Going vegan sounds explanatory. Just swap cow’s milk for almond or coconut, ditch the meat and eggs, say no to cheese and crackers, and hello to chickpeas and tofu. But there’s a common oversight even the most dedicated vegans miss… contraception.
When I first began researching vegan contraceptive methods, I was stunned to find most mainstream birth control methods aren’t vegan. They either contain animal products, or are tested on animals at some point during their production.
So, what can vegans use to refrain from producing their own vegan babies?
Barrier contraceptive methods literally involve placing a barrier between the egg and the sperm. There are four main types of vegan barrier methods:
Generally made from a latex (which contains a dairy derivative casein to make it ‘smooth’), condoms can come in vegan form, made from natural latex rubber. These are readily available in shops and stores like Amazon, as the demand for vegan and ethically made condoms grows. You may laugh, but ‘B-Corp certified, vegan, ethical condoms’ do exist, check out GLYDE if you don’t believe me.
It’s the same situation for diaphragms. The diaphragm is a shallow, dome-shaped cup that is inserted into the vagina before sex, and left there for at least six hours afterwards. Diaphragms can be made from silicone instead of latex and paired with a vegan spermicide like ContraGel, they make a great vegan birth control combo.
3. Cervical Cap
A similar concept to the diaphragm, the cervical cap is a smaller object, made of silicone, that covers the cervix and stops sperm from entering the uterus. The reusable cap must be used in conjunction with vegan spermicide for maximum effectiveness.
4. Contraceptive Sponge
A rarer form of contraception, the contraceptive sponge is a soft, disk-shaped object, made from soft plastic, and contains spermicide. It also works as a barrier between the cervix and sperm, like the cap or diaphragm. The contraceptive sponge is the least popular method of birth control because of the inconvenience of use, and higher cost in comparison to a condom.
Hormonal birth control
Moving on from barrier methods, let’s briefly touch on hormonal birth control pills which include estrogen and progestin and come in various forms, such as oral contraceptives, the patch, birth control injection, and vaginal rings. I say briefly because all hormonal contraceptives I have discovered, either contain either animal products such as lactose or have been tested on animals.
Although there are several different types of hormonal birth controls, it appears vegans must stay clear of all of them for now. For example, the popular contraceptive, Premarin, is derived from horse urine, and as PETA’s website informs, “the drug’s name is short for PREgnant MARes’ urINe.” According to the animal welfare organisation, “about 750,000 mares are impregnated each year for the sole purpose of collecting their estrogen-rich urine”. However, there is a plant-based synthetic version that has just been approved by the FDA called Cenestin but this contraceptive has been tested on animals.
Now IUDs, contraceptive rods, and the NuvaRing, are all unsuspecting non-vegan-friendly methods of contraception too. Even if they do not contain animal products, during their production, they are tested on animals. Vegans who are less strict on these details are comfortable with the copper IUD, a small coil inserted into the uterus. Copper is a natural spermicide, so does not require vegan spermicide or animal derivatives to be added.
Of course, the most obvious vegan contraceptive method would be to live alone in a cave, and never come out. The second best – fertility awareness method.
The fertility awareness method involves tracking your cycle strictly on a calendar or fertility phone app such as Kindara, to monitor ovulation cycles and abstain from sex during the days of highest fertility. It can also include taking your temperature daily and tracking your cervical secretions (mucus). Although the fertility awareness method is completely vegan-friendly, best for the environment, and most cost-effective, it is the easiest method to screw up. Some swear by it, but others have several little humans running around whose existence tells a different story.
Choosing what vegan contraceptive works for you is a completely personal decision. It may help to chat with your doctor, make them aware of your strong values, and talk through the best options with your medical records on hand and conditions in mind.
Are you vegan? Recommend any vegan birth control brands? Feel free to leave their details below.
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