HOW does this method work? Women can learn to recognize what times during their monthly cycle they are most likely to become pregnant. They do this by keeping a careful record of when their periods start and how many days until the beginning of the next period. They also can check the mucus around the cervix (opening to the uterus) When a woman is ovulating (releasing an egg) the mucus becomes clear and "stretchy" like the clear part of a raw chicken's egg. They can also take their temperature every day as soon as they wake in the morning. (Body temperature will rise slightly while a woman is ovulating.)
HOW is this method USED? Some groups of people do not use birth control for religious reasons. For those people, Natural Family Planning might work. Special classes are needed to learn the method. Natural Family Planners who are unwilling to use other methods of birth control do not have intercourse during fertile times if they don't want to get pregnant. If they want to get pregnant, they do have intercourse during the fertile times. Those who have no objection to using other forms of birth control can use other methods during fertile times if pregnancy is not desired.
Benefits to using this method: There are no major health concerns using this method of birth control. This method is helpful in planning pregnancy (because the couple will have a pretty good idea when they are going to begin the pregnancy).
Concerns connected to using this method: Because we are human and our bodies react to many different things going on around us, there is no way to predict with absolutely accuracy exactly when a woman is or is not fertile. That's why this method is not extremely effective in planning or preventing pregnancy.
Effectiveness: This depends on how carefully partners use it. Natural family planning and fertility awareness method is 80-98% effective. The high number results from using it exactly right every single time. The low number means that in a year, for every 100 couples using natural family planning, 20 of them will get pregnant.
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last updated January 30, 2008
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