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Switching to a Non-Hormonal Form of Birth Control

How to discontinue your current method of birth control and make the switch to a non-hormonal method.

Switching to a Non-Hormonal Form of Birth Control

When it comes to birth control, there is no one best method, only the method that is best for a particular person at a particular time. Many people switch between different methods throughout their lifetime, and there are plenty of options available.

While hormonal birth control has many advantages, it’s not the right choice for every person at every time. For example, a person may transition away from hormonal birth control because they are experiencing unwelcome side effects. Or they may be planning on getting pregnant soon—but not just yet.

If you are currently using a method of hormonal birth control and thinking of switching to a non-hormonal method, the following steps may help.

Do some research
There are many different non-hormonal birth control options available. Spend some time reading up on what’s available and comparing different methods. Again, remember the goal here is to find the option that works best for you at this moment in your life.

Talk to your healthcare provider
This may be an obvious one, especially if you are switching to a method that requires a prescription (such as Phexxi) or a fitting (such as a cervical cap), or if it requires a procedure to put in place (such as an IUD).

But even if you are switching to a method that does not require a prescription, it’s worth speaking to a healthcare provider. There’s a risk of pregnancy any time you’re switching birth control methods, and fluctuating levels of hormones can leave you feeling a little different—it’s good to know what to expect and what’s normal.

Your healthcare provider can also answer questions about gaps, overlap, backup methods, and potential side effects.

  • A gap is a period of time where the previous method has stopped being effective at preventing pregnancy, but the new method is not yet effective. Gaps are something you want to avoid anytime you switch from one method of birth control to another.
  • Overlap refers to a period of time where you are using a new method while still using an old method.
  • A backup method is an additional method of birth control that you use at the same time as your primary contraceptive. For example, a person may be advised to use condoms along with a spermicide cream or pH modulating gel.
  • Side effects are also sometimes called “adverse effects.” Information on side effects is listed on packaging and readily available online (check the manufacturer’s website). But this is another useful topic to discuss with your healthcare provider, who can advise you on what to do if you experience a side effect.

Next steps
To help you get started, here are some questions you will need to answer when you begin using a new method of birth control:

  • How does this contraceptive work?
  • How effective is this contraceptive?
  • Does this contraceptive protect against STIs?
  • Will this contraceptive impact my menstrual cycle?
  • How much does it cost? Is it covered by insurance?
  • When and how should I stop using my current contraceptive?
  • Will the new contraceptive be effective immediately?
  • Do I need to use a backup method?
  • Can this contraceptive be used with other types of birth control?
  • What side effects do I need to watch for?
  • What should I do if I experience a side effect?

Whatever type of birth control you decide to use, make sure you have a clear understanding of how to use it—using any contraceptive incorrectly makes it less effective.

Medically reviewed in April 2021.

Sources:
Planned Parenthood. "Birth Control."
American Pregnancy Association. "Types of Birth Control."
Medical News Today. "10 most common birth control pill side effects."
Natural Cycles. "Switching Birth Control: How Do I Change my Birth Control Method?"
American Family Physician. "Side Effects of Hormonal Contraceptives." December 2010. Vol. 82, No. 12.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Intrauterine Contraception."
Planned Parenthood. "How can I get an IUD?"
Medical News Today. "Stopping birth control: What to expect and management."
Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials. "6 Things That Can Happen When You Stop Taking The Pill."
Reproductive Health Access Project. "How to Switch Birth Control Methods."
Medical News Today. "How to switch birth control pills properly."
Ruth Lesnewski, Linda Prine and Regina Ginzburg. "Preventing Gaps When Switching
Contraceptives." American Academy of Family Physicians, 2011. Vol. 83, No. 5.
Planned Parenthood. "Phexxi."
Carnegie Women's Health. "Should I Combine Birth Control Methods?"
MyHealthfinder.gov. "Choose the Right Birth Control."

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