- Fertility awareness-based methods are inexpensive. They are also hormone-free.
- Effectiveness: fertility awareness methods are not very effective. With common use, only 76 to 88 individuals of every 100 will manage to prevent pregnancy.
- Side effects: none
- Effort: high. Daily tracking is required to use fertility awareness-based methods correctly
- Doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Fertility awareness-based methods are a form of natural family planning. These methods require you to keep track of your menstrual cycle to determine the days that you can get pregnant. The difficult part is determining when those days are. We give you a few options to monitor your fertility and help you identify the days you can get pregnant. For women with irregular periods, including teens, this may not be the best option.
Types of Fertility Awareness:
Standard Days (SDM): you can use this method if your menstrual cycle is between 26 and 32 days long. You will need to record your periods and determine when you cannot get pregnant.
TwoDay (TDM): for this method, you need to observe cervical discharge to see when you are fertile.
Cervical Mucus: your body makes a specific goo when you are most fertile. This method is about tracking your cervical mucus.
Body Temp (BBT): for this method, you chart your body temperature every morning to determine whether or not you are ovulating.
Symptothermal: your body has many signs indicating that you can get pregnant. This method tracks several of them at once. This includes how open your cervix feels.
Lactational (LAM): breastfeeding naturally suppresses fertility. This method works if you have just had a baby. But for this method to work you need to be exclusively breastfeeding your baby.
You want to get to know your body better. Fertility awareness methods can help you to prevent a pregnancy. They are also a good way to know your body better. You will notice changes and better understand your menstrual cycle.
You would not mind getting pregnant. Failure rates are high if you do not use this method correctly. If getting pregnant would be a problem for you and you are not very good at fertility awareness tracking, choose another method. If you still want to try it, use a backup method, like condoms, every time you have sex while you are learning.
Total self-discipline. Both you and your partner need to agree to follow this method. You also need to know your body well.
You are okay with not having sex, or using another method. With this method you will need to track the days you can get pregnant each month. On those days, you will need to either avoid sex or use a non-hormonal method. If you are not okay with not having sex or using another method of contraception, do not use fertility awareness-based methods.
You want a method with no side effects. This method does not add additional hormones to your body. Many people who use this method want something that does not affect their bodies.
No prescription is necessary. If you do not want to use hormones, you can use one of these methods, or a combination of them.
How To Use
Fertility awareness-based methods are simple. Track your menstrual cycles and do not have sex on the days that you can get pregnant. If you have sex on those days, use an alternate method, like a condom – external (male) or internal (female)– or diaphragm.
You can track your cycle with several different methods. Using two or more will help you be more accurate. You will need to observe changes in your body and calculate where you are at in your menstrual cycle. This will take a lot of effort and commitment. Before you choose this method, make sure you understand what you will need to do. Be prepared to not have sex for seven days every month, or to use a second method on those days.
Standard Days Method. This option will only work if your menstrual cycle is between 26 and 32 days. Learn more about this method.
TwoDay Method. You will check to see if you have cervical secretions every day. If you notice any secretions, yesterday or today, you can get pregnant. Do not have sex on those days. If you decide to have sex, use another form of contraception. Get more info here.
Cervical Mucus Method. You need to check your cervical mucus on a daily basis. You can get pregnant from the onset of your secretions (when your cervical mucus is clear, stretchy, slippery, and wet) until 3 days after it stops. Use this method with Symptothermal Method or Standard Days method.
Body Basal Temperature Method (BBT). You will take your temperature every morning before you stand up. Write it down on a chart. Use this method with Symptothermal Method or Standard Days Method.
Symptothermal Method. This method combines multiple fertility awareness-based methods to predict the days you can get pregnant. It usually tracks basal body temperature and cervical mucus. You can get more information here.
Lactational Amenorrhea Method. You can use breastfeeding to prevent pregnancy for up to 6 months after having a baby. This works only if you meet all three criteria listed below:
- No menstrual bleeding since your baby was born.
- You only breastfeed your baby (no other foods or liquids are given).
- You feed your baby at least every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours during the night.
Everyone is different. What you experience may not be the same thing as another person.
- Completely free – except for the price of a basal thermometer or cycle beads
- No prescription necessary
- No hormones added to your body
- No hormones, so you do not have to worry about side effects. Your only worry is the possibility of getting pregnant.
- This method helps you learn more about your body and how it works
- You need to spend time planning, and record-keeping.
- This method requires self-control
- Requires abstinence (or use of an alternate method) for at least one week per menstrual cycle
- You and your partner need to participate
- The Calendar Method and the Standard Days Method do not work for women with irregular periods
- If you have recently stopped using a hormonal method, using a fertility awareness methods can be risky. Hormones affect your cycle, which will make fertility awareness-based methods ineffective initially. Use a non-hormonal method while you learn to track your menstrual cycle.
- Hard to stick to the plan if you are drunk
- We are here to help you. If it still does not feel right, we have ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you decide to change methods, make sure to stay protected while you switch. Condoms offer good protection while you find a method that suits your needs.What if I had sex on a wrong day?
- If it has been 5 days or less since you had sex, and you do not want a pregnancy, take emergency contraception. If it was more than 5 days ago, you should take a pregnancy test if your next period is late.
- If you want to have unprotected sex on days when you could get pregnant, and you do not want to get pregnant, you might want to consider an easier method.
- Still not working? If you are having trouble determining the days you could get pregnant, you might want to consider an easier method like the IUD or the implant.
- Like the hormone-free aspect of fertility awareness? Check out the non-hormonal IUD or stick with a barrier method like condoms.
- Try a different method: internal condom (female); implant ; IUD; external condom (male)
What if I cannot remember to take my temperature, track my cycle, or check my mucus every day?
- This method only works if you are dedicated to using them correctly and consistently. There are lots of tools such as apps, thermometers, and cycle beads that can help with tracking your cycle.
- Still not working? If you are not sure you can monitor your fertility signs every single day, think about another method that requires less effort.
- What if we want to have sex on the fertile days?
- If you are not sure you will not have sex on all of the days you can get pregnant, use another method in addition to fertility awareness-based methods. If you want to avoid hormones, you can use condoms external (male) or internal (female), an or cervical cap with spermicide, or Sponge
- Still not working? If you are having trouble with the fertility awareness-based methods and want a no-hormone method, consider the non-hormonal IUD. It is hormone-free and does not require a lot of work.
- Try a different method: IUD