Natural family planning (NFP) methods are methods of avoiding or seeking pregnancy without the use of medications or devices. NFP methods teach a woman to identify the days of her menstrual cycle when she is likely to get pregnant if she has sexual intercourse (the fertile window), and the days of her menstrual cycle when she is very unlikely to get pregnant if she has sexual intercourse. This method helps you to identify when you are releasing an egg based on symptoms of your body.
Pros: This method is great form women who have very regular periods or periods that occur 26-32 days apart every month. This method is not great if your cycle is irregular or unpredictable. In addition, this method is low cost and does not require a doctor’s appointment. Some couples use this method for religious reasons, while others use this method to use something natural and avoid side effects of birth control medications.
Cons: This method requires effort from both the man and the woman in order to work to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. A man and a woman cannot have sex during the fertile window (time when a woman has released an egg). Keep in mind that sperm from the male can last up to five days in the vagina; therefore, it requires advance planning. NFP needs the woman to track her cycles on a calendar or phone app and be aware of her cycle on a daily basis. he woman must also be able to identify symptoms of ovulation (releasing an egg) in her own body. Also, NFP does not provide protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
3 NFP methods you can try:
- Standard Days Method: Good for women with cycles between 26-32 days long. Count the first day of your menstrual bleeding as day 1. Continue to count every day. On days 8-19, this is considered your fertile window, or days you are most likely to become pregnant. Use a barrier method or avoid sex during these days.
- Two-Day Method: Check vaginal secretions every day before you urinate, in the afternoon and in the evening. Look, touch, and feel secretions in your vagina. If you notice any secretions today or yesterday, you can become pregnant.
- Billings Ovulation Method: Observe vaginal secretions by the look, touch, and feel method. Secretions may be scant but sticky and thick, with cloudy or whitish color. Fertile secretions are abundant, clear, stretchy, wet, and slippery. Releasing an egg is most likely to occur within one day before, during or after the abundant, clear, wet, and slippery secretions.
- Sympto-Thermal Method: Take your temperature at the same time every morning before you get out of bed (must have had at least 3 hrs of sleep). Record the temperature on a chart. Your temperature will rise at least 0.4 degrees when you ovulate for at least 10 days. After three days of continuous high temperatures, you have probably ovulated. In addition, take notice to secretions from your vagina. If they are clear and stretchy, you have likely ovulated. To avoid pregnancy, do not have sex during temperature rises and changes in your vaginal secretions (about 10 days).