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Natural Family Planning

There are many ways to plan a family and not everyone’s idea of family planning involves the use contraception. Some may wish to avoid any kind of contraception due to their own personal reasons and yet wish to avoid pregnancy or plan a pregnancy. If this be the case, then the natural family planning methods come to play but for this to work, one will have to be well-versed in their own fertility awareness to begin with.

Fertility Awareness

Fertility awareness is a method of checking the changes your body undergoes so that you will know when you’re most fertile and when you’re the least likely to conceive.Women who practice natural family panning will have to be well versed with their own fertility and time their intercourses, either to increase their chances of becoming pregnant or to avoid pregnancy.

A woman with no fertility issues may be able to conceive during six days in every month, which is actually the day of her ovulation and five days before it. Ovulation typically occurs 12 to 16 days before the menstrual period begins. So ovulation would occur on day 10 of a 24-day menstrual cycle, day 14 of a 28-day cycle, or day 21 of a 35-day cycle. Sperm can live for three to five days in a woman’s reproductive tract, so it is possible to become pregnant if sex occurs two to three days before ovulation.

Fertility awareness is not the best method of birth control to prevent a pregnancy. The number of unplanned pregnancies is 25 out of 100 women who typically rely on their own fertility awareness. However, this method can be very helpful to time when to have sex to conceive.

There are several basic methods for determining the time of ovulation. For fertility awareness to be most effective, you need to use all of these methods in combination.Check your body changes using these methods for several months before using them to avoid pregnancy.

Basal body temperature (BBT) method

Basal body temperature (BBT) is the lowest body temperature recorded during the day. A healthy woman’s hormone levels during her menstrual cycle naturally cause her BBT to fall one to two days before ovulation and then rise one to two days after ovulation. By carefully measuring and recording your BBT every morning before you get out of bed, you may be able to guess the day you will ovulate. Keep track of your temperature for a few months.

Cervical mucus method

The amount, texture, and look of mucus discharged by your cervix varies during your menstrual cycle. By watching, feeling, and recording this information for several cycles, you may be able to determine when you are ovulating.

  • Right after your menstrual period, you will have less cervical mucus and it will be thick, cloudy, and sticky.
  • Just before and during ovulation, you will have more cervical mucus and it appears thin, clear, and stringy.

Hormone monitoring

This can be done with home ovulation kits available at pharmacies. These test kits can help you determine the most fertile days of your menstrual cycle. They help check the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine.

Combined (symptothermal) method

As its name suggests, this is a combination of all the methods above to help you determine the most fertile days of your cycle. It involves checking your basal body temperature and the changes in your cervical mucus, having a hormone test, and watching for signs of ovulation.

How the natural method works

A woman with a regular menstrual cycle will usually experience the following sequence of events:

  • 3 to 7 days of menstruation
  • several days where she does not feel or see mucus in her vagina or on her vulva
  • several days of a ‘wet’ or ‘slippery’ sensation at her vulva or in the vagina where she sees and/or feels mucus, which becomes progressively more slippery, stretchy, and clear as ovulation approaches
  • after ovulation her waking temperature rises, mucus disappears from the vulva, and the vulva and vagina feel “drier”
  • Fertile days begin with the first sensation of mucus at the vulva and continue until both the mucus has dried up and the waking temperature has been high for three days in a row.

With days of higher fertility and lower fertility determined, a woman can time intercourse to avoid or achieve pregnancy.

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