Island Sexual Health Society Be informed, not surprised!

couple learning about fertility awareness with a health professional

For natural family planning to be effective, you need to do your research and be committed to using it correctly.

Fertility awareness methods

Fertility awareness methods are also called:

  • FAM
  • Natural family planning
  • Natural birth control

Fertility Awareness Methods are a group of practices that help a person monitor their body and know their cycle well and predict the time of the month when pregnancy is most likely to occur. Although the methods differ in technique, they  are based on closely monitoring  the menstrual cycle using a variety of techniques to predict the fertile and non-fertile times in your cycle and a commitment to abstain or use another method of birth control during the fertile time.

These methods do not offer any protection against sexually transmitted infections.

Fertility awareness is more than “the rhythm method”

There are various techniques used to estimate when a person ovulates (ovary releases an ovum cell or egg), including the calendar (rhythm) method, basal body temperature method (BBTM), Cervical Observation methods and the sympto-thermal method. The more regular a person’s cycle and the more they understand their own cycle the more effective this method is.

Fertility Awareness Methods are based on these assumptions:

  • Ovulation usually occurs around the middle of each menstrual cycle (called ovulation) or 12-14 days before the start of the next bleed. Each person’s cycle is different so it is important to closely monitor your own cycle. Things such as changes in diet, exercise, age, stress and travel can all affect ovulation.
  • After ovulation occurs,  the ovum cell or egg can live up to 24 hours and sperm can survive inside the uterus and fallopian tubes for up to 5-7 days after intercourse. In total, usually a woman is fertile for up to 10 days in her monthly cycle, including 2-3 days before and after ovulation.

Effectiveness depends on the method, knowledge of one’s cycles and user commitment.

The effectiveness of fertility awareness methods depends on which technique you are using to estimate ovulation, and how committed you are to correct use and abstaining. The effectiveness rate varies greatly, from 70-90%. If you are interested in using any of the Fertility awareness methods, we recommend that you thoroughly research them further. Although this is an American based resource we believe that the FAM overview from the Cedar River Clinics is a great source of information. You can also find some great basic info from Sexuality and U’s natural methods page.  Alternatively, these methods are also be used to help a person achieve a pregnancy.