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The Methods, How They Work & Their Success Rates
Most of us know about the pull-out method and the other widely popular methods among teens to avoid pregnancy, but what I want to talk about is the less heard of, incredibly unique methods people use in order to prevent themselves from being sprawled onto a birthing table nine months after their romantic rendezvous.
Checking Cervical Mucus
When the vaginal mucus changes to a white, sometimes stringy discharge -- which indicates ovulation is on its way -- you then know to avoid intercourse, or use a back-up method. The mucus checking method requires paying close attention to what your mucus is like (sticky, tacky, stringy, dry, slippery, white, clear, etc.) and recording them.
Not the best option for most. Why? Because not all of us have that kind of willpower! I want convenience. I want to have sex when I’m horny, and I happen to be horniest near ovulation time! So this would not be a great option for me, but for someone who has more will power than I do, this may actually be useful.
On a side note: if you were really serious about trying this method of birth control, you could use ovulation tests as a more reliable way to know when you are ovulating. This would take real dedication though, making sure you are extremely careful and that you’re not ovulating before you have intercourse, and even harder – avoiding sex on days when you just might want it badly, in which case I guess a back-up method would suffice.
According to Epigee.org, this method, when used alone, has a failure rate of 20% per year. Planned Parenthood states that "of 100 couples who use the Two-Day Method correctly for one year, 3–4 will have a pregnancy." I expected it to be higher than that, but then again, I doubt there’s a large percentage of people who use this method alone.
Checking Your Temperature
Yes, I’m serious. Some people rely on their core body temperature, but this can be effective because a woman has a rise in temperature that will remain for days when she is ovulating. How interesting is that?
One downside is you’d have to check your temperature on a daily basis, although that would be a lot easier than checking your discharge to determine when you’re ovulating. Planned Parenthood suggests taking your temperature before getting out of bed in the morning.
An even bigger downside is that you have to keep careful track of your temperature daily because it often only spikes a half a degree (or a full degree, but usually no more) when you’re ovulating, so you have to know that number, girl! However, your temperature will remain increased for at least a couple of days when ovulating. So if you suddenly had a temperature half a degree over your normal, if it remained that way throughout the course of a few days, you could be sure you were ovulating. My question is, what if you come down with a slight cold? What then?
This method has a failure rate of 15%, according to Epigee.org, but they say that for “perfect users,” the failure rate is only 2%.
Checking Your Calendar -- Standard Days Method
The Standard Days method is more simple to follow than the first two, but for me, it would not be simple to actually stick with due to my funky sex drive being so demanding and having a mind of its own.
The Standard Days method works by tracking how long your menstrual cycle is and avoiding sex between days 8 and 19 of your menstrual cycle. This means that between days 1 & 7, you’re more likely to have baby-producing-free sex. Between days 20 and 32, you’re also unlikely to conceive.
For those using the Standard Days method, in order to help you keep up with your days, some women use something called "CycleBeads." CycleBeads are a string of 33 colored beads -- that each signify which day of your cycle you are on -- and a moveable rubber ring. Depending on which day you are at, you would move the rubber ring onto that bead. For instance, you have brown, white, black and red beads on the string and on the first day of your period, you'd put the rubber ring on red, and each day after you move the ring to a different bead. CycleBeads have a white bead with an arrow on it to show you which direction to move the beads. When you come to the days that land you on brown bead, this indicates that you're safe to have sex. White beads are your unsafe days. If you were to be on a white bead day, you'd need to abstain from sex or use a back-up method such as condoms.
The Standard Days method is 95% effective “if done perfectly,” and only 88% effective “with normal use,” according to Epigee.org. Planned Parenthood states that this method has a 5% failure rate with those who use the method "correctly for one year." This means that out of 100 couples, when done "correctly," 5 will become pregnant anyways.
Planned Parenthood also discusses how other birth control can interfere with this method. "Certain things may make the Standard Days Method less effective. They include the use of hormonal contraception (including emergency contraception), IUDs, breastfeeding, or a recent pregnancy."
The downfall could mean serious consequences for those of us girls who can't remember what day it is, or have a demanding sex drive.
The Rhythm method
The Rhythm is a widely known method, but still deserves attention in an article discussing natural methods of prevention.
The Rhythm method kind of works opposite of the Standard Days method. Instead of counting the days you begin your menstrual cycle, you count back to fourteen days from the day your last period began. So basically, once it has been 14 days since the day you began your menstrual cycle (not the day you stopped) you are likely to become pregnant. Unfortunately, the Rhythm method was kind of ruled not such a perfect plan when researchers found that sperm can live inside the vagina for up to 7 days, so fourteen days may not be sufficient enough to ensure an unsuccessful PIV intercourse. To be one hundred percent sure, you would instead need to abstaining from sex for 21 days, not 14 (adding a week before your cycle began).
The downfall: Our ovulation does not always occur right on the same day each month. So you know what that means! You could still become pregnant, easily if you’re not always on time.
Still want to know the success rate of the Rhythm Method? It has an average failure rate of about 13% - 20%.
The Lemon Juice Method
Before birth control pills, shots, patches and IUD's entered the world, women often used lemon juice as a spermicidal agent! Lemon juice (diluted with water) for them was like our box of Encare spermicidal caps, or spermicidal jelly. Instead of a trip to the feminine care section, women back then took a trip to the grocery section. Well, more than likely they grew and squeezed their very own lemons instead of hopping on their horse and going to Wal-Mart, if we want to get technical.
Lemon Juice diluted with water is used vaginally due to its acidic content having the ability to kill sperm. LiveStrong.com states that "a study in the May 2006 'Fertility and Sterility' journal evaluated the effect of direct application of lemon juice to sperm. The acidity of lemon juice killed all sperm movement within one minute of exposure, leading researchers to theorize that lemon juice may serve as a natural contraceptive agent after additional research since it effectively dampens male fertility."
While there aren’t enough studies to prove efficacy rates or percentages of success on this method, the lemon juice solution actually is effective, and scientists have validated this.
The downfall: It could irritate sensitive or broken skin. It’s not 100% effective, and I personally wouldn't use it as my only form of prevention, but I think I'd absolutely give it a try in an emergency situation. I've used a small amount in my own yeast infection mixture. It's definitely not something you should use vaginally on a regular basis, but otherwise, there doesn't seem to be any serious complications if done minimally and responsibly.
More On Home Remedy Contraceptive
The Vitamin C Method
Vitamin C has been used as a form of birth control because the ascorbic acid in it interferes with the production of progesterone, reducing the chances of an egg implanting. Some of these birth control methods, such as this one, have also been used to induce miscarriage, so it's important not to use them if you already are pregnant.
Some people use Vitamin C in pill form either in the vagina before and after intercourse or by consuming mega doses in order to discourage an egg from implanting. Vitamin C has also been used as a form of emergency contraception, i.e. when a condom breaks.
Downfall: Vitamin C, when taken by the mouth in mega doses, can lead to toxicity, kidney stones and more serious health problems if you've already got other health problems. In high doses, it can also irritate the stomach. It can cause irritation to the vagina as well, if taken vaginally. However, some people feel the benefits outweigh the risks here. Unless I was in an emergency situation, I'm not sure how I'd actually feel about using this method, but it would certainly be a last resort. Just pass me the lemon juice!
There aren't enough real studies to prove efficacy rates or percentages on these methods. As with most "herbal remedies" or home remedies, they are not backed by scientific research, but have been used throughout history.
Wild Carrot Seeds
Dating back to 5th century B.C., wild carrot seeds were used by chewing on the seeds immediately after intercourse. The extract (released when the seeds are chewed on) can greatly reduce the chances of a woman becoming pregnant. Research on small animals has shown that extracts from wild carrot seeds disrupt the implantation process and possibly, when an egg has been fertilized very recently, ingesting wild carrot seed extract can cause the egg to be released.
While chewing on a few seeds sounds simple and probably cheaper and easier than taking a pill daily or getting an injection or implantation, using the wild carrot seed method requires diligence. One would need to chew the seeds daily for 7-10 days following intercourse in order for this method to have a chance at success. Even still, that sounds a lot easier than most traditional and non-traditional methods, to me. Parsley is used in a similar way to prevent pregnancy, and in some cases, to induce abortion.
The only scientific research or studies done on this herb were conducted in India. Like every other method of prevention, it's not 100% guaranteed to prevent pregnancy, but has been effectively used for centuries, and according to many herbalists, is a very effective and natural method of contraception.
Is there even a downfall to trying this method? In my opinion, it seems a simple and likely form of back up, maybe not a form of birth control on its own, but back up? Sure.
While these natural options of birth control aren't ideal for someone like me, they actually are real for other women. Personally, I like the convenience of my injected birth control because I was put on it to help with endometriosis, so since it also prevents pregnancy, why not kill two birds with one stone? However, if I didn't need the drug for health reasons, there's no telling what I'd try, and I wouldn't be opposed to some of these options, especially considering my near-impossible chances of ever becoming pregnant again due to the health issue. Some of these methods could actually be sufficient for someone who doesn't have a big chance of becoming pregnant, but still wants to prevent the small possibility.
Do any of you ladies use these methods of contraceptive? Would you care to share your opinions in the comments section?
The information in this article was intended for entertainment purposes only and to discuss the interesting methods of natural contraceptives and their history of use. I am not a physician and by writing this article, I am not recommending the methods I've discussed.
Editor's Note: SexIs does not promote any of the methods discussed. We recommend that you discuss any questions you may have regarding these or any other form of birth control with your physician.