Natural family planning is a method used by some couples to achieve and/or avoid pregnancy. The method involves paying close attention to a woman's menstrual cycle to predict when a woman is fertile. The couple can then avoid having sex on the days when the woman is likely to get pregnant. There are three basic ways used to monitor a woman's menstrual cycle in natural family planning. These methods include the temperature method, the mucus method and the calendar method. The benefits of this method are better realized if more than one method of natural family planning is used, and if they are always used correctly. If you would like to use natural family planning as your birth control method, talk to your healthcare provider for guidance. Below is some information that can help you understand natural family planning better before you can make the decision to use it as your family planning method of choice.
Advantages of Natural FP
The natural family planning method not only helps you to avoid pregnancy, but it can also help you get pregnant by predicting the days when you are most fertile. The benefits of natural family planning include:
- It is cost-effective. The only cost you are likely to incur is that of buying a basal thermometer.
- Does not require regular visits to the healthcare worker. This method does not require you to visit your healthcare provider all the time. You only need a few initial visits during which your healthcare provider teaches you how to use this method and as soon as you become competent, you are good to go.
- Natural family planning has no side effects.
Disadvantages of Natural FP
Natural family planning requires a lot of discipline for it to be effective. Here are the disadvantages of Natural FP.
- Natural family planning does not work unless both partners participate actively. It requires the cooperation of both partners to succeed.
- The method does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases including HIV & AIDS.
- It requires a lot of time and effort to track and monitor the changes in your temperature, mucus and the days in the menstrual cycle.
- Other factors such as medicine and infection may cause your basal temperature and mucus to change giving you the wrong signals.
- Natural family planning is less effective than other methods and about 25% of women on this method end up pregnant.
Contraindications of Natural FP
It is not advisable to use the natural family planning method if you fall under one of the following categories:
1. Your periods are irregular.
2. If you and your partner are not able to abstain from sex for one week or more each month.
3. If you or your partner have multiple sexual partners. This is because this method offers no protection from sexually transmitted diseases including HIV & AIDS
4. If you have a health problem that can be complicated by getting pregnant leading to a serious health problem.
5. If keeping accurate records is a problem for you.
The Calendar method
This method requires you to track how many days each of your menstrual cycle takes, for a period of about eight months. This will give you a good picture of how long your cycle is. A menstrual cycle begins on day one of your period and ends on day one of your next period. Once you have this record, your healthcare provider can help you predict your fertile days. This method is not 100% accurate and it would be wise to combine it with other fertility methods to increase the efficacy
The Mucus method
This method requires you to observe what happens to your cervical mucus. Cervical mucus is a natural lubricant produced by your cervix that aids the transportation of sperm and helps protect you against infection. The volume and consistency of your cervical mucus changes as your cycle progresses. As your eggs get ready to be released, the mucus becomes thick, sticky and yellow or white in colour. Unprotected sex during this period can lead to pregnancy. You are most likely to be fertile on the days when your mucus is clear, slippery and stretchy (like the white of a raw egg). This kind of mucus is present during ovulation. After about three days of slippery mucus, a more sticky and cloudy mucus follows. After this, a dry period with no mucus follows. You are less likely to become pregnant on the days between when you have the slippery mucus and when your period starts.
The temperature methodWhen your body is at rest, like in the morning when you wake up, it maintains a certain temperature called the basal temperature. When your ovary releases an egg, this temperature goes up a little bit. The basal temperature is recorded using a special kind of a thermometer, different from the one used to record temperature when you have a fever. If you have sex two to three days before your temperature peaks and the day after that, you are likely to get pregnant. The chances of getting pregnant drop after the third day of a rise in basal temperature. You need to track and record your basal temperature. Your healthcare provider can show you how.
Attribution: Avallain Ltd