While you wait: The best current methods
Looking for a halfway decent method while you wait for these new methods to be developed? Tried most of the current methods (pills, NuvaRing, copper IUD, progestin IUD, condoms) and they’re not doing it for you? Here are some methods we know about that we consider the best of a bad lot.
- If you have the money to travel: the GyneFix frameless copper IUD in Belgium, England, or Vancouver, for an IUD with no pointy bits to irritate your insides. See IUD Divas for more information and UK contact info. In the U.K., family planning services are free through the National Health Service, even for foreign visitors. See the manufacturer’s site for contact e-mails for availability in other European countries. Clinic contact for Vancouver, Canada can be found on IUD Divas. And Vancouver is a lovely place to visit!
- If you have plans to travel to China or have relatives to visit there: the uterus-shaped Yuangong indomethacin IUD, a copper IUD with a slow-release ibuprofen-like drug right inside it to prevent the increased bleeding seen in the first few months of using a copper IUD. The manufacturer is ISO9000-certified Yantai Family Planning Medicine & Apparatus Co., Ltd., and the quality appears to be good. Discussion can be found at IUD Divas.
- If you are young enough to still have regular cycles (say, still in your 20’s or 30’s) and are a careful and conscientious type: the Fertility Awareness Method coupled with condoms during your fertile time. See Planned Parenthood or the website of the most popular book on the subject, or do a search for “fertility awareness method,” to learn more.
- What about the new Skyla IUD? We had planned to include it here, thinking it would be a better, smaller, lower-dose choice, until hearing from a family planning provider colleague that they’re seeing a lot more irregular bleeding with it than with the Mirena and for that reason don’t offer it. So it may not be all it’s cracked up to be!
- If you’re a conscientious type: heat methods as a backup for condoms (or your partner’s method). You can experiment with various techniques, such as a hot pack while you surf online or watch your favorite TV show, and buy a home sperm count test to see how well it’s working. See more at the Male Contraception Information Project heat methods page.
- If you’re done having kids and okay with permanence: vasectomy. To get the best vasectomy, go to someone who specializes in no-scalpel vasectomy and does several hundred or more a year. These docs have ultra-low rates of side effects. We know of two masters in Canada (Dr. Ron Weiss in Ottawa and Dr. Michel Labrecque in Quebec), but there are master vasectomy docs in every major city. Check out the World Vasectomy Day site for a list of doctors performing vasectomies.
- If you’re done having kids, okay with possible permanence, and willing to be a guinea pig: ultrasound. Ultrasound machines are available for about $1300 and are widespread in chiropractors’ and physical therapists’ offices. However, it is unknown how much ultrasound is needed for long-acting contraception in men. You would have to read all the literature, determine for yourself, and use another method for backup. If you are the type who likes to experiment and want to know more, see the MCIP ultrasound page.
updated fall 2013
Note 2016: Link broken? Doing historical research? Try the previous (2011) archived version of our site if you need a particular link or reference.