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Non Hormonal Birth Control Methods and How They Work

Written by Dr. Tamika Cross

Non-hormonal birth control methods offer an alternative approach to contraception, free from the potential side effects associated with hormonal options. From barrier methods to fertility awareness methods and even copper IUDs there are many hormone free birth control options.

Hormonal vs non hormonal

  • Hormonal birth control changes a woman’s hormone levels to keep her body from getting pregnant. Some women will start taking hormonal contraceptives like pills or hormonal IUDs to help manage menstrual cramps, lighten their period, or help with acne. Women’s health supplements can help for someone who is wondering how to balance hormones.
  • Non Hormonal birth control methods don’t affect a woman’s hormones.There are many different methods including barriers like condoms and diaphragms, copper IUDs, and fertility awareness methods.

Non Hormonal Birth Control Methods


What is it? It is a physical barrier method contraceptive option that prevents sperm from traveling up the female reproductive tract

Pros and cons


  • It is easy, non-hormonal, and inexpensive
  • Can be up to 96% effective when inserted correctly and with spermicide


  • Patients must remember to insert it prior to sex.
  • Efficacy is lower than other alternatives if it is not inserted correctly
  • Increased risk of developing a UTI
  • Does not prevent STIs

Male Condoms

What is it? A physical barrier contraceptive option that the male must apply

Pros and cons:


  • easy to use
  • inexpensive


  • Must remember to put on before starting sexual intercourse
  • Can break resulting in decreased efficacy

Female Condoms

What is it? A physical barrier contraceptive option for women to insert

Pros and cons:


  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive


  • Can break
  • Must remember to insert prior to sex

Copper IUD

What is it? A non-hormonal, copper based contraceptive implant device in the shape of a T that is inserted in the uterus for continuous long acting contraception.

Pros and cons:


  • Do not have to remember to use before sex.
  • Very effective at pregnancy prevention


  • Does not prevent STIs
  • Has to be placed by healthcare provider
  • Can cause irregular bleeding or pain
  • Uncomfortable to place for some women

Opting for non-hormonal birth control

Birth control has been around for several decades allowing women to have power over their body and reproductive rights. Over time we have diversified the panel of available birth control options to include both hormonal and non-hormonal contraceptives. Non-hormonal options have become more popular when comparing hormonal vs. non hormonal birth control due to many women either opting to avoid hormones because of personal choice or because of certain health conditions or situations. Some of these situations that require women to choose non hormonal options include but are not limited to: personal or strong family history of breast cancer, history of stroke or blood clots, previous adverse effects from hormone use in the past, breastfeeding, uncontrolled hypertension, etc.