Fertility Awareness Method
What is it? How does it work?
The fertility awareness method, also sometimes referred to as “cycle tracking,” “natural family planning,” or “the rhythm method” is when you track your menstrual cycle so you know when you are ovulating, or when your ovaries are releasing an egg. During your most fertile days, when you are ovulating, you can either avoid having vaginal sex or you can use another birth control method (such as condoms) to avoid pregnancy. There are a few different types of fertility awareness methods. The most commonly used ones are the calendar method, the temperature method, and the cervical mucus method. These methods are most effective when used together. The standard days method is another fertility awareness method that uses beads or an app to track your cycle. In order to use the standard days method, your cycle needs to be fairly regular (between 26 and 32 days long).
How effective is it?
Typically, 12-24 women out of every 100 get pregnant when using this method. When used perfectly (i.e. tracking your cycle DAILY and using multiple tracking methods), fertility awareness methods can be 95-99% effective.
What are the side effects?
None! It is very difficult to practice fertility awareness methods perfectly, however, so you must be okay with the possibility of becoming pregnant when using this method.
Does it protect me against sexually transmitted infections?
No. If you or your partner are not using a condom, you do not have protection against sexually transmitted infections. Some couples use fertility awareness methods in addition to using condoms, which protects them from STIs.