The Primal Don’t-Wanna-Be-a Parent Guide to Natural Contraception

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Fun without babies!

For some, the increased fertility that accompanies eating a paleolithic diet is awesome, for others, not so awesome.

Personally, I do want to parent another primal kiddo, but it’s just not in the stars for me right now, so I am taking baby making precautions.

Whether you do or you don’t want to get pregnant, monitoring fertility signs is an important part of a contraceptive/pregnancy-planning strategy so you don’t get stuck taking fertility and birth control medications.

Conventional Contraception

Effects of synthetic hormone birth control medications
Hormonal contraceptives are just as popular as they are damaging to a woman’s body (and the environment as they flush through the toilet into our water causing fish feminization and other problems). According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, more than 80% of American women have taken birth control at some point in their lives. Hormonal birth control is the most frequently used form of birth control.

Altering our hormones with synthetic variants such as those derived from horses doesn’t jive with with the principles of our Paleolithic past and should not be part of a couple’s contraceptive strategy. Birth control medications have been proven to be damaging to a woman’s body in countless ways. Some side effects of synthetic hormones include low libido, depression, weight gain, headaches, increased blood pressure, certain types of cancer, yeast overgrowth, b-vitamin and mineral deficiencies, among others.

Hormonal methods of birth control include: (refer to Planned Parenthood)

  • The Pill
  • Depo Provera – shot prevents pregnancy for three months
  • Lunelle – shot prevents pregnancy for one month
  • Vaginal Ring/Nuva Ring – hormone releasing ring placed in the vagina for 3 weeks
  • The Patch/Ortho Evra Patch
  • Birth Control Implant – small rod prevents pregnancy for up to three years
  • The Morning After Pill – emergency contraception
  • Hormonal IUD/Mirena Plastic T shaped device placed in the uterus, releasing hormones for 5 years

They have invented so many creative ways to pump a woman with hormones! These methods all do pretty much the same thing with equal effectiveness but they have different concentrations of different hormones which may affect women differently.

Non-hormonal conventional methods and their effectiveness:

  • The sponge – a foam sponge containing spermicide placed under the uterus. 80% effective.
  • IUD/ParaGard – T shaped copper device which is placed into the uterus. The devices alters cervical mucus to prevent implantation. 99.9% effective.
  • Cervical Cap – A thin, silicon cap placed over the uterus, used with spermicide. 70-85% effective.
  • Diaphragm – A silicon cup placed over the uterus, used with spermicide. 92% effective.
  • Condoms – 98% effective in general, but if it breaks then the effectiveness drops to 0%.
  • The Pull out method/withdrawal The oldest method of birth control known to man might take some of the fun out of sex but, believe it or not, if it is used correctly, the pull out method is 96% effective! But using it correctly can be tricky. First, you can’t use the method too often because sperm may reside in the man’s urethra and be expelled in pre-cum. Also, you must be careful to withdraw early enough so as not to spill any semen anywhere on the vulva. For most people, then, the method is about 80% effective.

Most of the above mentioned non-hormonal alternatives require spermicide to reach the effectiveness listed (condoms have not been shown to increase effectiveness even with spermicide). Spermicide is not, however, as safe as it is made out to be. Spermicide kills healthy bacteria in the vagina. This can lead to yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and urinary tract infections.

Family Planning (on not having kids) Methods

Condoms, abstinence, and breastfeeding all work really well but when those options are not available, what can we do? What did humans do before contraceptive devices were invented? Well, either they didn’t worry about it (I mean, there are over 6 billion people on this planet) or they listened to their bodies. A woman’s body exhibits clear signs of ovulation which can be observed and then predicted in following months.

Detecting ovulation
Ovulation is the short window during which the egg passes through the Fallopian tube and into the uterus. The egg has a life span of about 24 hours so the window of opportunity (or danger as the case may be) in which implantation can occur is short. In an average 28 day cycle there are 672 hours, only 24 of those hours can you actually get pregnant. That’s a 4% chance that you can actually get pregnant each month.

So what’s all the fuss about? Doesn’t really sound like you’re going to get pregnant anyway does it? Well, those little sperm are built for success. They can survive inside a woman’s body for 3 to 5 days. So if you have sex 5 days before ovulation, you could still get pregnant. This changes the percentage a bit. In reality there is a 17% chance that a woman will conceive in any given month. And as her libido often increases during this time, she is going to take full advantage of that small window.

Signs of fertility

  • Cramps – I’m not exactly sure why the release of an egg smaller than the period at the end of this sentence should hurt, but a woman can often feel a slight cramp as the egg makes its way down the fallopian tube. It just lasts a day, or even a few moments and it usually is felt on either the left or the right side depending on which tube the egg is traveling down.
  • Saliva – Hormonal changes in the body can be observed with a microscope in the saliva. The saliva exhibits a fern like pattern under a microscope. Dr. Mercola wrote an article on this method. The type of microscope he recommends is called an Ovu-Tech. It’s cheap, reusable, and small. Sounds pretty good to me. I think I’ll get one!
  • Mucus – Cervical mucus increases just before ovulation. During most of a woman’s cycle there may be none or very little. Just before ovulation it increases in amount and becomes thicker in texture. Monitoring the changes in mucus, called the mucus method can be useful in planning when to abstain or when to use condoms.
  • Cervical opening – The cervix also changes, in preparation for ovulation, by opening and softening a little. By placing one or two fingers inside the vagina a woman or her partner can feel for changes in the cervix which would indicate that the egg is about to be released.
  • Basal Body Temperature – A woman can monitor her body temperature before rising in the morning with a basal thermometer (you can pick one up at the drugstore). A woman’s body temperature will rise slightly when the egg is released and will remain that way for the rest of the cycle. Illness, allergies, and lack of sleep can alter the basal body temperature so it is not a reliable indicator by itself.

Using the signs of fertility
All of these signs can be used in conjunction to indicate when ovulation will occur. This works best in a woman with a regular cycle. Note the date and occurrence of these signs to determine the date of ovulation. For three months, mark this date on a calendar. For the 5 days before the expected date of ovulation, the date of ovulation, and they day after, don’t partake in intercourse. If, however, you are trying to get pregnant, now’s the time to hit the sac!

If these signs are not apparent and you suspect you are not releasing eggs, read the fertility chapter in my book, Primal Moms Look Good Naked.

Keep in mind that it is generally the goal of all living things to keep on living and hence, as it was so succinctly put in Jurassic Park, life finds a way. Even all of these methods can fail because the body will adjust itself to improve the changes of reproduction. Many women using these methods have ended up pregnant anyway. An ovulation date expected to be on November 10th could be pushed back to November 5th all in the interest of propagating the species.

Other types of sex play
I don’t need to go into great depth here, but honestly, do we really need to have sex every single day of the month? Abstaining from sexual intercourse doesn’t mean we have to abstain from naked fun altogether. There are so many entertaining and loving ways to engage sexually. Taking a break from intercourse at ovulation gives us an excuse to spice things up a bit!

Herbal contraceptives and abortifacients

There are herbs which some claim act as herbal contraceptives. Timothy Taylor suggests in his book The Prehistory of Sex (where he talks extensively about herbal contraception) that the effects of the plants are so wide spread

“they must have been used in prehistory and possibly throughout our evolutionary emergence”. These plants “can bring menstruation to a halt, work hormonally to alleviate PMS and function as contraceptives or abortifacients”.

I have listed a few herbs below that are frequently found in the literature on herbal contraceptives.

Contraceptives

  • Queen Anne’s Lace (Wild Carrot) – This herb has the best reputation for preventing pregnancy. It is defined as an implantation inhibitor. Its earliest recorded use dates back to the 16th century.
  • Wild Yam – This herb does not have a great reputation as a contraceptive. It is meant to be taken every day to alter hormones in the woman’s body much like a birth control pill.
  • Lemon Juice – There is some research on the effectiveness of using lemons to kill sperm 100% of sperm in less than 30 seconds. The lemon juice is to be diluted in 80% water. Using this concentration as a douche before and after sex can act as a spermicide. I’m not sure I would expect the lemon juice to come into contact with all 300 million sperm, though. Use this in conjunction with other methods.
  • Neem – An herb which is very popular in India has been shown to kill sperm as effectively as lemon juice. It tastes and smells absolutely terrible. The seed oil is the part of the plant which is used as a spermicide. I wasn’t able to find any concrete evidence of its efficacy, at least in English. Let’s remember that the remedy does originate from one of the most overpopulated countries on earth. Go figure.

Abortifacients
Abortifacients are agents that induce miscarriage or abortion. These come in the form of drugs which doctors use, herbs, vitamins, and physical strategies. I’ve listed a few that I am familiar with. There are more that are not listed here. There are a lot of options for abortifacients but they are not all supposed to be used in conjunction. You can hurt yourself or overdose if you take too much. Herbs have very real effects on the body and their use should not be taken lightly. Before attempting an herbal miscarriage, do you research, contact an herbalist, acupuncturist, or naturopathic doctor.

  • Blue Cohosh stimulates uterine contractions within six days.
  • Vitamin C can be taken in high doses (between 5-10 g)  to interfere with progesterone. This is sometimes taken before herbs are added.
  • Rutin interferes with the production of progesterone and should be taken with Vitamin C.
  • Black Cohosh and Angelica root (dong quai) can help stimulate menstruation by causing uterine contractions.
  • Ginger stimulates circulation to the uterus and aids the other herbs.
  • Cinnamon also stimulates the uterus.
  • Visualization techniques help the mind release the pregnancy.

If your herbal miscarriage is successful, follow up with a doctor so that they can check to be sure it was complete. When a miscarriage is not complete, the dead tissue inside the body will begin to smell. If this tissue is not released, it can lead to infection.

If your herbal miscarriage is not complete, follow up with a clinical abortion. Taking Vitamin C in high doses can lead to scurvy in the infant. The interaction of the other herbs with the fetus are unknown.

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65 Comments

  1. I was on the pill for about 12 years. Went off the pill about 3 years ago and have been having unprotected sex all that time and no pregnancy.
    I flip-flopped many times about whether or not I really wanted a baby. Now the husband and I have decided we want to go for it so I bought the Clearblue Easy ovulation monitor.

    I’m hoping it was just an issue of us having intercourse at the wrong times. We will see as I’m only in my first month of using the monitor now and I’ve only been Primal about 3 weeks.

    Some people use the monitor for contraception as well, but you have to keep buying the test sticks at $30 a box. I think the saliva monitor would be a better deal in the long run.

  2. Awesome post…this is important stuff! I, too, noticed a significant change in my overall health when I dropped the pill over 5 years ago now. It was like I came out of a 10 year haze. One of the reasons I got on it so long ago was to normalize my cycle, so inconsistent periods returned when I got off it. Wouldn’t you know it, though, since I adopted a more paleo lifestyle last year my cycle is now normal as ever.

    I think it’s important, though, to emphasize safe sex practices. Condoms may suck, but for those of us who are still out seeking that lifelong cave-cohabitator pregnancy doesn’t really top the list of things we should be concerned about!

    • Point taken. Use a condom, then, if you’re not in a committed relationship.

      I would also add that you may not want to have sex with people who eat a low nutrient diet and sleep around a lot. These people contract any type of disease much easier.

      A lowered immune system not only increases ones risk of getting a cold or a flu, but also STDs. Eating the diet that keeps us free of common illnesses also helps protect us against sexually transmitted diseases. Disease is disease.

      As a disclaimer, I’m not saying that you should go out and have unprotected sex with any Blo Joe, but if you haven’t considered it before, sex between two healthy people is not as risky as sex between two unhealthy people.

  3. Thanks for the great post!! I have been thinking for sometime about coming off the pill.
    Now you have convinced me ;) lol
    Im in a relationship at the moment, I think I will use condoms until I work out my cycle of ovulation. I have no plans on getting pregnant yet, but in the future I would like to, so I guess now is a good time to get to know my cycle a bit better.
    Quick question: Did you get your period as expected when you first went off the pill or did it take time for your body to adjust?

  4. Two more very powerful contraceptives: wearing Birkenstocks or Crocs.

  5. Hm.. You say you’ve tried the non-hormonal IUD and experienced more painful periods. But did they come from the IUD, or from ditching the pill? I know that my periods used to be much tougher when not on the pill. However, I’ve been on the pill since long before I started to eat more primal, and I’ve heard stories about other girls claiming their periods are much milder after going primal..

    • Fable, I had extraordinarily heavy and painful periods from the age of 29. I even went through 5 months of having a period every two weeks.

      When I went primal, the change was, well, a bit alarming at first: no cramps, light bleeds, no nausea, and, moreover, no pmt symptoms. I remember how utterly different the experience was, so much so, I wondered whether something was wrong.

      Now I dread to think what years of sad eating did to my reproductive health. It surely couldn’t have been good to bleed to the extent I did every fortnight.

  6. I was on the pill over ten years ago, before I ever went primal. My periods were a mess back then – very painful, sporadic, and heavy.

    After going primal my periods became regular and light as could be with no cramps. It was like this for years. After years of using no birth control at all did I start the IUD.

    • I was on the pill for over 10 years. I went off it about 9 months ago because my husband and I wanted to get pregnant. After a couple of months with no success, I started charting my basal body temperature, mucus, and cervical opening. The charting was much easier than I thought it would be, and ovulation was fairly obvious to detect. Surprisingly, my periods also became lighter and more regular after quitting the pill. I’d often experienced breakthrough bleeding when on the pill and had to switch brands about every 10 months to stop it. I’ve had no breakthrough bleeding since I quit taking the pill. I think this might be because my natural cycle is 26 days, and my body didn’t like being forced into a 28 day pattern.

      I am now 9 weeks pregnant. After the baby is born (and hopefully after breastfeeding for at least a year), I plan on using the same charting methods to avoid pregnancy.

  7. Vitamin C and angelica root is very effective as an abortifacient. Natural abortions are dangerous. You also need to be 100% committed if the abortion does not work you will need modern medicine to finish the job you started.

    • That’s a great point! One should expect that the herbs will have a detrimental affect on the fetus even if the body does not manage to expel it. It would be best to take these herbs under the supervision of an ND and be prepared for the possibility of a medical abortion.

  8. I have been on the pill for almost a year now. Although I am uncertain, it seems that the pill is causing side effects such as migraine headaches, yeast infections, vaginal dryness, and decreased libido and overall energy.
    That said, I obviously want to ditch the pill, but I am nervous about how my body will react and what to do to continue to prevent pregnancy.
    Is is true that if my husband and I “go primal” I would have a regular cycle (which was not the case pre-pill)? Then I could use herbal contraceptives?
    Thanks for the information!

    • Heidi,

      Those all sounds like problems that the pill can cause. The pill is not the only way to prevent pregnancy. You don’t have to take it. Even the IUD is a better avenue for conventional contraception than the pill, in my opinion.

      While I can’t guarantee that your periods will become regular, it certainly is the trend in women who go Paleo. My periods were irregular and painful and they became painless and regular – like clockwork.

      I would proceed cautiously with herbal contraceptives. Watch your body’s signals to determine when you ovulate. I think abstinence is the safest route during that danger zone. If you are willing to try lemon juice or herbs, and you do it incorrectly, you may become pregnant.

      Nevertheless, women have had great success with these techniques. You can find anecdotes and statistics in the book.

  9. Charting is an excellent way to begin to understand what you weren’t taught in health class. I started doing it to get pregnant and now after 7 years, I know what’s going on without taking temps and writing it all down. Taking Charge of Your Fertility was one of the best books I ever bought to understand it all. I highly recommend it to all women regardless of which method of birth control you choose.

  10. I read that book years ago and was trying to remember the title while I wrote this post. Thanks for reminding me!

  11. I am thankfully past the age to worry about contraception(yay!) but thought I would add my experience for you younger women; hormonal BC caused migraines, yeast infections, low libido, etc–I think the reason the pill works for BC is that you never want to or can have sex! Diaphragm would be ok except that spermicide caused irritation. Had heavy cramps and my mother had a dangerous experience with IUD so never tried that. Who wants to use condoms all the time in a committed relationship! Finally after my 3rd child started using Natural Family planning (with condoms sometimes) and as you stated –lots of fun things can be done without intercourse during fertile days! I also used Black Cohosh for a few days before my period was due especially if I thought I might have taken any chances. Successfully avoided pregnancy for 16 years. One of my daughters is using NFP along with Queen Annes Lace seed–so far no new grand children! I am sure that primal women would have been using herbal remedies to prevent pregnancy–modern medicine has convinced us to not trust nature and our own bodies. Black cohosh and other herbs that prevent implantation work best before your period is due–don’t wait until after late! I would add to your caution that essential oils are NOT natural–using an infusion of pennyroyal for ex would be difficult to overdose as you would throw it up–it takes very little oil to overdose.

  12. “I would also add that you may not want to have sex with people who eat a low nutrient diet and sleep around a lot. These people contract any type of disease much easier.”

    ahah I can totally imagine the scene :D

    “wait wait, do you have condoms?”
    “don’t worry babe, I eat primal”

  13. Daniel beat me to the punch!!! I just had a vasectomy…we have a 3 yea rold and 1 year old…we are done baby!!! The way doctors explained it a vasectomy in health terms is much easier on a mans body than the chemicals, hormones, or IUD’s are on womens bodies. I will say this….nobody prepared me for the 8 needles they would inject into my man package!!! LOL Seriously, I thought it was like 1 to 2 at the most!! Maybe thats why they didn’t tell me beforehand….just a thought….

    • thanks for the heads up on the 8 needles! I’m getting the snip pretty soon. Been looking forward to a worry-free Mamma for a while.

      • Brother you are good. The needles are the worst part…the actual procedure is a breeze! LOL Best advice I can give is get some good tighty-whities, take it easy for a few days, and frozen bags of peas are your best friend!!!! Did a couple dudes just hijack this post? Sorry!!

        • lmao awesome.

          my boyfriend and i don’t have kids yet and may want some in the future, but i guess he says that even his friends who have kids regretted it? i don’t understand why, it’s not like you couldn’t just bank something for the future if you changed your mind, right?

  14. Hi, are you sure about this?
    “condoms have not been shown to increase effectiveness even with spermicide”

    I know a doctor who recommends this combination and also there are condoms with spermicide.

    Thanks

    • Fewer and fewer condom brands have spermicide these days. According to a 2001 report from the World Health Organization, condoms lubricated with nonoxynol-9 cause vaginal irritation and are no more effective in preventing pregnancy than those without.

      A lot of doctors recommend a lot of things that have ultimately been proven ineffective and even harmful. Just look at the diet recommended by doctors, the statin drugs, etc.!

      • Sure and they recommend things they do not use. The Dr recommending spermicide with ovules did not know it does not come in cream but in óvulos (gel caps?).

  15. Are you kidding? This is awesome. You guys are offering a perspective I couldn’t possibly provide! How a bout reversals? Any experience there?

    • my buddy had a reversal after having two kids, expensive, but an additional two kids later, they are happy.

    • An older friend of mine (my therapist actually…haha hey I am of sound mind baby)had a reversal done years back. He was married and had 2 kids…got first vasectomy. 15 years later and divorced he meet his 2nd wife and had the reversal performed….he said it was AWFUL and the bruising and recovery time was extensive. They had 2 more kids and he had his 2ND VASECTOMY. I let him know he is crazy and I now doubted his intelligence!! This was the first AND last time anyone is cutting on my goods….you can quote me on that. On a entertaining sidenote….I will tell you how fresh this experience was for me…it was only 1 WEEK ago that I had my procedure!!!!!

  16. from what i understand, it takes about 80 ejaculations post-procedure to be in the clear. no?

    • They told me 20 prior to testing in 90 days…although I will tell wifey 80 and see if she buys it? haha

  17. Actually, vasectomies are neither risk-free nor consequenceless.

    Depending on the survey, up to 1/3 of vasectomy patients experience chronic testicular discomfort after the operation. 8% require drugs to control chronic pain, and 4% have pain after one year sufficient to require surgical intervention (denervation of the spermatic cord), which does not solve the problem in all cases.

    Also, over 90% of vasectomy patients have antibodies to their own sperm after 9 months, because the testicles are still producing billions of sperm.

    JS

    • I never said vasectomies are risk free….but in comparison to women putting chemicals or foreign objects (IUD’s) in their bodies the vasectomy is the healthier of the two. I am not trying to pander to the female crowd here but I do think we as males can deal with some testicular discomfort for all the discomfort and changes women deal with in pregnancy and childbirth. This of course is every couples joint decision, but after 2 kids I thought I could take one for the team! :)

    • In reply to vasectomies not being risk free.. I agree. My husband and I have considered this as an option but are now concerned as our cousin was instructed by his MD not to proceed with it because prostate cancer runs on both sides of his family. Supposedly his chances of getting prostate cancer in the future would be elevated by 70%! That was basically all the convincing my husband needed not to get snipped!

  18. how come you didn’t mention a vasectomy for men? Seems like the easiest, most pleasurable, quasi-natural, and symptom-free way.

  19. Because I’m a girl I guess and it slipped my mind. Thanks for bringing it up! Vasectomy is described on the Planned Parenthood site I linked to for those that are interested.

  20. I have been doing Natural Family Planning for the past 3 years, and have successfully remained child free. It’s actually really easy once you get the hang of it. I charted my temperature and my cervical fluids until I noticed a very clear pattern in my fluid, so I stopped temping. Now i just pay attention to my, uh, wetness and abstain when I’m fertile. It’s only about 5 days a month, so totally manageable. The only downside is I’m super interested when I’m most fertile. My body really wants me to get pregnant!

    I love knowing what’s going on in my body, and not having to pump myself full of chemicals. I tried lots of different pills and the Nuvaring, and they all made me CUH-RAY-ZEE, gave me headaches, and lowered my libido. Being all natural is AWESOME.

  21. Interesting post! I also don’t want to be a parent either and not a big fan of hormonal birth control, so I’m using the copper IUD. It’s been about 2 years now. Prior going paleo, I always experienced stomach cramps and very heavy bleeding (even worse after the IUD – which I was aware of). However, 2-3 months ago when I finally went paleo (cut out grains, gluten and processed sugar completely), my period has been lighter, no more cramps. My period time is always at least a week of a bit longer, but the biggest thing is I don’t have that super painful cramp and only 1-2 days of heavy flow.

  22. Eating parsley (frying up a clump of it akin to about half of a portion of spinach, when fresh) seems to curb heavy menstruation. I eat it daily — the Italian kind — sauteed a bit of leftover grease from my bacon until it’s shriveled down and crunchy.

  23. I successfully spawned a two month late period through drinking something like a gallon of really steeped rosemary tea. So that was interesting.
    In a pinch… Alcohol really works. Not a little, humans are kinda built to drink some, but like a good night senior year of college. Perk: If done in the first trimester, alcohol either aborts or doesn’t effect the fetus. I suspect anything that temporarily overloads the liver will spawn a miscarriage, especially early on.
    I’ve been having unprotected sex for two years without even a worry, so either my boys have dead sperms or I’m doing something right. (I did get pregnant when my Crohn’s was literally causing me to starve to death, so that’s my basis for comparison. I wasn’t trying not to then, that one would’ve been a good father if my body could’ve only handled it.)
    You didn’t say they had to be easy or good for you. *grin* But neither’s the pill. Oh, if only we hadn’t used-to-extinction Child’s Bane.

  24. I’m so glad to see you’re getting the word out about Toni Weschler’s book! I stumbled upon it by blind luck when I was searching wildly for a birth control option that I was comfortable with and that didn’t make me feel physically terrible.

    I think every woman should read this book, whether she intends to use Weschler’s method of birth control or not–just for the good information about the female body and the healthy perspective she brings to this topic.

  25. Thank you all for sharing your experiences with natural planning and birth control.

    I remember when I was reading that book years ago, I thought, “has this REALLY worked for anybody?”

    It’s empowering to hear other women chime in.

  26. I got to this blog from Mark’s Daily apple and I must say that I really like it even though I am not ready for kids yet (in my 20s).

    I hate to bring in my own tragic and uncomfortable experiences with natural contraception, but I really would like to share my story in case there are any teenage girls reading this blog and thinking that natural contraception is a good idea.

    I was in my late teens and in my first real relationship with a great guy. We grew apart and are no longer together, but I still look back on our time together fondly. He was really into natural medicine (and would probably love the fact that I’m paleo if he knew) so he told me that he was uncomfortable with me messing up my body to be on birth control. So I took my temperature, did saliva testing, and monitored myself very carefully. We only had protected sex and never during the riskiest time. Due to a broken condom I still found myself a pregnant teen. Three weeks after my missed period (admittedly too late at that point), I tried parsley, vitamin c, and black cohosh with no results. At that point I had a medical abortion using the abortion pill at a clinic and I am thankful everyday that I valued myself and my future enough to go through with it.

    I know that my case is rare, but I think every teenage girl should know that if they are committed to being sexually active it is not worth risking your future to avoid going on birth control. I suppose I should note that the women in my family are highly fertile. My mother got pregnant by accident at 47. She is a physician and once even told me (half serious, half not) that there is limited evidence for spontaneous ovulation in a small subset of the population.

    Maybe that’s just what I deserve for having premarital sex at a relatively young age. Yet, since going paleo and trying to get in touch on some level with the way humans are supposed to live as physical beings, I can’t help but think it is really unnatural that girls are expected to stay virgins in their teens and often up to their late 20s, even as putting off marriage is also liberating for womankind.

    • Paleo Gurl,

      You bring up a couple of incredibly valuable points. Many of us can’t or won’t or shouldn’t risk getting pregnant. It can throw young (and old) women onto a path that they may not be ready or willing to handle. Abortion can be emotionally painful but it is the best choice for some people. One should always do all that they can to prevent an unwanted pregnancy in the first place but youth and ignorance often get in the way of that.

      I made a similar mistake myself before I really knew what I was doing. I used neem oil to kill sperm but didn’t know anything about my own fertility signals and so I had sex at the wrong time and the neem was useless. I got pregnant.

      I’m glad that you bring up teenagers because they often don’t understand their bodies as well as adults who have been living with them for quite a bit longer. I would warn that they should develop a deep understanding of their bodies before proceeding and always remember to abstain during fertile times.

    • I just have to say, that’s not what you deserve for having sex. We all make mistakes, and it is terrible that you had to go through that, but you didn’t deserve it, no matter what poor choices you made.

  27. I use the Lady Comp and have been for a year and a half without getting pregnant. It’s based on NFP, but it is a little computer that takes your temp for you so you don’t have to chart it yourself. When you can have sex without worries about pregnancy, it gives you a green light. It’s 99% effective when used right, which is the same as birth control. I love it and it’s sad to me that so many women don’t know about it.

  28. I’ve read that using spermicide with a diaphraphm did not increase it’s effectiveness in studies. I use a natural spermicide Contragel. We combine that with tracking ovulation and pulling out. So far so good :)

  29. I recently downloaded an app on my iPhone that’s super helpful for tracking my period and ovulation, it’s called iPeriod. It’s even free. You can enter in your period and it predicts your next period based on your cycles and your days of ovulation. It’s amazing and I suggest it to any woman with an iPhone!

  30. Sorry if I missed it, but has anyone mentioned lambskin condoms? They feel NOTHING like latex. I won’t say you won’t notice it’s there at ALL, but the difference between them and latex is night and day. They have an unfortunate reputation of not being reliable, but only because they don’t protect against STDs. As a pregnancy prevention method, they’re on par with latex. Our midwife recommended them after our boy was born, and I’m so glad she did. If anyone is turning away from the condom option for the “they suck” reason, give lambskin a shot. You still have the interruption factor, but if you’re like me – hormones out of the question, IUD concept freaks you out (something foreign hanging out in my uterus), and no or irregular cycle due to breastfeeding, give them a shot.

  31. I also wanted to ask – do you know anything about ovulation occasionally being triggered by orgasm? My mom was using NFP when she got pregnant with twins. One “morning after,” a week before usual, she had fertile CM. I’m not sure where she heard it, but she always says the sex triggered the ovulation.

  32. Thanks for the tip about the lambskin condoms. I’m sure that would be good for those few danger days.

    I haven’t heard of orgasm triggering ovulation. But I have heard that some women are able to control the path of the sperm somehow, basically preventing it from traveling to the egg, maybe through orgasm? I read about it in the book called The Prehistory of Sex. Anyway, sex often triggers my period. lol.

  33. This link is a very worthy addition to your great post! http://www.ovulens.com
    It’s a very simple and effective ovulation monitor and can be an easier alternative to keeping track of temps and other charting methods.
    Best Wishes & thanks for a great article.

  34. Thanks so much for this post! I’ve been meaning to find some information on natural contraceptives. My family has a long history of women who used herbs to prevent pregnancies and end them in the early stages. Unfortunately, I have no way of finding out what they were because we have been disconnected. Very useful post for someone who just started to explore sex :)

  35. FYI about the pull out method and sperm hanging out in the urethra from the last go around — peeing after sex helps.

    From Planned Parenthood’s website, “If a man urinates between ejaculations before having sex again, it will help clear the urethra of sperm and may increase the effectiveness of withdrawal.”

    http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/withdrawal-pull-out-method-4218.htm

  36. I have a completely regular cycle (30 days) and according to an ovulation microscope I am fertile on days 16-19 of that cycle. I have got pregnant on day 30 (after taking the morning after pill with 12 hours of sex), day 21 (unprotected sex) and day 5 (unprotected sex). I definitely think I am one of those people who can ovulate at random times in my cycle and possibly multiple times during my cycle.
    Based on this I have given up on NFP and gone with an IUD! I love my two kiddos more than anything, and we really grieved for the miscarriage in between, but until we are happy having another baby we need to keep using contraception. I really hate having a copper spring in my uterus, but I hate all the other methods worse, and I would hate abstaining from sex with my gorgeous husband more! I am all for NFP but be careful people, if you are not prepared to deal with a pregnancy then NFP is probably not for you.
    Oh, and the other thing is that dh and I are both crazy for it when I am ovulating, we are like teenagers, so no way I want to abstain at the most fun time of the month, lol!

    • hahaha I can’t abstain from it at that time of the month either. All I can think about is sex and making babies. I tell my boyfriend that if he doesn’t want kids, he’s going to have to go out of town because I’m a maniac! One of these days we’re going to get pregnant because of my inability to control myself…

  37. I have a story that is sad unfortunately but it’s something any woman who is on the pill or thinking about going on the pill should know and consider.
    I was on the pill for about 3 years prior to this event without major problems, some side effects yes, but for me it was worth not having to take strong pain killers every month, and be able to train normally. I was even put on the pill without all the necessary blood work done (it was like that here, it was not considered a prerequisite for going on the pill).
    My sister, who was 19 at the time, developed even worse cramps during her period, to the point where she had to go to the hospital to get pain killer injections. Our gyno examined her, she was fairly certain she would find PCOS, but there was none. Having found no other cause, everything seemed normal, she had my sister do all the blood work needed for her to be put on the pill, hoping that would help regulate her cycles and pains.
    What we didn’t know at the time is that there was a history of thrombosis in our family, that our parents neglected to mention.
    Her blood work came back ok, and she was put on the pill. For the first year she was great, her pains eased, periods got lighter. Then she hurt her toe, a tiny barely visible fracture. She was given a cast, and supposed to keep it on for two weeks, but she had it replaced with a smaller aid (i don’t know the english name for this, like a smaller plastic immobilizer with which she could move more). The thing is not one of the idiotic doctors who treated her asked her whether she was on the pill, and it is a know danger of any trauma combined with BC hormones to cause blood clots. They should have given her heparin or some other blood thinner immediately,and during the whole time she had the injury.
    Unfortunately, she developed massive pulmonary embolism a week later and died at my parents’ arms, at the age of 20. That was last year.
    The pathologists linked it directly to the BC pills,combined with a probable underlying genetic inclination toward thrombosis.
    So for any woman taking the pill or thinking about it:
    – talk to your family, find out if anyone had problems with thrombosis or other hematological issues
    – demand you talk with a hematologist both for advice and your lab results. gynos are often not careful enough with prescribing pills, and have a lacking knowledge of blood disorders. here they even have no track of what happens to their patients who suffer serious side effects, as one cardiologist i talked to said : “there is a missing link between gynecologists and pathologists, that would allow them to see the true extent of handing out pills like candy”
    – if you are on the pill and get injured, especially in the lower extremities, always let those treating you know that you are on BC, if they will not give you protection against blood clots, demand it.
    – weigh your risks, the usual side effects are not the only thing you will be facing, but many doctors will fail to mention that part

    I myself cannot take anything hormonal any more obviously, and have found this article on natural contraception extremely informative. Hope this helps someone, those pills are not nearly as safe as the pharmaceutical companies would have you believe.

    • I know you didn’t come here for sympathy but I am so sorry for your loss. When I read that you sister died tears just poured out of my eyes. It was quite startling. My sister also died last year due to the irresponsibility of her doctor. I haven’t talked about it yet here on the blog but after reading how you’re using your sister’s story to help other women who stumble upon this comment, I realize there could be enormous value there. Thanks so much for sharing,

      • I am very sorry to hear about your sister. At least you know i understand how you feel.
        This place is actually the first time i wrote in greater detail about this. I only recently discovered your blog, and found some incredibly useful and amazing information here. I thought it was only fair to share something of equal importance (to me) back…
        You will understand when i say that it’s not easy to recreate the events in your mind, and admit publicly that you could have probably done something if you knew this or that..
        For instance, while i was always a carnivore, and avoided our mother who preached macrobiotics, my sister had a diet of mostly rice,pasta and vegetables. I was researching nutrition, and experimenting on myself for some time before all that happened. I even managed to cure my autoimmune thyroid disease only a couple of months before that, the one that according to doctors required a lifetime of hormonal therapy. Knowing what i know today (i didn’t know about paleo or primal back then, at least i didn’t know that’s what it was called, i was on track with my own experience) I am fairly certain changing her diet and using that knowledge could have diverted the events, one way or the other.
        So the only thing left that is right to do is to try to help people with knowledge, even if it’s one learned through blood and tears.
        Please don’t think i am here to depress your readers, i wish you all the best, and i hope people draw something good from this stuff.

  38. After being diagnosed with a stroke at 18 attributed to “the pill” and my PFO (a common, small hole in my heart) I stopped taking anything hormonal. I had an IUD for years until I got a PID (which absolutely sucks! Thought I had an ectopic pregnancy at the time.).

    So I have three kids, between getting pregnant my husband and I have successfully been able to watch my cycle and use condoms during the “risky” time of the month. I just had a baby a few weeks ago though so wi/out my period am looking at using a diaphragm in the meantime, plus of course breastfeeding though the chemicals in spermicide have me nervous so I’m looking into natural ones.

  39. I just wanted to add that for those of you who did take BC, it could take years for it to get out of your system if you are trying to get preggo, or just lose BC gained weight. I took BC for a few years when I was in my early 20s and it took years for me to get pregnant after, and not for lack of trying (of course this was pre-primal so diet probably didn’t help). I had another friend who did Depo and had to lose weight (I’m in the military). She didn’t even get her cycle back for a couple of years and of course held onto the weight (she was on a standard diet though).

    I just had the Mirena put in a few weeks ago since right now I’m NOT in a place to get pregnant again (nor do I wish to become a nun). However, when it’s less of a risk I will probably take it out and go the more natural route. Hopefully the less hormones will make it less bad in the long run.

  40. My wife said she was not ovulating and she knew her cycle. It worked for 9 months. But this Caveman must have some heavy testosterone and pheromones! Ella Claire came about!!! Our Third little one. Beautiful child but was not planned for.

  41. We use the lady comp, http://www.ladycomputer.com/ladycomp_en.htm and it’s been a life saver! We were NOT comfortable with “regular” birth control and think I’ll be healthier and so will our future child without the medications. it’s worked 15 months so far :-) also the pull out method helps when I am fertile.

  42. I took oral contraceptives for 5 years (before going Paleo) and THOUGHT it was suffering from PMDD. But when I finally went off them for a month (after going paleo) my symtoms were much better. I have now been off them for over two years but I just put in a NuvaRing a few days ago because it is very important that I not have a baby 9-11 months from how. I only intended to use it for a couple of months. But I have been constantly nauseous ever since and I read it can take a couple of months for that to go away. So between that and just having read this post, I’m going into the bathroom right now to take it out!

  43. There is new CREIGHTON method which is based on NaProTECHNOLOGY (natural procreative technology). We used it actually to achieve pregnancy, so it is nice to have method that works both ways. They claim better rate than artificial methods. From their site:

    “The CrMS is based upon a couple’s knowledge and understanding of their naturally-occurring phases of fertility and infertility. Through this understanding, the couple is able to make decisions (choices) regarding the achievement or avoidance of pregnancy. This system provides information which deals with the complete dimension of the procreative ability. In addition, it provides women the added benefit of being able to monitor and maintain their procreative and gynecologic health over a lifetime. It is truly the only family planning system which has networked family planning with gynecologic and procreative healthcare and health maintenance. The teachers of the CrMS are trained allied health professionals and specifically-trained physicians have been educated to incorporate the CrMS into their medical practice.”

    http://www.creightonmodel.com

    It was developed for catholics, so no human lifes were harmed :)

  44. Black Cohosh does wonders to start a period that is late ( I wouldn’t take it to abort a pregnancy) it is definitely a good herb to have around if you are just starting a paleo diet and suffering from irregular periods. I take it as directed.. it also relieves cramps so if I am cramping I take two capsules & bam-no cramps… always use herbs with caution and ask a certified herbalist for help- that is my suggestion.

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