Birth Control Alternatives

Straight to the Facts: Other Methods

  • Fertility awareness can work, but with typical use, it has a high failure rate.

    • After one year, 24% of women will be pregnant with typical use. After three years, the number increases to 56%.

  • Breastfeeding is an unreliable form of birth control and has a very high failure rate with typical use.

    • If your periods return, you can get pregnant.

    • Periods can return as soon as 6 weeks after giving birth.

  • The pull out method is unreliable and has a very high failure rate with typical use.

    • After one year, 22% of women will be pregnant with typical use. After three years, that number increases to 53%.

  • You can reduce the chances of getting pregnant with these methods by using a backup method like condoms.

What is fertility awareness?


You might have heard you can tell when you are ovulating by tracking your body temperature and cervical fluid changes. Fertility awareness is a method to determine when you are most fertile so you can avoid having sex on days when you are likely to get pregnant.  This method requires you to extensively educate yourself about your fertility, and you must be very regular about monitoring your body changes.


While this method can be effective when used correctly, you should use a backup method when you are most fertile. For most women, it is unreliable.  You can increase the effectiveness by using a condom and spermicides ever time you have sex.

What about breastfeeding (a.k.a., lactation amenorrhea)?


You might have heard that breastfeeding is a natural form of birth control. However,  it is not a good option for most women. If you sometimes feed your baby a bottle, cannot breastfeed or pump at least every 4 hours, or you gave birth more than 6 months ago, this method will not work.

For some women, periods can return as soon as 5 to 6 weeks after giving birth so it is important to talk to your doctor about birth control if you do not want to get pregnant again so soon after birth. Remember, if you ovulate, you can get pregnant.

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These methods will not
protect you from STIs. To prevent STIs, use a barrier method like a condom every time you have sex.


What about withdrawal (a.k.a., pulling out)?


In order to get pregnant, a sperm and an egg must meet. So, if the penis does not ejaculate inside the vagina, the woman will not get pregnant. But, pre-ejaculate, also called precum, often contains sperm and a woman can get pregnant from this sperm. So, pulling out is not always effective. You may also not be able to prevent or predict ejaculation as well as you think. Therefore, the withdrawal method is often not effective and about 22% OF couples can expect to become pregnant after one year of using this method. After 3 years, it is about 53%. To prevent pregnancy, you may want to consider using another method like condoms, IUDs, or birth control pills.


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