Natural Methods of Birth Control


Birth Control
Words used to describe birth control methods include contraception, pregnancy prevention, fertility control, and family planning. But no matter what the terminology, sexually active people can choose from a variety of methods to reduce the possibility of their becoming pregnant. Nevertheless, no method of birth control available today offers perfect protection against sexually transmitted infections (sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs), except abstinence.

In simple terms, all methods of birth control are based on either preventing a man's sperm from reaching and entering a woman's egg (fertilization) or preventing the fertilized egg from implanting in the woman's uterus (her womb) and starting to grow. New methods of birth control are being developed and tested all the time. And what is appropriate for a couple at one point may change with time and circumstances.

Calendar rhythm method

The calendar rhythm method to avoid pregnancy relies upon calculating a woman's fertile period on the calendar. Based upon her 12 previous menstrual cycles, a woman subtracts l8 days from her shortest menstrual cycle to determine her first fertile day, and 11 days from her longest menstrual cycle to determine her last fertile day. She can then calculate the total number of days during which she may ovulate. If a woman's menstrual cycles are quite irregular from month to month, there will be a greater number of days during which she might become pregnant.

The calendar method is only about 80% effective in preventing pregnancy and when used alone, it is considered outdated and ineffective.

Basal body temperature method

The basal body temperature (BBT) method is based upon the fact that a woman's temperature drops 12 to 24 hours before an egg is released from her ovary and then increases again once the egg has been released. Unfortunately, this temperature difference is not very large. It is less than 1 degree F (about a half degree C) when the body is at rest.

The basal body temperature method requires that a woman take her temperature every morning before she gets out of bed. A special thermometer that is more accurate and sensitive than a typical oral thermometer must be used, and the daily temperature variations carefully noted. This must be done every month. Online calculators are available to help a woman chart her basal body temperature.

To use the basal body temperature as a birth control method, a woman should refrain from having sexual intercourse from the time her temperature drops until at least 48 to72 hours after her temperature increases again.

Mucous inspection method

The mucous inspection method depends on the presence or absence of a particular type of cervical mucous that a woman produces in response to estrogen. A woman will generate larger amounts of more watery mucous than usual (like raw egg white) just before release of an egg from her ovary. This so-called egg-white cervical mucous (EWCM) stretches for up to an inch when pulled apart. A woman can learn to recognize differences in the quantity and quality of her cervical mucous by examining its appearance on her underwear, pads, and toilet tissue; or she may gently remove a sample of mucous from the vaginal opening using two fingers.

She may choose to have intercourse between the time of her last menstrual period and the time of change in the cervical mucous. During this period, it is recommended that she have sexual intercourse only every other day because the presence of seminal fluid makes it more difficult to determine the nature of her cervical mucous. If the woman does not wish to become pregnant, she should not have sexual intercourse at all for 3 to 4 days after she notices the change in her cervical mucous.

Symptothermal method

The symptothermal method combines certain aspects of the calendar, the basal body temperature, and the mucous inspection methods. Not only are all these factors taken into consideration, but so are other symptoms such as slight cramping and breast tenderness. Some women experience lower abdominal discomfort (in the area of the ovaries) during release of an egg (ovulation).

Lactational infertility method

Lactational infertility is based upon the idea that a woman cannot become pregnant as long as she is breastfeeding her baby. It is true that a woman may not ovulate quite as soon after giving birth as she would if she were not breastfeeding. Women who are breastfeeding usually start ovulating again between 10-12 weeks after delivery.

However, the method is not considered to be appropriate as a sole contraceptive measure. A nursing mother may start ovulating again and not realize she is fertile, as ovulation can occur prior to the return of her menstrual period. If this happens and the mother has unprotected sexual intercourse, she can become pregnant at the same time she is still breastfeeding her baby. If a nursing mother does not wish to become pregnant again, she must start to use an appropriate method of contraception.

If a woman is sexually active and she is fertile and physically able to become pregnant, she needs to ask herself, "Do I want to become pregnant now?" If her answer is "No," she must be ready use some method of birth control (contraception) mention above or any other which her and her husband or partner deems fit.

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