Natural Contraception or Natural Family Planning (Fertility Awareness) is a big topic these days with a lot of people choosing to veer away from hormone filled pills, injections and coils.
After my own experience coming off the pill after 10 years and finally discovering who I was and how my body worked (artificial)hormone-free, I’ve personally decided never to go back on hormonal contraception again. Spoiler alert, it was the best decision I’ve EVER made – you can read more about it here.
A lot of people are nervous to go hormone-free with their contraception for the fear of unwanted pregnancies. And while this is a legitimate concern if approaching this method without the proper info, when used correctly the natural contraception method can be up to 99% effective (source, NHS).
It is important to note that just like the pill or coil, this method also doesn’t protect against STI’s, so remember to stay safe with all forms of unprotected sex!
It seems like at school we were taught that pregnancy can happen at ANY time during the month. However in reality there is only around 6-7 days per cycle where a person is fertile and conception can occur.
Natural contraception is a way of tracking your cycle to pinpoint this ‘fertile window’ and either avoiding sex during this time, or using another method of contraception.
How to Track Your Cycle for Pregnancy Prevention
First things first you’re going to want to know how to properly track your cycle. Learning your body’s natural cues such as body temperature, discharge, cervix position and more to indicate at which part of your cycle you’re in.
By knowing where you are in your cycle and pinpointing fertile days, you can learn when to avoid unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. (I also have a big blog post on how to track your ovulation HERE.)
If you still choose to have sex during your fertile window you will need to use another form of contraception to prevent pregnancy. This is a personal choice and there are a variety of options such as female condoms, the withdrawal method or more traditionally the male condom.
I actually have a whole post on my amazing new discovery – Organic Condoms. They don’t smell horrible, they feel great, they’re just as effective and they contain no vagina harming nasties. If traditional condoms make you recoil in horror take a look at this post, they really are a game changer.
If you’re interested in learning how to use natural birth control as your sole method of contraception, make sure you’re taught by a qualified fertility awareness practitioner.
THE BIGGEST NO-NO WITH NATURAL CONTRACEPTION
One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to natural family planning is relying on period tracking apps ALONE (without another method of measurement) to find their fertile window.
While these apps can be fantastic to help you keep track of your cycle, offer helpful body tips and ESTIMATE when your ovulation MAY be taking place. For the latter they use an algorithm that isn’t specifically tuned to your body and isn’t 100% accurate.
If you are solely using a cycle tracking apps prediction of your fertile window without any other measures, this is not a reliable contraception method.
In order for this to work you need to be using another method such as cervical mucus monitoring method or the symptothermal method (BBT and cervical mucus monitoring) to help confirm things.
There are specific apps out there that help you use cycle tracking as a contraception method – the most well known of those is Natural Cycles – and they can be very accurate. The difference is that apps like these aren’t simply using an algorithm to predict your fertile days, they’re using one of your body’s natural fertility biomarkers – basal body temperature.
Again, I have a whole blog post and video on the details of BBT charting because it can be SO useful for finding out a lot about your body, your cycle and your fertility – so if you’re interested to know more, you can find that here.
In a nutshell:
Apps that use your body’s fertility bio markers such as BBT or cervical mucus to track fertile days – can be very accurate
Apps that simply guess your fertile days via an algorithm with no physical proof or evidence – not accurate!
Cycle tracking is a great way to learn about your body, highlight any potential underlying issues or hormone imbalances and help either facilitate or prevent pregnancy. But in order for it to be a reliable contraception method its important to learn about your body’s signals to be accurate with that fertile window and NOT rely on a tracking app alone to give you the green light.
More blog posts to help you start your research around Cycle Tracking and the measures involved in Natural Contraception (read these in order!):
How to track your cycle – the basics of cycle tracking and how to start
What is BBT Charting – detailed information about basal body temperature and how using it can help pinpoint your fertile days
How to Track Ovulation – more information on how to read your body’s signals that tell you when you are and aren’t fertile
How Organic Condoms Changed my Sex Life – a look into an alternative to traditional condoms that give everyone the ick for protected sex on your fertile days.
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