Natural Family Planning (NFP) can be described as the family planning methods that are based on fertile days of a woman and avoiding sex on the said days. They are also known as fertility awareness-based methods. The effectiveness of such methods depends upon the accuracy in identifying the woman's actual fertile days and the couple's ability to follow the rules of the method they are using. Through they are not hundred percent foolproof, these methods have surely proven to be effective in majority of the cases. Let use explore more on the natural family planning methods.
Natural Family Planning Methods
Standard Days Method
One of the effective methods of natural family planning, Standard Days Method (SDM) revolves around the scientific analysis of the most fertile time in the menstrual cycle of a woman. In order to use this, a woman has to track her menstrual cycle and avoid intercourse on fertile days 8 through 19, in order to avoid pregnancy. In majority of the cases, women make use of a color-coded string of beads, to track the cycle and know the days when they are most likely to be fertile and get pregnant.
Another popular natural family planning method is called the Two-Day Method. It also revolves around avoiding intercourse on the fertile days. However, in this case, the woman makes use of her cervical secretions as an indicator of fertility. She has to monitor the secretions on a daily basis and depending on them, gets an idea as to when she is most likely to get pregnant and make sure to avoid sex on the said days. It goes like this - if a woman noticed any secretions today or yesterday, she is potentially fertile today and should avoid unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy. In case she did not notice any secretions today and yesterday, i.e. two consecutive dry days, pregnancy is very unlikely today.
Ovulation Method, commonly known as Cervical Mucus Method as well, requires a woman to understand and interpret the changing cervical secretions that are produced at the neck of her uterus (cervix). If she notices the secretions to be clear, stretchy, slippery and wet, it means that she is greatly fertile during that period. The couples who want to avoid pregnancy should avoid sex until three days after the last day of fertile-type secretions.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Method
In the Basal Body Temperature Method, a woman is required to observe her body temperature first thing in the morning, before beginning any activity. Any change in the body temperature can give an indication of her fertility status. Generally, the body temperature of a woman is lower before ovulation and rises slightly to about .2 degrees Celsius or .4 degrees Fahrenheit after ovulation. In order to avoid getting pregnant, she should abstain from intercourse from the onset of menses until three days after her basal body temperature has risen.
Symptothermal Method is a combination of Ovulation Method, Basal Body Temperature Method and yet another method. In this method, the woman has to observe changes in the cervical secretions, along with changes in the basal body temperature, and the position and feel of the opening of the cervix, as indicators of her fertility. She may also look for other fertility signs, such as mid-cycle pain or bleeding, which may accompany ovulation. She will have to abstain from intercourse during the fertile period, as signified by all these fertility indicators.
Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)
In Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM), the theory is that a woman is not fertile and unlikely to become pregnant during full lactation or exclusive breastfeeding. It means that as long as infant is feeding both day and night, with little separation from the mother, and is given no supplement, the mother cannot get pregnant. However, LAM provides protection as long as menstruation has not resumed and, bottle feeds or regular food supplements are not introduced to the infant and the baby is less than 6 months old.