My Journey: Natural Birth Control
In the summer of 2017, a couple of years into my holistic health journey, I decided my next venture would be transitioning off of my hormonal birth control to a natural and non-hormonal alternative. After 6 years of consistently taking birth control, I decided that was enough. For context, I put myself of BC when I went off to college in 2011, to help regulate my cycles and symptoms. At first, I was introduced to “the pill”. After a few years or so on the pill, I got annoyed with my daily medicine reminder. Having to take this pill at the same time each day was tedious as I started getting older and having more responsibilities. After the pill, I visited my OG, discussed my other (hormonal and pharmaceutical) options and switched to “the patch”. The patch is a trans-dermal sticker than you apply to your skin once a week. Basically, this method is a large band aid that has medicine on it, as you wear it, the medicine seeps into your skin. As I am typing this, I am screaming inside at how unnatural and unhealthy the logic to this method is. Anyway, I found the patch to be more user friendly and I stayed with that method for the remainder of my time on hormones.
During the summer of 2017, I found myself once again growing dissatisfied with my then birth control and decided it was time for a change. For some context, at this time of my life I was in grad school, stable, working and had a decent dating life. This time, when I went back to my OB, to again discuss my birth control options, I had more experience with contraception and knowledge of natural alternatives. I was surprised that my OB was clearly advising me towards trying the IUD contraception method next. First of all, I have a hard time getting stuck when they try to draw blood and this lady was suggesting that I allow them to insert a medical device up my vagina and leave it there for 3-12 years (depending on the brand). I told her that I needed some time to consider my options and never went back. I was uncomfortable with taking a daily contraception, it felt really unnecessary.
After hours of reading and research I decided to stop my birth control cold turkey. For some reason going “cold turkey” to break habits has been the most effective method for me, I find that “tapering off” is a giant cop out for me. I realized the longer I left the patch on, the longer it would take my body to regulate my hormones. Standard hormonal contraception options contain 2 main hormones: estrogen and progestin. These hormones are 2 of the main female sex hormones: estrogen is responsible for creating eggs while progestin stimulates and regulated bodily cycles such as menstruation and pregnancy.
After I took off my patch, there were some changes to my body and cycles but nothing drastic. It took my body about 3 months to regulate my cycles on its own. My cycles may not be as predictable but they are certainly shorter. Other changes that I have noticed are small things like some acne, food cravings and more intense cramps during mensuration. The second challenge was finding a non-hormonal alternative. Some of my options included: copper IUD, Mexican wild yam root, cervical caps, neem leaf, (unripe) papaya, wild carrot (Queen Annie’s Lace), dong quai, among a few others. Please, do your research when you decide to try a new method, gain as much information as possible: empirical evidence as well as first hand experience. A lot of these methods are ancient so there are records of their use, however, you have to search them out as they are no longer common and deemed taboo by western medicine.
After my initial research process, I narrowed my options down to 2: yam root and neem leaf. I would suggest finding more than 1 option to try, just in case you do not like the first method. There were a lot of things I considered when deciding which method to go with. My main objective was obviously effectiveness, but I also was looking for something I would not need to take daily and that would be easy to take/administer. Before I made my final decision, I made sure to test that I wasn’t allergic to anything. I decided to go with neem leaf tablets. I’m not here to convince anyone of anything so again, research before you try anything.
In my experience, neem leaf tablets have been highly effective as contraception. Neem is also great for your skin, so yay! I like that I only have to take a tablet when I choose and not daily! I love that I don’t have any crazy side effects, my weight is not affected, my skin is clear, my moods are regular and best of all… my menstrual cycles are so much better! Most birth controls have 1 week of placebo pills or other treatment breaks that last 7 days, typically to allow for menstruation. Ladies, who wants 7 days of that shit? No one! Naturally, cycles should not be 7 days beloved. When I was on birth control my cycles were typically about 5 days. Now, they only last about 3 days and follow the lunar cycle. I would say the only negative thing about neem is the smell, so be sure to get the tablets.
I hope something I shared resonates with you and supports you along your journey. Your choice of contraception is your choice. I just wanted to use my platform, to share my experience using a natural alternative to hormonal birth control.