What Are Non-hormonal Birth Control Methods?

Non-hormonal birth control methods act as a barrier. Some of them, such as the IUD, are very effective: its effectiveness is 99 percent.
What Are Non-hormonal Birth Control Methods?
María Vijande

Reviewed and approved by the pharmacist María Vijande.

Written by María Vijande

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Non-hormonal birth control methods are those that prevent the fertilization of the egg by the sperm without this intervening in the female menstrual cycle. Generally, this type of method acts as a barrier. Their function is to prevent contact between an egg and a sperm.

Other types of non-hormonal contraceptives are planning methods. These tell us when to avoid sex according to the phase of the menstrual cycle you’re in.

Although they can be very effective, non-hormonal contraceptives also have some disadvantages. Here’s a detailed explanation of this topic.

Types and Advantages of Non-Hormonal Birth Control

As highlighted in a publication by the American Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, there are a wide variety of non-hormonal contraceptives that offer both advantages and disadvantages to their use. Some are more effective than others and not all offer protection against STDs.

Non-Hormonal Birth Control Methods: Male Condom

The male condom is a latex sheath that prevents the passage of sperm inside the uterus. According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, with this method, the risk of unwanted pregnancy is 18%. Its main advantage, besides its contraceptive effectiveness, is that it protects against sexually transmitted diseases.

The disadvantages of male condoms have to do with their use. Unlike other methods that act permanently, men must put on a new condom every time they initiate a sexual encounter and replace it as many times as necessary.

A man opening a condom package while in bed with is partner.
The male condom remains one of the most effective non-hormonal methods of contraception. Also, it serves a dual function because it helps prevent STDs.


The diaphragm is a latex circle that a woman places inside the vagina before intercourse. Its main advantage is that the woman herself is in control of its placement, and it also covers the cervix completely.

This disadvantage is that it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Also, it must be left in place for hours after the act. According to the researchers, this method has a 12% chance of failing as a contraceptive.

You may also be interested in: Contraceptive Methods: Know the Myths and Truths About Them

Female condom

Like the male condom, it consists of a latex bag that prevents the passage of sperm to the eggs. It also protects against sexually transmitted diseases. The main disadvantage lies in how complicated female condoms are to put on.

Copper IUD

This is a more invasive and permanent method, with a duration of 10 to 20 years. It consists of an object made of plastic and copper, which a professional inserts in the woman’s cervix.

Its function of this birth control method is to create a hostile environment for the sperm so that they don’t reach the egg. They also release copper particles that prevent the adherence of a fertilized egg.

Among its advantages are that you can get one and forget about it for quite a long time. What’s more, it’s more than 99% effective. However, one disadvantage is that it doesn’t prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

A woman holding a copper IUD.
Although the IUD offers high protection against pregnancy, it doesn’t have the ability to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Male and female sterilization

Sterilization is a surgical process, which works as a contraceptive method without hormones. In men, it’s known as vasectomy, which is permanent and prevents the passage of sperm into the semen.

Its main advantage is effectiveness. At the same time, it doesn’t prevent ejaculation, nor does it affect virility. On the other hand, female sterilization is a process that involves isolating the ovaries from the uterus. Therefore, the eggs can’t reach the uterus.

Contraceptive Sponge

This is a synthetic sponge that’s impregnated with spermicide. It blocks the cervix, absorbs the semen, and fights the sperm. One of its advantages is its effectiveness, as long as women use it correctly.

More specifically, its effectiveness is approximately 88% in women who’ve never given birth and 76% in those who have. Also, women can insert it on their own.

However, among its disadvantages is that, in women who’ve already given birth, the effectiveness can decrease up to 68%. Also, inserting it correctly can be complicated and it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases. What’s more, it must remain in place for at least 6 hours after sex.

Read also: Should I Stop Using Contraceptives?

Natural planning as a non-hormonal birth control method

This method isn’t only hormone-free but also doesn’t require the use of any special products or surgical intervention. Natural planning consists of programming sexual activity depending on the stage of the menstrual cycle.

The goal is to avoid having sex on fertile days. It’s a method that can be effective when the cycle is regular. However, there are many risks of imprecision that depend on nature.

Non-hormonal birth control methods have advantages and disadvantages

Non-hormonal contraceptives offer several advantages over hormonal ones. However, they’re not always as effective. You must consult a doctor, gynecologist, or sexual and reproductive health professional to determine the method of contraception that’s best for you.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.