Birth control methods like birth control pills are also used for reasons other than preventing a pregnancy like, for instance, for someone suffering from severe acne, irregular periods, and other menstruation disorders. 

On the internet, most people talk about hormonal and non-hormonal methods when it comes to contraception. There are various options for hormonal contraceptive methods like pills that consist of the two hormones estrogen and progesterone. Also, some pills only contain one of these hormones. When it comes to non-hormonal contraceptive options, there are limited options.

People have different lifestyles and needs; therefore, a contraceptive method should be carefully selected so that there are no disturbances in your daily life. 

Apart from the usual contraception methods, there is one more that is gaining a lot of popularity: a fertility awareness method or FAM. This one is touted as a very natural way of family planning that women can make use of to prevent pregnancy. 

What is it, and how does it work?

The fertility awareness method involves staying in tune with your body, being more aware by tracking your periods, and knowing when you are most fertile and when you are not. It needs the woman to closely track the ovulation process to know when to avoid having sex, which could otherwise result in a pregnancy.

The fertility awareness method helps women trying to get pregnant, as keeping track of their fertile days helps them know which are the perfect days to conceive. However, those women that are trying to avoid getting pregnant this can be a situation of a hit and miss, as unlike what you learn in a biology class about ovulation occurring two weeks after a period ends such things, in reality, are more difficult to predict as the exact date of ovulation can differ from women to women. 

How to track ovulation and the menstrual cycle

Most women think that the days that they bleed is known as a menstrual cycle. However, that is not the case as the menstrual cycle involves everything from the periods themselves to the ovulation, the follicular phase, etc.

Typically a menstrual cycle is of 28 days with ovulation happening around the 14th day. But each woman’s body is different and menstrual cycles can last anywhere from 21 to 45 days in which you can only know the case on what days you are ovulating. A fertility awareness method can help you keep track of your menstrual cycle and the ovulation process with the help of:

  • A calendar

This method is best for women with a regular menstrual cycle in the range of 26 to 32 days. The calendar method lets you record the first and last days of your periods, which can predict when you will ovulate.

Over the months, you will see a regular pattern forming, helping you predict when you will have your periods and when you will be most fertile. A calendar method will also help you with any abnormalities that are forming a pattern.

For women with a regular 26 to 32 days of a menstrual cycle, avoiding unprotected sex during the fertile period from the 8 to the 16th day of the cycle should be done. They can use protection like a condom during those days. To track ovulation, women can also resort to over the counter kit for testing ovulation.

  • Know your cervical mucus

Keeping track of the cervical mucous can also be of great help when it comes to predicting ovulation. By tracking mucous here means tracking its consistency, during the ovulation period, the cervical mucus has a consistency of an egg white to help the sperm survive longer.

After ovulation, however, the stretchiness and the egg-white consistency of the mucous is decreased. Many women might experience little mucous coming out of their vagina in the days leading up to their periods.

  • Taking temperature

During ovulation, the body releases progesterone, which causes the body temperature to go up by .5 degrees. This lasts for a day or two after the ovulation. This method can also help women track ovulation. Those who use this method of contraception check their temperature every day to see the differences in their normal temperature and the slightly high temperature experienced after the ovulation process has ended. 

As per the National Health Service tracking your temperature for 3 days straight and then comparing the results with your temperature from the last 6 days can help you know the change. If there is a change in the temperature, that means that you are not fertile at that time.

The symptothermal method is the term used for when the three methods, namely, tracking your cycle with a calendar, keeping track of your cervical mucus, and taking your temperature, are used together.

It should be noted that tracking should be done for at least 6 to 12 menstrual cycles to ascertain your normal patterns; otherwise, using the FAM after just one cycle might not yield any benefits. Additionally, consulting your doctor before using any new contraception method is also very important.      

Recommended Post: Predicting Fertility Potential in Women

Fertility awareness method, is it effective?

A lot of women have not adopted the fertility awareness method as an effective contraception method because of its differences compared to other methods of birth control when it comes to the differences in the percentages between the perfect use and the typical use.

Perfect use talks about people not being humans and that things can never malfunction, and schedules are not subject to any change. FAM is seen to have a very high perfect use rate, and so they are seen as unreliable. 

As per the United States Department of Health & Human Services, the rate of success with the use of fertility awareness method is only 75 percent, which means that out of 100 women using this method 25 get pregnant. That is why all those relying on this method should be well aware of what type of lifestyle they are leading and whether the tracking results are accurate. 

Birth control, with the help of the fertility awareness method, is not useful when it comes to preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Therefore those women that are using this method of contraception would also use protection like condoms in order to increase the efficacy and also when engaging in any sexual activity with a new sexual partner whose test results are unknown. 

The fertility awareness method might not be that effective at birth control, but it can help you know more about your body and to keep track of your body’s rhythms. 

Recommended Post: Infertility: An Overview