Also known as fertility awareness, natural family planning is a method by which ovulation is tracked, in order to prevent pregnancy primarily and also to track the most fertile period to get pregnant. It is a method where no drugs or devices are used. The body’s natural changes are used to identify the phases of the menstrual cycle that are fertile and infertile.
There are several changes happening in a woman’s body during her menstrual cycle, due to the hormones progesterone and oestrogen. As ovulation approaches, the cervical mucus which is usually of a thick, opaque consistency, becomes thin and clear. This change is caused by oestrogen. Progesterone keeps the cervical mucus thick and sticky, and it also causes a rise in the basal body temperature.
There are two methods that involve observing the above-mentioned changes –
– Rhythm or calendar method
The most commonly used fertility awareness method, the first and last fertile day is predicted in future menstrual cycles, using previous menstrual cycles. If a woman’s menstrual cycle is regular i.e. 28 days, then ovulation would occur about 14 days before her next period. Thus, the ovulation period can be predicted as between the 9th and 18th days of her cycle. So if pregnancy is to be avoided, sexual intercourse should not occur between these days.
This method doesn’t require any devices or indicators but its failure rate is high and it is difficult to use for women with irregular cycles.
– Basal body temperature
In this method, the temperature is checked every day, during the expected period of ovulation. On the day of ovulation, the woman’s temperature would about one degree higher. Once you record the temperatures, you would be able to recognise a pattern and in turn, identify when you are ovulating.
Methods such as withdrawal method are also used as a form of natural family planning methods. In this method, the male withdraws his penis out of the female’s vagina and ejaculates outside so that his semen does not come in contact with the woman’s genitals.
Natural family planning methods are inexpensive, and there are no risks pertaining to these. It also doesn’t require using any devices. For couples with religious concerns, these methods work best for avoiding pregnancy. It can also act as a way of finding out the fertile time, for achieving pregnancy successfully. Also, if the couple decides to
There are a few disadvantages to natural family planning methods as well. The rate of failure of these methods is high and couples wouldn’t be able to have sexual intercourse spontaneously. Also, these methods are effective as using contraceptives such as condoms or birth control pills.
Naturally family planning methods can work best only if the couple has good communication and a stable relationship. To make these methods effective, you can talk to doctors or counsellors who know these methods very well and can teach you how to use them well. Use all the methods together, for optimum results.