About natural family planning
Natural family planning involves a group of methods that primarily serve to determine when sexual intercourse will result in pregnancy and when it will not, which basically means calculating fertile and infertile days in the cycle.
During the menstrual cycle, a lot of changes and different processes occur in a woman’s body. As a result of some of those processes, certain days of the month are ideal for trying to conceive. Those who do not want to become pregnant can use the same methods to calculate days on which it is safe to have unprotected sex.
For example, during ovulation, the egg descends into the uterus through the fallopian tubes. An unfertilized egg can live up to 12 hours. The unfertilized egg will eventually shed trough menstrual bleeding and the next one will be created. The woman is most likely to get pregnant if the sexual intercourse takes place just before or just after ovulation, and most natural methods are based on calculating those times.
The two most popular and reliable methods that are currently being taught are the mucus or ovulation method and the symptothermal method.
In the mucus or ovulation method, cervical mucus is checked to determine the days before and after ovulation. A sample of that mucus is taken and if it is clear, slick and stretchy, much like the egg white, it means that chances of becoming pregnant are high.
The symptothermal method measures the basal body temperature with a special thermometer. The woman measures her temperature each day and writes the readings down in a chart. At the time of the ovulation, the basal body temperature will slightly rise. These rises can be combined with other signs of ovulation, such as changes in the cervical mucus consistency, pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen and lower back, slight bloating and tender breasts.
In both methods, it is recommended to use a chart to keep track of the changes in the body and in the observed parameters. Both methods can be very effective for family planning if the woman or the couple carefully follow the instructions, or, better yet, if they receive training from a specialist or a nurse-midwife. Two out of three couples with no fertility problems can become pregnant if they have sex on the days identified as fertile, provided they do everything right.
When it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancy, the natural methods are best if combined with some other form of contraception, like condoms or the pill, since no birth control method, drug or device is 100% effective and they all fork best if combined.