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Eight Reasons (Natural) Non Hormonal Birth Control May Suit You

September 30, 2021

Are you interested in Non-Hormonal Birth Control options? And would you consider using lemons to achieve birth control??? …Heard about Phexxi?

Updated July 2023

This article looks at natural non-hormonal birth control methods with a review of a new drug Phexxi and helps you decide whether it can be suitable or effective for YOU.

Now, natural health enthusiasts, there’s a new form of non-hormonal that’s been in use in the US for about a year and may soon be on its way to you if it’s not yet in your local area.

Known as Phexxi, this method may be the answer for many women. (FDA approval in May 2020).

Why a Natural Non-Hormonal Birth Control Method?

Presently, there are many issues with the available contraception.

Even the most effective can have troublesome side effects like heavy bleeding, mood disturbances, acne, headache, weight gain, and more. 

This creates serious lifestyle problems for many women who wish to delay starting a family till they are physically, mentally or emotionally ready.

Other natural birth control methods do exist – such as the copper coil, condoms or diaphragm etc.

However, whether or not you choose a method depends on how effective and convenient you believe it is.

Non Hormonal Birth Control Option

What is in Non-Hormonal Birth Control ‘Phexxi’?

Phexxi comes as a gel made of 3 ingredients – lactic acid, citric acid, and potassium bitartrate.

Lactic acid is commonly found in dairy products like yoghurt and cheese, and citric acid in limes, lemons and oranges.

Potassium bitartrate is also known as ‘Cream of tartar’, which should be a familiar term for those who cook and are produced from grapes fermenting during winemaking.

Now how is all this related to a birth control method, I hear you ask? Well. Let’s go back to basic biology!

Will Lemons work in Natural Birth Control Methods?

Centuries ago, women used sponges soaked in lemon juice inserted into the vagina to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.

Alternatively, they would remove the pulp and juice and insert the lemon rind, which acted as a cap, into the vagina to prevent sperm from entering the womb.

This was actually the origin of the cervical cap, an older birth control method used with spermicides.

So there is some precedence for using acid as birth control – although who knows how well that worked??

But what about how it works?

The vagina is naturally acidic, with a pH of around 4, while semen is naturally alkaline – with a pH of around 7.5.

Usually, when semen enters the vagina, it temporarily makes the vagina’s pH go up – i.e. more alkaline so that the sperm can survive. 

Remember our cheese, grapes and lemons?

The crucial feature of these three components of Phexxia is that they are acidic. 

So when you use this gel, it keeps the vaginal ph acidic and stops the sperm and prevents them from swimming up through the vagina to reach the womb opening and fertilise an egg.

The gel also covers the womb opening, which can help keep the sperm from reaching the womb.

How Do You Use Phexxi?

Well, Phexxi is designed to look and feel like you are inserting a tampon. The gel is applied directly inside your vagina via a prefilled applicator. Each applicator comes as a single dose.

The manufacturer states it works immediately and lasts up to 1 hour, but you need to use a separate dose each time you have sex. 

One of the critical questions you should always consider with birth control is whether the method you choose is suitable and effective – so let’s see how Phexxia lines up.

Best Non Hormonal Birth Control

Is Phexxi Non-Hormonal Birth Control Suitable For You?

Here are eight reasons to consider:

  1. If you’ve had problems with BC in the past or do not want to use methods like the pill, patch, injection or coil, then this may be a good option for you.
  2. It would be best if you were willing to use the gel consistently within an hour of intercourse — every time. This gives you a chance that it works better to prevent pregnancy.
  3. It does not cause an abortion. If you are already pregnant, Phexxi will not remove the pregnancy.
  4. It is not suitable for you if you have frequent urine infections. Women who have frequent UTIs or other urinary problems should avoid Phexxi as it may worsen their condition. (Check out my video here to learn how to prevent repeat urine infections naturally). 
  5. If you have a sore or dry vagina for whatever reason, then this gel may not be suitable for you. In this video (15 causes of painful vaginal sex), I share common causes for dryness or irritation in the vagina.
  6. This product will not suit you if you suffer from frequent thrush infections, bacterial vaginosis, or other abnormal vaginal discharge. 
  7. If you or your partner are allergic to any of the following: alginic acid, xanthan gum (gelling agents), benzoic acid (preservative), glycerin (humectant), sodium hydroxide (to adjust pH), then please do not use this gel.
  8. 1 out of 10 male partners did get some itching, burning, or pain after their partner used Phexxi.

Is Phexxi Effective?

The most effective form of non-hormonal contraception is the Copper IUD or Copper coil.

Yes, it is more effective than Phexxi. But some women do not want a coil or have had problems with it. 

According to studies, when 100 women use the method, 14 fell pregnant, making it about 86% effective.

However, it appears to stack up quite nicely against other non-hormonal options like: 

  • withdrawal
  • natural family planning
  • barrier methods such as condoms (if used alone) and diaphragms
  • and most spermicides (if used alone)

To get the best from this method and reduce unintended pregnancy as much as possible, use Phexxi with other natural methods.

How Is Phexxi Different From Spermicides?

They work similarly – both stop the sperm from moving and cover the opening of the womb. However, their ingredients are different.

The main ingredient that prevents pregnancy in spermicide is nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 is a chemical that makes sperm stop moving, preventing it from joining with an egg.  

Best Non Hormonal Birth Control Option image of lady's hand reaching for a glass of water with some pills and condoms on the top

Other Non-Hormonal Birth Control Questions

Below we address some other popular questions that many women have about natural non-hormonal methods of birth control:

Does Non-Hormonal Birth Control Help with Periods?

Well, period problems can happen for so many reasons. It’s often a good idea to be sure what is causing the period problem you have.

A few causes are:

  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Abnormalities of the womb and other reproductive organs like Fibroids or Endometriosis
  • Period problems from hormonal contraception
  • Irregular periods, heavy bleeding or other period problems with no known cause.

So from the short list above, you will quickly realise that by treating some of the conditions mentioned, the period problem should get better.

But the most common type may be the last – when there is no obvious problem.

And this is just the case for many ladies; they have an irregular pattern or heavy bleeding, but all tests do not show an abnormal womb pattern or other concerns.

Many women whose cycle is just beginning cycle have this problem, and we may often use the combined contraceptive pill to help make the bleeding pattern regular.

However, can non-hormonal birth control periods help with periods? Let’s consider these in different groups:

  • Copper Coil/ IUD – The Copper coil is a very effective form of contraception that does not contain hormones. So much so that it is the most effective form of emergency contraception (better than the EC pills).
    • However, one of the copper coil side effects is heavy and irregular bleeding, which some women may experience.

Other natural methods are:

  • Calendar, Withdrawal, Fertility Awareness Methods – these are unlikely to cause any change to your periods before you started to use them.
    • So here, the answer is no, as they do not contain the hormones that may affect periods.
  • Phexxi and Spermicides – Neither of these methods has an effect on a woman’s bleeding pattern.
    • The reason again is as they have no hormones, they will be unable to affect the menstrual cycle.
  • Condoms, Female Condoms and Diaphragms – These devices do not interfere with your hormones and cannot make your bleeding pattern change. They also cannot improve an abnormal bleeding problem.

Is Non-Hormonal Birth Control Better than Hormonal Methods?

The answer to this is very individual.

Based on clinical studies, many clinicians prefer to recommend hormonal methods as they have higher (better) effectiveness rates than non-hormonal methods.

And this is an extremely important aspect of any option – after all, the reason you use it is to prevent pregnancy with confidence.

But many women either cannot or do not wish to use hormones and will like to balance these two important elements of pregnancy prevention without hormones.

For you, having a method that provides your contraceptive need without affecting your natural hormones may be the best option.

In that case, you will have options like condoms, diaphragms, withdrawal, and so on to consider. But you should realise that with typical daily use, these methods are not as effective as the hormone-based ones.

This is why your doctor may recommend combining two or three non-hormone methods to provide maximum protection.

For instance, if you choose to use the withdrawal method, apply fertility awareness and use a calendar to identify your fertile period so you avoid having sex then.

There are a big number of women who use the more effective hormonal methods without any side effects, but if you are not one of them, consider chatting with your doctor for the best method – or schedule a chat with us here.

Does Non-Hormonal Birth Control Help Acne?

Natural Birth Control Methods do not affect your acne. The Copper coil does not produce hormones that affect your skin.

You may experience acne from using some older combined contraception pills and find the breakouts stop when you switch to non-hormonal methods.

However, even in that instance, the improvement you get happens from stopping the hormones, not necessarily using natural methods.

Is Non-Oestrogen Birth Control Better than Other Methods?

When it comes to the combined pill and progesterone-only pill, what is the difference?

First, the combined pill contains two pills – oestrogen and progesterone, hence the name ‘combined’. While the progesterone-only pill or POP (and is also known as the mini-pill) only has progesterone – no oestrogen.

Now get this – despite containing different ingredients, both these pill methods have the same effectiveness.

So if you are using the mini-pill, you are not getting a less effective deal.

However, non-oestrogen methods also include non-pill formulations, which are more effective than the pill.

  • The depot progesterone injection (Depot Progesterone and its subcutaneous forms: Sayana Press, Depo SubQ are examples),
  • progesterone intrauterine device (like Mirena, Levosert, Jaydess and Kyleena etc.).
  • and the Progesterone Implant – Nexplanon

One reason for the non-pill methods being more effective is that they do not depend on you taking them every day to work.

This means they are less likely to fail because of user error. In that way, you can say these non-oestrogen methods are better than the pill methods.

How do they compare to non-hormonal methods?

Well, again, the comparison lies in the weakness of a method that depends on an individual’s reliability.

Errors are more likely to happen when fitting the male or female condom, using the withdrawal method or relying on your calendar fertile days.

This gives the non-pill non-oestrogen methods a little upper hand in terms of how effective they are.

Safely Choosing Your Non-Hormonal Birth Control

Making a decision about what birth control method will work is usually an individual one.

Many times it depends on what you will accept, what is available or affordable, and what puts you at the least risk.

You should schedule a consultation with your doctor or nurse about what methods are available and their risks.

Then this will help you decide what method works best for you.

Not everyone and their partner can use the withdrawal method in the most effective way possible.

Some people struggle to manage their calendars and so on. If you’d like to chat with one of our clinicians for some direction on this topic, contact us here.

Hopefully, this post has been helpful and given you a good idea of natural methods, including Phexxi.

Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

More Reading


Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare. 

The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly

Image Credits: Unsplash

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