I Need a Form of Birth Control WITHOUT Hormones! Help???'

Dear Couch,

I am looking for a birth control without hormones. I am using Ortha Evera now. I have also used depo in the past. Which caused a huge weight gain. When I stopped using it I lost all my weight very shortly. Now that I am in a relationship again and using OE, I started gaining weight again.I have also tried several forms of birth control pills which have also had a negative effect on me. I am active and do work out about 3-4 days a week. The other problem I have is I smoke. Yet bad, it is even worse with birth control. I have though about the IUD but I have had no children and I plan on having them before I am 40. We also do not want to waste time with condoms. (I am in a committed relationship, we are also tested std free.) I would like to know if the IUD is possible the only non-hormonal birth control? My research is coming up empty so I hope you can recommend something or give the go on an IUD.


Dear Dilemma,

Unfortunately, not being able to tolerate hormones is a common situation. And your options without hormones are limited. You have already identified some of them- condoms and IUD- but two other hormone free options are the diaphragm and cervical cap. The diaphragm and cervical cap are rubbery barriers that you have to insert into the vagina each time you have sex (so not very spontaneous). Less and less people are using them because they're hard to put in correctly, and even done perfectly they don't prevent pregnancy as effectively as any of the other methods.

We think the IUD is the best option. In the 70's the IUD got a bad rap because a design flaw allowed infections to spread up into the uterus and fallopian tubes (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease PID). PID can cause scarring which can lead to infertility. People are a lot more aware about how to avoid these infections now, and doctors are aggressive in testing for them. Also, the design flaw was fixed. Now women with IUD's are no more likely to have infections in the uterus than women without IUDs. So the IUD shouldn't affect your ability to get pregnant in the future. IUD's can have side effects such as heavy crampy periods, especially in women who haven't had babies.

A brand new form of IUD, Mirena, has a slow release coating of hormone on it to prevent the heavy periods & cramping associated with regular IUD's. Since this hormonal coating targets the local reproductive organs and is not heavily present in your entire system like the pill or depo, the hormonal effects are far less.

Worldwide, condoms are a very commonly used form of birth control, and the drawbacks (decreased sensation, spontaneity) are apparent. Sometimes they even break (please inform yourself about the Morning After Pill if this ever happens to you). Lots of couples use condoms their entire lives together. Once you get used to it, it's a cheap, effective form of birth control and of course helps prevent disease for you sexually active singles.

These are the basics, but you really have to talk with your primary care doc, gyn doc, or family planning clinic to see which is best for you. If you have never consulted a doctor about your reproductive choices, please use this link to find the Planned Parenthood clinic closest to you. The most important thing is that you find a method you are able to use consistently, while not being bothered by side effects.

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