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Article by Claudette Wadsworth

Claudette Wadsworth Profile | Email | Website
Claudette Wadsworth Qualified Naturopath
Herbalist
Nutritionist

Natural Fertility Specialist
ThetaHealing Practitioner
40 Grosvenor Street
Bondi Junction
NSW
Australia 2022
(02) 9389 3689

Contraception: When You Don’t Want To Conceive!

 

Sydney Naturopath, Claudette Wadsworth, compares 5 different methods of conventional and natural contraception to discuss the latest research and health effects to determine what is the most effective and suitable for different women. 

 Since most women will be needing contraception for many decades in their lives, it is worthwhile doing some research into all forms of contraception. No method of contraception is 100% effective, so it is important to make conscious, informed and healthy choices based on the contraceptive effectiveness, risks and benefits, how they work, their usefulness in different situations and what is going to suit your needs and stage of life. The success rate of any form of contraception depends upon the quality of information provided to use it, your diligence of consistent use, your intention not to conceive and your choice of the most appropriate method for you. 

 The Pill 

The Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill prevents ovulation by suppressing the release of an egg from the ovary and thickening cervical mucus, making it impermeable to sperm. It is reliable, non-permanent and 99% effective with perfect use, but this drops to 92% with typical use. The “mini pill” is a progestin only pill that is recommended when oestrogen is contraindicated, such as in breastfeeding, heart or kidney disease. 

 Side effects associated with the Pill range from blood clots, stroke and heart attack, especially if the woman is a smoker, to less serious side effects of weight gain, acne, mood swings, bloating, headaches and migraines, candida (thrush), depression, decreased libido and increased pigmentation of the skin (chloasma). Nutritionally the Pill changes the metabolism of many vitamins and minerals making many women nutrient deficient, which aggravates their symptoms. I recommend women to take a good quality multivitamin when on the Pill.

 Reactivation of your period once you have stopped the Pill can be delayed in some women but often this is due to a pre-existing condition that was masked by the Pill e.g. polycystic ovarian syndrome PCOS, so have it investigated. Since the Pill contains high levels of synthetic female hormones, there is concern it may increase cancer development and growth. Overall, studies show a reduced risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer but an increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer ( as demonstrated by the Mayo Clinic in 2006 ) especially with use before a first full-term pregnancy. The Pill is also associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer but this may be because sexually active women have a higher risk of becoming infected with human papillomavirus, HPV, which causes most cervical cancers. The Pill increases the risk of benign liver tumours but is inconclusive regarding malignant liver tumours. Certainly the liver has a lot more work to do processing the high levels of synthetic hormones!

IUD

An IUD, or Intrauterine Device, is a T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus to cause irritation to the lining of the uterus so that it produces inflammatory chemicals that are toxic to sperm and eggs, preventing the fertilized embryo from implanting in the womb. Mirena is the newest and most commonly used IUS, or Intrauterine System, in Australia that also releases the hormone levonorgestrel into the uterus, shrinking the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation (so periods usually cease as well). The Mirena can be left in for up to 5 years with 99% effectiveness, making it one of the most convenient methods of birth control for women as well as decreasing heavy bleeding, relieving painful periods and reducing endometriosis growth. However, side effects include increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and pelvic infections, irregular bleeding or cessation of periods, mood changes, bloating, breast soreness and fluid retention. If a woman has irregular bleeding, she must investigate the cause before using a Mirena as it is contraindicated with pelvic infections, cervical or uterine cancer, as well as liver disease, blood clots, and until at least 4 weeks post birth. The advice for women about breast cancer is unclear so it is better to err on the side of caution as the potential risk of breast cancer appears to outweigh endometrial protection. Some women may have religious or moral beliefs that prevent use of an IUD as it acts as an abortifacient, preventing implantation of the embryo. Previously IUDs were only recommended for women once they had had at least one child, due to the concern of damage to the cervix and uterus given its tumultuous history but this has now been relaxed to include any woman of child-bearing age.

Depo-Provera

Depo-Provera or Provera is an injectable progestin, called DMPA, which when injected every 3 months, acts as a contraceptive. It is not as popular in Australia, although it is used by women who cannot use other contraceptives due to risks of blood clots, use of epileptic drugs, or to treat endometriosis. Side effects can include prolonged episodes of heavy and irregular bleeding or no return of the period long after the drug is stopped. A serious concern is the marked decrease in bone density which raises questions about its suitability as a contraceptive. All women using Depo-Provera must take calcium and vitamin D supplements. Research by the Hutchinson Centre published 15 April 2012 found use of a year or more doubles the risk of breast cancer in young women.

Diaphragm/Cervical Cap

The diaphragm and cervical cap are a barrier method of contraception made of rubber or plastic that fit over the cervix to prevent sperm from swimming up into the uterus. The beauty of these barrier methods is that they are not detectable during intercourse like condoms and you only have to use them when you need them and not be exposed to added synthetic hormones continuously which interfere with your fertility. If used correctly, they have a high success rate of 92-98%, otherwise it drops to 80-97% success - insert them prior to intercourse (up to 6 hours) and leave them in 6-12 hours afterwards, wash and store them correctly. Diaphragms need to be fitted by an experienced doctor or nurse to get the right size so you need to see your local family planning clinic to be fitted for a diaphragm but the cervical cap can be bought online with a video and instructions on how to insert and use it www.femcap.com . However, some women find they cannot use a diaphragm or cervical cap if their cervix has been damaged or their vaginal walls are not strong enough as a result of childbirth or prolapse. Usually they are recommended to be used with a spermicide, although these chemicals can irritate the vaginal tissues so many women forgo this. Some women may have an allergy to rubber so try non-latex plastic instead. 

Natural Fertility Management

Natural Fertility Management teaches you to understand and work with your own fertility by observing the body temperature and cervical mucus combined with your personal lunar cycle. As many women ask, it is not the Rhythm or Billings methods which have quite low success rates, particularly during irregular cycles. It is the combination of three methods together: mucus, temperature and lunar to achieve a success rate of 99% when taught and used correctly. It can be used by all women in their fertile life without exposure to any synthetic hormones but you must be motivated to learn your body’s signs which takes about 3 months of charting, depending on how regular your cycles are. I have taught many women how to use this method which they find very empowering to learn about their own bodies. 

 

By Claudette Wadsworth

 

Naturopath, Nutritionist

 

Bondi Junction  02 9389 3689

 

CBD Sydney  02 9268 9000

www.claudettewadsworth.com.au

17 Nov 2010

Last Update: 13 Mar 2013

Article/Information supplied by Claudette Wadsworth

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.

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