Alternatives To The Pill And Co. – Hormone-Free Contraceptives For Teens

Most young girls resort to the pill as a contraceptive. Unfortunately, many do not even know that there are a number of good alternatives that manage completely without hormones.

This means that they are usually completely free of unpleasant side effects or risks. Female smokers in particular can thus avoid the risk of serious consequences from taking hormones.

Some girls are not interested in the alternatives to the pill and co. because they think everything else is too complicated. In reality, however, it is much more practical to use a copper IUD, for example. In contrast to the pill, there are no application errors (forgetting the pill, taking it incorrectly,…).

Enough introductory words. Now we would like to present to you the advantages and disadvantages of hormone-free contraceptive methods in detail.

Mechanical Contraceptives

Mechanical contraceptives prevent sperm from entering the uterus through various types of barriers. The best known mechanical contraceptive is the condom. This is also popular because it is the only contraceptive (besides the femidom) that protects against sexually transmitted diseases.

Therefore, the additional use of a condom should be a matter of course even if you use an IUD or other contraceptives. This is especially true for newly-in-love couples and new partners who are not yet well known. This is because the partner can be a carrier of diseases without even noticing it.

Diaphragm

In our latitudes, only very few women use a diaphragm. However, it is a very safe means of contraception when used correctly. When used correctly, it has a Pearl Index of 1-20. The Pearl Index indicates how many women would become pregnant within one year if they used the contraceptive – purely statistically, of course.

The diaphragm looks like a hemisphere covered with rubber. It is soft and stretchy. It is available in different sizes and must be fitted by a gynecologist. This is because every girl has different physical requirements.

The diaphragm is attached to the cervix shortly before sex. With a little practice, this is very easy. It blocks the way into the uterus and makes it impossible for the sperm and egg to meet.

By applying a spermicidal gel to the surface of the diaphragm, it becomes even safer. The gynecologist must explain and show you exactly how to insert the diaphragm so that you do not make a mistake.

As a companion during the next few years, the diaphragm should be properly cared for. It doesn’t need to be stroked or given good encouragement, but the following measures should be observed:

  • After sexual intercourse: clean with lukewarm water.
  • Drying afterwards.
  • Storage in a special container made for this purpose.
  • Hold it against the light from time to time or fill it with water (check if it has no holes).
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The cost of the diaphragm is very low. You pay once about 50 € and can use it with good care for a few years.

Lea

The Lea is more or less related to the diaphragm. More precisely, it is a further development of this contraceptive method. Unlike the diaphragm, however, the Lea does not need to be adjusted. This is because the shape and size of the cervix do not play a role in this contraceptive.

Like the diaphragm, it is inserted in front of the cervix after it has been coated with a spermicidal cream. The Lea cannot slip during sex either.

Because of the drain valve, the Lea can stay in the vagina for up to 48 hours. This makes it extremely practical. Thus, you do not have to insert it just before intercourse. The lovemaking is not interrupted but can be continued undisturbed (as when using the pill). The Lea is therefore especially suitable for spontaneous couples.

Like all mechanical contraceptives, the Lea does not interfere with the hormone levels of its wearer. This makes it virtually free of side effects.

However, the Lea only lasts for six to nine months. For women who frequently suffer from urinary tract infections, the Lea is only recommended to a limited extent. In terms of safety, it is on a par with the diaphragm.

Condom

The condom is truly a bestseller. It can be bought in any drugstore without needing a prescription. Everyone has access to it – and that’s a good thing!

Because condoms and femidoms are the only contraceptives that provide effective protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Protect yourself and your partner by not forgoing the use of a condom. By the way, protected intercourse with a condom is called safer sex. This means protected safe sex.

However, a condom is only safe in terms of its contraceptive function if it is used correctly. Depending on this, the Pearl Index is between 2 and 12. You can find tips on how to use them correctly in our detailed article “20 facts about contraception with condoms”.

Femidom

The femidom is, so to speak, the condom for women. Unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult to use and is not yet available everywhere.

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In principle, it works just like a condom. It prevents not only sperm cells but also pathogens from entering the woman’s vagina. Like the “normal” condom, the femidom may only be used once. So you have to use a new one every time.

If you are interested in using the femidom, please talk to your gynecologist or family doctor about it. They can explain to you how to use it properly.

The safety of this contraceptive is the same as that of the male condom, which is 2-12 (Pearl index value).

Other Contraceptives

Hormonal and mechanical contraceptives are among the most common in our latitudes. In addition, there are some methods that are also used. Some of them are generally underestimated and are good alternatives to the pill. Therefore, we do not want to withhold their advantages and disadvantages from you here.

Copper Coil And Copper Chain

In its form, the copper IUD looks very similar to a hormonal IUD. Instead of a cylinder that releases hormones, its lower end has a copper wire that gradually releases copper ions into its environment.

This inhibits sperm mobility and prevents them from surviving as long in the vagina. In addition, the lining of the uterus is changed in such a way that an already fertilized egg can no longer implant in it.

The copper IUD, therefore, has a double effect. On the one hand, fertilization of the egg is prevented. On the other hand, it prevents implantation in the uterus if fertilization does occur.

The insertion of the copper IUD is the same as the insertion of a hormonal IUD and can be quite painful for a short time. Normally, you will be given medication beforehand that opens the cervix a little. This makes it easier to insert the IUD.

Copper IUDs with gold added are supposed to prevent infections in the uterus. So far, however, there is no clear evidence for this.

Because the copper IUD is very safe with a Pearl index of 0.3 – 3, it is ideal for young girls. Should a couple develop a desire to have children, this can be realized immediately after the removal of the IUD. The uterine lining usually normalizes quite quickly.

A copper IUD costs at least 300 Euros but can remain in the uterus for up to 5 years. In addition, there may be costs for regular check-ups (every 12 months) if you go to a private gynecologist. Otherwise, the health insurance will cover these follow-up costs.

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The copper chain (Gynefix) has also been available for a short time. It consists of several copper cylinders that hang on a nylon thread. This is anchored in the uterine wall with a knot. Therefore, the insertion of the copper chain is also somewhat painful. After a few seconds, however, the pain is over.

Some girls report that they have lost their copper chain. It can happen that it ends up in the toilet if it has come loose from the uterine wall. Normally, you can then have a new chain fitted by your gynecologist at no extra cost.

Compared to the copper coil, the copper chain has the advantage that it cannot slip out of place. If it survives the first period in the uterus, it is a little safer than the copper coil. However, it is also somewhat more expensive (around 400 €). Not every gynecologist uses copper chains. It’s best to just ask.

Symptothermal Method

The symptothermal method (also called NFP) is widely underestimated. Unfortunately, some people still confuse it with the relatively unsafe temperature measurement or calendar method.

NFP has to be learned. To do this, it is best to know someone who is already successfully doing NFP. There are courses, books, and online forums that can also help.

Explained briefly and succinctly, the whole thing works like this: You use a special, sensitive thermometer to measure the temperature in your vagina at the same time every day. This temperature is then recorded in a kind of diary. This results in a kind of diagram over the course of a month, which shows fluctuations in temperature. This is because the temperature varies depending on the phase of the cycle. For example, during ovulation, you have a different temperature than during your period.

In addition to temperature measurement, this method also refers to other bodily signs such as breast symptoms or observation of cervical mucus (vaginal secretions).

The biggest advantage of this contraceptive method is not only its safety (Pearl index below 1.0 – similar to the pill) but also the fact that you get to know your own cycle. Thus, girls learn to understand themselves to some extent and also to accept the period as part of the monthly cycle.

Unlike hormonal contraceptives, this method does not interfere with the organism. In addition, it does not involve the insertion of foreign bodies, as is the case with IUDs, for example.

Since NFP can be used to determine ovulation quite accurately, it is ideal for couples who wish to have children. This makes it easier to get pregnant if you want to.

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Conversely, with NFP you know on which days you should use other contraceptives such as condoms. Outside of these fertile days, NFP users can have sex completely undisturbed without having to use contraception.

Cycle Computer

The so-called contraceptive computers are small devices that are supposed to show fertile and infertile days.

However, compared to NFP described above, they are very unsafe. Many girls who have used them have become pregnant unintentionally. This is also reflected in the relatively high Pearl Index of 6. (With NFP, at most one woman in 100 becomes pregnant within a year. With a contraceptive computer, the figure is 6, making this method less safe than the use of condoms.)

Basically, there are temperature computers and hormone computers. So the fertile days (approximately) can be determined by temperature or hormone measurement (in the urine).

Such computers can be bought in pharmacies. The cheaper models cost around € 90.

In our opinion, contraceptive computers are more suitable for women who want to find out their fertile days in order to get pregnant than for contraception.

Spermicide

Gels and suppositories that contain spermicide are called chemical contraceptives. They can be bought over the counter at a pharmacy and cost around €10 per tube or pack.

They contain a substance that effectively kills sperm cells. To be fully effective, they must be inserted or applied at least 10 minutes before sex.

The reliability of this method depends very much on the product. Therefore, the Pearl index varies between 3 and 21, which is a very dramatic variation, we think. For young girls who do not yet want to become mothers, this type of contraception is therefore probably not the best choice.

Normally, spermicide is only used in combination with mechanical contraceptive methods such as the diaphragm.

As for condoms in joint use with spermicide, you have to be very careful. Not all types of condoms will withstand spermicide. It is best to read the package insert of the respective condom manufacturer carefully.

Worksheet For The Text

1) Explain the difficult words from the text.
What does…

  • Safer sex
  • Pearl index

2) What are the advantages of mechanical and other contraceptives over hormonal methods?

3) What is the symptothermal method? Write down here what you remembered.

4) What are mechanical contraceptives?

Photo: aslysun / bigstockphoto.com

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