While some couples struggle to get pregnant, others do so without even wanting to. A significant 8 in every 100 women who have unprotected sex one time alone end up getting pregnant. These numbers tell you just how important birth control is, particularly in such financially difficult times.
A lot of women go on the pill or resort to morning-after pills to prevent pregnancy, but the long-term effects of these measures are still debatable. Frequency will probably have a lot to do with its side effects. Men do their part as well by practicing withdrawal as a means to prevent pregnancy.
While most people do not associate natural with contraception, remember that birth control pills were only introduced in the last century. The approach in natural birth control, however, is more along precautionary lines rather than after-sex measures. First, you need to understand the biology of it.
Understand Your Fertility Window
Here are some basics:
- Sperm can survive for up to 5 days in the uterine tube.
- Ovulation is when an unfertilized egg is released from one of the ovaries.
- The unfertlilized egg can be fertilized only between 12–24 hours after its release.
This means a woman’s fertility window lasts 6 days every month – 5 days before ovulation and one day after.
Caution: Bear in mind that every woman’s menstrual cycle is different. The average cycle is 28 days but can vary from 24 to 32 days. Also, depending on an individual’s health, the cycle may exhibit irregularities. Because of this, menstrual cycle math is not all that simple and accurate.
Natural Ways To Outsmart Sperm
With some understanding of when chances of pregnancy are high, you can exercise the following measures to reduce its likelihood.
1. Use A Condom Every Single Time
This one’s a no-brainer. But a lot of people exhibit carelessness in this regard. It’s important to use a condom every time you have sex, not only for contraception but also to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
Condoms are not 100% reliable and condom packets even have disclaimers about it, but the focus here is on reducing chances of pregnancy. Trust us, it’s your best bet.
2. Try The Start-Stop Technique Or Squeezing Technique
Premature ejaculation is a major cause for unplanned pregnancies. The start-stop technique helps you understand when you’re about to ejaculate, while the squeezing technique delays ejaculation. These techniques can be performed alone or with the help of your partner. The methods of birth control here are coitus interruptus (or withdrawal) and delayed ejaculation.
If you know when you are about to ejaculate, you can withdraw yourself from your partner and prevent impregnation. The start-stop technique helps you identify that “point of no return.” It is a method by which you stimulate the penis till just before ejaculation and then stop stimulation for 30–60 seconds. This is repeated 4–5 times. In the final stimulation, you allow yourself to go all they way till you ejaculate. With a couple of rounds of practice, you should be able to understand the exact point before ejaculation.
The squeezing technique involves similar teasing of the penis. But in this case, you stop premature ejaculation by firmly squeezing the shaft of the penis just below the head. This helps you delay ejaculation. This will also probably kill an existing erection. Some good practice will help you properly time this technique while also helping you optimize the exact point you should squeeze and the exact pressure you should apply.
One of the main drawbacks of these methods is that they can prove to be very frustrating in bed, especially if you’ve not tried them before. But the positive is that they make you more aware of your body, encouraging predictability – a major advantage in birth control.
3. Follow The Calendar Rhythm Method
This method requires you to keep track of your menstrual cycle so that you can identify your fertile period.1 Now, there are a number of phone apps that help do this.
This method rests on the assumption that ovulation takes place exactly halfway through the menstrual cycle. So, if your cycle lasts for 28 days, you will ovulate on the 14th day. The first day is the day you start your period. Once you identify your ovulation day, avoid sex a week before and a couple of days after it.
This method is quite outdated and is often looked upon skeptically. True, it can be unreliable and is in no way foolproof, but it does provide some sort of reference point. By observing patterns in your ovulation dates, you may be able to get a fair idea of when you’ll ovulate next. Of course, your understanding of the menstrual cycle should be sound and you must diligently maintain your menstrual records.
4. Try The Ovulation Method
This method too helps you foresee when you are most likely to ovulate. It is based on the changes in the character of vaginal discharge, also called cervical mucus, throughout the menstrual cycle.2 Starting a couple of days after your period ends, investigate the texture and color of your cervical mucus daily. You can do this by using two fingers to swipe out some mucus from your vagina.
In the buildup to your ovulation, you will notice a gradual increase in thickness of your cervical mucus with a gradual progression from a yellowish to creamish to whitish color. On the day before you ovulate or on your ovulation day itself, this mucus will feel very viscous and stretchy, resembling egg whites. This is when your cervical mucus will feel the thickest and will be the most in volume.
5. Adopt The Symptothermal Method
By the symptothermal method, along with daily observation of cervical mucus, measure and record your basal body temperature every day as well.3 Cervical palpation requiring you to assess the firmness of your cervix may also help as an accessory measure. You will be able to recognize patterns yourself.
About 2–3 days after you ovulate, your basal body temperature will spike by about 0.4–1.0 degree Fahrenheit beyond your regular body temperature and last for about 7–12 days. Once you identify this period over a couple of months, minus 2–3 days to know your exact ovulation day.
Invest in a basal body thermometer and use it to record your temperature once daily, preferably at the same time and just before you get out of bed in the morning. You can measure your temperature orally or vaginally, though the latter gives more accurate results.
6. Apply Neem Oil In And Around The Vagina
Neem oil has spermicidal properties that can be used to your advantage for contraception.
Studies on monkey and human sperms have shown that undiluted neem oil can reduce sperm motility within 30 seconds of contact.4 Moreover, studies in human volunteers have proved that applying neem oil intravaginally before sex can prevent pregnancy.
Wild Yam Is Not A Natural Contraceptive
Diosgenin, a phytoestrogen or plant-based estrogen present in wild yam, is chemically converted into the hormone progesterone.5 Progesterone helps inhibit contraception, which is why diosgenin from wild yam was used in the first birth control pill in the 1960s.
Wild yam alone does not contain progesterone. The conversion can only be done chemically in a lab. This means that contrary to folklore and popular belief, eating wild yam will not prevent pregnancy.
There Is No Proof For Pomegranate’s Contraceptive Power
Again age-old folklore, pomegranates continue to be used as a natural contraceptive in many parts of the world. The only evidence hinting at its contraceptive power is classical Greek mythology.6 Persephone, daughter of Zeus and queen of the Underworld, had eaten 6 pomegranate kernels while in the Underworld. For months on end, the land did not have any produce. This is probably how the old wives’ tale started. But there is no scientific proof to support this claim.
All said and done, realize your responsibility toward yourself and your partner to conceive only when you are ready. Such control will only come when you take proper birth control methods.
|↑1||Reyes, D. P. “Understanding calendar rhythm.” Initiatives in population 7, no. 1 (1983): 24-7.|
|↑2, ↑3||Matis, Natalie. “Natural family planning: A birth control alternative.” Journal of nurse-midwifery 28, no. 1 (1983): 7-16.|
|↑4||National Research Council. Neem: a tree for solving global problems. The Minerva Group, Inc., 2002.|
|↑5||Wild Yam. University of Maryland.|
|↑6||Neurath, A. Robert, Nathan Strick, Yun-Yao Li, and Asim K. Debnath. “Punica granatum (Pomegranate) juice provides an HIV-1 entry inhibitor and candidate topical microbicide.” BMC infectious diseases 4, no. 1 (2004): 41.|