FERTILITY AWARENESS METHODS
Anyone who has a womb, who is having sex with someone who has a penis. It can be used to avoid pregnancy, and also to try and get pregnant. These methods might not be suitable if you have irregular periods, you have a short or long-term condition affecting your fertility signs, such as an STI or pelvic inflammatory disease or if you've recently stopped taking hormonal contraception.
Methods that enable you to track your menstrual cycle so you are able to estimate when you are ovulating, and therefore most likely to get pregnant. If you're using this method to avoid getting pregnant, you would then abstain from sex, or use a barrier method such as a condom or diaphragm, during this ovulation time.
There is the calendar tracking method, where you count the days of your menstrual cycle to estimate when you are ovulating. There is the temperature tracking method, where you take your temperature every morning at the same time. A rise in temperature indicates ovulation. And finally, the cervical mucus tracking method, where a change in your cervical mucus indicates different phases of your menstrual cycle.
It is advised that you speak to a fertility awareness health professional before deciding to use it as your method of contraception.
The temperature tracking and cervical mucus tracking methods require you to record changes everyday to ensure their effectiveness. The calendar tracking method requires several months of counting before you are able to make a more accurate estimate of when you are ovulating.
There are no physical side effects, and you can use it to plan when you get pregnant. Most people can use natural family planning, as long as they're properly trained by a fertility awareness teacher.
Natural family planning can be used either to avoid pregnancy or to become pregnant. It doesn't involve chemicals or physical products.
It can help you recognise normal and abnormal vaginal secretions, so you can be aware of possible infection.
Natural family planning does not protect against STIs.
If you're using this method to avoid getting pregnant, you'll need to avoid sex, or use contraception such as condoms, during the time you might get pregnant.
It can be much less effective than other methods of contraception if the methods aren't followed accurately and it won't work without continued commitment and practice.
You'll need to keep a daily record of your fertility signs. Stress, illness, travel, lifestyle and hormonal treatments can disrupt your fertility signs.
If you use the emergency contraceptive pill, you'll need to wait for 2 complete cycles before relying on natural family planning again.
Natural family planning involves identifying the signs and symptoms of fertility during your menstrual cycle so you can plan or avoid pregnancy.
If you're interested in learning natural family planning, make sure you're taught by a qualified fertility awareness teacher. Find an NHS fertility awareness clinic in your local area.
real life experiences
"My method of contraception is temperature charting which is where you take your body basal temperature every morning and use the collection of data to find out when you are ovulating. It is a completely natural and non-intrusive method.
My school sex education lead me to believe that a woman can get pregnant any day of the month and that using protection (such as a condom) is always necessary. This isn’t accurate.
Most women only ovulate (produce an egg) once a month meaning that there is only around a 5 day window in which you are fertile and able to be impregnated. Temperature charting informs you of when that window is so that you know to have protected sex on those days. I use a device called the LadyComp to assist me with this and make having control over my fertility very simple.
The LadyComp is a thermometer that you put under your tongue every morning to accurately take your body basal temperature. It gets to know your body and gives you a red, amber or green light every day. The red light is shown on days where you are fertile and should use protection or abstain from sex to avoid having an unwanted pregnancy. Green indicates infertile days where it is safer to have unprotected sex with a lower risk of getting pregnant. Amber is shown on days that are inconclusive, of which there are many to begin with but very few once the computer has a lot of your data to base its calculation on. Every woman is different so you have to be patient with temperature charting to begin with as it can take a little while to get a clear picture.
Temperature charting devices and apps can be used even if you have irregular periods. You will just get more red and amber days if you are fluctuating to an extreme.
The effectiveness of Lady-Comp has clinically proven Pearl Index of 0.7, meaning it is 99.36% accurate.
There are a few other temperature charting devices on the market such as the Daysy and also the Natural cycles app which you can subscribe to and they send you a thermometer to take your temperatures and input it into the app yourself.
What I love about temperature charting is that it has made me far more understanding of my body and how it works. It tells me when I’m about to start my period which is really helpful and generally has encouraged me to find out more about female biology and take my fertility into my own hands." Molly, she/her