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Natural Family Planning


Natural Family Planning*

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a form of birth control that is based on the timing of sex in relation to a woman's menstrual cycle. It used to be called the rhythm method or "safe period", periodic abstinence or more recently, fertility awareness.

NFP can be an effective way to preven unwanted pregnancy and the success and failure rate is dependent on your ability to:

  • Recognize the signs of ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary)
  • Not have sex during the fertile period or use another method, such as condoms, during this time.

For this method to work a woman needs to kwno her body well, and she and her partner must be willing to follow the method. Even with perfect use a woman has a risk of pregnancy. With NFP the time suring which sex is less likely to resule in pregnancy is limited, and sex becomes a lot less spontaneous. Because of this, some couples may find it very difficult to use this method.

Types of Natural Fmaily Planning

1. Basal body temperature method

This method is based on the fact that women have a slight increase in their normal body temperature just after ovulation. A woman will take her temperature every morning before getting out of bed, record it on a graph and then be able to tell when she had ovulated and it is safe to have sex. A couple using this method will not have sex from the end of her menstrual cycle until 3 days after the raise in temperature.

2. Ovulation/cervical mucus method

The ovulation method involves changes in how much mucus is produced by the cervix and how it feels. For instance, for most women the vagina is dry for a time after menstruation. A sticky mucus then appears and just before ovulation the mucus becomes wet and slippery. The last day of wetness called the "peak" day, often correlates with ovulation. Just after the peak day the mucus becomes thick or goes away. The fertile period (when you should not have sex) starts with the first signs of mucus and continues until 4 days after the peak day.

3. Symptothermal method

A combination of the temperature and ovulation methods. In addition the woman also checks for other signs of ovulation such as spotting, cramping/abdominal pains, and changed in the position and firmness of the cervix. This requires you abstain from sex from the day you first notice mucus discharge until the 3rd day after the increase in temperature or the 4th day after the "peak" day of mucus production.

4. Calandar Method

A woman first records every day of her menstral cycle for 6 months and then can calculate her fertile period by looking at the calendar. A menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of bleeding (Day 1) to the first day of next menstrual period. To calculate:

  • The 1st day of the fertile phase is found by subtracting 18 days from the length of the shortest cycle.
  • To find the last day of the fertile phase, subtract 11 days from the longest cycle.

5. Lactational Amenorrhea

Means a woman does not have her period because of changes in hormones cause by breastfeeding. Ovulation and menstruation usually are postponed in breastfeeding. This is because levels of certain hormon, prolactin, are increased. If a woman does not ovulate she cannot become pregnant.

Keep in mind whichever method you use, that none of these methods protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Be sure you completely understand the method you plan to use and talk to your health care provider for more information.

*All information was provided from ACOG.

Click here for more information. (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)