Natural Family Planning As A Means Of Preventing Pregnancy

Natural Family Planning As A Means Of Preventing Pregnancy


Birth control is the process of using practices or methods to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Natural family planning is a type of family planning, whereby a woman observes her body through her menstrual cycle, to note for specific changes indicating fertility or non-fertility.

During the fertile phase, the couple should refrain from having sexual intercourse, if they are preventing an unplanned pregnancy.

Natural methods of birth control include fertility awareness methods such as;

  • Calendar rhythm method
  • Basal body temperature
  • Cervical mucus examination.
  • Lactational Amenorrhea Method 

Advantages of natural family planning are;

  • It is 100% Natural 
  • No side effects
  • Convenient
  • Helps to understand one’s body
  • Low cost/inexpensive

Disadvantages of natural family planning are;

  • Some methods such as the calendar method may require a regular menstrual cycle
  • It is not easy to track
  • Lack of cooperation from one partner may lead to the failure of the method
  • Some methods such as the calendar method have a high failure rate with 24 out of 100 women getting pregnant within the first year, according to the CDC.

Calendar rhythm method

This is a type of natural family planning method, where a woman tracks her menstrual cycle using a calendar, then uses the data to determine the days that she is most fertile.

Calendar rhythm method Formula

  • Track your menstrual cycle for a minimum of 6 months, (best if can track for at least a year)
  • Subtract 18 from the shortest  cycle; This gives the first fertile day of  a woman
  • Subtract 11 from the longest cycle; this gives the last fertile day of a woman 

For example; After tracking her menstrual cycle for a year, Kelly got her longest cycle to be 30 days and the shortest cycle to be 26 days

Therefore; 

30-11=19

26-18=8

She is therefore fertile between day 8 to day 19, and she should abstain during those days to prevent getting pregnant.

How to track the menstrual cycle days.

  • Using a normal calendar, track the first day on the calendar as the first day the period arrived and the last day as the day the next period started.
  • Note down the number of days in that cycle
  • Repeat this process for the next 6-12 months to get accurate data

Risks and benefits of the calendar rhythm method.

  • It is inexpensive, however it has a low effective rate as 24 out of 100 women get pregnant using this method
  • Some women are not able to track the cycle accurately
  • It is only useful to a woman who has a regular menstrual cycle.

Basal Body Temperature Method

This method of natural family planning, uses the basal body temperature of a woman to determine when she is most likely to ovulate. Basal body temperature is the body temperature at rest.

How this method  works

It is scientifically proven that a woman’s basal body temperature falls 12-24 hours before ovulation and again rises after ovulation.

A woman should be able to note when the temperature drops and also track exactly when the temperature rises.

One should abstain from having sexual intercourse from the time the temperature drops until 48-72  hours after the temperature rises.

How To track the basal body temperature.

  • Every morning before getting out of bed, take the body temperature and note the reading somewhere
  • Repeat this process everyday, all through your cycle
  • Note the day the temperature drops by half a degree or one degree
  • Note the day the temperature rises.
  • The fertile days are between the day the temperature drops to 72 hours after the temperature rises.

Risks and benefits of basal body temperature method

  • It is one of the least effective family planning method since it requires accuracy in tracking the basal body temperature and ability to interpret the data properly
  • Using the basal body temperature method in combination with another fertility awareness method may improve its effectiveness.
  • Requires motivation and diligence

Cervical mucus examination

This is a type of natural family planning method where one observes the changes in the cervical mucus. Just before ovulation, a woman generates large amounts of clear vaginal discharge, which is in response to the hormone estrogen. The consistency of this type of discharge is likened to the egg-white consistency. It is clear and may stretch for up to an inch when stretched between two fingers.

A woman using this method can observe the quality and changes in the cervical mucus, usually on her underwear or using a wiping tissue. One can also insert a clean finger in the vagina and check the type of discharge.

A woman is most fertile when the cervical mucus changes to the egg-white consistency and should abstain 3-4 days from when she noticed the change in the cervical mucus.

Lactational Amenorrhea Method

This is a natural family planning method that works for women who are exclusively breastfeeding.

When a woman is exclusively breastfeeding, the stimulation of the nipple as the baby feeds leads to changes in the production of hormones responsible for fertility. As a result, there is no ovulation and this is how the method works.

However, to use this method you must;

  1. Be exclusively breastfeeding and on demand
  2. Your period should not have resumed yet
  3. The baby should be under six months of age.

How To Increase Effectiveness Of Natural Family Planning Methods

The best way to increase the success rate of natural family planning methods is by using a combination of several methods at once.

For example; one can use the basal body temperature method with the cervical mucus examination method.

One may also use the symptothermal method, where in addition to the combining methods, you also note various symptoms such as breast tenderness, lower abdominal discomfort which are also symptoms of ovulation.

Modern Way To Track Ovulation 

Nowadays, you can use ovulation predictor test kits which detect a rise in the luteinizing hormone. When this hormone rises, it signals that ovulation is near. This is because luteinizing hormone promotes maturation of an egg in the ovary. The level of luteinizing hormone increases 20-48 hours just before ovulation and this can be detected in a woman’s urine 8-12 hours later.

Use the test kit 2-3 days to the expected day of ovulation.

Abstain from sexual intercourse two days before ovulation, on the day of ovulation and two days after ovulation, if you are not planning to get pregnant.

Summary Of The Natural Family Planning Methods

There are several methods of natural family planning or fertility awareness methods and those discussed in this article are; the calendar rhythm method, basal body temperature method, examining the cervical mucus and symptothermal method.

Natural family planning methods are inexpensive and 100% natural hence no side effects.

However if not tracked or followed correctly, the failure rate is high.

The best way to increase effectiveness is by combining two methods into one.

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/icd/att4_nfp_mar06.pdf
  2. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/family-planning-contraception
  3. https://www.medicinenet.com/natural_methods_of_birth_control/article.htm

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