What is Natural Family Planning?
Natural Family Planning is a form of pregnancy planning that involves abstinence from using any kind of drugs or devices in order to prevent or induce pregnancy. Natural Family Planning involves knowledge of when to indulge in sexual intercourse in order to either avoid or achieve pregnancy.
Natural family planning involves working closely with your body and recording your body’s various natural signs, symptoms and fertility indicators that include the following:
- Cervical mucus (cervical secretions)
- The length of your menstrual cycle
- Body temperature
Changes in these fertility indicators help you identify your fertile time, helping you plan your pregnancy. As you track the changes in your body more closely and become familiar with it, you understand your body’s ovulation and fertile window, helping you plan better.
How effective is family planning?
The effectiveness of family planning depends upon the frequency with which you have sexual intercourse and the age of the woman.
If performed according to teachings and instructions, natural family planning methods are up to 99 percent effective, meaning that by properly following natural family planning techniques, 1 in 100 women will suffer from an unwanted pregnancy.
Natural family planning techniques are most effective when guided by a doctor or specialist and when more than one fertility indicator is used.
Who can use natural family planning?
All women in the reproductive age can use natural family planning to aid planned pregnancies. Natural family planning is, however, not suitable for women who do not have periods as well as women who are approaching menopause.
It may also be a little difficult and take a little time to recognise your fertility indicators in case you have recently stopped hormonal contraceptions, are suffering from irregular cycles, have had an abortion or miscarriage or are approaching menopause.
Understanding Natural Family Planning
Ovulation is the process in which a woman’s ovaries produce an egg in order to facilitate reproduction. Ovulation takes place at the same time each month. This egg then moves through the fallopian tubes into the uterus, which is the site where fertilisation/conception takes place.
The unfertilised egg lives up to 12 hours inside the uterus, post which the body sheds the egg during the menstrual period.
Unwanted pregnancies occur when unprotected sexual intercourse takes place right before or after ovulation, when the egg is in the uterus and gets fertilised by the male sperm.
Methods followed for natural family planning
There are three most prevalent methods used for natural family planning. These include the following:
- Coitus interruptus method/ withdrawal or pulling out method :
- Cervical mucus method (CMM)/ Billings method : The cervical mucus method involves the recognition and interpretation of the changes in the consistency and texture of the cervical mucus, which are caused due to changes in the oestrogen levels in a woman’s body during the menstrual cycle.
◦ Once the menstrual period ends, the dry days begin, wherein a woman notices an absence of cervical secretions. During these days, it is safe to have sex until the woman starts feeling wetness in the vagina.
◦ After the peak day of the menstrual period, it is safe to indulge in sexual intercourse from the evening of the fourth day post the peak day.
- Basal Body temperature method : The basal body temperature procedure is a method based on measurement of the body temperature of the woman.
◦ There is a slight increase in the resting body temperature of a woman by about 0.3-0.5 degree Celsius during ovulation. This happens due to increased levels of progesterone secreted by the corpus luteum.
◦ This rise in body temperature indicates the onset of ovulation.
◦ This method of natural family planning is effective for women who are willing to abstain from sexual intercourse with her spouse for long periods of time.
Advantages of Natural Family Planning
Natural family planning procedures and methods are generally used by women who do not wish to opt for artificial contraceptive methods owing to various reasons ranging from religious reasons to myths as well as fear of other methods.
- Natural family planning methods do not require the administration of any medicines or drugs, thus eliminating the risk of the onset of any side effects.
- Natural family planning methods are almost cost-free as the only devices you need is a body thermometer, apart from a menstrual calendar which you could probably download as an app on your mobile for free.
- Natural family planning increases a woman’s awareness about her own health.
- Natural family planning promotes open communication and responsibility sharing between the couple.