Those, who for some reason cannot or do not wish to use hormonal or barrier methods of birth control, usually choose natural family planning, fertility awareness in other words. This type of contraception is thought to be the oldest in the world. It involves a good understanding of a woman’s body, a long time of observation and involvement of both partners.
Although natural family planning is a very old type of fertility control, it offers a lot of advantages. Since all of the fertility awareness techniques include a lot of observation of a woman’s body, it is a good possibility for a woman to get to know her body better. Since there are no chemicals, drugs or hormones involved, natural family planning does not have any side-effects. It involves both partners in the process of family planning. Natural family planning is inexpensive and can be used not only to prevent possible pregnancy but also to help a couple to conceive. In addition, this type of birth control does not interfere with any of religious or ethical believes that some may have against other methods of contraception.
There are quite a few couples around the world that practice natural family planning. However, you should be aware that although there are no side-effects there can be a few disadvantages using this type of birth control . First of all, all techniques of natural family planning require a lot of time and efforts to be used properly and constantly. When they are used improperly, the failure rate might be as high as 25%. Natural family planning, as it involves cooperation of both partners, is relevant only to people who are in a long-term, committed relationship. Additionally, be aware that none of the natural family planning techniques offer any protection against sexually transmitted diseases. This is another reason why fertility awareness methods are suited only to devoted relationships.
Natural family planning methods
There are a few different methods of natural family planning. These include the ovulation method, the rhythm/calendar method and the basal body temperature charting. All of these techniques are based on a presumption that a woman can conceive only during the days around ovulation.
The ovulation method is based on the changes of cervical mucus and therefore it is also called the cervical mucus method. A woman, who wants to use this method of birth control , must be very comfortable with her body as she will need to check her cervical mucus on a regular basis. Using the ovulation method a woman indicates ovulation, when an egg is released and she is most fertile, when cervical mucus gets thinner and stickier. A woman is most likely unfertile when there is no or very little production of cervical mucus. This method of natural family planning has a failure rate of 20% per year. This failure rate might become smaller when the ovulation method is used with other techniques of natural family planning, such as the basal body temperature charting.
The basal body temperature charting, also known as the sympto-thermal method, requires a woman’s core body temperature measured every day of her menstrual cycle. Since body temperature rises slightly when ovulation occurs, a high peak in a woman’s basal body temperature will indicate that a woman is then most fertile and should abstain from sex or use another form of birth control. This method of natural family planning has an average failure rate of 15% per year but can be as much as 98% effective for those couples, who use the basal body temperature charting properly and consistently.
The rhythm/calendar method is probably the oldest natural family planning technique known. It is based on the thoughts that ovulation happens 14 days before menstrual bleeding begins, that sperm can survive for three days when enters the inside of a woman’s body and that an egg can be fertilized only within 24 hours of the process of ovulation. Although this method is used by some couples, it is very individual when ovulation may occur in each woman. Note that ovulation usually does not appear at the same day of the cycle. Another problem lies in the believe that sperm can survive only three days inside a woman’s body. It has, however, been proved that sperm can be vital for up to seven days inside a woman.
The failure rate is as much as 13% per year of the rhythm method. However, it may be as much as 20% when the method is used improperly or due to individual changes of each woman. Therefore the rhythm/calendar method is not suitable for women who do not have regular menstrual cycles or who have menstrual cycles that are of a different number of days every month. Such women should choose another form of birth control either natural family planning or not.
For those couples who consider choosing natural family planning techniques, it is best to consult with their health care provider. Additionally, it might be helpful to get some training in fertility awareness methods to make sure that you are using them properly to protect against pregnancy. And finally, bear in mind that with enough time, patience and proper use and good cooperation of both partners, natural family planning techniques may offer similar efficiency in birth control as all other methods of contraception .