How to talk to your partner about natural birth control

Going off the Pill? Here's how to discuss switching to natural, hormone-free birth control with your partner

By: Holly Grigg-Spall April 26, 2016, 12:47 p.m.
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Have you recently decided to go off the birth control pill or another hormonal birth control method and switch to natural birth control? If you have and you’re in a relationship then you’ve probably already had to have a few frank conversations with your significant other. You’ve likely talked about why you don’t want to keep using your current contraceptive method, the side effects you’ve experienced, and why you think this is the best decision for your health and well-being. Hopefully, your partner has been completely supportive of this transition, and wants what’s best for you.

But now what? How will you prevent pregnancy from now on? How do you talk to your partner about natural, hormone-free birth control and the fertility awareness method?

Even if you’ve done a whole lot of research into natural birth control and feel completely comfortable with the idea of making the switch from hormone-based to hormone-free, you still need to explain it to your partner to get him on board. You know it’s not the rhythm method, but he probably doesn’t! With all the misinformation on the internet, you can’t blame him for being a bit skeptical. However, research (and plain common sense!) suggests that partner cooperation is super important for effective, successful use of natural birth control, like fertility awareness methods.

In your relationship you might be going from never or rarely talking about contraception with your partner (you were on the Pill, implant, shot, patch, ring…after the initial questions it never came up again) to needing to not only talk about it, in-depth, but also get his consent, his support, and his encouragement to use natural birth control instead. It was once your responsibility alone (however unfairly) and now it’s going to be a shared responsibility to an extent.

So, what’s the best way to approach this conversation? Here we outline some common questions and concerns that can come up when talking to your partner about natural birth control, and some helpful pointers for responding.

 

He asks: Isn’t natural birth control just the rhythm method? The rhythm method doesn’t work.

You answer: The rhythm method is when you assume you will ovulate (and be fertile) the same time every month. You mark the days on the calendar when you think you will be fertile and when you think you won’t be fertile. It’s a very basic form of fertility awareness method that doesn’t take into account a woman’s unique fertility or the possibility that her cycle might change. That’s why it’s not very effective as a method to prevent pregnancy. I’m not going to assume or guess at when I will be ovulating. I’m going to take my temperature every day and track my cycle with that information. My basal body temperature when I wake up is an indicator of my fertility and its shifts indicate when I am fertile and when I’m not fertile. Because I’m collecting this data every day there’s no guesswork or assumptions involved.

 

He asks: Does natural birth control mean we will need to use condoms all of the time? I’m not a huge fan of condoms.

You answer: Actually, for the first 3 months we will probably be using condoms every time we have sex. To be honest, I’m okay with that and I hope you will be too. It’s much better for my health and well-being than using the birth control pill/ring/patch/shot/implant. To be extra safe during this time we can use a separate spermicide. Then, once that learning phase is over, we actually only have to use condoms on my fertile days. I’ll probably have about 9 fertile days a month, at most. The rest of the time I’ll know I’m not fertile and can’t get pregnant. With a 99.3% accuracy I’ll be able to say that on that day I cannot get pregnant so we can forgo condoms completely, without worrying or panicking or keeping Plan B to hand. And it won’t just be about not using condoms, it will be about feeling totally confident that I am in control of my fertility. If we want to avoid the kind of sex that makes babies when I’m fertile, we can do that - it’s only 9 days after all - and there are plenty of other things we can do that have no risk of baby-making! If we avoid that kind of sex those days then we’re super-safe and it’s a great form of natural birth control.

 

He asks: What if you make a mistake when you’re tracking your cycle? It sounds complicated.

You answer: Instead of manually tracking my cycle with my basal body temperature on paper charts or with an app, I’ve decided to use a device that cuts down on the possibility for user-error, or me making a mistake. I take my temperature each morning with Daysy and this data is held in the device’s computer. If my temperature data seems anomalous, Daysy will take this into account in her calculations. After loading my data and comparing this to her database of data from millions (millions!) of cycles, Daysy will let me know my fertility status for the day with a green light or a red light. Essentially, the device uses an algorithm to determine my fertility situation, as well as storing and analyzing my own data over all of my cycles and making an intelligent decision about my daily status. Daysy is a medically certified device that is independently tested annually - that’s where the 99.3% accuracy comes from. This means I don’t have to analyze my own temperature data, or learn how to interpret the charts. I can use the app, DaysyView, to see my data and my charts if I want to. I can also use the app to send you text messages to let you know when it’s a fertile day or not a fertile day! If you want to know if it’s a day we need to use condoms or avoid baby-making sex or if it’s a day when we can go condom-free and not worry, then you can also just look at the light on Daysy to find out where we’re at with natural birth control.

He asks: Is it going to change our sex life and our relationship?


You answer: Sure, but in some really good ways! First of all, off the birth control pill/patch/shot/ring/implant I feel so much better with natural birth control - I no longer feel depressed or anxious, I feel happier, I have more desire for sex, I’m enjoying sex more - and this is already having a positive impact on our relationship and sex life. Your support in me going off hormonal birth control has been really important to me. That you want what’s best for me shows me you love me. Switching to a fertility awareness method that means we have to communicate more about sex is a great thing - it’s less of a burden on me, which means less worry for me. After all, I’m only fertile a few days a month, whereas you’re fertile every single day! I think it will make our relationship more equal, more balanced, and be more in line with my feminist principles (and your’s, I hope). Also, talking about sex like this can be sexy - there’s the anticipation, build up, and excitement. We can make it fun to share our “green days” (not fertile days). I think it’s going to bring us closer and build our intimacy. It’s definitely making me feel better about my body already and that’s making me feel more confident and happier in myself. I think sharing this knowledge with you is going to have a lot of positive effects on our whole relationship. In fact, most women who use Daysy say the decision to switch to hormone-free, natural birth control improved their relationship.

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Holly Grigg-Spall

Holly Grigg-Spall

Marketing Consultant and Blog Editor

When she came off the birth control pill after 10 years in 2009, Holly decided to write a blog about the experience. That blog became a series of articles, and then book, "Sweetening the Pill," which then inspired a feature documentary, currently in production and executive produced by Ricki Lake. She is a fertility awareness and body literacy advocate and educator, a Daysy enthusiast, and excited to help more women come off the birth control pill and find a natural, effective alternative.

holly.grigg-spall@valley-electronics.com