Natural Contraception Methods

Fertility awareness methods (FAMs) are techniques for monitoring ovulation in order to avoid pregnancy. FAMs also go by the names

What’s covered?

Birth control methods are the procedure used to avoid pregnancy.

Birth control methods are the procedure used to avoid pregnancy. Natural birth control is a non-hormonal contraception that observes the woman's body and menstrual cycle. It can be the lactational amenorrhoea method, the withdrawal method, or the barrier methods (condoms which also prevent sexually transmitted infections, diaphragm, cervical cap, etc.).

Aside from these, several natural ways of avoiding pregnancy are based on the fertility awareness method (FAM). The natural birth control methods include the calendar rhythm method, the basal body temperature technique, the cervical mucus test and other natural family planning methods described in this article.

Indeed, this is an effective way of implementing a specific contraceptive solution. Both sides should be firmly committed and be aware of the advantages it brings, such as not containing any chemicals and therefore doesn't cause adverse effects. However, it can also be disadvantageous not having the benefits of hormone-free contraception. Generally, women may have a fertility awareness technique that can be used when planning pregnancy.

What are the different types of FAMs?

There are a few different fertility awareness methods that help track the signs of fertility. One or more of these methods of contraception can be used to predict ovulation:

  • Calendar/rhythm method. Considered the oldest natural family planning method, the calendar or rhythm method relies on the calendar. Before using this method, a woman's menstrual cycle is tracked for at least six months. The shortest and longest menstrual cycles are then identified in a 6- to 12-month period, followed by doing specific calculations to identify the "at risk" window (the woman is most likely to conceive) in which sexual intercourse is avoided, or another birth control method is used.

    This method is not recommended for women with irregular periods. Currently, there is no estimate of how well the calendar method works.

  • Standard days method. One requirement of this method is a menstrual cycle that is between 26 days and 32 days long, where days 8–19 are the most fertile days. During these days, abstaining from having unprotected sexual intercourse is strongly advised to prevent pregnancy. Unprotected sex can be done on days 1 (the first day of menstrual bleeding) to 7 and from the 20th day until the end of the menstrual cycle.


    Natural family planning is a method of contraception that does not entail the use of contraceptives. As a consequence, it doesn't have adverse effects.

    Proper use of this method of contraception results in only five out of 100 pregnancies yearly. The World Health Organization recognizes the Standard method as a modern contraceptive.

  • Billings ovulation method. This is a fertility awareness method that relies on the cervical mucus discharge of a woman to predict an "at-risk" window. Specific instruction is required to evaluate secretions and a particular tracking chart. Meanwhile, specific actions, such as intercourse on consecutive days, are to be avoided, as they may interfere with mucus evaluation. Other factors that may affect the assessment are vaginal infections.

  • Two-day method. This natural birth control is a simplified version of the Billings method in which there is an evaluation of whether any secretions were present "today" or "yesterday." A couple may have unprotected intercourse after two consecutive days of not having any secretions, which is considered a not fertile day and will still be able to prevent pregnancy.

  • Basal body temperature method. The BBT refers to the body's temperature at complete rest. For many women, the average body temperature rises slightly during ovulation (0.5–1°F) and remains elevated until the end of the menstrual cycle. The most fertile days are the 2–3 days before this temperature rise. To monitor BBT, the temperature is measured and recorded first thing in the morning, before any activities are done, such as getting out of bed and having breakfast.

    BBT alone does not offer advanced warning of ovulation and is not suitable as a birth control method, especially when having a fever and other medical conditions.

  • Symptothermal method. This method is the combination of the cervical mucus and basal body temperature methods to identify "at risk" time.

  • Fertility tracking via smartphone apps. These refer to relatively new tools that are not methods themselves. They typically use calendar estimates, BBT, other symptom inputs, the results from luteinizing hormone tests, etc. According to recently published research on one such app, only one out of 100 people will get pregnant per year if this method is used correctly; however, these estimates are based on studies that lack a massive amount of data, possibly influencing this estimate.

    Some apps used for tracking seem to be accurate and allow access to information on a computer and on the app. In contrast, others will enable manipulation of ovulation dates to test out different theories and even have helpful health insights that pop up in the app.

How effective are fertility awareness methods?

All fertility awareness methods or natural family planning methods identify the days when a woman is most likely to get pregnant or conceive. However, each method uses different ways of identifying the fertile days. Some FAMs are easier to use than other methods, and some are better for irregular cycles. Modern fertility awareness methods have been reported to be highly effective in both perfect and typical use. In addition, effectiveness ratings can be influenced by many factors, plus there are also differences among FAM effectiveness estimates. These include the research factors, a person's menstrual cycle, and the accuracy of measurements made by FAM users.

When is the fertile time?

Each cycle has approximately 9-day fertility periods, occurring around seven days after and before a period starts. Ovulation occurs when one of their eggs is deposited on an ovary. The eggs survive for around 2 – 4 days. However, a man's sperm may last as much as a day following sexual interaction. It is, therefore, essential to note that fertile periods start at 7 – 8 days following ovulation. Knowing when the oocytes will begin helps a woman predict her fertilization period. Thus for nine weeks, a sexual relationship should be avoided, or a contraceptive device should be used.

How can I make FAMs more effective?

As with all forms of birth control, FAMs work best when used optimally. How well family planning works also depends upon the couple. FAMs become most effective when consulted with health professionals.

Learn more about the various types of contraception methods including hormonal pills, emergency contraception, and birth control patches by clicking here.


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