Have you ever wondered whether your preferred form of contraception is vegan-friendly? It comes as no surprise that, as with most pharmaceuticals, many birth control options are tested on animals; contain animal parts or animal by-products. Choosing the right method that is not only the best for you and your partner but is also in harmony with your vegan lifestyle can be a minefield. Here’s some information which may help you to decide.
Barrier contraception simply means placing a barrier between the egg and sperm. The two most commonly used methods are condoms and diaphragms. Unfortunately, most condoms are extremely non-vegan. The latex they are made from contains casein, a milk protein also contained in dairy cheese. Luckily, there are a few brands of safe, reliable vegan-friendly condoms available which are actually cheaper than the leading brands too; Glyde and Sir Richard’s being just two.
Diaphragms are usually made from latex which makes them non-vegan options for the reasons already outlined. However, there are some which are made from silicone which is vegan friendly. Beware of lubricants and spermicides intended for use with diaphragms. Many of these are tested on animals which is obviously a no, no.
For those who prefer the barrier method, check out Vegan-Love.com; they have a great website with a great selection of vegan friendly options.
Hormonal birth control
There are several different methods of hormonal birth control, and they are all tested on animals. To add to the vegan dilemma, many also contain lactose which is a milk by-product. There are also disquieting findings in scientific studies which show adverse effects on aquatic animals apparently caused by synthetic hormones which are excreted in urine and eventually find their way into the water system.
Intra-uterine devices (IUDs)
IUDs can be hormonal or non-hormonal; both varieties being implanted into the uterus. The hormonal varieties of intra-uterine devices (IUS) work by slowly secreting hormones which prevent fertilisation. IUS typically have a lifespan of up to five years. The non-hormonal IUDs present a physical barrier preventing fertilisation of the egg by sperm and should that fail, stopping embryos from becoming attached to the wall of the uterus. Unfortunately, both forms of IUDs are tested on animals and are thus non-vegan friendly options.
Both men and women can be sterilised via procedures which require either local or general anaesthesia. In the event of a change of heart at a later stage in life, both these procedures can be reversed. As with all surgical procedures, both these options were at some point tested on animals. Unlike pharmaceuticals however, no repeat testing is required.
Natural forms of birth control are the most vegan-friendly but are unfortunately also the most unreliable, hence the old joke; what do you call couples who use natural contraception? Answer, parents!
Calendar based methods rely on only having sex during the least fertile period of a woman’s monthly cycle which does tend to kill the spontaneity of the moment as does the other natural method; coitus interruptus.
So it can be difficult to use an effective method of contraception and remain ‘vegan’ to the letter. There is also the issue of hormonal birth control being recommended by your GP for reasons other than birth control. And this opens the floor for a whole different discussion on the use of medication in general.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.