Hormone-Free Birth Control Options

Hormone-Free Birth Control Options


Choosing the right type of birth control can become even more difficult after becoming a mother. Most hormone-based birth control isn’t safe while breastfeeding, and even hormonal birth control deemed to be safe can have a long-term negative impact on your health.

According the National Cancer Institute the risk of breast, cervical and liver cancer is greater in women who have used oral contraception. The side effects are so controversial that Rikki Lake, executive producer of super successful birth documentary The Business of Being Born, is producing a new documentary on the topic.

Here are a few non-hormonal options that are safe during breastfeeding.

The Sponge.

If you’re a Seinfeld fan you’ve surely heard of the sponge. This female barrier method birth control is a small doughnut-shaped device coated in spermicide. Once inserted, it provides protection for a 24-hour period. It protects in three ways: it releases spermicide to kill sperm, it traps and absorbs semen before they have a chance to enter the cervix, and it acts as a barrier.  The sponge is 89 to 91 percent effective and can be bought over the counter at most drugstores.

The Diaphragm.

Another form of barrier birth control, the diaphragm is a shallow silicone cup that’s inserted before intercourse and covers the cervix to prevent sperm from entering. It should be used with spermicide, and should remain inserted for at least six hours after intercourse, but no longer than 24 hours since it can increase your risk of toxic shock syndrome. You have to be fitted by your doctor to get the correct size and to discuss if you’re a good candidate. The diaphragm is 80 to 94 percent effective, but that percentage drops if incorrectly inserted or pushed out of place during intercourse.

Natural Family Planning.

Natural family planning relies on taking your temperature daily, checking your cervical mucous and abstaining from sex when you’re ovulating. Luckily, technology has simplified this. With The Lady Comp you take your temperature daily and the program keeps track of any changes and determines your times of peak fertility, giving you a red or green light.  This is a great option once your baby begins sleeping through the night, since you need at least 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep before taking your temperature to get an accurate reading. It has a 99.3 percent effective rate when used properly. The Ova-Cue Fertility Monitor tracks the electrolyte levels in your saliva to find your peak fertility and is a good choice for moms who haven’t gotten their cycles back. It has a 98.3 percent effective rate.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.

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3 Responses to “Hormone-Free Birth Control Options”

  1. Kadie says:

    Thank you for this post! I’ve been trying to research various hormone free options as I plan to breastfeed but find so much information is conflicting. This is a great jumping off point to do more research!

  2. Luis E. says:


    Those methods you described are amongst the LEAST reliable, most having a >20% failure rate with typical use. With those rates, they should be taken with prenatal vitamins.

    I, as an OB/GYN, would not recommend them as effective methods. The effective non-hormonal options are tubal ligation, vasectomy (both should be considered PERMANENT) and the copper IUD (REVERSIBLE). I also have some issues with other statements here, mostly with the cervical cancer association, it’s like saying the birth control pills give you HIV.

    You also did not mention that combined hormonal contraception protects against ovarian cancer, the gynecologic cancer that we haven’t figured out how to screen for, and the most lethal of the gyn cancers.

    Breastfeeding is IMPORTANT, and IT (without hormones) can be relied can be relied upon to prevent pregnancy only when the mother meets all three of the following conditions:
    ●She is less than six months postpartum
    ●She is breastfeeding exclusively (not providing food or other liquid to the infant)
    ●She is not having periods
    If ALL these conditions are not met, the risk of pregnancy while breastfeeding is high, and women should add another method of contraception.

  3. Molly says:

    You left a few options off the list! Makes condoms, female condoms, cervical cap, spermicidal jellies, foams, suppositories, para guard (the copper iud with no hormones)