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What’s the greenest, safest, healthiest, most affordable (okay, best) form of Birth Control?

Bonus:

~

I posted the below note to my Facebook Wall.

“Huff Post: IUD is greenest, safest form of birth control. http://huff.to/bLjKBx

And this happened:

Jennifer E > Disagree. Fertility Awareness Method in my book (see Persona)

Valerie > Pretty much, yup.
Sadly the FDA here in America only allows for a few types of IUD and virtually no difference between them. Europe, where it’s the most popular form of BC, has something crazy like 18 different kinds and sizes, over here …it’s a basic MEDIUM. We need to change that.

Melanie > seems great.. but then i would become a real robot.. I’d have copper in my body!!

Waylon Lewis > Nothing wrong with copper, right? I was told it’s actually healthy at least as a bracelet, where it bleeds into your wrist.

Valerie > There are other things they can use to hinder implantation if you’re allergic to copper 🙂

Jennifer Jones Hunt > I agree with Jennifer E: FAM is the the safest and greenest—just a lot more work and has the potential to be less effective.

You couldn’t pay me enough to put a piece of metal in my uterus.

Melanie > how does FAM work? And copper seems not so bad.

Waylon Lewis > But JJH, plastic bad! And condoms aren’t compostable? We trash our world, we trash mother nature, we trash ourselves? IUDs are supposedly really safe from what little I’ve read about them thus far. I want to do articolo on this, so keep the comments, facts and experiences and recommendations coming. With thanks–

Jennifer Jones Hunt > ‎@Melanie – FAM: temperature taking, charting, learning your body’s natural cycles. It gets easier with time but is a lot of work at first.

Jennifer Jones Hunt > I completely agree, Waylon. Condoms are bad. I had a really hard time trying to find a BC that I felt okay using—keeping mother earth and my body in mind. After much research FAM was the only option that worked for me ally. Now, considering I’m pregnant again with a wonderful ‘surprise’, if FAM isn’t done properly, it is not at all effective 🙂

Abigail > Talk to some of the women who got PID from IUD.

Kezia > ‎”After much research FAM was the only option that worked for me ally. Now, considering I’m pregnant again with a wonderful ‘surprise’, if FAM isn’t done properly, it is not at all effective :)” <— if that doesn’t steer you away from “FAM” as birth control, what will?

Melanie > Check this.

Kezia > And where is sterilization on that list? Oughtn’t that to be number one?

Jennifer Jones Hunt ‎> @Kezia: I openly admitted to not doing FAM properly. If you don’t take your pills on time everyday you will have the same result…as with not putting in your diaphragm in a certain amount of time before intercourse. I didn’t say it wasn’t effective if used properly.

Valerie > We can’t get Americans to brush their freakin’ teeth, there’s NO WAY we’re going to get them to take their temps, etc etc and follow FAM the way it’s supposed to be followed. Please regard above comment about baby on the way, which is adorable, but the exact reason why FAM isn’t the greenest. What takes up more energy? An accidental child or a strip of copper? how about an accidental child or a piece of leftover latex? this is a large scale issue, we need a solution that works for everyone, FAM is not for everyone. And guess what, I use it. I still wouldn’t recommend it to the masses.

Hell yes to sterilization, Kezia, it IS the truest form of green! maybe a vasectomy would be next, MEN!

Jennifer Jones Hunt > No, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to the masses but that wasn’t the question. So, going back to the original question, I would consider it the greenest and safest IF done properly.

Valerie > ‎@Abigail- There’s a higher rate of PID in women who use no birth control than in IUD users. and IUD’s don’t cause PID, STDs do and unclean conditions during insertion.

Mathew Gerson >Way, latex condoms indeed are 100% Biodegradable! You did the interview with me on it. In order to breakdown properly they need to end up in a landfill to compost and not our waterways…so never flush them.

Valerie > I assumed “green” applied to our species as a whole and not just individuals, that’s where I’m coming from.

There’s little room for mess up with an IUD, as with pills, shots or FAM there’s no denying that.

Valerie > I thought so @ Mathew. latex is natural, right? And while you’re at it, buy Sir Richard’s condoms! 🙂

Holly > I’m with Kezia and Valerie, sterilization is pretty effective, and, a one shot deal – then taking the leap to having no kids is really affecting your environmental impact.

Then again, if I get hung up about how green my birth control is—it might be enough for me to abstain altogether.

Waylon Lewis > Mathew, my understanding (from you, I thought) was that your Sir Richard’s condoms will be biodegradable (not compostable!), which is awesome. But that conventional condoms have other crap on them, which makes them not just latex? Enlighten me brother. Are conventional condoms just latex? And is that latex mindfully sourced?

Jennifer Jones Hunt > Valerie, we all individually do our part to be green, right… I see it on an individual level. I cloth diaper but I also wouldn’t recommend that to the masses because it can cause major health issues if not done properly. We are in agreement about the amount of dedication necessary to make FAM effective.

Valerie > ‎@ Jennifer- And I’m glad to see we’re choosing FAM as a serious option. I haven’t had any form of BC in my body, or on my body for over 10 years and I know it can work. I also know plenty of friends that would end up knocked up because …they’re so out of whack with their cycle so we have to have something effective and pretty green to offer them. ANYTHING BUT THE PILLLLLLLLLLL!!!! It served its purpose, hell yeah!, but we know pumping that many hormones into our waterways is having negative effects on our environment and possibly our species.
Good luck with your new one on the way!

Lauren > I haven’t checked the accuracy of the data on this link. But I do know of one who experienced uterine puncture with an iud, and another who experienced a reaction to the copper.

Mathew Gerson > Sorry, I was likening “compostable” to “biodegradable”, in the sense that the condoms are made of organic bio-mass (natural latex) that under the proper conditions will break down into its constituent parts and be integrated back into the …watershed.
Most condoms, including Sir Richard’s, have Silicon based lubricant (helps prevent breakage and skin lesions) added to them. Silicon is made by combining Silica + Coke.
Some condoms have nonoxynol 9 added to them which is a chemical that is known to have a host of negative side effects and to the best of my knowledge is not biodegradable. (Sir Richard’s does not contain it)
Hope that answers your questions!

Valerie > nonoxynol 9 is no fun.

Anna Brones > Seems to me like choosing any form of birth control is “green” since it means you’re consciously choosing to not procreate. Anyone done any studies of environmental impact of using various form of BC over a certain period of time versus the impact of a human being?

Jennifer Jones Hunt > Valerie – Yes, absolutely! I’m in complete agreement with you. I used FAM in order to get pregnant with my 2 boys and used it for another 3 years as BC. Just guessing when you ovulate doesn’t cut it, so women need to have another healthy and green option if they can’t dedicate the energy and time. The pill is the worst in my book, as well. Thank you for your well wishes, dear!

Waylon Lewis > Anna, I personally am not sure about the whole “human beings aren’t green, being dead is green” logic. We have the power to be of benefit. Life is precious. Green isn’t about not living. It’s about being responsible, learning, waking up and celebrating life in all its ordinary magic. That said, you’re right—most of us “First Worlders” create a lot of suffering and waste without hardly thinking about it.

Anna Brones > Waylon, I agree with you. In fact I think when we start getting into the “nitty gritty” of things — like which form of BC makes you more eco friendly — we lose sight of the bigger picture, which is making sure that we live balanced, conscious lifestyles. At the end of the day, we all have al choices to make. For some that means having children. For others it doesn’t.

It’s easy for us to get hung up on the little things, because if someone tells us that a certain product is more environmentally friendly we feel empowered to buy it. And although we can certainly vote with our pocket book, it’s not because you buy eco dishwashing detergent that you’re going to save the world. We need to be empowered to engage in a larger, broader conversation.

Valerie > The little things add up, too. To deny that is to deny us any power right now to make a positive change. I would argue policy change is great, of course, but every day choices are the first step to a society shifting. We need to pay attention right now to how we live because we’re undoing a lot of bad decisions from the past. This even includes what kind of BC is the best for us and for the environment. If you don’t do both at this junction, you might as well sit on your hands or pick your nose. We’ve been doing that long enough.

Jennifer Jones Hunt > Anna, we are all an army of one. It would be nice for humanity as a whole to step up and make massive global changes to help the environment, however, that kind of shift doesn’t happen overnight and without many small steps. In my opinion, it is the small things that count… Replacing paper towels in your home with reusable cloth towels, walking instead if driving whenever possible, using Eco-friendly products. Any little step that you can take makes a difference and acts as an example to other to do the same thing. If everyone said what that these little efforts aren’t worth it and stops making them, we would be in MUCH worse shape… On the contrary, if everyone did even just one small part a day, think of the impact. We do need to concentrate on the small things because they really do make a difference. It’s nice that you dream big but the reality is that it takes baby steps. The bigger picture is affected by our individual choices.

Carolyn > May I suggest not using it before you’ve had a child. Otherwise it is VERY painful.

Waylon Lewis > Jennifer, Anna, if I may, and as you well know, you’re both right. As they say in Buddhist language, we must join “heaven” (vision, big ideas) with “earth” (actual action, specific “small” steps).

Waylon Lewis > Okay, any last thoughts or suggestions or advice? I’m gonna write up green birth control article tomorrow.

Anna Brones > Jennifer, Waylon: yes, yes and yes. I’m not saying the small decisions matter. They definitely do.

I’m just saying that very often we get caught up focusing on the small decisions that we lose track of the bigger picture. Just because I ride my bike everyday doesn’t make me an eco warrior and doesn’t mean that I can’t always do more. The worst al decision we can make is to become self congratulatory and complacent.

Jennifer Jones Hunt > Waylon, I don’t know if you want to go in this direction but I’ve recently read that the hormones in the pill not used by the body are expelled in urine and are, like most pharmaceuticals in our sewage, make their way back into our food and water supply.

Valerie > Jennifer, they definitely do!

So does Miracle Grow which is chocked full of synthetic estrogen and horrible for the environment (and made by Monsanto) grrr

Jennifer Jones Hunt > Valerie – I was shocked when I read that about the pill and other pharmaceuticals…and I had no idea about Miracle Grow. That is when I seriously stopped trusting our water supply. I also challenge women who have been on the pill for years to stop and try a different form of BC…they will be absolutely blown away at how much better they feel physically and emotionally.

Valerie > That’s exactly why I stopped taking it, I never felt right, always bloated and then, weirdly, I lost interest in sex. freakin’ pill! what’s the point of taking it if you don’t want to have sex? right?? haha and we haven’t mentioned the link between smoking, taking the pill and blood clots, heart attacks and cancer. there’s so many reasons to avoid popping that thing!

Elaine > IUD birth control is not for everyone. I became ill after using one. Women need to consider their own health and options, and not be swayed by external pressures, such as: This is the greenest option. Women need to pick something because: This is the best option.

Waylon Lewis Amen, Elaine. Green in this context includes healthy, of course. So what are you recommending?

Elaine > Aha! Thanks for asking. I’m not a doctor, but IMHO, I like the condom for disease protection. And if you’re in a stable, committed relationship, there are lots of choices for the pill. For women who have painful menstrual and premenstrual experience, it can be a real relief. Some birth control pills use less hormones too. They even have a female condom. They promote this in Africa for protection against AIDS. BTW, I’m really interested to read Freedom by Johnathan Franzen on the topic of over population and how we pretend it’s not there. I could go on, but I’ll spare you the rest of my diverging tangents:)

Mathew Gerson > Good article on IUD’s in todays NYT’s.

Waylon Lewis Thanks for that! What auspicious timing. Now I don’t have to write anything—their article is so well done.

Elizabeth > What about vasectomies? Safe and “green”. Though admittedly less reversible, this fact may make them even greener, in a way. It’s always irked me that so much of the responsibility for birth control falls on women’s shoulders and, like an IUD and pills, can be creepy, painful and/or sickening. It would be so nice if guys had more options besides condoms (super-temporary) and a vasectomy (fairly permanent). Is there anything effective besides these that I should know about?

Elaine > It falls on a woman’s shoulders because the consequences fall mainly on the woman. True a man has a moral, legal, and genetic responsibility for the children he fathers, but…the woman holds the baby or decides to have an abortion.

Heather > I’m a big FAN and it’s the best method I’ve ever used but….we women still undergo some “unfortunate” side effects using the non-hormonal IUD. Just another reason you MEN should worship us in every way, every day!

Waylon Lewis > Great question, Elizabeth. I don’t know of anything except the ol’pull out at the last second move, which of course is infallible.

Jarod > I prefer the ‘pull-out and pray’ method…verrry “Green”—nothing to throw away after (hopefully)…

Elaine > I rest my case.

Mathew Gerson Glad you are going to cover the topic, Waylon. It would be important to mention the importance of getting tested with every new partner you are with, especially for the cavalier serial daters who are not wearing condoms. (You know who you are)

Kayla > I used FAM for three years in my LTR and it worked perfectly. I’d temp, chart and take ovulation tests. The three times I tried BC pills, they made me emotionally nuts, when I am naturally a very balanced and happy . I also gained weight, and felt crappy (bloating, cramps) when I normally have no issues with that. There was a nagging feeling that I wasn’t myself! And I had to wait several months after I stopped them to feel like me again and it took my body just as long to function naturally again. I have an athletic, non-smoking friend who had a stroke while on bc pills. I was an IUD baby, but I guess the IUD was less effective in the 80’s. Regardless, mom had used an IUD for 15 years with no problem, but I am here! (and very glad that I am) She said that when she got pregnant with me, the IUD should have been the most effective. I guess it’s not as effective during the beginning and end of of its “shelf life.”

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Sep 14, 2015 10:19pm

Birth Control Pill? Got pregnant (love my daughter)
Condom? Got pregnant (love my son)
Thought about sterilization after 2 kids, but doctor said I was too young. It was a blessing because…
After an IUD for 11 years, I was pregnant with a planned child (another son!) the first month after removal.
Bottom Line? It's a personal choice and lots of research to make the right decision for YOU.
Be educated, be informed.

Marie Jul 9, 2015 7:02pm

I never post comments on the web… And I mean never- this is my first one because I just have too. I got the copper IUD in hopes to get off birth control because I didn’t want any added hormones. I had been having imbalanced hormones for years so I decided to get a copper IUD. Big mistake. I started having insane periods where I would bleed horribly through my sheets, have to change my tampon every 1 1/2 hours. I also started breaking out horribly. All of this was happening at age 23. Every doctor told me it was fine, the IUD wasn’t breaking me out. Then I went to a holistic Gyno and we researched copper IUD and breakouts and so much information came up! I got it taken out and everything Started to regulate. Needless to say I know the IUD works great for some people but for others it causes a lot of issues that doctors don’t acknowledge.

Sophia Apr 18, 2015 5:31pm

I had the copper IUD for 7 years- it seemed convenient since I couldn’t do hormonal birth control, but it made my periods extremely heavy (9 days of bleeding per month- that’s bleeding A THIRD OF THE TIME), totally anemic, and I believe I have some remnant copper toxicity since taking it out a year ago. Do NOT recommend. FAM all the way.

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.