Believe it or not, most forms of birth control are not vegan.  That’s right: there are animal bits all up in your naughty bits.  A while back I did a Q&A video that talked about sex and how your sex drive can be significantly increased by a healthy vegan diet.  But of course the logical outcome of an increased sex drive is…well…sex.  And the logical outcome of sex is…hopefully you know this…babies!   But what if you’re newly vegan and all hot and bothered but don’t want to procreate, just practice?  Well, you will need some form of birth control.  So what’s a vegan to do?

There are two elements to the un-vegan nature of birth control.  First is that most if not all methods have been tested on animals.  And second is that many birth control methods actually contain animal products.  So I’m going to walk you through some of the common methods and offer some humane alternatives.

Method number one: condoms and other barrier methods

The most common barrier method is condoms.  Condoms are non-vegan on both counts: they are both tested on animals and they contain animal products, specifically casein, the primary protein present in coagulated or curdled milk and cheese.  Just what you want all over your naughty parts, right?  This also includes other barrier methods like dental dams and latex diaphragms.  Luckily, there are vegan barrier options.  There are actually several vegan condom and dental dam brands available today that are casein and animal-testing free, as well as silicone diaphragms. (See the bottom of the post for resources.)

One very vegan-friendly option is the FemCap, a small cap that fits over the cervix.  The disadvantages of the FemCap are the it has to be inserted before sexual arousal, so you kind of have to see it coming and be prepared, though penciling in your romantic trysts kind of kills the mood.  Also, it has to be used in conjunction with a spermicidal gel, many of which are tested on animals, chock full of hormones and cause irritation.  But there are vegan, hormone-free spermicidal gels available. (See the bottom of the post for resources.)

Method number two: oral contraceptives and other hormonal options.

Again, this one is a twofer.  Every medication created currently has to go through animal trials, at least in the United States, despite the fact that animal testing has been proven time and again to not only be inaccurate but also dangerous for humans in its false predictions.  You can watch my multi-video series all about animal testing for more information on that.  Aside from the testing element, many birth control pills contain lactose as an ingredient, another dairy derivative.  Back in the day and perhaps still with some products, some of the hormones in birth control, namely Premarin, were made from dehydrated horse urine.  This may still be the case with menopausal medications. yes…horse pee.  Aren’t we a resourceful species?

An additional ethical element of birth control pills and other hormonal methods is that these hormones are excreted in women’s urine and find their way to our waters where there have been documented adverse effects on marine life, demasculinizing male animals and creating intersexed individuals, thus interfering with natural reproduction and population balance.  This is a worldwide issue as we all share water and the European Union was the first to seriously consider mandating the removal of Ethinyl Estradiol, or EE2, from the waste water.  The problem is this is a very complex and costly process.

In addition to the environmental destruction of hormonal birth control methods, there is your own health to consider.  The pill has been linked to serious increased incidences of breast and cervical cancers, as well as risks of heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure, blood clotting, and more. Some birth control patches also contain animal-derived ingredients but from what I was able to find, the Ortho-Evra brand does not, though it is a medication so it has been through animal testing.

Method number three: intra-uterine devices or IUDs

IUDs come in two forms, hormonal and non-hormonal. They are small T-shaped objects implanted in the uterus.  While the hormonal sources of any birth control aren’t crystal clear, the non-hormonal copper IUD is animal-free.  However, both forms of IUDs have been through animal testing.

Method number four: sterilization

There are sterilization procedures available for both men and women.  Unfortunately, with our society as it is, these surgical procedures were at some point tested on animals.  However, unlike pharmaceuticals, they don’t require repeat testing. Men can very easily get a vasectomy in an out-patient procedure and women can have either a surgical tubal ligation or a non-surgical fallopian tube implantation, called the essure.  The way it works is little metal corkscrews are inserted into the fallopian tubes accessed through the cervix and the body walls off around them, thus preventing eggs from reaching the uterus.  This is also an outpatient procedure done under twilight anesthesia.  Unlike a vasectomy and some forms of tubal ligation, the essure is permanent, so be sure that you don’t want any children.

Method number five: natural methods

These are, of course, the most vegan of all birth control methods but also, in many cases, the most unreliable.  Within this category are things like natural family planning, the rhythm method, fertility monitors, and abstinence.  Using a fertility monitor with your natural family planning is probably the best bet if you’re going this route.  There are a number of different monitors available and they help you to use your body’s natural cues to know when you are fertile.  Of course this means you must abstain from sex during those fertile times and there is never a 100 percent guarantee, though that goes for any method outside of properly-performed sterilization.

So that’s my rundown of the most common birth control methods and some alternatives.  I hope you found this informative and hopefully all the facts and figures didn’t kill the mood.

I’d love to hear from you.  If you’re vegan or vegan-curious and sexually active and not wanting babies at the moment, and don’t think that me asking this is completely inappropriate and an invasion of your privacy, let me know what method you use.  Have you had any negative experiences with certain birth control methods?  Let me know in the comments!

See ya next nugget!

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Videos Featured:

Vegan Sex

Animal Testing Series

Resources:

Vegan Products:

FemCap

GLYDE Condoms and Dental Dams

Sir Richard’s Condoms

Kimono Condoms (specialty thin, high-sensation condoms)

ContraGel natural, vegan alternative to spermicidal gel

YES water based lubricant

Cyclotest fertility monitor

LadyComp fertility monitor

Essure

More Info:

Vegan-Love.com awesome site with all kinds of good stuff

Ethical Family Planning the sister site of vegan-love.com with lots of info on fertility-awareness methods

Fertility-Tracking Methods from Planned Parenthood

Thread On the Horse Urine Issue

Water Pollution Caused By Birth Control Poses Dilemma by Wynne Parry

Premarin Wikipedia Page

 

11 thoughts on “Is Birth Control Vegan?

    Well done, my friend

    Tammy says:

    Really interesting article. I had no idea that all these different forms of contraception have animal products in them. Horse urine! WTF is wrong with people. Luckily for me I’ve never used any forms of contraception and I have two beautiful healthy children :) this world needs more vegans.

    we could always use more vegans, that’s for sure :) so glad you found it informative!

    I am newly vegan and trying to do my research to eliminate products that contain animal by-products and that test on animals out of my life and didn’t even think about my birth control. It is truly shocking what we allow and what is included in products that you wouldn’t expect to have animal by-products. Glad I found this article!

    so glad this was helpful Katie! i think birth control is under a lot of vegans’ radars. that’s why i like to make these videos on the lesser-known topics. :)

    bobbie jo says:

    Does depo provera follow under the hormonal category. My shot was just due and it made me wonder

    it’s been tested on animals but does not contain animal byproducts.

    Katie Wallace says:

    Hi Emily- great post. As a vegan and a nurse practitioner I have lots of internal arguments over every medication I prescribe (although I becam an NP to teach healthy living to patients in hopes to avoid medication as much as possible). That said, I really want to caution you about listing increases in breast cancer and cervical cancer with birth control use. Combination or progestin only options of OCs do not do not consistently correlate with either of these cancers through research studies. And the vast (I’m talking basically all) cases of cervical cancer are directly caused by HPV. So, unless people are having more unprotected intercourse (which they often do when on an OC), the pill itself has nothing to do with cervical cancer. It’s the lack of a barrier method. I’m so happy to hear about vegan- friendly condoms! I would want to know if they are equally effective to traditional latex, as I do have vegan and vegetarian patients. I’ll have to check these out. Anyway, I truly await the day until we can eliminate the need for all artificial medicines, but at this point some people medically require OCPs and for those reasons I do prescribe them. Despite this, it pains me that we still have such medieval practice as
    animal testing… Totally abusive and in my opinion unnecessary. :(

    Thank you so much for sharing Katie. That is a difficult position to be in. Thank you for the additional info- I really appreciate it! And I am right there with you on the medication…it’s ridiculous it’s still tested on animals. As I said in my “is medication vegan” vid, and as you’ve echoed, at times the medication is needed. But the testing certainly isn’t!

    Natalie says:

    Hi there – I’ve been eating vegan for about a year, I wear all vegan and cruelty free makeup, and wear vegan clothes. The one thing in my life that isn’t vegan is my birth control – I’ve been on the oral contraceptive for about three years now because without it my periods last for three weeks and I use a super-plus tampon in less than an hour. My doctors have only been able to ease this by the pill, which has worked wonders. But I really hate using something non vegan and cruel. I’m torn between wanting to be as vegan as possible and taking care of my health. I have this awful guilt from this and would love to relieve it, but if I let myself suffer then I’m unhealthy and useless because I can’t do anything. Do you have any advice? Thank you so much.

    Ophelia says:

    Natalie- Have you been on birth control since before going vegan? You might find coming off the birth control, your period is lighter. I say this because I had the same problem (one period lasting 11 weeks) until I went vegan. This long period is due, in most cases, to increased use of diary and eggs because of all of the feminine hormones excreted when drinking milk from a cows’ tits or eating a chickens’ whole period. Not to mention the hormones these animals are fed by
    the farmers. I would recommend testing the waters as a one year vegan and observing the difference.

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