method of lizzy

preservations… for posterity

Natural Birth Control

Birth control doesn’t have to be hormonal (such as the pill) and it doesn’t have to be a barrier method (such as a condom). You don’t have to abstain or use withdrawal or any other pseudo-form of birth control. A woman’s egg can live for only 24 hours (Caveat! Sperm can live up to 5 days). Why should a woman be on a hormonal birth control when she can take charge of her own fertility? Pay attention to the cues and you too can use this effective method.

Natural family planning is often thought of as the rhythm method. As the joke goes, What do you call people who use the Rhythm Method? Parents. Rhythm is an overly simple method that relies only on past cycles to determine a woman’s fertile days. The Fertility Awareness Method (a term that I use interchangeably with Natural Family Planning) is much more scientific.

The method relies on three primary fertility signs:

1.) Waking temperature. This is the easiest sign to observe. As soon as you wake up in the morning, reach for the thermometer. Waking temperature will usually range from 97.0 to 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit. After ovulation, the waking temperature will increase and remain elevated. Charting temperatures makes it very easy to see the shift and thus determine when ovulation has occurred:

Fertility Awareness Method

You want to know when ovulation occurs for several reasons. First, it’s good to know that you do ovulate.  Second, if you experience a delayed ovulation, you will know and won’t worry that your period is late. Third, after ovulation you are free to have sex without concern of becoming pregnant. (Caveat! Don’t start having unprotected sex immediately following a spike in temperature. Wait three days to see if temperature stays elevated).

2.) Cervical fluid. This fluid is to the woman what seminal fluid is to the man. The job of the cervical fluid is to provide a nice place for the sperm to live as they make their way to the egg. Since women are only fertile around ovulation, it makes sense that this is when cervical fluid is most abundant. Immediately following menses, the vaginal opening will be dry or only slightly moist. As the woman nears ovulation the cervical fluid will change in consistency, from sticky to creamy to a slippery “eggwhite” appearance. The eggwhite-like fluid is slippery and stretchy, and it’s also incredibly fertile. Observing cervical fluid is easy, you just have to get in the habit. Websites such as Fertility Friend allow you to track cervical fluid along with waking temperature.

3.) Cervical position. This is an optional sign, and it’s one that I personally don’t use (truthfully, I’m just too lazy). Around menstraution, the cervix will be firm, low, closed and nonwet. Around ovulation, the cervix will be soft, high, open and wet.

The Fertility Awareness Method is not only great for avoiding pregnancy, it’s also great for acheiving pregnancy. Furthermore, it’s important for a woman to know her own body and be capable of reading the body’s cues. If you are interested in pursuing this form of birth control, I highly recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertilityby Toni Weschler. The method is simple, but you need to know all the guidelines before you can effectively use it. When used properly, this method is a highly effective form of contraception. But a critical question in selecting a contraceptive is determining the degre of risk that you find acceptable. If FAM is used perfectly, a woman has about a 2% chance of becoming pregnant in a typical year. Compare this with the pill, which is about .5%, or the condom (male), which is about 3%. Do your research and decide what is best for you.

Update 6/10/09: My husband and I successfully used natural family planning to prevent pregnancy for approximately four years. When we decided to start our family, I became pregnant on the first try thanks to this method.


March 10, 2007 - Posted by | alternatives, birth control, crunchy, health, sex, women's health

1 Comment

  1. I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to click on an archive titled sex and end up with a birth control article. Youa re misleading people. 😦

    Comment by cb | September 16, 2009

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