other physiological signs, such as changes in the cervix!

Good to know :

Although this method is among the most reliable in terms of natural contraception, it requires rigorous monitoring. And it is not immune to external influences that can alter fertility signals.

Failure rate:

⚡️Perfect use: 4%

💦Actual usage: 22%

5. Withdrawal (or coitus interruptus):

Finally, the last method of natural contraception is withdrawal , also known as coitus interruptus. It consists of the man removing his penis from his partner's vagina just before ejaculation, in order to prevent the deposit of sperm in the female genital tract. This practice aims to reduce the risk of pregnancy by preventing sperm from reaching the egg.

For this method to work correctly, withdrawal must be done on time, with each sexual intercourse. The success of this technique relies entirely on the man's ability to anticipate the imminence of ejaculation and to withdraw early enough. This requires blind trust in your partner and their ability to control themselves.

Good to know :

Although withdrawal has been a method of contraception that has been practiced for centuries, its effectiveness is subject to debate due to the risk of failure related to the timing of ejaculation or the presence of sperm in the pre-ejaculatory fluid. Although this method is simple to implement, it may not be suitable for everyone, especially those seeking very reliable protection against pregnancy. It is important to talk about it with your partner!

Failure rate:

⚡️Perfect use: 0.4%

💦Actual usage: 2%

Advantages and disadvantages of natural contraception compared to traditional contraception

To help you weigh the pros and cons, we have created a comparative table that shows the advantages and disadvantages of natural contraceptive methods compared to traditional methods.

Criteria Natural methods Traditional methods
Efficiency Less effective in general, however with good discipline and knowledge of the body, effectiveness can improve.

Also note that effectiveness varies. For example, the symptothermal method can achieve up to 99% efficiency with perfect usage, but in practice it drops to around 76-88% due to usage errors.
Very effective when used correctly.

With perfect use, the efficiency is around 99.7%, but in practice it is around 91% due to forgetfulness or misuse.

Condoms are also very effective, but can sometimes carry a risk of tearing.
Cost Usually inexpensive or free.

Possible costs are the purchase of basal thermometers or tracking applications, which can cost from a few euros to around fifty euros.
Can be expensive depending on method chosen and insurance coverage.

For example, the contraceptive implant costs approximately 102 euros. Health Insurance reimburses 65% of its price.

As for contraceptive pills, the cost can vary from 0 to 50 euros per month, depending on the type of pill and insurance coverage.
Comfort in use Require daily observation and good knowledge of your body. May be perceived as restrictive. Simple to use for the most part. But some devices require a medical visit for installation or removal.
Side effects No direct side effects from using natural methods but may cause stress or anxiety related to managing and correctly interpreting the body's signs. May include hormonal or physical side effects, depending on the method (e.g., mood changes, weight gain, etc.).

For example, pills may include nausea, weight changes, mood swings, and, in rare cases, increased risks of certain health problems.

For implants, they can cause changes in menstrual bleeding, pain at the insertion site, and other hormonal side effects.
STI protection Do not offer any protection against sexually transmitted infections. Condoms (male and female) offer protection against STIs. Other unnatural methods do not protect against STIs.
Reversibility Fertility restored after stopping use. Most are reversible, but some may cause a delay in returning to normal fertility.

Beware of myths and misconceptions about natural contraception

Finally, it seemed important to us to lift the veil on certain myths around natural contraception!

They are totally ineffective (FALSE):

Many mistakenly believe that natural methods of contraception are completely ineffective. However, when practiced correctly and conscientiously, some methods, such as the symptothermal method, can have high effectiveness rates. However, zero risk does not exist and this adage is also valid for unnatural contraception.

They are only for couples (FALSE):

Some people think that these methods are only suitable for stable couples. In fact, anyone who wants to avoid hormonal birth control or devices can consider these methods, regardless of their relationship status.

They are too complicated to follow (FALSE):

Although they require more attention and monitoring than some other types of contraception, with the right education and tools (like fertility tracking apps), many people find these methods manageable.

They do not protect against STIs (TRUE but to be qualified):

This is not a myth but a reality; However, the misconception is that people who use natural contraception do not care about protection against STIs. In fact, many use condoms as a supplement when having sex with new partners or if they are at risk of STIs.

They are reserved for women with regular cycles (FALSE):

Although cycle regularity can make it easier to use some natural methods, methods like symptothermics can accommodate irregular cycles by tracking multiple fertility indicators.

SOURCES:

“Contraceptive Use in the United States” https://guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/contraceptive-use-united-states

“Oral Contraceptives and Cancer Risk” https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/hormones/oral-contraceptives-fact-sheet

“Estrogen in birth control pills has a negative impact on fish” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160304092230.htm

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