There are a lot of different birth control options out there. The most common options that women hear about are the birth control pill and hormonal IUDs.
The Pill VS An IUD
When we think about a birth control pill, that’s something that we take orally that our body absorbs, so we absorb about 90% of that oral pill. We have about 90% of hormone circulation throughout our entire body, whereas the hormonal IUD, because they’re inserted into the cervix, they essentially only promote hormone production within that small area, so there’s much less of an impact on the whole body. It doesn’t mean that an IUD is the right option for every woman.
There are other options that we can think about in terms of more natural forms of birth control. The copper IUD is non-hormonal, which is just placed into the cervix, and essentially it takes up space in the uterus so that you can’t have implantation of an egg. It doesn’t affect the way you ovulate, but there are underlying risks there too, in terms of scar tissue development. That is the same for a progesterone-producing IUD as well. It’s important to understand how these different things can affect our bodies and our hormone production. There’s a great website called it’s alan.ca that goes through all of the different birth control options, and that’s a wonderful resource for women so that they can understand what are the benefits, pros, cons of each of the birth control methods, and what is the best one for me.
When we think about natural forms of birth control, this really relies on women becoming in tune with our natural cycle and what is happening, and what changes we are experiencing month to month. This is much easier if you have a regular menstrual cycle. If your menstrual cycle is always changing, always different, it can be really hard to track this to understand when you are fertile versus when you’re not. The best thing that I generally recommend for patients that want this route for birth control is cycle tracking. You wanna track those different symptoms so that you can understand how your hormones change throughout your cycle.
The Body’s Natural Indicator
Ovulation is when you release an egg, and with that, you get cervical mucus discharge, and so that egg white sticky discharge that you might experience at around day 14 in your cycle is ovulatory discharge. Now that discharge happens right when we ovulate, then we have about three days after that we’re most fertile.
The reason being that that discharge is actually secreted is that it has little mucus proteins that form a longitudinal track so that if you did want to get pregnant, the sperm can actually climb up those mucus protein tracks in order to get up to the egg, which is really cool when you think about it that our body can do that. But it’s also a way for us to understand this is my most fertile window. This is when I need to be using protection like condoms.
Another option, if your cycle is very irregular, is using condoms every time you have sex. In order to prevent pregnancy. They are very effective and do not have any kind of hormonal changes associated with them. Another option is temperature tracking. Our temperature changes right around ovulation and it actually increases a little bit. You do need a very, very accurate thermometer in order to do this.
That goes to the 0.01 temperature gauge in order to actually see that change or that spike. What I generally recommend for women is that they track this over three months so that they really start to understand their menstrual cycle using protection throughout, and then they can start to understand, okay, this is my fertile window, this is when my temperature increases, this is when I need to be using protection, and at other times in my cycle, it’s okay not to. Again, this when it’s done correctly, can be a good form of birth control, but the cycle does need to be regular and you have to be really, really in tune with your body and noticing the changes that happen.
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