Written by Charlotte Wood (last updated March 27, 2009)
Contraception didn't used to be as easy as it is now—contraception used to require backhand deals and black market exchanges. Birth control didn't become publicly available until only several decades ago, and didn't become socially acceptable until even later. Even though birth control wasn't condoned for centuries, it could be found if you looked hard enough and there were even a few different kinds of contraception. Today, fortunately, there are several types of contraception: hormonal, behavioral, barrier, vaginal, and even more. One type of contraception is called natural, which doesn't require what other birth controls do.
Natural contraception does just what the name says it does—it tries to control pregnancy through natural methods, that is, it tries to control pregnancy without using extra hormones or anything else of the like. The most surefire method of natural contraception is abstinence from sexual intercourse. If two people don't have sex, then no pregnancy will happen. This is probably the most natural form of contraception out there.
Withdrawal is also a form of natural contraception. With withdrawal, the male withdraws from the woman just prior to ejaculation. The theory behind withdrawal is simple enough: If no semen or sperm gets inside the vagina or uterus, then no pregnancy is possible. However, this form of contraception should never be counted on—it shouldn't be your only or primary form of birth control. It wouldn't be hard for the male to slip up, and even if the male does withdraw before actual ejaculation, sperm can still get inside the vaginal tract, and can consequently, still cause a pregnancy.
Other forms of natural contraception include fertility awareness. Fertility awareness requires the woman to keep track of her cycle, knowing when she ovulates and for how long she's fertile. With fertility awareness, the couple shouldn't have unprotected sex when the woman has a viable egg in her system. This isn't a good option for primary contraception either. If the woman doesn't want to take hormonal birth control, then fertility awareness can work, but the male should always wear a condom. Rarely is a woman's cycle identical every month, and it wouldn't be hard for the couple to miscalculate by a day and wind up pregnant.
Outercourse is another form of natural contraception. This consists in sexual activity without any sexual intercourse. You can have outercourse by participating in foreplay, having oral sex, anal sex, stimulating massage, and other arousing activities. Again, this isn't guaranteed to prevent pregnancy because, as mentioned above, sperm can still get inside the vaginal tract and fertilize an egg.
As you can see, there are several options for natural contraception, but as you can also see, none of these methods should be primarily relied upon. Natural contraception is best if used as a contraceptive supplement.
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