Have you ever thought about using herbs as a birth control method? They are herbs after all, how much damage could they do?
Use of herbs tends to be popular among health conscious individuals since they have less drastic effects on the body than conventional drugs. There are also many herbs that are very innocuous, which can be used by virtually anyone without any negative effects.
Unfortunately, not all herbs are just benign little plants. Some have extremely potent properties that can certainly have adverse health effects.
Herbs are not benign just because they are natural
Herbs still have compounds that can severely change your body processes and chemistry. Many conventional drugs are derived from herbs and other “natural” products.
Herbs can do less damage than a lot of conventional drugs since they still have all of their constituents and they generally are not nearly as potent.
The thing is, if they are actually working as birth control, what they are doing is shutting down reproductive function, which is a process that your body will go through when it is healthy. More on this below.
Reproductive function is a healthy bodily process
Our hormonal health is important for more than just reproductive function.
For one thing, we have hormones that aren’t directly linked to our reproductive function like insulin and thyroid hormones. These still interact with reproductive hormones and can be influenced poorly by them or reproductive hormones levels can be influenced poorly by levels of those hormones that are off.
Next up, our reproductive hormones have many functions in our bodies other than reproduction. You can check out my post about why hormonal health is important even if you aren’t trying to get pregnant here.
So, logically, if you are messing with your normal hormone levels, you could be jeopardizing your health. You aren’t certainly doing so, but it’s not something you want to play around with.
In order to work, herbal birth control has to mess with your hormonal levels or other reproductive function. You can see accounts of women having experiences similar to taking hormonal birth control while on herbs to suppress reproductive function here.
There are no effectiveness studies using herbal birth control
Please, someone correct me if I am wrong, but I have never seen a peer-reviewed study on herbal birth control effectiveness. I don’t doubt that some methods are very effective, though that effectiveness is going to come with the price of messed up reproductive function and hormones.
I know that peer-reviewed papers can have their problems, as well, but I would rather see something (and be able to assess what their study was like and the process they used) rather than nothing.
In addition, herbs are not very standardized. We can get more or less potent herbs depending upon when they are harvested, where they are from, and how we prepare them. Unless you are very skilled with herbs you should be taking caution when using anything other than a benign herb, which doesn’t have the potential to harm you.
With the non-standardization of herbs as well as most people not having a precise protocol of what they are supposed to do to use herbs as birth control, you are pretty much going to be in the dark if you are looking for an effective herbal birth control solution.
A lot of the reading I have done on people using herbal birth control tends to go something like one of these scenarios:
Oh, I make this tea and then we avoid intercourse on my “most fertile days” (Side note: No charting to speak of, just a guess).
Yes I take this tincture 8 hours after we have sex. We also always use withdrawal.
I make condoms extra effective by also taking these capsules three times a week.
Do you see the problem here? While their herbs might be working, they are also using them in conjunction with another method of birth control (Well, only sort-of in the first example, as just guessing when you are fertile is a really bad way to go about it), and we have no real way of figuring out what is keeping them baby-free.
You have to watch out for this; effectiveness of certain birth control methods can be tricky to navigate what with combined usage or multiple methods being grouped into one. You will want to figure out the standalone effectiveness of any method you choose to use. If you want to combine them to give yourself more effectiveness, all the better, but don’t use two that are really terrible or use one that isn’t so great and the second one incorrectly.
If you are concerned about your knowledge of effectiveness, I’ve got you covered, just get over to this post about effectiveness statistics and how they work.
If you are interested in a natural birth control method that is over 99% effective, go check out what the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness is all about.
So tell me, have you ever used herbal birth control? What were your experiences?