HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR CYCLE?
Natural planning – sometimes referred to as fertility awareness – is a technique of tracking exactly which stage of the menstrual cycle you are in, and only having sex on non-fertile days. There are a number of ways of doing this, and a number of fertility signs that you need to be aware of, including fluctuations in your body's temperature and changes in the cervical mucus. Due to the amount of planning required with this method, it isn't the best for those who are disorganized, forgetful, or spontaneous.
While there are many tools available to help you keep track, from physical calendars to digital apps, natural planning requires an intimate and detailed knowledge of your menstrual cycle. To have a better chance of avoiding pregnancy on the days when you are ovulating, it is advised that you use a barrier method such as male condoms, female condoms, or a diaphragm, to improve your chances of not conceiving. Natural planning is a popular choice for those who don't wish to use chemical or hormonal contraceptives, and if you do decide to get pregnant in the future, all that fertility tracking can be a great help.
How it Measures Up
EFFICACY WITH PERFECT USE
Natural planning is entirely self-directed and if done perfectly, it can be an effective method of contraception. To improve its efficacy however, it is advisable to use a barrier method at any time you might be ovulating.View ’Typical’ Use Efficacy Rate
EFFICACY WITH TYPICAL USE
Natural planning is entirely self-directed. There is a lot of room for error, and none of us are perfect. Your cycle may also be disrupted by any number of factors, so even if your planning is perfect, it is a less effective method of contraception.View ’Perfect’ Use Efficacy Rate
No. Natural planning is hormone-free.
Ease of Use
Natural planning methods vary in terms of how much attention they need, but it’s important to be aware of fertile days and to use additional contraception on these days.
Natural planning has no impact on menstruation.
Yes. All couples can use natural planning, but they must be motivated and trained in their preferred method, and committed to avoiding unprotected sex on fertile days if they wish to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
Some methods of natural planning allow you to track your fertile days even if you have irregular periods. However, it should be remembered that it is possible to get pregnant even if you have sex on the days when you are not ovulating.
The number of fertile days in a cycle varies from woman to woman. The average number varies between 12 to 18 days, during which time unprotected sex should be avoided. To avoid unplanned pregnancy during this time, another method of contraception should be used, such as condoms.
During menstrual bleeding the changes of pregnancy are low but not zero. In the first days of bleeding, the chances of getting pregnant are at their lowest. As these days pass, the chances increase, whether or not bleeding continues. The chances of getting pregnant rise until ovulation. The day after ovulation the chances of pregnancy begin to drop steadily. Some natural planning methods that depend on cervical secretions advise avoiding unprotected sex during monthly bleeding because cervical secretions cannot be detected during bleeding and there is a small risk of ovulation at this time.
There are apps available that are designed to track your natural menstruation cycle and help you plan. How effective these apps are at doing this is still the subject of debate.
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The number of days a woman is likely to be more fertile during her cycle and should use a different contraceptive to avoid pregnancy.
The percentage of women worldwide who use natural planning as their main contraceptive.
The number of eggs typically released during ovulation.
- It’s hormone-free and can be an option for women who experience unwanted effects from hormones.
- It is a way to track fertile days for women wanting to get pregnant.
- It can be used when breastfeeding.
- It can take practice, and requires careful tracking of the menstrual cycle and fertile days.
- Even with careful tracking it does not allow for natural variations in the menstrual cycle.
- It may not allow for spontaneity.
- It doesn’t protect against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
NEED ADVICE? SPEAK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL
Seek out an appointment with your doctor or nurse for further support that meets your needs.