Non-hormonal Birth Control Methods
Medically reviewed by L. Anderson, PharmD Last updated on Jun 16, 2018.
Birth Control Options For Women Who Cannot Or Prefer Not To Take Hormones
Some women cannot use hormones because of health reasons, breastfeeding, side effects or a host of other reasons. Some women prefer to avoid hormones in general. Still, other women may only need occasional pregnancy protection and prefer not to use a full-time birth control method. There are many other birth control options that do not contain hormones, that are effective if used correctly, and that are affordable.
Barrier methods, such as the condom, sponge, cervical cap, or diaphragm, spermicide, the copper IUD, and natural family planning are all hormone-free methods of birth control. However, it is important that women review the effectiveness rates of these birth control methods (seen in this chart here) and discuss with their healthcare provider which might be best for their personal situation. In general, spermicide should always be used with a condom or diaphragm to increase its effectiveness.
A male latex condom is the best way to protect against any form of sexually transmitted disease (STD), including HIV and AIDS. A male latex condom or female condom should be used in combination with other birth control options (i.e., pill, patch, shot, IUD, sponge) if protection against STDs is needed.
Advantages with non-hormonal birth control methods
- Can be used intermittently if the need for birth control is only occasional.
- For women who cannot use hormones (for medical, breastfeeding, or other reasons) the barrier methods, such as the cervical cap, condom, diaphragm, contraceptive sponge; spermicide, and copper IUD are all hormone-free methods.
- Many methods are inexpensive, but may not be covered by insurance because they are over-the-counter (OTC).
- Some methods are easily accessible without a prescription at retail stores, and are easily transportable.
Disadvantages with non-hormonal birth control methods
- Except for the copper IUD, these methods require diligent and consistent use to prevent pregnancy.
- Except for the copper IUD, these methods may be associated higher failure rates when compared to birth control pills or other hormonal birth control options.
- Some methods cannot be used during menstruation.
- Some women may not like placing or leaving devices in the vaginal canal, or may find it uncomfortable.
- Certain methods, such as a diaphragm or condom, may interfere with sexual spontaneity.
Common side effects with non-hormonal birth control methods
- Non-hormonal barrier method birth control has few side effects. The copper IUD can be linked with serious side effects.
- Some women or men may have irritation, dryness, or allergies associated with devices placed in vaginal canal, such as the condom, cervical cap, diaphragm, contraceptive sponge or spermicides. If side effects occur with use, contact your healthcare provider.
Serious side effects with non-hormonal birth control methods
- Serious side effects are rare with the non-hormonal barrier method of birth control, like with the condom, diaphragm, or cervical cap; although allergies can rarely occur, especially if latex is present. Toxic shock syndrome may rarely occur with the contraceptive sponge.
- Serious side effects with the copper IUD may include: pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), uterine perforation, ectopic pregnancy, and IUD expulsion. Discuss these serious side effects with your healthcare provider.
Other warnings and side effects may occur with the use of birth control. It is important to review the specific consumer information for the birth control of choice and discuss any questions or concerns with your healthcare provider.
Tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you take, including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin and herbal supplements.
Non-Hormonal Birth Control Options
|Product||Common Proprietary Names||Description|
|Condom (male)||Various options available without a prescription at retail stores and pharmacies.||
|Condom (female) or Internal Condoms||FC2 Female Condom||
|Contraceptive Sponge||Today Sponge||
|Spermicide||Examples: Encare Vaginal Inserts, Gynol II, Conceptrol; available without a prescription at retail stores/ pharmacies.||
|Copper Intrauterine Device (copper T IUD)||ParaGard; must be prescribed and inserted by a health care provider.||
|Natural Family Planning||Not applicable||
Learn More: Permanent Birth Control Methods
- Birth Control Pills
- Birth Control Pills - Benefits vs Risks & Side Effects
- Birth Control Pills - Periods
- Birth Control Pills and Breakthrough Bleeding
- Emergency Contraception
- Emergency Contraceptives Available in the U.S.
- Grapefruit and Birth Control Pills: Your Questions Answered
- Hormonal Birth Control (Non-Pill Options)
- Missed taking your birth control pill?
- Permanent Birth Control
- All About Birth Control Methods. Planned Parenthood. Accessed June 19, 2018 at https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control
- Mayo Clinic Disease Reference. Drugs.com. Accessed June 19, 2018 at https://www.drugs.com/mcd/
- American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG): Birth Control (Contraception): Resource Overview. Accessed June 19, 2018 at https://www.acog.org/Womens-Health/Birth-Control-Contraception#Patient
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Birth Control. Accessed March 8, 2018 at https://www.fda.gov/consumers/free-publications/birth-control.
- Non-hormonal Contraceptive Methods. Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. Accessed June 9, 2018 at https://www.arhp.org/index.php?error=404&itemId=99999
- Female Condoms, Used by Women and Men for HIV Prevention, Will Now Be Prescription Only. The Body.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.