Family planning can be defined as activities that enable individuals or couples to freely ascertain when they want to have kids, the number of children they want to have, and the spacing in the birth of the children.
Ways of family planning can either be practiced naturally or artificially.
What is natural family planning?
Natural family planning refers to birth control methods that don’t rely on pills or prophylactics and through which couples may exercise more of an active role in controlling the family size or the age gap of siblings.
Natural methods of family planning focus on a woman’s ovulation times and intercourse as it is this time of her cycle that maximizes the likelihood of NFP pregnancy.
NFP methods require you to keep a meticulous record of your body’s fertility signals. It might take some time to get the process right, but when followed properly can be up to 99% effective.
This article will shed light on how to do family planning naturally and what are the benefits of natural family planning methods.
3 types of natural family planning
There are essentially three best natural family planning methods, the ovulation or the mucus method, the rhythm method, and the symptothermal method.
1. Ovulation method
“Ovulation” refers to the time period in which an egg is released from the ovaries into the Fallopian tubes. Once the ovarian follicles rupture, it releases secondary oocyte ovarian cells. During the luteal phase, the egg waits to be fertilized.
To receive a fertilized egg the uterine line thickens, and if conception does not happen, the lining is shed during menstruation. Ovulation in women usually occurs midway through the menstrual cycle.
When a couple plans intercourse around the female cycle, the point is to target the time of ovulation to achieve or avoid possible fertilization at that time.
Avoiding sex during the ovulation phase is a common practice for married couples that don’t want to use prophylactic birth control but want to continue to be intimate together.
In the Ovulation or mucus method, a woman needs to keep track of her cervical mucus. During ovulation, a woman’s body produces a stretchy, clear, and slick mucus, which can be appeared or feel like an uncooked egg white.
You can follow the following steps when examining your ovulation mucus:
– Use your fingers to examine the secretion emitting from your vagina and take a sample. This needs to be done every morning, at least for the first time.
– Test the consistency of the mucus with your thumb and fingers
– If it appears stretchy and clear like an egg white, you are about to ovulate.
– After four days from this point, you will enter an infertile phase which will end when your next fertile phase begins.
2. Rhythm method
In this method, the days of a cycle are projected on a 28-day chart. Days are counted, starting from the first day of the female’s menstrual cycle. On the twelve to-fourteen day mark, the natural family planning chart is notated to reflect the time in which ovulation should take place.
Physical changes (such as the appearance of the female mucosa) are observed as they may provide evidence of ovulation. If the timing is right, and the female mucosa has an egg-white texture to it, she is most likely ovulating at this time.
Adhere to the mentioned steps:
– Make a record of the first day of your period for six months.
– Measure the length of your menstrual cycle during these six months
– From the shortest cycle, subtract 18 days which would give you the first day of your fertile period.
– From your longest cycle, subtract 11 days, which would give you the last day of your fertile period.
– Do not engage sexually from the first to the last day of your fertile period.
3. Symptothermal method
The symptothermal natural family planning method involves checking the daily basal body temperature during the week ovulation is expected. A woman’s temperature will be slightly higher-about one degree- on the day ovulation takes place.
The temperate should ideally be measured in the early morning and at the same time of the day. On any regular day, the temperature would be somewhere between 97° and 98°F. However, during the time of ovulation, the temperature can rise between .5 and 1 degree.
The couple may also observe that the cervical mucous changes in texture and appearance, which can confirm ovulation.
Follow the following steps:
– Take your temperature after waking up every morning but before getting out of bed. Make sure you take the temperature at the same time every day and keep a record of the readings from each day.
–Work out your body temperature average after at-least six readings
– If three or more consecutive temperatures are higher than your average reading it indicates that ovulation has started.
– You will enter an infertile phase the third day after ovulation
5 benefits of natural family planning
Natural family planning has a wide range of advantages and benefits:
The most obvious one is that individuals or couples can ensure that they avoid pregnancy or become pregnant as per their wishes.
Moreover, there would be no need for medically prescribed chemical products or artificial contraceptives which can be harmful to a woman’s or a man’s body.
With proper training and fertility awareness, most women can implement natural family planning. Once you have learned to keep an accurate record of your body’s fertility signs, you won’t need further assistance from a healthcare provider.
Methods based on natural family planning can help women understand their body better and be on the lookout for any abnormal vaginal secretions that might cause or be caused by some sexually transmitted infection.
Another significant benefit of natural family planning is that it does not offend any faiths and is culturally acceptable everywhere. Furthermore, they are completely and immediately reversible and as soon as you discontinue any of the NFP methods, you can get pregnant.
5 risks of natural family planning
Natural family planning comes with its own sets of benefits. But there are also certain risks involved. Know these 5 risks of natural family planning:
1. Unintended pregnancy
NFP requires correct use and consistent tracking of fertility signs, which leaves room for user error and potential unintended pregnancy.
How effective is the natural family planning method?
Natural family planning (NFP) methods, also known as fertility awareness, can be an effective form of NFP contraception when used correctly. NFP requires women to track their menstrual cycle and observe signs of fertility to determine their fertile and infertile days.
When it comes to natural family planning effectiveness, it is reported to have a failure rate of 2-24%. However, the effectiveness can be impacted by various factors such as stress, illness, and irregular menstrual cycles.
Natural Family Planning is a non-invasive and hormone-free method, making it suitable for some women who prefer a more natural approach to birth control. It’s important to receive proper training and education to use Natural Family Planning effectively and to discuss its suitability with a healthcare provider.
More questions on natural family planning
There are many facets to natural family planning. If you have more questions, we’ve got you covered.
How safe is natural family planning?
Natural family planning is considered safe, as it does not involve hormonal or physical manipulation. However, its effectiveness in preventing pregnancy varies and depends on consistent and correct use.
It may not be suitable for individuals with irregular cycles or those who have difficulty recognizing fertility signs. Its safety and effectiveness can be improved by seeking medical advice and choosing an NFP method that is supported by evidence.
What is the most effective natural family planning method?
The most effective natural family planning method is the Symptothermal Method, which combines monitoring of basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and cervix changes to identify fertile and infertile days.
When used correctly and consistently, it can result in a Pearl Index of 0.5-3.0, making it as effective as hormonal birth control methods.
However, it requires the couple’s motivation, discipline, commitment, and regular check-ins with a healthcare provider for accurate instructions and monitoring.
Know more about Symptothermal Method here:
When done correctly, the natural family planning methods can work well and have an accuracy rate of 90 to 100%.
However, this is the percentage of success determining ovulation for those that desire pregnancy. Marital counseling is also the right option if you want an expert to guide you through the process and help you understand what could be the right approach in your marriage.
These methods are less effective as a form of birth control when pregnancy is not desired due to human error or cyclic irregularity.
Couples with certain religious affiliations (such as Catholics) may find natural methods an ideal solution due to belief systems aroundsex and procreation.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships Read more and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.
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