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YES! But How? :: Green Birth Control

Is there such a thing as “green” birth control?

Natural Family Planning calendar

Natural Family Planning is a method to keep track on the woman's fertile days.

Environmentally friendly contraception is easier than you might think.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than 30 percent of U.S. women use birth-control pills, making them the most common method of female contraception today.

Several studies have linked the estrogen that ends up in our sewage systems and bodies of water to sex changes in fish and frogs. One study showed that 80 percent of male smallmouth bass in rivers in Virginia and Maryland were producing eggs.

So the pill is not your greenest option. If you’re set on that method, progestin-only “mini-pills”—slightly less effective than estrogen—are available.

If you have a long-term partner and a knack for recordkeeping, you could try Natural Family Planning (NFP) or “periodic abstinence.” Since both individuals must cooperate, it serves as a great medium for inter-partner communication. NFP is less expensive than standard forms of birth control; works without artificial devices, hormones, or drugs; and has no harmful side effects for the user. Often, women report feeling more connected to their own bodies, since focusing on cyclical changes is key to this method. Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health (www.irh.org/nfp.htm) offers some great information on the topic.

Condoms are a popular, relatively green option; they account for an incidental amount of U.S. waste.

Polyurethane condoms tend to resist biodegradation, but latex condoms are biodegradable when disposed of properly in a garbage receptacle. If you flush them, they don’t biodegrade. Polyisoprene, or natural rubber, condoms are for those with a latex allergy.

“Natural skin” condoms are not animal-friendly (they’re made from sheep intestines), but they’re your greenest pick. Though as effective as other condoms at pregnancy prevention, they do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Casein, a milk derivative, is used to manufacture most condoms. Find vegan-friendly brands here: http://www.brighthub.com/health/alternative-medicine/articles/43306.aspx.

Though not to be used on a regular basis, the Plan B® One-Step or Next Choice emergency contraceptive pills are available over the counter at most U.S. pharmacies for those at least 17 years old. Find a pharmacy with this database: eclocator.not-2-late.com.


Ashlee Green wrote this article for America: The Remix, the Spring 2010 issue of YES! Magazine. Ashlee is an editorial intern at YES!

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