Natural Family Planning As A Means Of Preventing Pregnancy

Natural Family Planning As A Means Of Preventing Pregnancy


Birth control is the process of using practices or methods
to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Natural family planning is a type of
family planning, whereby a woman observes her body through her menstrual
cycle, to note for specific changes indicating fertility or non-fertility.



During the fertile phase, the couple should refrain from
having sexual intercourse, if they are preventing an unplanned pregnancy.



Natural methods of birth control include fertility awareness
methods such as;




  • Calendar
    rhythm method

  • Basal
    body temperature

  • Cervical
    mucus examination.

  • Lactational
    Amenorrhea Method 



Advantages of natural family planning are;




  • It
    is 100% Natural 

  • No
    side effects

  • Convenient

  • Helps
    to understand one’s body

  • Low
    cost/inexpensive



Disadvantages of natural family planning are;




  • Some
    methods such as the calendar method may require a regular menstrual cycle

  • It
    is not easy to track

  • Lack
    of cooperation from one partner may lead to the failure of the method

  • Some
    methods such as the calendar method have a high failure rate with 24 out
    of 100 women getting pregnant within the first year, according to the CDC.



Calendar rhythm method



This is a type of natural family planning method, where a
woman tracks her menstrual cycle using a calendar, then uses the data to
determine the days that she is most fertile.



Calendar rhythm method Formula




  • Track
    your menstrual cycle for a minimum of 6 months, (best if can track for at
    least a year)

  • Subtract
    18 from the shortest  cycle; This gives the first fertile day
    of  a woman

  • Subtract
    11 from the longest cycle; this gives the last fertile day of a
    woman 



For example; After tracking her menstrual cycle for a year,
Kelly got her longest cycle to be 30 days and the shortest cycle to be 26 days



Therefore; 



30-11=19



26-18=8



She is therefore fertile between day 8 to day 19, and she
should abstain during those days to prevent getting pregnant.



How to track the menstrual cycle days.




  • Using
    a normal calendar, track the first day on the calendar as the first day
    the period arrived and the last day as the day the next period started.

  • Note
    down the number of days in that cycle

  • Repeat
    this process for the next 6-12 months to get accurate data



Risks and benefits of the calendar rhythm method.




  • It
    is inexpensive, however it has a low effective rate as 24 out of 100 women get
    pregnant using this method

  • Some
    women are not able to track the cycle accurately

  • It
    is only useful to a woman who has a regular menstrual cycle.



Basal Body Temperature Method



This method of natural family planning, uses the basal body
temperature of a woman to determine when she is most likely to
ovulate. Basal body temperature is the body temperature at rest.



How this method  works



It is scientifically proven that a woman’s basal body
temperature falls 12-24 hours before ovulation and again rises after ovulation.



A woman should be able to note when the temperature drops
and also track exactly when the temperature rises.



One should abstain from having sexual intercourse from the
time the temperature drops until 48-72  hours after the temperature rises.



How To track the basal body temperature.




  • Every
    morning before getting out of bed, take the body temperature and note the
    reading somewhere

  • Repeat
    this process everyday, all through your cycle

  • Note
    the day the temperature drops by half a degree or one degree

  • Note
    the day the temperature rises.

  • The
    fertile days are between the day the temperature drops to 72 hours after
    the temperature rises.



Risks and benefits of basal body temperature method




  • It
    is one of the least effective family planning method since it requires
    accuracy in tracking the basal body temperature and ability to interpret
    the data properly

  • Using
    the basal body temperature method in combination with another fertility
    awareness method may improve its effectiveness.

  • Requires
    motivation and diligence



Cervical mucus examination



This is a type of natural family planning method where one
observes the changes in the cervical mucus. Just before ovulation, a woman
generates large amounts of clear vaginal discharge, which is in response to the
hormone estrogen. The consistency of this type of discharge is likened to
the egg-white consistency. It is clear and may stretch for up to an inch
when stretched between two fingers.



A woman using this method can observe the quality and
changes in the cervical mucus, usually on her underwear or using a wiping
tissue. One can also insert a clean finger in the vagina and check the
type of discharge.



A woman is most fertile when the cervical mucus changes to
the egg-white consistency and should abstain 3-4 days from when she noticed the
change in the cervical mucus.



Lactational Amenorrhea Method



This is a natural family planning method that works for women
who are exclusively breastfeeding.



When a woman is exclusively breastfeeding, the stimulation
of the nipple as the baby feeds leads to changes in the production of hormones
responsible for fertility. As a result, there is no ovulation and this is how the
method works.



However, to use this method you must;




  1. Be
    exclusively breastfeeding and on demand

  2. Your
    period should not have resumed yet

  3. The
    baby should be under six months of age.



How To Increase Effectiveness Of Natural Family Planning
Methods



The best way to increase the success rate of natural family
planning methods is by using a combination of several methods at once.



For example; one can use the basal body temperature method
with the cervical mucus examination method.



One may also use the symptothermal method, where in addition
to the combining methods, you also note various symptoms such as breast
tenderness, lower abdominal discomfort which are also symptoms of ovulation.



Modern Way To Track Ovulation 



Nowadays, you can use ovulation predictor test kits which
detect a rise in the luteinizing hormone. When this hormone rises, it
signals that ovulation is near. This is because luteinizing hormone
promotes maturation of an egg in the ovary. The level of luteinizing
hormone increases 20-48 hours just before ovulation and this can be detected in
a woman’s urine 8-12 hours later.



Use the test kit 2-3 days to the expected day of ovulation.



Abstain from sexual intercourse two days before ovulation,
on the day of ovulation and two days after ovulation, if you are not planning
to get pregnant.



Summary Of The Natural Family Planning Methods



There are several methods of natural family planning or
fertility awareness methods and those discussed in this article are; the
calendar rhythm method, basal body temperature method, examining the cervical
mucus and symptothermal method.



Natural family planning methods are inexpensive and 100%
natural hence no side effects.



However if not tracked or followed correctly, the failure
rate is high.



The best way to increase effectiveness is by combining two
methods into one.



References




  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/icd/att4_nfp_mar06.pdf

  2. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/family-planning-contraception

  3. https://www.medicinenet.com/natural_methods_of_birth_control/article.htm

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