Ancient Methods of Birth Control

It is commonly thought that at one point in history, women believed their menstrual cycles corresponded with the phases of the moon, with ovulation occurring at the full moon and menstruation beginning with the new moon.  If this method was truly used, its effectiveness is certainly questionable.  However, there are some well-documented examples of birth control methods used in ancient times to help women exert some control over their bodies.

  • lemons-1Lemons– According to the Talmud, the preferred method of birth control in Jewish communities was a crude version of what we now know as the sponge.  Because citric acid has spermicidal properties, women would soak sponges in lemon juice and insert them in the vagina to act as a simultaneous barrier against and killer of sperm.  Additionally, the rind of half a lemon was used to act as what we know today as a diaphragm.  Women were also observed douching with lemon and lime juice after sex.
  • cottonCotton– A 1550 BCE medical manuscript called the Ebers Papyrus shows that physicians advised women to grind acacia tree bark, dates, and honey together, apply the resulting paste to seed wool, and insert it vaginally.  In addition to the wool forming a barrier against sperm, the acacia would ferment into lactic acid, which is known as a spermicide.
  • papayaPapaya– Because unripe papaya contains phytochemicals that interfere with progesterone levels, it was used to prevent and terminate pregnancies in parts of Asia.  Additionally, when taken daily, papaya seeds served as a natural and safe form of male birth control, cutting sperm count to zero.

Thankfully, we have come a long way since ancient times, and have many proven birth control methods at our disposal.  At Lady-Comp, we have created an intelligent fertility monitor, based on 25 years of research and development, which will predict your fertile days with 99.3% accuracy.  To learn more about the very latest in fertility technology, please call 1-877-925-LADY.



Fertility Awareness Methods of Birth Control

Women who do not wish to take hormonal birth control often turn to fertility awareness methods to determine the days each month in which they are likely to become pregnant.  If this is something that interests you, there are three main methods to choose from.

  • Calendar-Based Methods: These methods involve using a calendar to track your cycle, then calculating your fertile days based on your cycle lengths.  They are based on the 1920’s scientific discovery that ovulation starts approximately 14 days prior to your next period.  The most common calendar method is the Standard Days Method.  With this, you simply avoid having unprotected sex from day 8 to day 19 of each cycle.  The method works well if you have regular cycles that are never shorter than 26 days or longer than 32 days, and has shown to be 95% effective.
  • Symptoms-Based Methods: With these methods, you will determine your fertile window by tracking one or more of the three primarily signs of fertility.  These are:  1) Basal body temperature- Research has shown that ovulation triggers a raise in basal body temperature between .5 and 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit that lasts until the beginning of menstruation.   2) Cervical Mucus- When you ovulate, the estrogen in your body is reduced and the progesterone climbs.  This causes a distinct change in cervical mucus in which it becomes slippery and similar to raw egg white in consistency.  3) Cervical position- Throughout the month, as you become more fertile, your cervix will move higher in the vaginal canal and feel softer to the touch.  Using these methods in combination has proven to be 98% effective.
  • Lady-Comp: Lady-Comp represents the very latest technology available for natural family planning.  It is a personal fertility monitor that records, analyzes, and stores your menstrual cycle data and daily morning basal body temperatures.  With this information, the monitor can predict your fertile days each month with 99.3% accuracy, a rate higher than nearly all birth control methods available.  To learn more about the Lady-Comp difference, call 1-877-925-LADY.

The Mini Pill

Very broadly, birth control is anything that aids in preventing pregnancy, ranging from condoms to sponges to contraceptive gels.  One very popular form of birth control is the hormonal contraception referred to as “the pill”, which women take orally.  When taken correctly, the pill is 99.9% effective in preventing pregnancy.

The standard birth control pill typically contains a combination of synthetic estrogen and progestin hormones.  These products work together to inhibit the actions of the body’s natural cyclical hormones by stopping the body from ovulating, changing the cervical mucus to make it more difficult for a sperm to reach the egg, and by making the lining of the womb inhospitable for the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The mini pill works slightly differently.  First, it contains just one hormone, progestin.  The lack of estrogen makes the mini pill ideal for breastfeeding mothers and those who react poorly to estrogen therapy.  The main function of the mini pill is to thicken the cervical mucus so that sperm cannot reach the egg.  It also changes the uterine lining to make implantation unlikely to occur.  In some women, the mini pill will actually prevent the release of an egg altogether.

The downside is that it is less reliable than other types of birth control pills.  When used correctly, it is only 95% effective.  Further, while the health risks are less than the actual pill, women who have certain conditions should consult a doctor or stay away from it entirely.  Those with undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, severe artery disease, liver tumors, porphyria, those with a history of breast cancer and those who have had an ectopic pregnancy should definitely take caution.

Will Hormonal Birth Control Make You Gain Weight?

From the moment you were old enough to consider using hormonal birth control, you’ve probably been told that it will make you gain weight.  Whether this is myth or fact has been a subject of great debate over time.  However, the truth lies somewhere in between. Hormonal Birth Control make me gain weight?

Fact: In a 2009 research study conducted at Texas A&M University, 73 women, 34 of whom were on hormonal birth control, were placed on a supervised ten week weight training program.  At the conclusion, researchers measured the gains in muscle mass in the participants, and discovered that the women on birth control built 60% less lean muscle mass than those who were not.  In addition, those on birth control had higher levels of hormones that actually break down muscle tissue.  Since lean muscle mass increases your metabolism, and thus your ability to burn calories, this would indicate that being on hormonal birth control is directly related to your body burning calories less efficiently.

Fact: Each woman is unique, with her own personal body chemistry.  It’s impossible for anyone to know how your body will react to adding a hormonal birth control method to the mix until you actually do so.

Fact:  According to Planned Parenthood, a very common reaction to hormonal birth control is water retention.  While not fat, water weight is still extra pounds for your body to carry.

Fact: Planned Parenthood also states that progesterone, which is a hormone found in some forms of birth control, is known to increase appetite.  Consuming more calories each day can, of course, lead to weight gain.

Fact: In The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it was reported that women taking the Depo-Provera birth control shot, which contains synthetic hormones to suppress estrogen levels, are twice as likely to become obese over a three year period than those not taking hormonal birth control, even after diet and exercise were taken into account.

If you are concerned about weight gain, it seems taking hormonal birth control is simply not worth the risk.

Why Am I Not Pregnant Yet?

If you are trying to conceive, your best chances of doing so occur in what is known as your “fertile window.”  This is the 24-36 hour period of time after your ovaries release an egg in which the egg can be fertilized by a sperm.  With technology such as Lady-Comp making determining your fertile window relatively simple, you may be frustrated if you are having sex on all the right days but still not conceiving.  If this is the case, please be assured that only about 50% of healthy couples conceive within their first four to five months of trying.  After a full year, that number goes up to 85%.   However, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances along the way:

1)      Make sure to have sex once per day starting five days before you anticipate ovulation until two days after you ovulate.  Sperm can stay alive inside a woman’s body for up to five days, so sex at this frequency will provide your best chances of conception.

2)      After sex, remain laying down for at least 20 minutes to give the sperm time to swim towards your egg.

3)      Avoid using lubricants, scented tampons, douches, and glycerin soap while trying to conceive, as all of these items can kill sperm.

4)      If you are a smoker, quit now.  Smoking 10 cigarettes a day can lower your chances of conceiving by 50%!

5)      Start cutting back on your caffeine consumption.  Caffeine restricts your blood vessels and increases your heart rate, which mimics the body under stress.  It is optimal for conception if you are in a calm and relaxed state.

If you have been adhering to these recommendations and are still frustrated with the length of time it is taking you to become pregnant, most definitely visit your doctor to discuss your concerns, as it is possible there could be a medical reason for the delay.

What to Expect When You Stop Taking the Pill

If you are considering stopping your hormonal birth control, you could have any number of reasons for doing so. Regardless of if you have decided you are ready to conceive or simply have a desire to switch to a more natural method of family planning, it is important to know what you can expect when your body is no longer subjected to the extra hormones.

What To Expect When you Stop Taking the Pill
First, know that the timing of your first menstrual cycle after you stop taking hormonal birth control can be difficult to predict. It is possible you will suffer from a condition called post-pill amenorrhea, which is a complete absence of your period for several months. This is because the birth control was suppressing your body’s natural ovulation and menstruation hormones, so it can take some time for them to produce normally again. In addition, when your period does resume, the length of your cycle may not be the same as it was before you began birth control. It’s not unusual for it to be shorter/longer or heavier/lighter than before. Because of this variability, if you are not trying to conceive, it is very important to have your new natural birth control plan in place before you stop taking the pill. It’s actually possible to ovulate and conceive immediately after going off the pill, before you even have your first natural period.
Next, remember that your birth control pill may have been doing more to your body than just preventing pregnancy. If the pill was helping to control your acne, you might find your skin becoming oily again. If you were someone who suffered from weight gain as a result of the birth control hormones, you might find that you lose a pound or two as a pleasant side effect. Finally, if the pill was helping to control your premenstrual syndrome symptoms, be prepared for them to return. It is not abnormal to find that they are even worse than usual at first as your body adjusts to the chemical changes. Thankfully, you should find that your hormones regulate themselves within 3-6 months. However, if you are concerned about anything you are experiencing, it is advisable to see your doctor.

Facts instead of myths: Family planning in the 21st century

woman thinking Doctors in Europe and the United States are evidently skeptical as far as methods of natural family planning are concerned since only 6 to 10% of them would be willing to recommend such methods. At the same time however, it should be noted that only half of these experts are actually adequately informed as far as the underlying scientific facts are concerned. Isn’t it time that the awareness of this subject matter is raised?

The American, Richard J. Fehring, Director of the Institute for Natural Family Planning at the Marquette University recently reported in an American journal (JOGNN, 33, 34-43) that only 2 to 3% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 use natural family planning methods. Fehring gave two main reasons for this: Firstly, that doctors and/or nurses and midwives failed to inform women about this type of method of family planning and also, they didn’t explain to them how such a method works. This is due in part to the fact that the specialists themselves didn’t know enough about the modern versions of the various methods. On the other hand, the term natural family planning still carries the label of being “unsafe”. This is, however, a prejudice which has originated from myths and is not based on scientific data.

Reduce prejudices, expand knowledge

Fehring wants to permanently change this view and is committed to making professional education on natural family planning available, which (at last) uses modern pedagogical principles, in order to make such methods of family planning easier to understand. In the end, all of the methods of natural family planning are based on a basic knowledge of the processes occurring within the body of a woman of childbearing age every month. In the ovaries, an egg becomes ripe, while at the same time the lining of the womb thickens, so that in the event that fertilization takes place, the lining of the womb is prepared. An egg is released out of its protective covering in the ovary (this generally occurs alternatively from the right and left ovaries). This process is known as ovulation and marks the middle of the female cycle.

Knowing when ovulation occurs

Without sperm, the egg cannot be fertilized and will die after 24 hours at the latest, during its way through the fallopian tubes in the direction of the womb. Ovulation is accompanied by a slight increase in the body temperature, which can easily be measured in the early morning. At the same time there is an increase in the amount of vaginal discharge since the mucus plug which usually seals the entrance of the vagina into the womb moves away, allowing the discharge to partially drain away. If the egg does not become fertilized, the hormonal state within the body changes, so that the lining of the womb breaks down, bleeding occurs and the womb lining is shed, a process known as the monthly period or menstruation. The temperature then returns to its original value, and the cycle begins once again.

Work in harmony with nature, not against it

When the order of events just described is considered, it becomes clear that a woman is not continuously able to become pregnant. Instead this is only possible within one day after ovulation. If you also consider the fact that the sperm cells can only survive for a few days after sexual intercourse, then the fertile period – which starts about five days before ovulation and ends one day after ovulation – can be calculated. It is therefore important that the day of ovulation is identified. Whether the fertile days are being calculated purely mathematically, or the mucus secretion is being observed, or the temperature measured in order to determine the day of ovulation, all of these methods are based on the fact that there are a number of infertile days in the monthly cycle of a woman which a couple can use for contraception. Conversely, this basic knowledge is at the same time a perfect support for all those want to have a child and in this way can find out when the optimum time for conception occurs.
According to Fehring, natural family planning presents a way of working in accordance with nature, rather than against it. The latest surveys show however that, of those women who chose one or another of the family planning methods available, many did not have the necessary knowledge. A lack of the appropriate knowledge can lead to errors and – together with long-standing prejudices – this may result in an incorrect estimation of the reliability of the method.

Interest in natural family planning is apparent

Besides sustained education, intense scientific research on the measurement and calculation methods needs to be carried out so that women can be advised on the basis of reliable data. Specifically, this means that the modern methods of natural family planning should be tested in a standardized way so that, for example, they can be compared on the basis of their Pearl Index*.
Such a comparison has been undertaken in the NFP (Natural Family Planning) project being carried out at the University of Düsseldorf in Germany (see addresses). In a comparative study being carried out by the NFP team, the most reliable methods were found to be those involving some form of temperature measurement. The study was however, a preliminary trial run for further clinical observation studies, with the intention that it would enable more reliable statements to be made in the future. In Europe, the interest in natural methods of family planning in any case appears to be greater than in the United States. Here, it is estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of women of child-bearing age choose such a natural method. In reality, the need may possibly be even greater. It has been shown that approximately 40 percent of women are interested in a natural form of family planning once they have been comprehensively informed and favorably acquainted with the method. Surveys have additionally indicated that those women who use methods of natural family planning do so because they feel that it is safe, due to the fact that it provides them with information about their own body and because of this their sexual desire increases. In future, this information should not be withheld from women during a professional consultation.
*The Pearl-Index is a measure of the reliability of a contraceptive method and indicates the statistical probability that a woman will become pregnant in 100 women years (100 women used the method in question for one year).

Interview with Ms Burda Sanchez, 36 years old, from Lithuania

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VE: Ms Sanchez, you have been using the Lady-Comp system for 14 years now, and you wouldn’t want to be without it?

Ms Sanchez:
That’s right, I swear by it! Of course people smirk and shake their heads. “What? The woman uses a computer to avoid getting pregnant and she has nine children?” To many people that must sound like an absolute contradiction.

So what do you say to them?

Ms Sanchez:
Contraception is not just an issue for couples who don’t want to have any children or any more children. All of my children were planned, whereby, in my opinion, this in itself also needs to be planned! From the beginning, we talked to our children about whether they would like to have a sibling. Sometimes they came to us themselves and said that they thought it would be great if we had another baby. Whenever we wanted another child I was able to rely 100% on the Lady-Comp method. In addition, I never needed to take a pregnancy test. After having a raised temperature for 14 days, I could be sure that I was pregnant again.

What made you decide to buy a fertility monitor computer?

Ms Sanchez:
I have always wanted to get to know my body in more detail. As a young woman I also had a benign lump in my breast. The doctors advised me not to use hormones. Even my first child was naturally “naturally” planned! At that time I used a thermometer to pinpoint the temperature rise. After having our second child, I happened to be at a meeting on “Natural Family Planning” where I purchased a Lady-Comp. That was 14 years ago and since then I have never been without it. I find it simply ingenious, I use it every day, even when I am pregnant and breastfeeding. You might think that I wouldn’t need it now that I am pregnant, but now I need it even more. I feel different and I like to be in control of my body and to be able to judge what is going on in it. For example, in the meantime I know that one month after I have stopped breastfeeding my temperature curve will return to normal.

Have you recommended the use of the fertility computer to other women?

Frau Sanchez:
Yes, I have already recommended it a number of times, for example to a colleague who had already been trying to have a baby for a long time, but without success. Above all, I advised her to inform herself about her menstrual cycle and what is going on inside her body. About one and a half years ago an article on large families was published in the MIGROS supermarket magazine. At that time, many women saw our photo and phoned us to ask if they could give us any tips on getting pregnant. I recommended the Lady-comp to them so that they would be able to get to know exactly what is going on in their body. I must say that I am always surprised at how little women know about all the information that they can get from their own bodies. Without this information, women must feel quite helpless.

These days, having nine children is quite unusual. How do people react to it?

Frau Sanchez:
My husband is Spanish and he loves children, just as I do, and that is the most important thing. Obviously we get to hear some negative comments, but the most honest remarks are probably those we get from children belonging to other families. They find it “really cool” when our kids talk about their numerous brothers and sisters. They like to visit us because everything is “so relaxed” in our home and that is really true. The reason for this is that I stick to the children’s rhythms and as a result I don’t get stressed, even though it is difficult to imagine it with nine children around. Of course I sometimes have to ask a friend who has visited me to drink coffee if she wouldn’t mind going home because its five o’clock and I need to cook. This way I don’t feel as though I haven’t any time for the children or for myself. You have to manage your time wisely, just like a manager has to, don’t you agree? We can very well imagine having a tenth child.

Ms Sanchez, thank you very much for this very candid interview.

Birth Control Options When Breastfeeding

It has been six weeks since your new bundle of joy arrived, and you are more than ready to resume your sex life.  However, if you are breastfeeding, you will find your birth control options are limited.

There are actually only a small handful of hormonal birth control methods that have been approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics for use while breastfeeding.  Even among those, birth control pills containing estrogen have been shown to decrease milk supply, so it’s recommended you avoid them until your baby is at least six months old and is getting most nutrients through solid foods instead.  Progestin-only contraceptives have been found to impact both milk supply and nutrient content.  If you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, there is something else to take into account.   A 1998 study conducted at the University of Southern California School of medicine showed that women with gestational diabetes who took the mini birth control pill while breastfeeding tripled their risk of developing permanent type II diabetes within a year.  Therefore, taking hormonal birth control while breastfeeding is truly a risk to the health of your baby, and possibly to your own health as well.

You may wish to explore some common non-hormonal methods of birth control during this time.  Examples are male and female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, vaginal sponges, and spermicides.  However, you can easily unintentionally use any of these methods improperly, which increases their failure rate.  Luckily, you do have the option of using Lady-Comp, which is a great way to prevent pregnancy without subjecting your body to artificial methods.

Lady-Comp is an intelligent fertility monitor which learns, analyzes, and predicts your ovulation with 99.3% accuracy, primarily based on your basal body temperature.  It is easy to use and free of hormones and side-effects.  If you would like to learn more about how Lady-Comp can help you, please call 1-877-925-LADY.


The Impact of an Irregular Menstrual Cycle for Women Trying to Conceive

A normal menstrual cycle can vary.  For the average woman, it is 28 days in length.  Medically speaking, a variance of 7 days or less each month is considered to be normal.  A variance of 8 to 20 days is moderately irregular, and 21 days or more is very irregular.

If you are trying to conceive a baby, any variance in cycle can be frustrating, as it makes it much more difficult to predict when you will be ovulating.  In a given month, the average couple trying to conceive has a 15-25% chance of becoming pregnant.  However, if you have an irregular cycle, your chances are decreased.  Strictly mathematically speaking, if you tend to have longer cycles, you have fewer opportunities over time to conceive than someone with a perfect 28 day cycle.

If you have an irregular cycle and are trying to conceive, there are two methods that can assist you in predicting when you will ovulate.  One is tracking your basal body temperature on a daily basis over a period of months.  A woman’s body temperature rises after ovulation, so charting yours can help you predict when you will ovulate next.  The other is by charting your cervical mucus.  You will find the amount and consistency of your mucus changes throughout the month.  When you are nearing ovulation, it will become clear and slippery, similar to raw egg white, and you will have more of it.

Of course, you may be reticent to try either of these methods on your own. After all, if you are not a medical professional yourself, how can you really know for sure?  Luckily, you can remove the guesswork with Lady-Comp, an easy-to use fertility computer that can predict when you will ovulate with 99.3% accuracy, based on the information you provide it and its daily reading of your basal body temperature.  If you would like to learn more about how Lady-Comp can help you conceive, please call us at 1-877-925-LADY.