Non-Hormonal Birth Control Options - Baby Chick

Non-Hormonal Birth Control Options

If you're a woman looking for non-hormonal birth control options, we have the whole list, benefits and disadvantages outlined for you.

Updated August 17, 2020

by Nina Spears

The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert

Birth control. It can be a controversial topic. But I think it’s necessary to discuss since there are so many different types available. And every woman/mother has to consider what they are going to choose for birth control . . . unless you want babies one right after the other.

Ever since I was 15 years old, I’ve been on birth control. My cycles were all over the place. My mother must have been getting tired of my crazy hormones because she decided that it would be best for me to start birth control to normalize my cycles. (This may go against your beliefs, but when your daughter’s cycles are every two weeks and miserable, you might reconsider too.) Since then, I’ve been on different types of birth control: various kinds of birth control pills, NuvaRing, different IUDs, and a diaphragm.

Time for a Change

This past year, I decided that I want to cleanse my body. This meant I needed to choose a form of birth control that does not contain hormones. Those hormones are a lot for anybody to handle, especially when you’ve been on them for over a decade, like me. I thought to myself, “my body has had these hormones in my system for almost 15 years. It’s about time to cleanse my system and get to know how my body works again. Especially if I want to have more children soon.”

Before I went into my doctor’s office for my well-woman visit and had her remove my IUD, I did some research on what types of birth control are non-hormonal and are more natural. After learning about all of the different options available, I thought I would share the various birth controls with you. I figured most w0men don’t even know about half of the options available. Here are the non-hormonal birth control options, the good and the bad about each.

1. Abstinence

Did you know that there are different types of abstinence? There’s:

  • Outercourse – Not having any vaginal intercourse. There can be other kinds of sexual activities, but nothing that can lead to pregnancy.
  • Periodic Abstinence – Only have vaginal intercourse when a woman cannot get pregnant. This is also one of the Fertility Awareness-based Methods (FAMs) of birth control.
  • And Plain Old Abstinence – Not having any kind of sexual play with any partner.


  • has no medical or hormonal side effects
  • is free
  • prevents STIs (sexually transmitted infections)


  • It’s not the most effective birth control. Some people may find it difficult to abstain from sex for long periods of time.

2. Birth Control Sponge

birth control sponge
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This disposable sponge containing spermicide is placed at the cervix and kills sperm before they can enter.

The sponge is more effective for women who have never given birth. If women who have never given birth always use the sponge as directed, it is 91% effective. If women who have never given birth don’t always use the sponge as directed, it is 88% effective.

Women who have previously given birth have a higher risk of pregnancy. If women who have given birth always use the sponge as directed, it is only 80% effective. And if women who have given birth don’t always use the sponge as directed, it is only 76% effective.

When used in combination with the male condom, the failure rate is only 2%. The cost is anywhere between $0–$15 for a package of three sponges.


  • It’s a barrier method and spermicide in one.
  • It does not interrupt sex play — the sponge can be inserted hours ahead of time and can be worn for up to 30 hours after you put it in. During that time, you can have intercourse as many times as you like during the first 24 hours without removing or reinserting the sponge.
  • It does not need to be fitted by a health care provider.
  • You can buy it in a drugstore without a prescription.
  • Easy to carry in your pocket or your purse.
  • With some practice, inserting and using the sponge is easy.
  • It generally cannot be felt by you or your partner.
  • It does not affect a woman’s natural hormones.
  • They enhance the effectiveness of other forms of contraception, such as condoms.
  • Safe to use during breastfeeding.


  • On its own, the contraceptive sponge is not a very effective contraceptive method. Always use it with another form of contraception. They do, however, provide good secondary protection when used with condoms.
  • Some women find it difficult to insert and remove the sponge or forget to take it out altogether.
  • If you cannot remove a sponge, or if one breaks into pieces and you cannot remove all of the pieces, see your health care provider immediately to have the sponge removed.
  • Some may also be allergic to the spermicide.
  • By itself, the sponge will not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • The sponge contains the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 has certain risks. If it is used many times a day, or by people at risk for HIV, it may irritate tissue and increase the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Some women who use the sponge report recurrent yeast infections. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about finding a different method of contraception that works best for you.

3. Breastfeeding as Birth Control

Sometimes called LAM (Lactational Amenorrhea Method), breastfeeding is a natural way to prevent pregnancy after giving birth. It is effective, safe, convenient, and free!

Less than 1 out of 100 women (only 1%) who practice continuous breastfeeding perfectly will become pregnant. Only 2% of women who use continuous breastfeeding will become pregnant in the first six months if they don’t always practice it correctly. Using breastfeeding as birth control can be effective for six months after delivery in certain circumstances. It is most effective if a woman does not substitute other foods for a breast milk meal, feeds her baby at least every four hours during the day and every six hours at night, and has not had a period since she delivered her baby.


  • It does not affect a woman’s natural hormone balance.
  • It is immediately effective.
  • Breastfeeding is free.
  • It requires no prescription.
  • It needs nothing to be put in place before vaginal intercourse.
  • Breastfeeding reduces bleeding after delivery.
  • It requires no supplies or medical supervision.

Additionally, breastfeeding also has many health advantages for the baby. It:

  • Decreases the likelihood of infection from germs in water, other milk, or formula
  • Increases body contact and enhances comfort for the child and bonding between mother and child.
  • Passes on some of the mother’s antibodies to protect the baby from certain infections.
  • It protects against the development of allergies and may protect against the development of asthma.
  • Provides the best nutrition


  • You can only rely on breastfeeding to prevent pregnancy for six months.
  • Some women find it hard to breastfeed exclusively and not use any formula.
  • If formula is given to the baby, the woman has a chance of getting pregnant again.
  • Breastfeeding may reduce vaginal lubrication when a woman is aroused.
  • It may also make a woman feel like her breasts are less sexual.

4. Cervical Cap (FemCap)

FemCap options
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A cervical cap is a soft, silicone device inserted into the vagina in front of the cervix. It prevents sperm from entering. It is more effective for women who have never given birth.

For women who have never been pregnant or given birth vaginally, 14% who use the cervical cap will become pregnant each year. For women who have given birth vaginally, 29% who use the cervical cap will become pregnant each year. Therefore, to increase effectiveness, it should be used with a spermicide – failure rates increase when used alone.

A cervical cap lasts for up to two years, and it costs about $0–$75.


  • Easy to carry in your pocket or purse.
  • It generally cannot be felt by you or your partner.
  • A cervical cap is immediately effective and reversible.
  • It does not affect a woman’s natural hormones.
  • There is no interruption during sex — it can be inserted up to six hours ahead of time.
  • Safe to use during breastfeeding.


  • You can’t use it during menstruation.
  • A cervical cap may be difficult for some women to insert.
  • It may be pushed out of place by some penis sizes, heavy thrusting, and certain sexual positions.
  • It must be in place every time a woman has vaginal intercourse.
  • You may need to replace it with a slightly larger cap after pregnancy.
  • The device is not overly effective if used without a spermicide.
  • It doesn’t protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

5. Diaphragm

The diaphragm is a latex cap that covers the cervix and prevents sperm from getting inside. Always use the diaphragm in combination with spermicide, placed inside the diaphragm, to offer protection from pregnancy.


It offers women privacy and control because they can insert it before sex. If used perfectly, the failure rate is 4-8%. In other words, if 100 women use it correctly for one year, four to eight of them will become pregnant.

  • They are easily carried in your pocket or purse.
  • Safe to use during breastfeeding.
  • The diaphragm generally cannot be felt by you or your partner.
  • It does not affect a woman’s natural hormones.
  • It is immediately effective and reversible.
  • There is no interruption of sex play — easily inserted hours ahead of time.


  • Some women find diaphragms difficult to insert at first, and others find that it doesn’t fit them right.
  • There is also a chance of developing a urinary tract infection while using it.
  • Does not protect against STIs
  • May be pushed out of place by some penis sizes, heavy thrusting, and certain sexual positions.
  • Must be in place every time a woman has vaginal intercourse.
  • May need to be refitted, especially after having a baby.

6. Female Condom

The female condom is a polyurethane sheath in the shape of a round, upside-down baggie inserted into the vagina before sex. This condom holds in the sperm, preventing it from entering the vagina.


  • It’s the only contraceptive controlled by females that protects them from both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Allow women to share responsibility for preventing infection.
  • Easy to purchase in drugstores and some supermarkets
  • Your partner can insert it as part of sex play.
  • It can be used by people who are allergic to latex.
  • Safe to use with oil-based as well as water-based lubricants.
  • Does not affect a woman’s natural hormones
  • Do not require a prescription.
  • May enhance sex play — the external ring may stimulate the clitoris during vaginal intercourse.
  • Stay in place whether or not a man maintains his erection.
  • Used correctly, the female condom has a failure rate of 5%.


  • Some women may have trouble inserting it correctly.
  • Cause irritation of the vagina, vulva, penis, or anus.
  • Reduces feeling during intercourse
  • They can be expensive – around $3-$4 each.

And let’s be real, it probably feels like you are putting a baggie or trash bag in your vagina . . .

7. Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FAMs)

Fertility awareness-based methods (FAMs) are ways to track ovulation — the release of an egg — to prevent pregnancy. Some people call FAMs “natural family planning.”

There are several methods you can use to predict when you will ovulate.

  • Temperature Method — You will take your temperature in the morning every day before you get out of bed.
  • Cervical Mucus Method — You will check the changes in your cervical mucus every day for the first part of your cycle until you are sure you have ovulated.
  • Calendar Method — You will chart your cycles on a calendar.

It is most effective to combine all three of these methods. Together, they are called the symptothermal method.

  • Standard Days Method — You will track your cycle for several months to be sure that your cycle is always between 26 and 32 days long. Never longer or shorter. Then, you will not have unprotected vaginal intercourse on days 8–19.

Twenty-four out of every 100 couples who use fertility awareness-based methods each year will have a pregnancy if they don’t always use the method correctly or consistently. Always practicing these methods correctly will make them more effective.


  • They cost very little.
  • They’re safe.
  • They can be stopped easily to plan a pregnancy.
  • Calendars, thermometers, and charts are easy to get.
  • Medication is not needed.


Fertility awareness-based methods may not work for you if you:

  • Have more than one sex partner.
  • Have a sex partner who isn’t as committed to fertility awareness-based methods as you are.
  • Don’t want to keep close track of your safe days.
  • Are not able to abstain or use another method for at least 10 unsafe days during each cycle.
  • Take medicine that may affect reading the signs of these methods.

Do not depend on tracking your fertility if you have:

  • Irregular periods.
  • A partner who is not cooperative
  • A sexually transmitted infection or frequent abnormal vaginal discharges
  • Cannot keep careful records.

It may be more difficult to track your fertility if you are breastfeeding, are a teenager, or are getting close to menopause. The hormone shifts may make the signs unpredictable.

Don’t switch to a fertility awareness-based method after using a hormonal one, such as the pill. The hormones will affect your cycle. Instead, use a method without hormones while you’re learning to track your fertility. I’ve met too many couples that have accidentally gotten pregnant from this method after getting off of hormonal birth control or right after giving birth to their child (and not practicing breastfeeding continuously).

8. ParaGard: Copper Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)

ParaGard copper IUD
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The copper IUD is a small, T-shaped device with copper wire. When inserted into the uterus, the copper wire changes the chemistry in the uterus and destroys sperm.


  • The copper IUD provides up to 5 to 10 years of contraception (depending on the type) and has no negative impact on future fertility, once removed.
  • It fails in only 1 of 100 users per year.
  • The IUD should not alter the timing of your periods.
  • Women who use an IUD have a lower rate of ectopic pregnancy than women who do not use any birth control. However, if pregnancy should occur, it is important to see your health care provider immediately, because there is a significant chance the pregnancy is in the fallopian tube.

The copper IUD may be a good choice for you if:

  • You are at low risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
  • Are looking for a long-term, reliable method of contraception.
  • You have had a failure with other methods in the past (can not remember to take the pill).
  • You’re breastfeeding (it does not affect breastmilk).
  • You have completed your family but do not want a tubal ligation.
  • You have problems with hormonal methods of contraception.


  • The copper IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or HIV. (Use condoms to protect against STIs or HIV.)
  • Women who use the copper IUD find that their periods may get heavier, longer, and more crampy.
  • Complications associated with the IUD are rare but may occur. Possible complications of inserting an IUD include irregular bleeding or spotting, perforating the uterus (making a small hole in the uterus), infection, or expulsion (the IUD falls out).

9. Spermicide

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A chemical called nonoxynol-9 comes in the form of cream (only for use with diaphragms), gel, foam, film, or suppository. By inserting spermicide in front of the cervix, in the vagina, it destroys sperm on contact. Spermicides should be used along with another method of contraception, such as a condom, because alone, they are not highly effective.


  • Along with protecting against pregnancy, spermicide also protects against bacterial infections and pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • It can also be used as an emergency method if inserted immediately after you have an accident with your primary contraception.


  • Spermicide can be messy.
  • You have to insert spermicide right before sex because it’s usually only effective for one hour.
  • It may irritate the entrance of the vagina or the tip of the penis.
  • Using a spermicide alone can increase your risk of HIV transmission, so only use it with a steady partner.
  • The failure rate of spermicides used alone is between 6% (perfect use) and 21% (typical use).
  • The popular spermicide called nonoxynol-9 does not protect people from sexually transmitted infections, as previously thought.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires contraceptive products that contain this spermicide, such as condoms, vaginal gels, inserts, and contraceptive film, to carry a label indicating nonoxynol-9 does not protect against STIs.
  • It may increase the risk of getting HIV from an infected person, because of the irritation it can cause to the lining of the vagina or rectum.
  • The SOGC recommends that spermicide only be used by women who are at low risk for STIs and HIV, for example, women in monogamous relationships where STIs have been ruled out. It’s best to use uncoated condoms instead of nonoxynol-9 coated condoms.

10. Sterilization for Women (Tubal Sterilization)

In tubal ligation, the two fallopian tubes, which transport the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, get disconnected. The egg never meets the sperm, and pregnancy is impossible. Because reversal is costly, difficult, and not guaranteed, tubal ligation is considered permanent. However, a 1-2.5% chance of failure may occur up to 10 years later, because sometimes the tubes try to “heal” themselves.



  • Pain, bleeding, and nausea may follow surgery.
  • Some women eventually regret their choice and find that they can’t reverse the process.
  • Tubal ligation does not protect against STIs.

As you can see, there’s a lot of non-hormonal options, which are less aggressive to your body. You may want to consider one or more of these methods if you think that the pill, patch, ring, IUD, or injection are not the right choice for you.

Are you using non-hormonal birth control? What do you think about it?

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Nina Spears The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert
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Nina is The Baby Chick® & Editor-in-Chief of Baby Chick®. She received her baby planning certification in early 2011 and began attending births that same year. Since then, Nina has… Read more

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