BIRTH CONTROL SERIES: Which Birth Control Method Is Right for You?

by | Oct 3, 2018 | Sex, Uncategorized | 142 comments

There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to contraceptives. Here are some tips in choosing the right birth control method for your family!
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How do you choose what birth control method to use?

Every month, I like to take a new topic and address it every Wednesday. And I realized recently that I had not written about birth control since 2010! Yikes! Especially because it’s such a common question I get when it comes to sex in marriage.
So this month I thought I’d dedicate towards talking about how to choose a birth control method that will work for you.
Now, that’s opening a huge can of worms. I know that there are some reading the blog who think that any form of contraception at all is wrong. (I will be talking about natural family planning quite a bit, by the way!). I understand, and I respect you for that, and if you don’t want to talk about it, it’s okay. Just please understand that there are a lot of women who are very eager to hear some of this information.
My own personal view (which is going to come out this month!), is that God gave us certain physical signs so that we would know when we are fertile, so that we would have the ability to make decisions about family size. And family size is a consideration today in a way that it wasn’t in biblical times or even 150 years ago. Children born today tend to live to adulthood; they don’t die in infancy. And kids aren’t necessary for the family’s economic prosperity in the way they were many years ago when you needed kids to work on the farm. Instead, they’re very expensive (even if you can save money by being smart and thrifty!). Just one simple example: it’s hard to get a vehicle that seats more than 8 people, so once you’ve had 6 kids, you can no longer even travel altogether in one vehicle. Modern life just makes us see family size in a very different way.
At the same time, I don’t think that’s it’s a great idea to mess around with our bodies very much when it comes to our fertility. So I guess I’m one of those people that fits in the middle–I do think it’s okay to try to choose when kids come; but I also think we need to be careful with how we do that.
Today I want to give a broad overview of the main methods of birth control, with their pros and cons, and then later in the month we’ll look in more detail at The Pill, natural family planning, and what to do about contraception as you get ready for your wedding.
But before we do that, we need to remember one basic truth:

When it comes to birth control, you can’t have it all.

You’re going to be balancing the side effects and downsides of any method with the risk of an unplanned pregnancy.
There are different risks to each method of birth control: risks to your long term health; risks of an unplanned pregnancy; and (potentially) risks of accidentally causing a conceived baby to be unable to implant in the uterus, causing a spontaneous abortion.
You cannot have sex without dealing with these risks. If you are choosing to have sex, you also must choose how to balance those risks, and deal with the effects of those choices.
In the absence of a medical reason, if a pregnancy would be truly and deeply devastating to you and your spouse and must be avoided at all costs, do not get married–or at least get sterilized. It’s really that simple. No method is 100% effective (really except sterilization), and so if you’re going to be having sex, you can’t then also view a baby as a tragedy.

That being said, with perfect use, birth control methods nearly all perform extremely well.

Effectiveness at preventing pregnancy with all those listed here is in the 95th percentile or above (except diaphragms, which are 92-94% effective with perfect use, and pulling out, which is about 75% effective with perfect use). A rating of 95% effective means that 5 women among every 100 using the method perfectly for a year will get pregnant at some point during that year. To put this in perspective, among women without known fertility problems who are under 37, 85 out of 100 women will get pregnant within a year of unprotected sex.
Perfect use means that you always use it correctly: you always wake up on time to take your pill, take your temperature, or always use a condom. So when you’re evaluating different birth control methods, you also have to ask yourself, “am I the kind of person who could use this method perfectly?”

What I don’t want to do in writing this series about birth control is to tell you what choices are right for you in your marriage.

Instead, my goal is to give you the information you need to make informed choices. Sex education in Christian families is often really poor (that’s why we created The Whole Story!), and we know too many couples who have had unexpected babies. (This isn’t to say that an unplanned baby is a bad thing, speaking as the wife of an unplanned baby!). Instead, my hope is that a couple will choose whether they want to be open to an unexpected baby or not.
Another important reason to understand the breadth of birth control options is that the method that works for your marriage and family will likely change in different seasons of your life. Knowing what options are available will help you adjust as life’s changes happen.
So let’s jump in!

Birth Control Method

Pros

Cons

The Pill

  • Allows for skin-on-skin contact
  • Can have sex any time
  • Can improve acne problems
  • Can lessen menstrual cramps and regulate irregular periods
  • Contains hormones
  • Can lower libido
  • Can cause some women to gain weight
  • Cause cause mood changes
  • Can interact with other medications
  • May be inactivated if you are sick (vomiting or diarrhea)
  • Must be taken at the same time, daily, to be effective
  • There is often a lag time of several months to a year after stopping The Pill to your body able to become pregnant
  • Can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting
  • No protection from STIs

Condoms

  • You don’t need a prescription to use them
  • You can stop and try to get pregnant immediately
  • No artificial hormones
  • Protects from STIs
  • Can have sex any time (as long as one’s on hand!)
  • Makes clean up afterwards much easier
  • Can change how sex feels without skin-on-skin contact
  • Has to be used consistently to be effective

Diaphragm

  • Allows for skin-on-skin contact
  • No artificial hormones
  • No lag time to get pregnant when stopping birth control
  • Can have sex any time (as long as you insert it first)
  • Must be inserted correctly to work and can be dislodged during sex
  • Less effective than other methods (gynecologists told Rebecca it only has a 75% success rate)
  • No protection from STIs

IUD (hormonal)

  • Lasts up to 5 years with no maintenance
  • Can have sex any time
  • Periods may become lighter or even stop completely
  • No increase in time to pregnancy over condoms if you want to get pregnant after using it
  • Allows for skin-on-skin contact
  • Contains hormones
  • Must be medically inserted and removed, which can be uncomfortable
  • No protection from STIs
  • Some studies suggest they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting
  • When pregnancy does happen using an IUD, it’s much more likely to result in an ectotopic pregnancy.
  • Side effects can include cramping for multiple weeks after insertion and intermittent spotting for 3 months after it is first inserted. Periods can often be lighter, but inconsistent so there’s no warning for some women.

IUD (copper)

  • More fun than a condom
  • Does not require any maintenance, but is very effective
  • Lasts for up to 10 years
  • Can have sex any time
  • Must be inserted and removed by a doctor
  • May be uncomfortable when inserting
  • Can make periods heavier
  • May prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus
  • No protection from STIs

Natural Family Planning (Sympto-Thermal Method)

  • Allows you to know your cycle and catch hormonal/fertility problems
  • No lag time to get pregnant
  • No artificial hormones
  • Free (ok, you buy a thermometer…)
  • Allows for skin-on-skin contact
  • Must use multiple methods to be effective
  • Must be very vigilant about charting/ checking fertility signs
  • Very little room for error
  • Many times a month where sex is not possible without using additional contraceptives
  • No protection from STIs

Pulling out

  • Allows for skin-on-skin contact
  • No artificial hormones
  • Can have sex at any time
  • Free
  • Not effective (pre-ejaculate can contain sperm)
  • Not considered a birth control method by OB-GYNs
  • No protection from STIs
  • Reduces pleasure, since the man has to catch himself right at the height of orgasm and stop the natural urge

Vaginal Ring

  • Allows for skin-on-skin contact
  • Lasts for a month – you don’t need to remember it daily
  • Can cause lighter periods
  • Contains hormones
  • Can’t be used by all women
  • Can interact with other medications
  • Some studies suggest it can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting
  • No protection from STIs

Birth Control Patch

  • Allows for skin-on-skin contact
  • Needs to be changed only once per week, not daily like the pill
  • Can help to make your period lighter
  • Can have sex any time
  • Not appropriate for all women
  • Can raise blood pressure
  • May prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus
  • No protection from STIs

Sterilization (Vasectomy)

  • Very effective with no maintenance
  • Allows for skin-on-skin contact
  • Extremely minor surgery–can walk out after
  • Can have sex any time
  • Can be irreversible
  • Is still a painful and vulnerable procedure for the person getting sterilized
  • No protection from STIs

Sterilization (Tubal Ligation)

  • Allows for skin-on-skin contact
  • Can have sex any time
  • 100% effective
  • May be irreversible
  • Major surgery (unless done in concert with a c-section)
  • Requires a recovery period after surgery
  • No protection from STIs
  • Can have long lasting hormonal effects

There you go–the main forms of birth control, with their pros and cons.


 

Other Posts in the Birth Control Series:
What You Need to Know about the Pill as Birth Control: The Pros and Cons
Birth Control Should Be a Shared Responsibility
How Natural Family Planning Works
Which Birth Control Method Will Work for YOU Personally?

Now let’s get the conversation started. Is there a method you LOVE? Is there a method you HATE? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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142 Comments

  1. Melissa

    My husband and I attempted to do natural family planning when we got married. We intended to wait a couple years before even discussing kids! Well two months in and I was pregnant! I didn’t want to use the pill for all of the reasons listed above. I couldn’t get a diaphragm because of the hospital my Dr was associated. I tried an over the counter sponge….it was fine during sex but it got stuck and that was kind of traumatic. I learned to “bear down” during that episode which later helped during delivery because I knew how to push! Haha! The nurses were impressed since I was a first timer. So natural planning it was and I will just say DO NOT trust a period tracker app! Our bodies are all so different and the apps use averages. They are good for tracking periods and can assist in knowing when to pay attention to signs of ovulation but should not be used exclusively. I know from experience! So as shocked as we were to be pregnant so soon, today we could not imagine our lives without our son. He just turned 2 and is awesome! My husband got a vasectomy shortly after I delivered….I guess that’s been our favorite method now! We knew we didn’t want anymore children. My husband has a teenage daughter from a previous marriage and we are both older than normal family starting age! Also, as a side note about the vasectomy, while they are technically reversible everything we read and the doctors we spoke to advise the patient to consider the procedure permanent. So that’s my experience!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Yeah I want to second the “don’t trust period tracker apps!” They are not actually what is meant by natural family planning but they market themselves that way.
      You can use an app like Kindara or something to keep tabs on all of your own data you collect, but simply putting in when you had your period is NOT ENOUGH. If you are not taking your temperature at the exact same time every day, looking for cervical mucus cues, and paying attention and tracking your body’s hormone cycles it is really a shot in the dark.
      Congratulations on your little boy, Melissa 🙂 And thanks for sharing that–people need to know!

      Reply
      • Melissa

        Yeah, it’s kind of embarrassing to admit but I know I’m not the only one who has trusted an app for something so major! And I guess I assumed it would be accurate because it was always accurate on my period start dates. Silly me.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yes! We can have super regular periods, but that doesn’t mean that ovulation can be as easily detected. 🙂 I don’t think you’re alone. 🙂

          Reply
        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          So many people do! And it’s because they market them so deceptively. An app is not a method of birth control–but they really market them like they are. (I really don’t know how they get away with that.) Don’t feel embarrassed/silly about it at all–especially since you got a precious baby boy out of it 🙂 It obviously all worked out for good in the end.

          Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Okay, we almost sound like we agree here, Becca, which we don’t normally when we talk about these things. But I do think that they can be effective if used IN CONJUNCTION with other things. I just also think that a good tracker app needs at least 8-9 months of data about you before it starts being super accurate.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, dear, that’s awful about the period tracker app. 🙂 But you got your son, and that’s wonderful! I do think that they can be very useful (Rebecca and I are constantly disagreeing about this–she’s adamantly against them), but ONLY if you’ve got a great track record of about 8-9 months of perfectly charting first so that it knows your body, and ONLY if you’re also looking for other signs, like cervical mucous. It can’t be used on its own at all.
      I agree–treat vasectomies like their irreversible. I have known some men who have had successful reversals, but I’ve also known several who have tried, and it hasn’t worked. My big advice is don’t get a vasectomy until you’re already older and you’re absolutely sure (we got ours too young, but in retrospect, our family was perfect. I was just really sad for a while.)

      Reply
      • Melissa

        Well just to be complete in my account, I had been using the tracker app for about 2-3 years before my husband I got married so there was plenty of data into it. I didn’t seek out the app for family planning I had just been using it for my periods and then decided to use it for tracking ovulation once we got married. So I assumed it would have had plenty of data to be accurate, we even gave ourselves a cushion of a 1-2 day’s before and after fertility week to be careful. It wasn’t hard, newly weds can be very creative in terms of finding alternatives to intercourse! But I still got pregnant! We tend to look at it as this…yes we should not have been so trusting with the app but even if the app was accurate, God is sovereign and His timing is perfect!

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Absolutely! 🙂

          Reply
      • EA

        Hi! Just wanted to add one thing to the discussion- I am in the UK and use the natural cycles app. It doesn’t seem to be as popular in Canada/the USA as in Europe but just wanted to mention that I couldn’t be happier with it. It isn’t a period tracker app, it’s actually cleared for use as a contraceptive in several countries. (There’s a lot on their website about the algorithm behind it). Obviously it’s not as effective as an IUD but if anyone is in my position of feeling uncomfortable about hormonal methods/IUDS for ethical reasons, (or even just wanting something less invasive), I cannot recommend it highly enough.
        By the way, I always thought I’d comment one day and say thank you for your ministry here. I was reading your blog/books for about 2 years before getting married a year ago – I think your writing helped me to see misconceptions about marriage I didn’t even know I had. We’ve been extremely happy since getting married and and I attribute a lot of that to changes in my attitude you inspired. So, at last, thank you! 🙂

        Reply
      • Amber

        If you see this comment. Do you have an article or resources dealing with how you overcame the sadness of a vasectomy or just the sadness of leaving the baby stage? My husband had one last November (2 months after our baby was born), and I am still sad about it. We have 4 children so it’s not like my husband was being unreasonable and I was originally in agreement with the vasectomy while I was pregnant with our 4th, but I started to have doubts about it after he was born. I waited too late to speak with my husband about it I’m not really sure why. I guess because I knew he was for sure done and because he believed this was God’s path for us to parent the children we already have to the best of our ability. None of these other birth controls make sense in light of him not wanting anymore children, but I still long for one more child. Looking back I wished I had communicated better than I did. I’m trying to learn to be content, and I hope my journey will help others couples and they face this decision and as they navigate leaving the child bearing years because it is much more painful than I realized it would be.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Hi Amber! It is just hard. I get it. And it’s okay to be sad. But I think just focusing on the kids you have is all you can do, and be grateful for them. And in retrospect, I honestly feel like our family is perfect just the way it is. At the time, I wanted more, but things worked out so well. Just don’t let this sadness sap your joy from your other kids or from your husband, and the only way to really do that is to turn your sadness into prayers of thanksgiving for the kids you do have. But I do get it. And I can assure you that I did get over it!

          Reply
          • Amber

            Thank you for the quick response and the advice. It’s nice to hear that it will get easier with time from someone who has been through this before.

    • Joanna Sawatsky

      Hey! So I just want to wade in on the app discussion: NFP works, if you use a tried and true method (like the sympto thermal method) which uses multiple fertility tracking methods (basal body temp, mucus, dates, etc.)
      If your app is simply the means by which you are tracking you me data, then that’s great (and I used Kindara for awhile when I was trying to conceive and dealing with infertility – it was just so convenient!)
      But I think there are multiple discussions here: apps that are used for book keeping (essentially, you are doing the work and you’re following the sympto thermal method, but are keeping your records in the app) versus an app that tells you when you’re fertile. I’m much more comfortable with the former than the latter

      Reply
      • Susanna

        Thanks for that last comment, because I’m so confused by the idea that an app could be a contraceptive method!
        I use sympto-thermal in conjunction with condoms during my pre-ovulatory phase and I chart on Kindara. It never occurred to me to look to the app for info on whether I was fertile! (In fact, last I knew, Kindara wouldn’t even let you turn on the Fertility predictor unless you designate yourself as “trying to conceive.” Because they know they aren’t contraception!)
        Anyway, an app for “book keeping” is great. It isn’t birth control. ☺️

        Reply
  2. Vanessa Candle

    Thank you a lot for this interesting article!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Glad you liked it!

      Reply
  3. Suzette

    I’ve been married 16 years and have always loved bc pills. The problem that I recently discovered with them is that they lowered my labido drastically! After researching, I discovered that women 43 and older only have a 1% chance of conceiving so I decided to just take my chances. Sounds crazy but it’s been the best decision bc having a higher sex drive has completely transformed my marriage!! It doesn’t solve every problem but it comes close. My husband has always been like a drill sergeant, meaning, not mean but, firm. Since we’ve been more intimate he is so concerned about me and my feelings. When he gets frustrated with me or the kids, he is so considerate and kind. He discusses instead of getting angry. He’s never really been the spiritual leader of our family but has stepped it up now! This news is too good not to share!! Just want to encourage ladies to do whatever it takes to persue your husband!!
    I also feel like the pill contributed to several miscarriages. It took me years to have a healthy pregnancy after I stopped taking them. I could get pregnant easily, but would miscarry. After having 2 babies back to back I started them again and within a year tried again and the same thing happened. We planned on more than 2 but couldn’t take the heartache again. Ive since learned that the pill also has something like the morning after pill affects; if you accidentally conceive, it aborts babies. I wish I had the article to share but do not. I feel like there are many young women who struggle with infertility these days and in my opinion it has to do with the pill. Anyways, do your research bc now that I’m almost too old to conceive I’m sad I didn’t know this earlier.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Suzette, thanks for sharing that. I’m so sorry about your miscarriages! Really, that’s heartbreaking.
      And I just want to reiterate on two things you said–the pill really does decrease libido for many people. Here’s why: As I explained on this post about tracking your hormones, after your period, most women get a “boost” in libido, peaking right before ovulation. This is natural; it’s what our bodies do to encourage pregnancy. Then, right after ovulation, our hormone levels change and our libidos drop. What the pill does is it takes out that “peak” that makes us desire sex. So it really is quite different! I’ve had so many women comment on this blog (and in my Boost Your Libido course) that they thought they had no libido, but as soon as they stopped The Pill they realized what they had been missing!
      I also think that your husband’s mood changes are pretty typical. And they also have a hormonal base. When men are producing more oxytocin, it does make them more affectionate. The marriage is better all round if there’s better sex!

      Reply
  4. Katy

    I am on the patch, which generally I like. Easy to use, no pills. No side effects. However, I have been increasingly paranoid about it working- like is it stored at the right temp, it falling off…next week I have an appt to discuss the nexplanon arm implant with my dr. It doesn’t sound as scary as an iud to me, but I won’t need to screw around with anything

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Katy–Just ask about the effects of the hormones, because they are quite similar to the Pill, and for some women that can mean decreased libido, weight gain, and other things. I think it’s important to know what those hormones do! (I’ll be writing more about that next week).

      Reply
      • Katy

        Yes, I am on the patch now, which has higher estrogen than birth control pills. Only side effect for me is a bit of weight gain. Nexplanon only has progestin, no estrogen. I am hopeful that the potential side effects will be balanced by the benefit of not worrying about pregnancy long term.

        Reply
  5. sarah

    Great topic! Tracking my period + paying attention to mucous + condoms when in fertile period for us. My husband doesn’t love the condoms but neither of us really wanted me to go on hormonal birth control. They way I look at it, BC has to be a little uncomfortable for someone. In this case, my husband is taking one for the team.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Honestly, to let my total biases show (of which I have MANY, and I do not pretend to be unbiased on this one), this is totally the method that I would recommend. I really think that not messing with your body (as someone who has had a lot of weird body things and families with histories of weird health things) is a good idea!

      Reply
    • Melanie

      This is what we did to prevent a Christmas baby and between miscarrying and trying again. A lot of good preventing a Christmas baby did, though…our last baby was born two weeks early, the day after Christmas and a year after our miscarriage. Now my husband is snipped, but before the snipping we kinda used this, although with much more caution as the first year after a baby is born can be very irregular.

      Reply
  6. Ashley

    I definitely recommend the newly married women I know to avoid the birth control pill. I was extremely regular before starting it and it completely unbalanced my hormones. I now have severe PCOS and while on the pill, my moodsl changed so drastically that I was suicidal. Only 5 months in, I quit cold turkey and almost immediately felt myself again. But it caused me some serioys medical problems I’m still dealing with 4 years later. Please ensure you weigh the options carefully and if you CAN choose a non-medicinal option (a pregnancy would not completely devastate you), by all means DO. I believe your body will thank you. Just sharing my experience.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks for that, Ashley! I may copy and paste your comment into next week’s post about The Pill. (I’ll have to find some positive ones too, of course, but I do think that many people have the same experience). I know in my family, where several members have been on The Pill for hormonal issues and period regulation (including me before one of my surgeries), it caused major metabolism changes and weight gain (of 10 pounds in a woman who had stayed the same weight for 10 years) in just a 30 day time frame. And for many in my family, the metabolism never really fully recovered.

      Reply
    • Molly

      I was ok the pill as a teen and it destroyed my cycle too. I also have PCOS and have so for 17years. Its never going to go away.
      My husband and i use condoms when we don’t want to get pregnant. Pregnancy and nursing keep the symptoms at bay.

      Reply
      • Natalie

        Completely agree with you Ashley!!! I had PCOS symptoms since I was 14 (got my period at 11), however, no doctor diagnosed me with PCOS till I was 24! Even when I specifically asked if I had PCOS! My periods were always 27-35 days apart (28-31 being my average), I was a normal BMI, have always had clear flawless skin… just had a couple ovarian cysts and difficulty dropping the 10lbs I wanted so I could reach my ideal weight and the silhouette I so desperately wanted when I was growing up (i.e. no chunky hips, thighs & legs). The doctors always recommended I go on the pill to “even out my hormones” in hopes that would result in a little weight loss.
        My mom didn’t let me, she having lupus herself and being more naturally-minded. Looking back now, I cannot thank my mother enough for that decision!!!! Not going on the pill allowed my PCOS to take its course instead of having my symptoms masked by the pill. That made me see how my body and hormones were changing for the worse progressively each year, which caused me to take action to address my PCOS at a younger age and just generally be more healthy conscious than I probably would have had I been oblivious to my health issues for all those years. I’m so glad I’ve never been on any sort of hormonal birth control or IUD, and never plan on doing so in the future.
        One of my co-workers “lost” the kind of birth control that’s implanted in her arm. She went in to see her dr and they couldn’t find it!!!! Now she and her husband have been trying to conceive every way imaginable for the past 2 years but they’re unable to. And they’re 23 and 24 years old!!! I just don’t trust things like that that could mess up your body so much for so long or even permanently!

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’m kind of with you. I’m abnormally (?) paranoid about things that could mess up your body, especially with some of the weird things I’ve experienced with The Pill. Again, I want to reiterate–I have biases here, and I’m not pretending not to! And I do think people should make up their own minds. But I’ve seen some awfully weird things happen, and I’ve had so many women leave comments like yours over the years that I’ve gotten more and more paranoid as time goes on!

          Reply
    • C

      Oh my goodness yes!! My daughter started the pill in November (ish) and by December was having the beginnings of health issues (constipation as well as irregular bleeding-ironically it was prescribed because she had had a few irregular periods)
      Fast forward to March and she’s now married. Bowel issues became worse and worse. She’s feeling awful and bleeding randomly. Begins going to the dr to check for colon cancer etc (I’m telling you, these issues were bad). All tests normal. My mom tried to tell me the pill (she’s had a hysterectomy so knows just how problematic hormones can be!)…then a friend tells me that the pill is horrible for gut health!?! I start researching. It seems to be true!!! She’s now off the pill and we are doing MASSIVE probiotics. (Not cheap!) and we are going into flu season with her immune system down.
      The pill is not your friend.

      Reply
      • C

        Also, I have been on the pill many times over the years (when you have PCOS it’s the dr’s favorite thing to prescribe). One of the last times, I bled and bled for so long. I finally just prayed that i would stop the pill that day and would God please show me if that was the reason. I stopped bleeding within a day.
        Since I’m a slow learner apparently, I took it one more time. Ended up with polyps that caused worse irregular bleeding and had to have a d&c. Never again!!!!
        Also have a good friend that had a deep vein thrombosis from the pill. And another who took the pill for years and had estrogen related breast cancer. That thing can sure be a beast!!

        Reply
        • Natalie

          C, I’m so sorry for your daughter!!! I had PCOS sand TONS of gut issues too!! I’d recommend looking into functional medicine (see if you can find a local practitioner near you) and also consider addressing her most likely leaky gut first before doing intensive probiotics, which can sometimes do more harm than good if the gut isn’t ready for all that good bacteria. Praying for your daughter’s health and recovery!

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I think I should do a series on PCOS. So many people have it! It might be good to talk about…

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, I’ve read a lot about the Pill and gut health. It really doesn’t have the same effect on everyone, but for some it is a real nightmare. Others seem to sail through with very few side effects. But I think if you’re having weird things all of a sudden–get off of it!

        Reply
        • Natalie

          It astounds me every time I think about it: how there are SO many ways and combinations of ways that our bodies are different that cause us to react to certain stimuli differently. There really are an infinite amount of ways!
          And if you’ll be writing about PCOS (which I’d love to read, too), there are SO many different root causes for PCOS too. What causes PCOS for one woman may not be the cause of another woman’s PCOS. I’ve even read that PCOS is too broad a term due to the fact that there are different types of PCOS with different causes. Oh my, there is just SO much to delve into on this topic! In my experience & research, I find the root of almost all diseases to lie with some issue in the gut and/or chronic inflammation (especially with the rise of autoimmune issues in the past half century). And new research on the microbiome’s effect on our health (& how our lifestyles affect our microbiomes) is also an absolutely fascinating field of science and research!! Just some directional tips for when you’re writing that PCOS article.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thank you! It is really fascinating (she says as she’s reminded to take those probiotics in her fridge!)

  7. Becky

    We used condoms when we were first married, but didn’t really like them and got pregnant within the first year. (We were young and a bit stupid 😊) After my first child, I used BC pills. I had lighter periods when I had always been super heavy and had super clear skin. After I quit taking them to get pregnant with my next, I realized that the pill was what was making me have NO libido and much less pleasure. No wonder we were both miserable, sex wise. After my second, I used BC pills for awhile, just because I felt I didn’t have much options. I quit them after reading studies that said they may cause spontaneous abortions and I definitely didn’t feel right taking that chance. I still feel guilt about that, but when I knew, I stopped. Anyways, back to condoms, which we didn’t always use and ended up with a surprise baby that’s much younger than our others. It’s been a blessing as well as a challenge. After she was born, hubby had a vasectomy and that’s my favorite method, for sure. 😊

    Reply
  8. Alicia

    Cycle tracking worked for about half a year following my marriage, but with my stress levels and such, I think it made it almost impossible to track accurately. Since my daughters birth, we’ve been doing pull out and it has worked for 3 yrs so far for us. No unnatural hormones and no objects getting in the way.

    Reply
  9. Anon

    I started the progestin only mini pill a couple of years before I got married to manage my periods – compared to being in labour. Possibly due to endometriosis. I had mild morning sickness and breast tenderness the first three months. Then I would ONLY get a period if I missed a pill. It was really freaky and uncomfortable to me, not because I could have been pregnant but because of the unnaturalness of it. I couldn’t hold down a job with the periods I had though so I stayed on them until I was married for 1 year and was ready to try for a baby. Guess how long it took? Over a year and a half. And we were in our early twenties. I can’t guarantee that the pill was to blame but I feel like there was a connection. When I stopped taking the pill my libido went way up, too, and a few months later I finally achieved penetration for the first time (vaginismus) and O for the first time (One and a half years into marriage!)
    It couldn’t have been the only factor but it must have been major. I did what I had to do to cope with my periods at the time, too young for a hysterectomy, but aside from medical issues I would caution women against hormonal options for these reasons. I also experienced DRAMATIC improvement to my periods once they came back after birth. Hopefully that continues once the little one is weaned, but you never know what hormone changes will do to your system!
    I’m also wondering, Sheila, are you planning on looking more in depth into hormonal BC possibly preventing implantation? I was really distressed about that when I was taking the pill which is why we also used condoms. I have found real research papers before but have trouble finding reliable information about it.

    Reply
  10. LaToya

    I’m a huge believer in educating yourself about your body. Before I got married a friend lent me her copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I learned so much.
    Taking my temp and charting cervical fluid and recently using OPKs with an app has been my go to for getting pregnant and avoiding pregnancy.
    When we are avoiding pregnancy we either using the pull out method or abstain for those few days each month.
    I think apps work great when you use them but they are limited to the info you give it. The more info you input the more it will help you.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      YES! Your last paragraph exactly–you need to give the app info!

      Reply
    • Amanda Rychtarik

      Yes! I was put on the pill at the age of 17 because I was getting married at 18 & was told it would be good to have it in my system before I got married. Three years later, my husband & I wanted to have a baby. It took me exactly 1 year to get pregnant. When we’d been trying for 9 months unsuccessfully, a nurse friend introduced me to the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. I was pregnant within 3 months! Excellent book for natural birth control. My nurse friend actually got pregnant with her first baby within 3 months of reading this book. She’d already gone through fertility treatments AND 2 rounds of failed in vitro. To me, natural is best.

      Reply
  11. Beth Bellamy

    We chose the hormone patch (Evra) as our preferred birth control for about 6 years. Waaayyy easier with fewer cons than most of these options. Eventually we decided we weren’t having kids because we wanted to focus our time/energy/lives on ministry instead, and my husband got a vasectomy.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks for sharing that! Since two people have shared it, I think I’ll add it to my list. I’ll just do a bit of research and put it in the chart, too.

      Reply
  12. Melissa W

    So, with all the people sharing negative experiences with the pill I thought I would share a positive one. I was on the pill for about 65% of my 21 year marriage. I had no side effects, no weight gain and no decreased libido. We have had a happy, healthy and active sex life the entire time. The pill actually helped me with some of the side effects of PCOS that I discovered I had in the two years previous to getting pregnant with my second child. After delivering my second child and then going back on the pill I actually lost all of the weight I gained from the PCOS. My husband has since had a vasectomy and my PCOS has not returned but I had a great experience with the pill. My younger sister didn’t ever start her period and had to be given a shot to kick start it at 17 and then immediately put on the pill to regulate it.
    She also has PCOS and the pill was exactly what she needed to get her body functioning properly and then she had no problem getting pregnant. The thing is that everyone is different. My hormones were already somewhat messed up so the pill was a life saver for me. Everyone has different bodies and can react differently to different things. I can’t use any products that will touch my skin that have dyes or fragrance in them (laundry detergent, fabric softener, soap, shampoo, deodorant, lotion, etc) but hormones don’t affect me accept in a positive way. So this is a deeply personal choice that isn’t one size fits all. Do your research and if one thing doesn’t work then try another.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great comment, Melissa! Thank you for sharing; it’s good to have the other side as well. Yes, I have found that when people have serious hormone issues, the Pill can be a welcome relief.

      Reply
  13. Lois

    Like Latoya, I read Taking Charge Of Your Fertility before I got married, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!
    We track my body’s signs like temperature and cervical mucus, & then use a barrier method during fertile times . Recently I got a Tempdrop, which is an armband thermometer that takes your lowest temp during the night, thus eliminating the need to wake up at the same time every morning. HUGE game changer for us!
    Like someone else said earlier, natural family planning isn’t just tracking your period on an app. You gotta be also tracking your other signs! Our bodies can vary so much from cycle to cycle, and then like stress and traveling can throw things off so much! Never rely on just dates and guesstimate – – learn the signs and then you’ll always know what your body is doing!
    9 years of Fertility Awareness Method for us, and one planned baby ☺️

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Lois! That’s great. I may end up saving all of these comments and using them in the last post of the series about how to do Natural Family Planning well (if that’s what you choose).

      Reply
    • Becky

      I got that book while I was engaged, since I knew I didn’t want a hormonal option. My grandmother had breast cancer, and I wasn’t satisfied with the conflicting reports I’d read in trying to sort out if going on the pill would increase my risk. The combination of the fertility tracking I learned through that plus condoms has worked very well for us. (In my case, vaginismus is also excellent birth control since we abstain more than we probably should, but that’s another story. ) TCOYF was so eye opening for me. Before reading it, I honestly didn’t know that cervical mucus was a normal, healthy thing! So I think it’s worth reading even if NFP isn’t your birth control of choice. That being said, I pretty much got pregnant instantly in both instances where we decided to roll the dice and see what happened. And while I don’t know what methods they chose, I have several cousins who struggled to start their families, so I’m thankful that wasn’t the case for us.

      Reply
      • Amanda Rychtarik

        Also, after I read this book, I realized I didn’t have the “normal” 28 day cycle. My cycle would go anywhere from 35-40 days. My doctor told me I “wasn’t normal” & that I’d have a difficult time getting pregnant. I was pregnant within three months of reading this book! My cycle wasn’t the 28 day cycle of someone on the pill, but my 35-40 day cycle was normal for ME.

        Reply
  14. ES

    We’ve done NFP our whole marriage (11 years) and love it! Be aware – there are many different systems for natural family planning. We started with sympto-thermal and then changed to Creighton. (Both have worked well for us but Creighton is easier for me). Marquette is another option.
    Some methods of nfp use test strips and electronic means of testing/tracking too. Just wanted to point out the many options within NFP. Sheila, will you do one week’s post on NFP and tak about the various methods a bit?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I will be talking about this in the last post in the series! Thanks for all this great information. It’s very helpful.

      Reply
  15. AmandaH

    I didn’t use any birth control method when I got married and was pregnant 2 months after our wedding. Breastfeeding must have suppressed my hormones for 12 months after my daughter was born, because I was getting regular periods but kept having really early miscarriages.
    I recently read the book Taking Charge of your Fertility, and a few days later recognized the fertile cercical mucus they were talking about. I remember thinking that night that if the method was correct, I’d probably get pregnant. I started testing, and sure enough, I got a positive preg test 12 days later! I’m 5 weeks today! 😁 So I think if used correctly, the FAM would work very well as BC for me!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, it’s all about being very aware of your body!

      Reply
    • Holly

      Good read, thanks for the link!

      Reply
  16. Noel

    Ha. Apparently I’m the only weird one. Nothing works for me.
    I was on the pill 3 times, twice because of ovarian cysts. Two of my pregnancies were within days of coming off the pill. No fertility issues- but huge side effects, the pill makes me sick.
    Another two pregnancies were conceived while using spermicide. (The Dr asked if I had checked the expiration date on the package. Say what?! I didn’t know they had one.)
    Another pregnancy was just because my husband looked at me… Well, okay, not really, but I was trying to track fertility based on my period and cervical mucous, we used spermicide, and the pull out method, and I spent most of the month on the couch with a croupy baby.
    I have irregular cycles, always have, which makes charting extra complicated. My husband is not into abstinence for any reason. I can’t do hormonal stuff because I’m hypothyroid. I’ve been pregnant 7 times in a little over ten years WHILE TRYING TO USE BC. We’ve lost four children. After my last late term miscarriage, I gave in to pressure and had a tubal ligation. I would love to have another baby, but I don’t want to lose another baby. Plus, I’m almost 40, and I always end up with gestational diabetes (thyroid connection.)
    It has been a difficult decision for both my husband and I, I regretted it before I even did it. But sometimes, you just don’t know how to survive…

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally understand, Noel! And if you’re older (as you were), and you just think you can’t handle another baby (let alone the miscarriages), then sterilization is often the best route.
      Was there a reason you didn’t do the vasectomy route instead? Just wondering, because a tubal ligation is a much more intense surgery than a vasectomy, which has very few risks. I’m thinking of writing more about this and I’m wondering on people’s reasoning.

      Reply
      • Noel

        Yes, my husband is Russian, and culturally that just wasn’t going to fly. (He’s also a baby about pain.) I did mention friends who have had vasectomies, so he was aware it was an option. He equates it with being a eunuch. I didn’t want to push it.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Wow. Okay. I just want to encourage everyone reading this–there is a HUGE difference between a tubal ligation and a vasectomy. One really is a much more radical surgery. I think we need to talk up vasectomies more and give people the message: “It isn’t fair to think your wife should have a tubal ligation if you’re not willing to have something done which is much more minor.”

          Reply
          • Madeline

            I, for one, would like to learn more about both vasectomy and tubal ligation. I know that tubal ligation is more intense, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Okay, sure! I didn’t think about writing about it but maybe I really should! Or check out my Facebook Page–I may put a big thing in there, too!

          • E

            I would love to read more about how the vasectomy effects men’s sex hormones, because, coming from a farming background, you can really tell the difference between a a castrated male and an uncastrated male animal, and I think a lot of men are worried about turning into ‘eunuchs’ (as Noel said).
            Also, I do know of one couple who got pregnant AFTER a vasectomy, because they didn’t wait long enough to ‘try it out’ – so there’s that!

  17. KJ

    I started on the pill a few months before my wedding (I think it was the mini pill). I figured I’d start some BC early enough so that if it didn’t work, I could try something else (one of my friends couldn’t be on it because she recognized how much it negatively affected her body and mind). I noticed almost immediately that I started developing very little blood blisters, mainly on my belly and back. I told my doctor, and she said if that was the only side effect I was noticing, to keep on.
    I stayed on the pill for about 18 months before we decided to try to get pregnant. Within 3 months, I was pregnant (due with my first in November!).
    We’ve been married just over two years, and I have had 7 periods during that time (I was pretty regular from the time I started tracking, August 2015, until it stopped in December 2016). It stopped when I broke my ankle and didn’t return until I stopped taking the BC in December 2017. Then I got pregnant 3 months later, so no period for the last 7 months! We joked just yesterday that he doesn’t really know me super emotional 🙂
    I use a period tracker to track, and it shows me when my ovulation is expected. But I look at it simply as an expectation, not a prescription. I can tell when I’m close to ovulation based on my body temp.
    I haven’t decided what I’m going to do for BC after I have the baby, so thanks for this series!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’re so welcome! (By the way, I had those same body blisters. I thought I had bed bugs! Took the bed apart, almost threw out all of our sheets, but then realized it was likely a side effect of the Pill I went on while waiting for surgery to clear up some major bleeding I was having when I was severely anemic).

      Reply
  18. Bethany

    We mostly use condoms, which has worked well for us except for the one time with the accidental daughter. I was one the Pill for some lengthy bleeding for about 6 months between her and our youngest – I didn’t love it, but it wasn’t awful. I spotted a lot and I think it triggered my health anxiety some (mostly thinking about side effects, so not necessarily the pill itself). I’ve tried NFP on and off, not as birth control for the most part but just for awareness, but I never can get myself to remember to take my temp. I want a wearable and a great app for tracking temp + symptoms. That would be amazing. I like the many options for birth control, but am a big fan of trying fertility awareness for at least a bit to get a sense for how your body works, even if you don’t actually use it to prevent or achieve pregnancy.

    Reply
    • Bethany

      And wow, I really typed my blog address totally wrong so that link is NOT to my blog. Oops. Should be right for this comment.

      Reply
      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        I deleted your link off the first comment so people are sent to the right place, just FYI 🙂

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree about the benefits of understanding how your body works! What really amazes me is how much our libido is linked to our cycle, which I think you’re much more aware of when you track.

      Reply
  19. Tjajka

    We’ve always used condoms and like it. My husband’s circumsized for medical reasons and can experience pain without the condom.
    I like the variety of colors and surfaces that can be used for various moods. Condoms are fun!
    I would like my husband to get a vasectomy though, but he doesn’t want to. My biggest fear is getting pregnant when you think you’ve reached the age where contraception is no longer needed and it would feel safer if he would have it done to make certain it’s safe. I have PCOS and am
    obese, so can’t rely on the “no period for12 months = menopause” rule. Guess I’ll just continue with condoms till I’m 75 just make sure. 🙂

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      ACK! Oh, that’s rough. I’m sure after age 46 or 47 you’d totally be okay!

      Reply
      • Tjajka

        I have a friend who thought so too and got pregnant at 46, so no, not that early. With PCOS you can actually have quite good quality eggs for longer than most. But ok, 75 was a bit of an exaggeration. 🙂

        Reply
  20. LYdia purple

    Used the pill for our first year of being married. I think i used a progesterone only pill? Don’t remember. No negative side effects. Got pregnant right after I got off the pill.
    For me breastfeeding worked really well… didn‘t ovulate or start periods for 14-18 months after each baby. Now even 2 years. I think my body is done having babies… I feel a bit out of sorts hormonal (to much lacking sleep and hormonal changes for years… I get really irritated if I have 1 bad night of sleep or when hungry or when it’s hot)
    Anyways we use condoms now and I love it. It‘s way cleaner for me, which is nice. It took trying out a few different condoms to find our favorite, can‘t really feel it. Not ready for more babies, but also not ready for a permanent decision.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Cleaner! That’s a pro we forgot. I think I’ll go put that in the chart!

      Reply
  21. Gina

    Did you know that the first month you go off birth control your ovaries can dump eggs??? As in, multiples are more common if you get pregnant during your first time ovulating after stopping birth control??? I sure didn’t! And now I have 2 year old triplets!!! (Two identical, one fraternal. So, I dropped two eggs and one split)
    They were delivered by cesarean section and I gladly had them tie my tubes. Best decision ever! Sex with no fear of getting pregnant is a major libido booster! (And we had five kids under 6 so we definitely knew were were done!)
    Back when I used hormonal birth control I used the Nuva ring which I loved. I only had to worry about it once a month and had no side effects to speak of.
    I did use natural planning successfully for two years before I got pregnant with my oldest 🙂 I wasn’t tracking my temperature or anything, just paying attention to my libido and mucous.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Wow, triplets! I wonder what that’s like? My hat’s off to you. 🙂
      Yes, I totally understand a tubal ligation if they’re already in there after a c-section. I think that makes a lot of sense. But if you had to choose between a tubal ligation and a vasectomy, I think vasectomies are way safer and have a much shorter recovery period!
      I think you’re the first person to mention the ring. I wonder if it’s becoming more common now?

      Reply
      • Gina

        Having triplets is like hosting a party (every day haha) – a lot of work but a lot of fun too 🙂 Especially for an extrovert like me 😀
        I used the vaginal ring about 10 years ago (maybe more). Maybe it has actually fallen out of favor? I sure loved it.
        I am so grateful I was able to get my tubes tied – it would have taken a ton of convincing to get my husband in for a vasectomy (he is terrified of doctors) and I doubt I would go through something so risky and invasive if hadn’t been so convenient!

        Reply
        • Jeanette

          I started out on the Depo shot because I knew that I wouldn’t remember/want to deal with taking a pill on time, but it gave me hives so I switched to the Nuvaring which I love the convenience of. Unfortunately my libido is and has been since a few months of use pretty much nonexistent. And now that I’ve been on it for almost 7 years I’m tired all the time and I have digestive issues, my armpits also stink bad. Ofcourse I have no proof that these issues aren’t tied to something else.
          I’m thinking about switching to the non-hormonal IUD but need to do some more research.

          Reply
      • Ariel

        I also used the Nuvaring, while the hubby was in college – we needed my income for those first few years of marriage plus we wanted to wait a little bit to have kids anyway. I also had a great experience with it. Sheila, something you might want to add to the list on pros is that it has quite a bit less hormones than any other hormonal birth control, because they don’t have to be digested (like the pill) or go through your skin (like the patch). It sits basically right where the hormones destination is!
        So I didn’t have any side effects, and it was great to only think about it once a month.
        We both were not a huge fan of even the small bit of hormones in general though, so as soon as he graduated and got a job we switched to FAM (similar to NFP). I was religious about tracking everything, but somehow I missed one ovulation and sure enough we got pregnant! It was ok though and we are thrilled to welcome him in just a few weeks! So bottom line, I’d recommend the ring for anyone who really, really wants to not conceive, but FAM was really cool if it’s ok if you get pregnant… I loved learning more about my body and how it works.

        Reply
  22. Natalie

    My combination of having mild PCOS caused by pre-diabetes (lol, not something I’d recommend actively trying to get), the rhythm method and the pull-out method allowed by husband and I to be child-free for the first 4 years of marriage. However, after about 2 years of marriage, we started actively trying to conceive. I made some radical changes to my (what I assumed was an) already-healthy diet by going on the AIP diet, got rid of my PCOS, and started having sex whenever we felt like it. That resulted in baby #1 the first month of us trying post-PCOS.
    After delivery of baby #1 via c-section due to breech, my husband and I only had sex 3 times that year (again, not something I’d recommend) due to marital issues (not my libido), and all of those were the pull-out method. (However, we were also not wanting to get pregnant for 12 months+ after baby #1, so I guess that was a good time to be experiencing some sexual disfunction in our marriage). I personally find the pull-out method to be 100% effective as long as you only have sex/husband ejaculates 1 time per week or less, so that the sperm from the previous ejaculation aren’t still living in the shaft/pre-cum when he’s comes again in the wife. Obviously, this is not a reasonable birth control plan for the average couple with a healthy, frequent sex life.
    Baby #2 was conceived while hubby & were going through 31 Days To Great Sex, trying to work through our sexual disfunction. We were having fun, I was super horny & really into it, he asked if he could cum in me, I said I think I just finished ovulation a couple days ago (honestly, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t care. I just wanted him to cum in me lol). Well, after our lovely romp in the sack, I checked my fertility app and turns out I was ovulation at that exact moment hahaha. So yes, I know the exact minute Baby #2 was conceived.
    To space out our current 2 children from the #3 & #4 we’d like to have (Lord-willing) in 3-6 years from now, I plan on using Natural Cycles (daily basal temp) plus the rhythm method and pull-out method. And once we’re done, hubby is gonna get a vasectomy.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Wow, so I’m partially responsible for Baby #2! That’s too funny!

      Reply
      • Natalie

        Yes, you are Sheila. And thank you! It was the most fun baby-making we’ve ever had! hahaha
        When we get to heaven someday, I assume you’ll be meeting MANY babies you helped conceive. 😉

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          🙂

          Reply
  23. Cara

    I have to say that when you’ve dealt with irregular periods, infertility, anovulatory cycles, etc most of your life it’s really hard to trust your body to do nfp (in the end I have had 1 miscarriage (planned pregnancy), 3 planned pregnancies with live births all 4 of which I used fertility pills and charting and 1 SURPRISE!
    I tried to use the TCOYF book to achieve pregnancy early on but realized much later why it didn’t work. I wasn’t ovulating. Just a different perspective on the natural family planning. I do not trust that my body will do what it’s supposed to when it’s supposed to. No matter how many signs I track!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, if you’re anovulatory as a rule, then you have to get at the root of that before you can do anything else. And many do need fertility drugs for that! It’s good for people to figure out if that is an issue, too.

      Reply
  24. Melissa

    I’m surprised you didn’t devote anything to female sterilization. I had a tubal ligation after the birth of my youngest at age 29 (he’s 14 now) and it’s made things very difficult on so many levels both for my personal health and my marriage.
    My hormones are so out of whack which has resulted in a very low sex drive. It has caused me to have cystic acne on my face, acne on my back, very heavy periods, cycles shorter by 1+ weeks (sometimes my period coming every 22 days and then bleed for 5 days, it always seems like it’s here). I have seen countless doctors over the years and all of them say “oh you’re just aging, those are perimenopause symptoms” (I can’t even believe that when I was in my early 30’s at the time) or “it’s all in your head”.
    I finally saw a naturopath that did a huge study on tubal ligation when she was in school. She was a wealth of information and I have since uncovered a lot of information online. She did confirm it does indeed mess up your hormones and for some women it’s terribly bad. Unfortunately, I’m one of those women. Things have gotten better over the past few years after using progesterone regularly because mine is now very low, but the end result is the blood supply to the ovaries is often completely severed by the tubal ligation and so you’re essentially cutting off the majority of your hormone supply (obviously your body makes hormones in other areas too, but the ovaries are the primary place for women).
    And to complicate matters, I wish we could have had more children. I felt pressured by my husband to have this procedure done after my son’s birth. He has since agreed that it really wasn’t the best thing and we shouldn’t have done it, but it’s expensive to get a reversal and by the time he actually agreed to a reversal I was over 40.
    My advice to any lady considering this is don’t do it! You are playing Russian Roulette with your body and there are better alternatives than to mutilating your body and messing up God’s beautiful design.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We debated including tubal ligation, but I guess I just don’t feel like it’s a form of birth control. It seems to me that if someone is going to get sterilized, it should be the husband, because it’s a low-risk procedure, it’s quite simple, you can even walk out of the office, there’s virtually no healing time, etc. (some soreness, yes, but that’s it). For women it’s major surgery. So I just don’t see why a woman would do it instead of a guy (unless of course it’s in conjunction with a surgery that’s already happening).
      So I didn’t mention it because I didn’t want to encourage people to think of it as birth control. If a vasectomy is a possibility, then that’s what you should choose. But I hadn’t even thought of the hormonal effects of a tubal ligation. Thanks for mentioning that; that’s important to know. And I’m so sorry for all you’ve gone through! So sorry.

      Reply
      • Melissa

        You’re so sweet Sheila! Knowing what I know now, I completely agree. I had just had my son and so since I was already in the hospital they could go through my belly button the morning after with the epidural still in place and just clamp off my tubes. It’s was supposed to be easy. I guess easier than cutting a woman open later, but after childbirth, it was still a painful recovery even tho the birth was vaginally. My body was sore for weeks in the area my “procedure” was done in and I honestly think it’s pretty selfish for any husband to ask a wife to go through with a tubal ligation. I think OBs minimize it too. Oh it’s going to be simple and you will never know the difference. That hasn’t been my story and I have several friends who have had similar experiences as I have. But hey, more money in doctors pockets for another procedure. It really is a major surgery even if it’s “easy access” immediately after childbirth, but atlas a couple shouldn’t take ending their fertility lightly and a sterilization should be something heavily prayed about and even seeking the counsel of Godly people in their life that are older and wiser. I know many ladies who have regret of having a tubal or their hubby having a vasectomy. Parents need to remember that the littles years are hard, but they last such a short time. Kids do get older and, as they do, parents often begin to see the joy in child-rearing realizing they made too rash a decision in light of things being so chaotic in their home. Bless you Shelia for opening this topic up for discussion. I pray anyone who is considering sterilization will be very prayerful about it and wise seek counsel before going under the knife.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          We definitely decided too young. We had been through miscarriage and baby death, and we had two healthy kids, and we thought, “we’re done, we can’t risk any other heartache.” We also thought we’d adopt, but that didn’t work out. In the end, I’m grateful our life was what it was, and I think our family is perfect. But I went through some hard years mourning the babies I didn’t have.

          Reply
  25. Hannah

    One form of NFP that my husband and I use is Natural Cycles. It’s an app that comes with a 30 day free trial, but it’s only $70 a year!! It keeps track of your cycle and tells you when it’s ok to go without a condom or when you need to use one to avoid or cause pregnancy. I have used it for over a year and have nothing but good things to say about it. I HIGHLY recommend it!!

    Reply
  26. Kim

    I want to give another positive bc pill story. I was put on the pill at 19 for ovarian cysts that ruptured and were extremely painful. The pill fixed the issue and I was on them faithfully until I married at 23. I went on to have 3 healthy girls with no issues and no side effects. The pill is definitely not for everyone but don’t count them out altogether because for a lot of people they DO work. Of course this is only for those who don’t have a moral opposition to them. For me I don’t trust natural family planning and I don’t have easy pregnancies “I’m taking severe morning sickness” so I want a method that is the most reliable until we decide our family is complete and he gets a vasectomy.

    Reply
  27. Wifey

    Both my mother and mother in law lost babies on the pill, and those are just the closest women to me I know miscarried on hormonal birth control, so I will never condone that method. Too many risks. I feel like messing with hormones is never a good idea.
    One method you’ve yet to mention is the one my husband and I have followed for just over 3 years now- nothing! It’s sure free from worries if you’re both agreed you’re ready for the gift of children. We lost our first 3 babies. I can’t begin to describe how hard that was emotionally, spiritually and physically, but God redeems and I’m 2 weeks out from delivering our first born! At this point, my husband and I can’t imagine planning on not having more children, but if that day should come, we’ll use natural family planning and trust the Lord with the effectiveness!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, congratulations on your baby that you’re soon to meet! That’s wonderful! Prayers for a safe delivery.

      Reply
  28. Stephanie

    My hubby and I used FAM for the first year or so of our marriage, and then nothing after that because I had irregular cycles. I’ve also dealt with symptoms of vulvar vestibulitis, so our chances for conception have been minimal anyway. 🙁 I’m dealing with swelling in my lower extremities (physical therapist says lymphedema), so there’s absolutely no way I’d risk a clot by taking the Pill now.
    (I’m linking to the Closed Facebook group devoted to FAM that I moderate. I hope that’s okay! 🙂 )

    Reply
  29. K

    I’ve been on the pill for about two years as haven’t had negative side effects. I used to have extremely heavy, irregular periods, and now they’re moderate and consistent. My libido’s maybe shifted around, but it hasn’t decreased. I’m a little less prone to cycle-related moodiness. I’ve gained a little weight, but I think that’s likely to do with me sitting in an office chair for hours a day.
    I like the idea of NFP, but my body wasn’t consistent enough for it to not be a big source of stress, and we had lots of problems with slipping condoms, even when we thought they fit well.

    Reply
  30. Rosie H

    We used NFP when we were trying to conceive (and it worked), but I don’t have enough confidence in my observational or timekeeping skills to use it as contraception!

    Reply
  31. Brittany

    There’s also non-hormonal IUDs!! I have cycled through various kinds of birth controls, horomonal and condoms and none were great. I had no libido and after a year I always developed some kind of weird side effect. And then two years ago I stumbled upon the copper IUD and I LOVE it! I don’t remember all the reasons why it works (something about copper killing sperm maybe?) but it’s wonderful. I can feel my body’s rhythms, I got my libido back, and no weird side effects. For some people it does cause a heavier period…but it’s a lot less blood than after birth and I’d much rather have a heavy period than get pregnant! I tell all my friends about it and can’t recommend it enough!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Brittany! That’s great to know. I’ll add that to the list!

      Reply
      • Meredith

        Yes! Was wondering if anyone would mention the Paragard. Lasts 10 years (actually 12 but marketed for 10), nonhormonal, WONDERFUL!!!! Can make your periods heavier, and mine are definitely longer on them, but otherwise the best. Can’t feel it, 99.9999999% effective, and immediate return to fertility if you decide to have it removed. Can be costly without insurance as you need a doctor to insert, but if you look at the price over 10 years I think it’s a fantastic deal. The placement was uncomfortable for about 30 seconds, but nothing compared to childbirth, or even my 2 pregnancies. I love mine!

        Reply
        • Karen

          I actually had the copper IUD between child 3 & 4, and it worked well as far as BC. During the time I had it, I had horrible tailbone pain—so much that I bought a round cushion to sit on because it was too painful otherwise. My cervix is curved towards the back. My Dr. said it wasn’t the IUD, but as soon as I had it removed—the pain was gone.
          After child #4, I had PMS symptoms almost non-stop. I thought maybe it was just from having children, or getting older. I couldn’t live with myself or force my family to live with myself. After months of trying to figure out what’s wrong with me—we discovered gluten makes it way worse. I’m convinced it was/is something to do with Copper-toxicity. It’s a real thing, and I’ve heard from lots of moms since then struggling with the same things after using the coppper IUD. There is not much research out about it, and Drs. declare it’s nothing. I still struggle with feeling “normal.” It’s much better than it was, but I would definitely recommend a different form of BC other than an IUD. My husband has since gotten a vasectomy with zero side-effects—going on year 5. His Dr. likened it to shooting blanks. Everything works exactly the same, you still shoot bullets, but they are just “empty” instead of filled with sperm.

          Reply
    • Jeanette

      That’s the one I’m looking at getting. Still researching. Thanks for sharing Brittany!

      Reply
    • E

      I asked my doctor about this one, because I really don’t want to use hormonal birth control, but he was rather against it. I’m not sure why. He is always (like, pretty much every doctors appointment I have with him) trying to push the Mirena iud. I have read a lot online about the side effects (although the doc brushes them off because the hormone dose is really low, because it is released directly in the uterus). I have a close friend who loves using the Mirena.
      I don’t like the idea of heavier periods, but I do like the idea of no hormones. I think the copper makes your uterus lining no good for an embryo, and that’s how it works. I’m not sure about the effectiveness %, or what would happen if you actually did get pregnant while using this method ( could it cause birth defects etc?).

      Reply
    • E

      I am looking forward to reading this whole series! It is something that is always on my mind, and was actually a topic of conversation between my husband and I the day before this post came out!
      My history is that I was on the Pill on and off as a teen, but still used condoms (for sti protection, and because I was actually really bad at remembering to take the pill, especially the mini pill, where it has to be taken at the same time each day). My favourite thing about the pill is that you can skip a period, if you want to. This was such a plus, because pretty much without fail, I am on my period while on holidays, or during a busy work week, or when we have guests (and me on my period means I am CRANKY, which is hard when we have guests, because I’m such an introvert, that is a really stressful time for me anyway).
      But, I do find hormonal birth control to be problematic. It causes mood swings, and I’m fairly certain that it ‘put me over the edge’ into (relatively mild) depression a few years ago, which had absolutely disastrous effects on our marriage. Due to that, my husband is completely and utterly against hormonal birth control (unlike so many other husbands mentioned in the comments – wow! Isn’t having a depressed, in pain, uncomfortable wife 100 times worse than using a condom???).
      As I mentioned in a comment above, I tried to get the copper iud, but my doc was very against it.
      For the last few years, we have used the pull out method, or condoms. I very very loosely track my fertility, as in, I’m vaguely aware of it, I’m not really tracking it,but, unless we are using a condom, my husband never finishes inside me.
      This is not a very satisfactory method, as we don’t get the closeness of him finishing in me, it’s nearly always pulling out and cleaning up straight away. I am rather ‘loose’ (definitely compared to before I gave birth to a big baby vaginally), so condoms really aren’t good for my husband, but we use them when we want the nice cuddly intimacy straight after cumming. But this is definitely a long way from a perfect method!
      I am interested in NFP, but I don’t know if I have the discipline to do it properly, nor that we would actually trust it. My husband really, really doesn’t want another baby, and I don’t really either (but I also don’t think it would be the end of the world).
      I am contemplating sterilisation, but I am just not sure if I am ready for that yet, I am only early thirties, and we will be empty nesters well before 40, which still seems young! But I also know that our current BC situation is horrible, and I don’t really see any other options except sterilisation. I doubt I could convince my husband to get a vasectomy though!

      Reply
  32. Abby

    I got married two months ago and didn’t want to go on hormonal birth control mainly because of the side effects, especially low libido. I was considering natural family planning, but 90% of the couples we know who have used it got pregnant in their first year of marriage, unexpectedly. (We’re talking 10 of my friends having unplanned pregnancies last year).
    We opted to use the diaphragm and for the most part we love it! Used accurately with spermicide, it runs about 85-87% effectiveness which is comparable to condoms. Because there is a little more risk with it, I loosely track my period using cervcial mucus and on the most fertile days we use a condom + spermicide or just do oral. I’m so glad we have the option of the diaphragm because the sensation is much more pleasurable for my husband than with a condom.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Ya, from my perspective (i cannot speak for all men) condoms are terrible. When your younger you put up with that stuff but the older you get it dawns on you that you would rather not have sex at all than have bad condom sex. Sheila has done posts on why men don’t want to make love but none of them ever mention this point: some men might not want to make love to their wives because said wives make the wear condoms.

      Reply
      • Katy

        I agree with that. We have been having some quality issues with my hormonal bc, so I insisted on condoms until I can get a more semi-permanent option from my Dr. My husband is not happy about the condoms and would rather do without sex all together.

        Reply
      • Fan of Discretion

        I sincerely hope that you’re reading the other comments about the potential terrible side effects of using hormonal BC. And that should your wife fall pregnant because you didn’t want to be slightly inhibited for a few minutes, you seriously consider and are sympathetic to any sickness, any aches and pains, any ppd, any sleepless nights, any changes in libido, and any requests to not be touched a specific way due to breastfeeding all day long that may result from your not wanting to wear a condom for a few minutes…

        Reply
        • Fan of Discrerion

          That reply was for Chris, not Katy.

          Reply
          • Chris

            Fan of discretion, if you don’t have sex, you cannot get pregnant. Did i miss something?

          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            I think what you’re missing is how inconsiderate you sounded in the first comment.
            Saying “I don’t want to have sex because my wife said I have to wear a condom” is saying “I’d rather put my wife at risk of an unwanted pregnancy than be slightly less comfortable than i would be during sex.” That’s a selfish and inconsiderate mindset, and I completely agree with what Fan of Discretion said. Your wife’s health is more important in this case, and blackmailing her is immature and a juvenile approach to marriage.

  33. Hilary

    My husband and I took a Symptothermal Natural Family Planning class together while we were engaged. I can’t stress enough how great it is to have a husband who understands what’s going on with your cycle! We’ve been using the Billings NFP method for two years now, and I prefer that to symptothermal. I’m a hardcore cheerleader for NFP in any form. Just make sure you get some solid training, don’t fudge the rules, and make your husband learn too!

    Reply
  34. Christina

    I use NFP via a computer type temperature reader called LadyComp. I read Taking Charge of Your Fertility and thought I would stress out tracking my cycles myself. It may not be that hard but it was a lot to think about when I was pregnant with my first deciding what to do after I had him. That’s where LadyComp came in. It’s pricey—around $400 but is guaranteed for about 7 years. You set an alarm, take your temp each morning and then it gives you a “green” day meaning you’re not fertile; “yellow” day meaning you’re possibly fertile so be aware you could get pregnant if you don’t use a barrier method; and “red” day for you are definitely fertile! What I like is that you can also use those colors to your advantage if you are wanting to get pregnant. We pull out on red and yellow days and I’ve not had any surprise babies. Although I’m open to having surprise babies if it’s Gods plan and that is why I like NFP. I was on the pill multiple times and had break through bleeding, mood changes (I think I was borderline depressed during my engagement when my body was getting used to the pill), and I didn’t have a high libido like many others have said. I felt convicted after a few months of marriage to get off the pill and the first month conceived my first boy! After that, I knew I did not want to ever go back on. There’s something about it not being natural that bothered me. That’s why I am all about NFP!

    Reply
  35. Cynthia

    I was nervous about the hormonal IUD, but eventually gave in because it was recommended for my extremely heavy periods. I’m glad I did – my periods have pretty much disappeared, and my anemia is finally gone. I had spent years in a fog with zero energy because of the heavy bleeding. The fact that it is the most reliable of the reversible methods is an added plus.

    Reply
  36. KSM

    I love my hormonal IUD! I recently married 3 months ago and have struggled with depression since I was a teenager. My husband and I don’t plan on having children anytime soon due to my depression (mom’s mental health is just as important as baby’s health-if mom is suicidal, it’s not a good situation for any family IMO.) and the IUD and 99% success rate keeps my anxious brain at ease so we can enjoy our marriage and each other. 🙂

    Reply
  37. KCuster

    I am excited for this series! While I technically know my options, I have struggled with this since my 2nd baby (who is now 9 mo). We don’t know if we are done, but we don’t want another baby anytime soon. But because he hates condoms and I don’t want to be on anything hormonal, we have found ourselves in a place where we just skip intimacy altogether. Breastfeeding doesn’t help in that department either. But small kids + no intimacy has been a recipe for relationship disaster and I think if we could begin to reconnect in that way, many other issues in our marriage would improve.

    Reply
  38. Sandy

    I’m so excited for this series!
    I started the pill a few months before we got married and ended up pregnant within three months of our wedding. My doctor convinced me that the chances of it happening again were slim. We used condoms until our first was a year old and then went back on the pill once I was done nursing. We were pregnant again within two months of starting the pill. After our second was born, I switched doctors and she recommended the ring. I’ve been using it for almost two years without issue. Our youngest has lots of medical issues so between that, some complications I had, and financial reasons we really needed to wait before having another.
    I would be content using the ring, but in a few months our insurance changes and we most likely won’t be able to afford it anymore. I don’t want to go on the pill or use any other form of hormonal prevention honestly, BUT my cycle was always so irregular whenever i wasn’t on BC that I don’t trust NFP. I think we should just use condoms again, but my husband absolutely refuses. He says he’d rather get a vasectomy and never have any more kids than use condoms if I don’t/can’t use a hormonal prevention… and I’m ready to get pregnant again so this isn’t helping the situation.
    Our marriage is having some other struggles that we’re working through now, but I’m not sure how to handle this situation when I feel like he refuses to listen to my thoughts on our options even though he’s adamant that he’s not ready for a third yet. When I tried to talk to someone about this they just kept saying that it’s “my body” but he’s my husband and I also want to respect his desires! Especially since this affects him too!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a really good question, Sandy. I wasn’t planning on writing about that specifically, but I think it’s a subject that does need to be covered: what if your husband refuses a birth control method which has no health risks, and insists on you using one that does have health risks? Let me think about where I can pencil that one in! I think it applies to the conversation we were having above about tubal ligation vs. vasectomies, too. I’m sorry you’re going through that stress!

      Reply
      • Beth

        One thing my husband and I read early on our marriage was that man should also be responsible for family planning, not only wives. But for what I’ve seen not many think that way so would be very useful if you write on that Sheila. We use natural family planning and condoms for fertile days and also the first year after having a baby. Thankfully my husband sees using condoms as a way for him to take charge of family planning and be responsible for it.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That’s wonderful! I’m actually going to write about that next week. Wasn’t originally planning on it, but I’m getting a little worried at all the stories of men insisting on their wives doing risky things for their health rather than have the husband sacrifice some sensation or pleasure. It doesn’t seem right.

          Reply
  39. Jessica

    The thing about tubal vs. vas, is that thanks to Obamacare, in the US, a tubal is completely covered by insurance with no cost, and for ours at least, a vas is considered under regular coverage which in our case means that we’re on our own until we met deductible. We ended up landing on a tubal for a variety of reasons ranging from, I’m the doer and so will actually get it done (this is the real reason, really) to, I had had 5 pregnancies in 6 years (one miscarriage, 4 babies) and while we’re open to more kids, we’d prefer no more pregnancies; between the two of us – if I died, it’s conceivable that he might remarry and want to have another baby, but if he died and I remarried, I wouldn’t want to do pregnancy again; and a tubal is immediately effective without any testing of samples.
    I personally found the tubal to be a fairly easy experience. I had it done on Friday and was pretty non-functional for the weekend, but by Monday was functioning at a reasonable capacity.
    Before the tubal, I mostly used the pill, which when we were first married was probably a good thing because at that time, my periods were really heavy and irregular and the pill regulated and lessened them. By the time the fourth baby was 1, I was sick of trying to remember to take them, which had been much easier when I was younger, and I kept forgetting at inopportune times. Up until that point, it wouldn’t have been a big deal at all if we’d gotten pregnant again because we were always going to have more, but after the fourth, we didn’t really want to have more. I also used an IUD for awhile between pregnancies but I didn’t really like that. I used Depo-Provera as an interim between “I can’t be relied on to remember to take the pill” and the tubal, but I hated that, my periods were crazy irregular. And because of all that, I was a little nervous about what it would be like after the tubal and no more hormonal anything, but I was pleasantly surprised. My periods are regular enough, and not nearly as heavy as they were in my teens and early twenties. And bonus, I didn’t realize how much my libido was down when on hormonal stuff, until going off of it. (you’d think I could have connected the dots here when the best sex I recall having was when either trying to get pregnant, or actually being pregnant, since, duh, those were the times when I wasn’t on anything hormonal)
    And all that to say, I agree that the only 100% reliable form of BC, is keeping your knees together, so I just regularly plead with the Almighty that if He wants me to have a fifth child from my own biology, to do it NOW (or really, 2 years ago, since I’m now 34 1/2), and not wait until I’m 40 like a friend of mine just announced.

    Reply
  40. Jane

    I am vehemently opposed to vasectomy and tubal ligation. I made 100% sure my husband was on board with this before we married. Unfortunately he changed his mind and had a vasectomy against my wishes. I was absolutely shocked and completely devastated and the impact it had on our marriage was huge. I got very depressed and sex was awful, I felt like a prostitute. In time he realised he’d made a huge mistake and had it successfully reversed but it consumed 6 years of our marriage. It was 24 years ago now but that time still haunts me.
    I believe our fertility is a gift from God and to mutilate our bodies to permanently end our fertility doesn’t seem right to me. The Bible tells us our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and to honour God with our bodies. I personally don’t feel I’d be honouring God if I was sterilised. I realise I am probably in the minority here, both my sisters had tubal ligations and were perfectly happy with their choice but sterilisation wasn’t right for us.
    If you are considering either option please look up Post tubal ligation syndrome and Post vasectomy syndrome as potential problems/complications are often downplayed and frequently dismissed by medical professionals.
    This is my personal opinion and I have no desire to cause discord among those who have a different opinion to me so please don’t shoot me down, I had enough of that from my own family. We did use contraception to plan and space our children, We have 4 sons. 3 pre and 1 post reversal.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow, Jane, I’m so sorry that your husband did that! That’s very, very hard to take I’m sure. I’m sorry for the grief that that must have caused!

      Reply
    • Melissa

      I totally agree Jane. I had a tubal ligation 14 years ago and it was the worst decision I’ve ever made. My husband and I didn’t pray about it (we were very immature in our walk with the Lord) and it’s caused great grief for me on many levels. It was something he wanted me to do because he didn’t think we needed more than four children. He’s since changed his mind and wished we had more (me too! which came earlier than it did for him), but atlas at 43, it’s kinda late for that. Our oldest is 21 and so maybe in a few years we’ll be grandparents? I too see it as mutilating what God created perfectly and now I’m having to pay the consequences. The biggest comfort to me is that this didn’t surprise God at all. He knew that we’d do this and I know we’re forgiven, but it still doesn’t take away pain and sorrow I feel about not having more children.

      Reply
  41. Anonymous

    We used condoms on fertile days when we were first married until we decided to get pregnant with our son. After he was born we used condoms and were extra careful with dates while my hormones adjusted to breastfeeding/not being pregnant anymore, but then I had super regular periods and we decided to use the pull-out method as we were pretty confident in fertility timing (plus we were ok with the idea of accidentally getting pregnant earlier than planned). That has worked well for us, and just recently I got pregnant with our second baby (planned) and we are so happy! I say this to show a pleased result of using the pull-out method. I think if you have regular periods and are not going to be devastated by becoming pregnant earlier than planned it can be a good thing. Also, condoms are not as fun as oral endings 😊

    Reply
  42. Anonymous

    I’m divorced now, but I was married for 5 1/2 years. I took the pill for 4 years, then went off of it to see if that would help my migraines. It didn’t. Going off the pill did make sex nicer though, because I didn’t have to rely on lube quite as much. From that point on I just paid attention to my cycle and my cervical fluid. He pulled out or we just did oral when I was fertile. We went over a year like that without getting pregnant.
    One thing that was nice about starting out on the pill is that I was able to use it to manipulate when my period happened so I wasn’t on my period on my honeymoon. That was a HUGE plus!

    Reply
  43. Kristina G

    Before we got married, I started on the hormone patch (Ortho-Evra) about 6 weeks before the wedding. I didn’t realize how much of a negative effect it had on me until the 4th week (which is the “off ” week for your period). Within two days of coming off of it, I realized how crazy and anxious I had felt for the previous 3 weeks. To confirm that’s what it was, I went ahead with another week-long patch, and was back to feeling out of my own mind. I stopped about 10 days before the wedding, and figured we’d take our chances with figuring out condoms and/or NFP along the way. I think we would have been at least some success, except I forgot to pack condoms when we went to my parents’ for Christmas for several days, about 6 weeks into marriage. So our daughter was born considerably before our first anniversary.
    I have multiple sclerosis, and had to be off my medication for pregnancy and breastfeeding. We basically were relying on breastfeeding as birth control, as my husband just isn’t keep on condoms and I’m not keen on abstinence, even when short term during ovulation. We were planning on waiting before the next pregnancy, as my doctor highly recommended a year back on my meds before trying again, BUT I got pregnant just as I was weaning my daughter at 11 months, and so now I’m wrapping up the 1st trimester of my second pregnancy. After this we’ll have to buckle down and be more serious about birth control once this one comes! I really don’t want to do hormonal birth control, especially since my husband said that the few weeks I was on it he seriously considered breaking off our engagement, that’s how bad it was! Plus the less messing with natural functions, the better! But I need to decide if I can have the discipline to be consistent with tracking fertility signs for NFP, or if we need to come up with something else, maybe
    a diaphragm?

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I don’t want to give specific advice. I just really feel for you, since I had the same reaction to hormonal birth control as you’re describing. And I just want to say condoms are really not that bad of an option. Yes, it might be nicer to not have to use them, but the reality is that almost all other kinds of birth control are either (a) hormonally based, which your body obviously has rejected in the past, or (b) highly ineffective (pull-out method and diaphragms, for example. Seriously, I went to my gynecologist to ask about non-hormonal methods and when I brought up diaphragms she literally told me “with diaphragms, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ you get pregnant, it’s really more ‘when’.” They’re incredibly unreliable and can so easily be misused and you have no way of knowing).
      If your husband is saying, “I don’t want to do condoms because I don’t like how they feel,” but the only alternatives aren’t really doctor-recommended methods or send you into a spiralling pit of depression/anxiety/mood swings that just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, to be honest. And I don’t think it’s very fair to you, as well.
      As someone who also can’t be on hormonal birth control because it screws with my mental health, it just doesn’t seem fair that the husband can ask the wife to sacrifice her emotional well-being every day of the month so that he can avoid using a condom a few times a month when they have sex–but can still have sex without a condom other times. It literally is a case of being slightly uncomfortable for a matter of minutes/hours versus days/weeks/months.

      Reply
      • Jessica

        Hmm, I wonder if your obgyn has a bias against diaphragms because her opinion doesn’t match up with research. Actually, the research shows that diaphragms are 94% effective when used correctly. We use a combination of NFP and a diaphragm. I only use the diaphragm on my fertile days. I have been using it (with spermicide as directed by my obgyn) for 10 years, and have only gotten pregnant when we planned, 3 pregnancies, the first month we tried each time. My cycle is regular as clockwork and has been for 24 years. The diaphragm is great because neither of us miss out on skin to skin contact during the time sex is generally more pleasurable. On the very few occasions we have used condoms, if I ran out of spermicide, I have been disappointed in the loss of sensation. I also have friends that use the diaphragm and are just as pleased and no surprise pregnancies.

        Reply
        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          What she was saying was that if it’s used 100% well, then it can have a 96% effectiveness rate. Which is still more than 4x the likelihood of pregnancy than when using condoms. Plus, the problem is that most people don’t use them perfectly and it’s very difficult to tell if you have used it properly, since it can be slightly dislodged and then doesn’t work. So realistically, research says it’s about 88% effective according to studies online.
          What my gynecologist said to me was that from her medical experience, she has seen many women who push for the diaphragm because they’ve heard a lot of success stores but a shocking number of them show up at her door pregnant a few months later. That’s why she was so hesitant to recommend it–because it’s a lot less user-friendly than other methods.
          I’m so glad it’s worked for you, though! 🙂 I am just personally pretty uncomfortable with the idea, since condoms are just so cheap, really don’t change a whole lot if your guy is wearing one that’s the right size, and they are really easy to make sure you’re using 100% correctly since it’s used externally.

          Reply
          • J. Parker

            The diaphragm saved me! I adored it. I could no longer do oral contraceptives, and that was my best option. Mind you, it’s not just the diaphragm, because one should be adding spermicide to the edge before insertion. It was easy to use and worked great! And believe me, I was a Fertile Myrtle. The stats I see are also 94% effective with perfect use and 88% overall.

      • Kristina G

        Thankfully, Rebecca, my husband is in no way advocating that I go back on hormonal birth control! He actually considered breaking off our engagement when I was on it (he didn’t know it was BC, he just thought I was going crazy), he felt like it changed me that much. Thankfully we realized after the first month, I got off it just in time before the wedding, and crazy Kristina left forever. We will have to figure out the best condoms for us through trial and error, which may be difficult since he’s on the smaller end of the spectrum and I need them unlubricated, neither of which are super popular among condom makers. But if I can get into a routine with cervical mucus checking and things like that after the baby comes, then likely we’d only have to use a condom once a month or less, which is manageable even if we don’t find a great fit for us. So far it’s been a case of us both throwing caution to the wind at times for sex, which is maybe not the wisest for my health with this second pregnancy (I have MS, and have to be off my long-term preventative medication for pregnancy and breastfeeding, which will mean I’m off them continuously now for about 2.5 years). But close together pregnancies are just something my doctor recommended we avoid, but isn’t actually a major risk, it’s not like I’ll go into kidney failure or something.

        Reply
  44. Gaby

    HI! So maybe I missed it.. but does the bible say anything about contraception? Or is that coming in a future post?
    Thank you! 🙂

    Reply
  45. Melissa

    I’ll add this to the conversation, we used condoms briefly after my husband’s vasectomy. Neither of us wanted to but we were also ready to make love! My doctor recommended lamb skin condoms because they feel more natural. She was absolutely correct! Both of us were surprised. There was one drawback she mentioned but I don’t think it was an issue for us and I can’t remember what it was. They’re a bit more expensive also but it was worth it for us…..more expensive than other condoms, still cheaper than many other forms of birth control…and cheaper than a baby!

    Reply
  46. Meriam Good

    I will chime in and say I was on BC pills for years and had no issues. On the contrary, my skin cleared up beautifully, I wasn’t prone to mood swings with my periods anymore, and the only weight I gained was in my bust (so no complaints there lol).
    I know I might be in the minority, though.

    Reply
  47. JustMe

    Hi. I’ve had a hormonal issue a lot of my life. I got my period at age 9. In grade 6 , I began to bleed every other week. I was put on birth control pills.
    Some would cause me to bleed all 4 weeks.
    I stopped them after a while.
    My husband and I got married and had several miscarriages. I tried the pill, bled a lot. I tried using the shot. We stopped that.
    I had another miscarriage a year or so later.
    The OB in the hospital told me I had PCOS.
    We were blessed with a beautiful son a few years later and with a daughter a year afterwards.
    Both of us are sterilized now.
    Please note, my mom conceived me with an IUD. My hubby’s dad had him a while after a vasectomy.

    Reply
  48. So Over PMS

    A shout-out from Team Pill:
    I took the pill for the first 6 years of my marriage and loved it. I only had my period every three month and, when I did have it, it was much lighter. No weight gain. A spare pill in my purse and a timer on my phone took care of making sure I took it at the same time every day.
    When we decided to have a baby, I went off the pill for about 4 months before we tried (we used condoms in the meantime). When we DID try, I got pregnant pretty much immediately.
    I had a very good pregnancy and birth and our daughter is now healthy and happy at two years old.
    My post-pregnancy PMS has been a meaner, wilder beast than pre-pregnancy (mood swings, longer periods and heavier flow) So now that we’ve finished the 2 years of breast-feeding that we wanted to do, I’m eager to get back on. My husband is sweet and understanding about all, but I can tell he’s looking forward to it as well.
    As for libido, I’ve noticed it’s a bit higher right around ovulation but the slight rise isn’t worth the anxiety, irritation and exhaustion I’m currently experiencing 2 weeks out of every 26 days right now.
    That’s been my experience, anyways 🙂

    Reply
  49. Ariel

    Thank you for doing this post! This is my first time commenting. My husband and I have been married almost 3 years. We started with condoms but neither of us liked them, so I started the depo shot about a month after our wedding. I only had one period right after that, which was the nicest period I ever had, hardly any cramping and very light. I haven’t had another one since, so period free for almost 3 years! The only other side effects have been some slight weight gain and slight loss of libido.
    I was planning on continuing taking the shots, but after getting a checkup with my regular doctor, he told me that it is not recommended to be on the shot for longer than 2 years or so, because long time use seriously weakens your bones. After telling my husband he is very concerned and wants me to consider other options. After reading this post and the other comments, I have a few ideas as to what I can try. I don’t trust NFP, but the ring or an iud might be an option. It just makes me sad because I like the shot and I really like not having periods. =/
    Thanks Sheila! I love your blog!

    Reply
    • Ariel

      Hi other Ariel 🙂
      I just read your comment and wanted to let you know that you can actually avoid a period altogether with the ring. My doctor told me that after I’d been on it for a while; you can simply replace the ring every 3 weeks and skip the week off for the period. She told me this is fine for your body because it isn’t a real period anyway since you aren’t ovulating!

      Reply
      • Ariel

        Thanks, other Ariel! =D

        Reply
  50. Anonymous

    We tried the pill in the beginning, but made me feel terrible, so we quickly switched to condoms. I am thankful that I was on the pill for the first 2 months of our marriage though, because we struggled with the basic mechanics of sex and i’m glad we weren’t dealing with condoms on top of everything else. That being said, I love that condoms are
    a shared responsibility. Also, they can create an opportunity for couples to communicate better about intercourse (especially if she’s responsible for putting it on) and help insure that he doesn’t come in too soon. That being said, after two pregnancies of experiencing intercourse with no condom for several months, it was REALLY hard to go back. We switched to Natural Family Planning and ended up with unplanned baby 3 (due to a lack of self-control on my end) then tried combo family planning/condoms (But condoms can create added pressure for the male if he’s struggling with performance anxiety and may need to be tossed aside) leading to baby 4

    Reply

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