(NaturalNews) Natural family planning depends on a couple`s ability to recognise the phases of a woman`s menstrual cycle and to calculate when ovulation is most likely to occur. In this way, they can avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
How Reliable are Natural Birth Control Methods?
For a natural method to be effective a woman`s menstrual cycle must follow the same pattern month after month so that she can rely on the regularity of her fertile period. A woman with a regular menstrual cycle will ovulate approximately fourteen days before her following period. An egg has 24 hours to be fertilized before dying but sperm can live for up to seven days after ejaculation. Therefore, a woman with an irregular cycle may have difficulty in identifying the phases when she should avoid unprotected sex.
Natural Birth Control Methods
Being able to pinpoint the period of ovulation is the most important part of natural family planning methods. Two methods for calculating ovulation are:
The Basal Body Temperature Method: Progesterone makes a woman's body temperature rise, to half a degree Celsius higher than normal, the day after ovulation has occurred. A woman will easily recognise this slight rise in temperature if she measures her temperature, using the same thermometer every day, immediately after waking and before getting out of bed.
This method is entirely natural making it a good choice of contraception for women wishing to avoid the contraceptive pill. However, it may be difficult to maintain the habit of temperature taking every morning and even a slight cold may cause temperatures to rise resulting in a false reading.
The Calendar Method: To use this method effectively, the amount of days between the beginning of one period and the next must be jotted down for a period of six months. Eighteen days are subtracted from the shortest interval between periods and eleven days from the longest interval between cycles. Calculations could look like this: the shortest interval is 25 days - 18 = 7 and the longest interval is 30 days - 11 = 19. The fertile phase for a woman with this data would be from day seven of her cycle to day nineteen. During this period, unprotected sex could result in an unplanned pregnancy.
For this method to work, data must be recorded every month, without fail, for six months. The calendar method requires couples to abstain from sex for one to two weeks per month unless they use other forms of contraception during the fertile period.
The Persona: It is a small battery-operated machine that identifies fertile periods during a woman's menstrual cycle. It is easy to use and understand. It requires a urine test every morning until it has enough information on a woman's cycle and then asks for a test only every few days.
Urine strips are bought separately. Every morning, a urine strip must be inserted into the machine which will then flash a green light for go or a red light for no. It also has a handy little ovulation sign which flashes a day before ovulation is likely to occur, during ovulation and a day after ovulation has occurred. The Persona basically identifies luteinizing hormones which are secreted by the body before ovulation and warns that a woman's fertile phase is beginning.
These natural family planning methods may be difficult to become accustomed to but once the habit of using them has been acquired, they are easy to use and practical. As they are used to identify a woman's fertile period they can be adapted by couples who want to begin a family too.
Balch, James, M.D. and Stengler, Mark, N.D. Prescription for Natural Cures, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, 2004.
Weschler, Toni, Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement and Reproductive Health, HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.
Kass-Annesse, Barbara and Danzer, Hal, Natural Birth Control Made Simple, Hunter House Inc., 2005.
About the author
Louanne Piccolo is a professional freelance writer and second language English teacher. She is currently studying to be a naturopath in France and is the owner of the Healthy Living blog at http://simplyhealthyliving.wordpress.com/