Safe Sex…The “Green” Way.
Natural Family Planning is “Green!” But so are some other forms of birth control.
Birth control is such a touchy topic these days and rightfully so. With all of the political issues, cost, marketing, religious opinions not to mention differences in gender thinking.
In the world of birth control “Green” is often overlooked. Well, not with this doc! Apart from being a sex and relationship therapist; I am also a health advocate and activist. In my years of research and scouring data sources for information on health and wellness, synthetic hormone use as well as birth control waste and biodegradability has certainly come up.
Let’s first take a look at some of the current birth control options on the market.
Synthetic hormonal options: The Pill, The Shot, The Patch, The Ring Oh my…
Besides the fact that these options are synthetically based, which our bodies often don’t recognize, the side effects for so many women can be debilitating. There are many side effects associated with the above options. Side effects such as: migraine headaches, low sex drive, irritability, autoimmune disorders, cancers, heart issues and blood clots are just a few to name. Synthetic hormonal birth control has some other unanswered questions. The main question is what happens to the unused hormones in women’s bodies?
Truth be told: The unused hormones are excreted through urine and find their way into the environment. Not to mention the countless pills which are flushed down the toilet every year. This generates the numerous data linking this disposal method to deformed fish and other animals. A recent study Research titled “Transgenerational Effect” in Scientific Reports found that fish in the US are showing signs of EE2 exposure (17a-ethinylestradiol), a synthetic hormone found in oral contraceptives. For these reasons I am not a big fan of hormonal based contraception – of ANY kind.
Condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms, sponges and even spermicides-not having it! I remember a time early in my career where I went with the masses. I believed my textbooks and the general research that is put out by Big Pharma, Biotech, and other big corporations. Those days are LONG gone. Why? Because research now shows there are better ways out there. You see, part of my job is to provide people information that will benefit them in the most up to date ways. These benefits are not just one sided-I like benefits that are multifaceted.
Most condoms and other synthetic barrier birth control methods end up sitting in a landfill. Think about that for a moment. Used latex condoms just hanging around, building up because they are not biodegradable…a condom graveyard of sorts. But with a little education change can be made. For example: GLYDE condoms are vegan, which are made out of vegetable extract. Yup-vegetable extract. No need to worry! The research is there for optimal safety and is just as effective as your typical latex condoms. Check them out here: GLYDE Condoms. Oh, and did I mention they are talc and paraben free? Ask yourself this question- knowing that talc and parabens cause cancer, who thought of putting those ingredients in a condom surrounding your penis, in your vagina or anus? Who comes up with this stuff? A better question might be why is this allowed in our market place? That’s for another discussion!
So there are options that are “Green”, healthy and what I call: “Eco-fabulous”
Here’s a list of “Green” options and why-
Natural Family Planning (NFP):
If done correctly, NFP is 98-99% effective to avoid pregnancy. NFP does not protect against sexually transmitted infection so it is important, if using this method, to be in a committed, sexually exclusive relationship. It is important to note that NFP is not the “pull out” method. NFP works by observing and recording the woman’s natural signs of fertility through body temperature, cervical mucus and the length of her menstrual cycle. There are fertility monitoring devices that can help with this such as Ovusense, which is 99% accurate. There are also fertility apps such as the Kindara app. However, the accuracy rate for this app is unknown. When using any of these options it is important to be aware of your body in other ways as well. For example, understanding your menstrual cycle and how things such as antibiotics will alter your menstrual cycle.
Vegan condoms like any other condom, prevents most sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy when used correctly. With an efficacy rate the same as any other condom; vegan condoms by far are superior. These condoms are paraben free, talc free, fair trade, non-gmo and earth friendly. They are Dairy free (yup)! Your general over the counter condom has casein in it to smooth out the condom during manufacturing. This causes a problem for someone with a dairy allergy. The vaginal tissue is very absorbent so many women will react negatively to a general over the counter condom. Vegan condoms are nonoxynol-9 free. Nonoxynol-9 is highly toxic and can cause micro-abrasions in vaginal tissue. This can cause infections and bacteria because the vaginal tissue is breaking down. Most vegan condoms are sustainable. Also, replacement seedlings from original rubber trees used in the manufacturing process are replanted to continue the natural life cycle.
Lambskin condoms are biodegradable but not vegan, (an animal was involved). These condoms are known to be thinner and more porous for heightened sensitivity. They do not protect against sexually transmitted infections but do protect against pregnancy if used properly. While latex and polyurethane condoms do protect against sexually transmitted infections the latex condoms are generally mixed with other non-biodegradable materials. Materials such as polyurethane and polyisoprene are not eco-friendly.
Soft cup or FemCap:
These are barrier methods made of non-toxic polymeric material. There are no animal byproducts and are designed to be used repeatedly so there is no waste. These barrier methods should be used with a safer spermicide such as Contragel. They are toxin free and environmentally friendly.
The good news is you can have “Green” sex and be part of a growing community of not only “eco-aware” but also health and wellness. The reality is that many of the current and common contraceptives are filled with chemicals and made with materials that are harmful, to not only your body, but also the environment.
The bad news is that you may have to make an extra trip to a natural grocery store or order online from reputable companies. In the grand scheme of life and health that shouldn’t be a big deal.
Dr. Debra Laino
My Second TED talk on “Technology and the Extinction of Romance” has just been released! Click the link below to watch!
My First TED talk- Click the link below to watch my first TED talk on Low Libido!
P.S.- If you know anyone who is struggling to reach their potential I am never too busy for your referrals!