CONTRACEPTIVE PILLS, PATCHES, IUDS AND THE ALTERNATIVES

by Lawrence Wilson, MD

© March 2012, The Center For Development

 

Preventing contraception is a problem that is as old as humanity.  Women have always been the ones who had to shoulder the burden of figuring out how to avoid having 10 or 20 children.  It is only recently that vasectomies and condoms have become popular as men are beginning to take more responsibility in this area.  However, in the end, it still falls to women to figure out how to protect themselves in this area.

Equally important is to avoid methods that are harmful.  These include all birth control pills, the birth control patch, Mirena, and all IUDs, especially those what contain copper.

I will offer some suggestions that have proven to work for the women who practice them faithfully.

 

1. Abstaining.  This is not commonly thought of as a method of contraception, but, of course, it works perfectly.  It is also the only method that can protect a woman from sexually transmitted diseases.  It also is the only method that will protect women from emotional trauma that often occurs due to having sex in uncommitted relationships and even in some poor-quality marriages.

I realize that abstinence is not an option in some marriage and relationship situations, although a woman must consider her options when in a relationship.  If sex is really harming her, or the fear of having a child is overwhelming, and her partner is not willing to help prevent pregnancy, a smart woman must ask herself why she is in relationship with such a man.  Far better to be alone, or living with a female roommate, than live in fear and agony over this problem, I would suggest. 

2. The rhythm method.  This is advocated by the Catholic Church and many other groups, especially religious groups.  This is an excellent method when understood and practiced correctly.  The woman must check her temperature daily, and also the consistency of the vaginal mucosa.  This takes less than 5 minutes a day.  One notes it on a calendar and keeps track of changes.  Many websites and church groups offer instruction on this method.

Problems with this method are it requires that a woman have fairly regular periods, it takes some effort, and it requires that the woman and her mate be disciplined enough, and considerate enough, not to demand sex during the fertile days of the month.

Thus it is not for the happy-go-lucky lady or casual type of relationship.  It is not perfect, but none of the methods except abstinence and tying the tubes or vasectomy are perfect.  Many couples rely upon it and it works quite well if the woman is sharp enough and clear-headed enough to follow the days of the month carefully and inform her partner of the same.

The method has some hidden advantages in that it is truly a cooperative method between man and woman.  Also, newer technical innovations that make the method much better include the use of very accurate thermometers to check the woman’s temperature every day, check her mucus, and even a computerized machine that learns about the woman’s cycle and is supposed to offer even greater accuracy.  It tends to build trust between the partners and makes sex and pregnancy a mutual concern, rather than just that of the woman.  All this is very helpful for all women and men, as well.  The loss of “spontaneity” is more than compensated for by this.  The rhythm method is obviously not a method to avoid STDs.

3. Female hormones.  (The pill, the patch, the birth control IUD or hormone-containing IUD, or injections). These are very popular.  However, their side effects are lethal.  Please don’t even consider these methods!  Smart women avoid them totally.  “Side effects” include heart attacks, strokes and cancer, for example.  Other common side that are extremely common are depression and moodiness. 

While these methods may liberate a woman from worrying about pregnancy, they can take her life, and more often than one thinks, they do end up taking her life too young.  Statistics show that even women who ever used the pill or patch, but have stopped, have a much higher risk of cancer, for example.  So these methods are never recommended and are only for the dullest women who do not value their health.

Hormone pills, patches or shots provide absolutely no protection against STDs, and, in fact, widespread us of this method has led to the spread of these stealth diseases in the entire population.

The morning after pill or shot. This is the least harmful of the chemical or hormonal methods.  It is basically a high dose of progesterone that stays in the system long enough to prevent proper development of the pregnancy, so it ends quickly.  This is a blessing in cases of rape, incest or some other situation in which a woman is frightened that she may have become pregnant when it is not wise.  However, it is not a reliable and safe method of birth control at all.

4. Mechanical methods for women (diaphragms and cervical caps).  These are older methods that are not quite as reliable as the pill, but they can work well.  They should be combined with a spermicidal gel and the rhythm method, if possible.  Then they become quite foolproof. 

Used alone, it is too easy for a diaphragm or cervical cap to come loose or leak at the wrong time. These methods provide little if any protection against STDs.

5. Chemical methods such as spermicidal gels.  This is an excellent addition to the rhythm method, condoms, diaphragms or any other.  While the gels are not foolproof, and may be a little toxic, they are not bad, to my knowledge, and they add an extra measure of safety.  The gel should be washed out with douching after sex, if possible.

Spermicidal gels provide a little, but not much protection against most STDs.

6. Tying the tubes or vasectomy.  If a woman has had enough children, or does not want children, tying the tubes is an excellent method of birth control in almost all cases.  However, it is permanent, so it is not for everyone.  It is also somewhat invasive, but the benefits may outweigh any of the risks.

Vasectomy for men is also a more permanent solution for any man that is not interested in bearing children.  However, statistics indicate that vasectomy is not that safe.  Therefore, I do not recommend this method.

7. Douching after intercourse. This is another older method of birth control that is not the best, but can help prevent some STDs.  After having sex, the woman excuses herself and sits facing into the bathtub, usually, and rinses the vagina with warm soapy water or even water with some hydrogen peroxide added.  This can help flush out some sperm, and it also helps prevent some sexually-transmitted diseases.  It is the only method besides abstinence and correct use of condoms that can prevent some of these diseases, though it is not a reliable method of preventing disease at all.

Prostitutes always use this method, I am told, and prostitutes have sex as their business so they may have knowledge that is not always shared with the public.  It helps protect the prostitutes from disease, but not nearly enough.

For general cleanliness, however, douching with an antiseptic solution is a superb idea after all sex, since small cuts in the vaginal wall can transmit all sorts of infections, even if one is married and monogamous.  Hydrogen peroxide from the drug store or warm, soapy water are both excellent douches.  Again, it only takes a few minutes to excuse oneself after ejaculation, and then the woman can resume sexual activity and will be more relaxed.

8. Male condoms. This is also popular, but not terribly effective all by itself, since condoms can easily slip off at the wrong moment, or even break.  They can also interfere with sexual arousal or orgasm for the man.  This should not happen with a properly designed condom, however.  Also, some men object to them for various reasons.  They do provide some protection against STDs if use correctly, and only when used correctly.

Condoms are widely available and good for casual use, as they do not require that one calculate the woman’s cycle and other complications.  Basic rules for their use are:

·           Always use two at once.

·           Always use a fresh one rather than one that has been carried in your wallet for a few months or years. 

·           Check the expiration date to make sure it is current.

·           Use the correct size and shape.

·           Use one that is lubricated if this helps it go on better, but not if it causes it to slip off easily.

·           Check during sexual activity to make sure it is still on firmly.

 

9. Herbal abortifactants. This is the use of herbs that may be able to terminate or even prevent a pregnancy.  An herbal formula often includes wild yam, a source of a progesterone-like substance.  It is not the best to stay on it all the time, but it might work in some cases and is better than the pill, patch or hormonal IUD.  This is an area of research and I would not encourage women to depend on herbal contraceptives at this time.

NUTRITIONAL BALANCING AND CONTRACEPTION

I have found over the years that nutritional balancing programs often shift women’s menstrual cycles so that they begin to have regular periods that occur with each full moon.

This means the woman can simply look at a standard calendar that has the phases of the moon shown on it and she will have a good idea whether she is fertile at that time.  In fact, this is the reason why some calendars traditionally show the phases of the moon.

Today, many women are unhealthy and their menstrual cycles are also chaotic.  In some older, traditional societies, most women menstruated at the same time of the month, and it was widely known by the men as well as the women, and it helped promote order in the society in some ways.  This is not as true today around the world.

Some women find that as their menstrual cycle becomes regulated by the moon cycle, the women are also more at peace.  This is because the moon or lunar energy does actually influence women more than men.  This is a more esoteric topic, but there is some truth here.  Many traditional societies that were more female-centered societies, such as some American Indian tribes, used the moon as their calendar, for planting crops, and for many things.  The Western calendar is based on the sun cycle, a more masculine calendar that has certain advantages, but is less accurate in other ways, and less friendly toward women, in fact.  This is not good or bad, just something to become aware of and it is one reason women are less comfortable, at times.