Talking about a natural birth control method is to talk about a method of family planning.
If you are looking for a natural contraception, you might have considered any of the following questions:
- Why should I use a natural method?
- Aren’t other methods more reliable?
- Should I be worried about the side effects of some birth control methods, or can I simply not tolerate the ones with hormonal content, for example: the contraception pill?
- Are you or your partner allergic to any form of contraception, perhaps a latex condom?
- Do you feel uncomfortable at the thought of using a device in your vagina, diaphragm or IUD?
- Are you a religious person and the only method of birth control that you want to use is something natural?
Whatever the reasons, CONGRATULATIONS because you want to be well informed about natural methods to plan your family, and effective birth control is certainly one of the most important topics to be well-versed about.
Natural Family Planning – What Is It?
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a natural birth control method used when you want to know when you are fertile and when you are least at risk of becoming pregnant after sex. This planning method is used both to know when you can have a safe sex with no problem of getting pregnant, and when you are actually trying to get pregnant so you can time your intercourse to maximize your chances each month.
NFP works according to your periods of fertility and infertility in your body. You learn to know when you are ovulating to choose the precise moment of fertilization, when the sperm has a chance to reach the egg and begin the process of a new life. If you are using NFP as a natural birth control, then in periods of fertility you should abstain from otherwise unprotected sexual intercourse. This means no unprotected penetration and ejaculation. If you do not want to get pregnant but still want to have sex during fertile days, you’ll want to use another barrier method.
Fertility awareness requires training, commitment, discipline, and determination in order to be effective. So if you have decided to use a natural birth control method, you have to know that around 25 per 100 women in the first year typically become pregnant using only NFP, but with the proper knowledge and strict control, this can be reduced to 5 per 100 women.
An NFP method considers:
- An egg (ovum) can live in the woman’s body from 12 to 24 hours per month
- Sperm can remain in the body of the woman until 5 days after having sex. If you do not want to get pregnant, your period of ovulation should be out of these 5 days living sperm.
Clearly then it is important to know when about you will be ovulating for this method to be successful. So let’s take a look at some NFP methods:
The calendar or rhythm method
This natural birth control method consists of keeping track of the length of your menstrual cycles. This method predicts the fertile phase by calculating the infertile days, before and after ovulation. To start with this method you have to use a traditional calendar. Circle the first day of your period, which is when menstruation begins. Count the total number of days until you start your next period. This will be your length of menstrual cycle. Do this for at least 8 cycles (12 is better) to get an accurate idea of your average.
The length of your infertile phase, before ovulation, is calculated by subtracting 18 days of the total number of days from your shortest cycle. The length of your infertile phase after ovulation is calculated by subtracting 11 days of the total number of days from your longer cycle. Then your fertile days are the number of resulting days from the calculation of subtracting 18 and 11 days.
Kind of tricky isn’t it? Remember: Natural birth control requires commitment and discipline. Though you can also use tools such as the Fertility Friend phone app to help you keep track of this information. Just remember to always use your best judgement about yourself rather than relying 100% on what a program made for many people tells you.
Here you have an example of this method:
If your shortest cycle is 26 days and the longest cycle is 30 days:
Step 1: 26 -18 = 8 (infertile phase before ovulation)
Step 2: 30 -11 = 19 (infertile phase after ovulation)
Your fertile window will last from Day 8 to Day 19. Sounds good, right?
How secure is this natural birth control method?
When you have regular cycles, this method is useful and quite accurate. But there may be factors, such as stress, which may delay ovulation from month to month. For that reason it is important to try at least 8 cycles to get a more accurate sense of your averages, and to add a small cushion of a couple days around your fertile window if you’d like to be more careful.
The ovulation or billings method (the cervical mucus)
This natural birth control method consists of daily observations of cervical mucus in your vagina. You have to track any change you observe in the cervical mucus.
How does this method work?
You can use a toilet paper and pass it by the vaginal opening, before and after urination, and observe if there is mucus and its characteristics. This method is very safe but it must be taught by qualified staff and it has to be done at least three cycles to learn about the different characteristics of the mucus.
In a typical cycle, after 5 days of menstruation there are between 3 and 4 dry days. After then, it sticky secretions begin with a cloudy, white or yellowish color.
The humidity rises when cervical mucus is quite distinctive: abundant, slippery, clear and very stretchy. Ovulation will occur within 2 days after the peak day of mucus, and then you will be at your most fertile days for getting pregnant.
The basal body temperature method
This natural birth control method consists in taking your body temperature, first thing in the morning before you get out of bed, and doing it everyday.
Immediately before ovulation, your body temperature drops abruptly. Then during ovulation, the hormone called progesterone increases the body temperature. When the temperature remains high for at least 3 days in a row this means that the fertile period is over and the infertile period has just begun.
The disadvantage of this method is that body temperature can be affected by several factors such as illness, lack of sleep, alcohol, and more.
When used correctly this method has a 99% security, but it requires a very prolonged abstinence.
Any of these natural methods of birth control should be carried out in company with your partner. Abstinence during periods of fertility and knowledge of periods of infertility should be well known by not just yourself but your partner too. These methods require time in order for you to know how your body behaves, which is why the relationship with your partner should be prolonged for these natural birth control methods to be effective.
These natural types of birth control may seem difficult, but they are not when you get used to it, and getting used to keeping track of the intricacies of your own body can be very rewarding. In addition, they have no monetary cost at all–they are actually free besides your time and consideration. Remember that on fertile days of ovulation you can of course still get pregnant. During those days, you may want to use temporary another method of contraception, like a condom.
Personally I prefer a natural method. I get concerned with any other contraceptive methods. Although nowadays with technology so advanced, there are highly effective contraceptive methods that only require a bit of commitment.
However, I like the natural control method because I learn to know my body, and it’s kind of weird but I enjoy sex more if I know that there are no contraceptives involved. It is exciting to know when the right time to get pregnant is and when it’s not.
If you have more birth control questions, take a look to the following methods: