June 30, 2021 | Written By: Lutfi Yunus
What Is Natural Family Planning?
Natural family planning is a method to avoid pregnancy without the need of using any chemicals or physical devices. This method reduces the risk of getting pregnant by allowing a couple to plan for their sexual activity without using any method of contraception.
How Does Natural Family Planning Work?
Natural family planning involves observing and recording different natural signs of fertility (fertility indicators) in a woman’s body on each day of her menstrual cycle, ie, the time from the first day of the period to the day before the next period starts.
These fertility indicators include:
• Body temperature: The body temperature changes throughout the menstrual cycle due to the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Body temperature will increase slightly after the ovaries release an egg (also known as ovulation). These changes in body temperature can be measured using special ovulation or basal thermometer.
• Cervical secretions: The quantity, texture and type of cervical mucus change due to fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone levels. The start of the fertile period is indicated by moist, sticky and white or creamy mucus, whereas the most fertile time is indicated by clear, wet, stretchy and slippery (like raw egg white) mucus.
• Length of the menstrual cycle: The average length is usually around 28 days, but may also be longer or shorter. Ovulation usually occurs around 10–16 days before the start of the next period, regardless of the menstrual cycle length.
Monitoring one or more of these fertility indicators allows a woman to know her most and least fertile periods of a month and identify the safe period to have sex.
How effective is natural family planning?
Depending on the method used, natural family planning has up to 99% efficacy in preventing pregnancy if it is applied correctly.
However, natural family planning is not an easy subject to learn. It requires 3–6 menstrual cycles to learn how to do it effectively and good daily records to keep track of the signs. In addition, the fertility indicators can also be altered if one is using hormonal emergency contraception. You may want to learn more about natural family planning from a family planning specialist.
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