Fertility Awareness Methods - Part 1

Contraceptives can be divided into groups. In this particular text, natural contraceptives will be discussed. The natural options include abstinence, breastfeeding as birth control, pull out method and fertility awareness methods. Abstinence and pull out are quite clear, but the other two can be somewhat tricky.

The average menstrual cycle lasts from 21 to 35 days and the amount of time before ovulation occurs varies from woman to woman and from month to month. Its range can be from 13 to 20 days long. After ovulation a normal cycle will occur 14 to 16 days later.

To measure the effectiveness of each contraceptive method, the Pearl index is used. The higher the result, the higher the chances of unwanted pregnancies.

Fertility Awareness Methods

It consists of keeping track of your ovulation period, sexual activity is then timed to avoid those days. Women abstain from sex or use other types of protection when it is known for them that they are more fertile. For it to be effective, menstrual cycle should be regular and sex should be avoided 3 to 4 days previous and after ovulation day.

The main types are temperature method, cervical mucus method, calendar method, standard days method and sympothermal method.

Temperature method

Ovulation is being identified by taking your body temperature every day in the morning at the exact same time. Women’s temperature will rises after ovulation and will remain that way until her next period starts. Temperature must be recorded to a tenth of a degree. Changes are subtle but have to be jotted down. Before ovulation temperatures will range between 35,5 to 36,6°C and from 36,1 to 37,2°C after ovulation. A disadvantage of this method in particular is that any condition that could raise your temperature like a fever or your blood pressure like stress, anger or anxiety even in the slightest will alter the results. Pearl Index is 12.2%.

Cervical Mucus Method

Also known as the Billings Method developed in Melbourne in 1953. Hormones as well as controlling your menstrual cycle, produce mucus. It will change color, consistency and amount through the whole cycle and through ovulation. After menstruation, less mucus will be produced and these are the safe days where you can have intercourse. When the egg is getting ready, a white odorless sticky discharge will be seen. When ovulation is happening, the consistency will change into slippery instead of sticky and the amount will increase. 4-5 days after, it will go back to less mucus and considered safe days again. It should not be used until at least 1 cycle has been charted and works best if sex is avoided for that cycle.

The least safe days will start 3 to 4 days before the slippery, wet mucus appears. The safe days begin when the discharge is cloudy and sticky and the most safe are the dry days.

Some disadvantages are that more than one cycle has to be charted before trying to rely completely on this method. Women who are breastfeeding, have undergone cervical medical procedures, have had current STD’s or were using hormonal contraceptives can alter the results of the mucus and can’t rely on this method. The Pearl index is 3%