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What are the Different Types of Natural Contraceptives?

Kimberly Sharpe
Kimberly Sharpe

Natural family planning is an alternative to hormone-based medications, invasive implants, and condoms for preventing pregnancy. Natural methods are often preferred for reasons ranging from health concerns to religious objections to other forms of birth control. Natural contraceptives offer varying degrees of success, and most methods must be adhered to stringently to provide adequate protection.

A popular natural contraceptive choice for generations has been the Rhythm Method, which entails avoiding intercourse on the days right before and during ovulation. Most female cycles span 28 days, with ovulation occurring on the 14th day of the cycle. The woman can pinpoint the day of ovulation by charting her cycle. The Rhythm Method depends solely on charting the days on a calendar and does not take into consideration a woman's natural body changes during the monthly cycle. It is only truly successful if a woman has a regular 28-day cycle each month; women with shorter or longer cycles will be unable to exactly pinpoint ovulation simply by monitoring calendar days.

Charting fertile days by using a basal body thermometer is a natural contraceptive.
Charting fertile days by using a basal body thermometer is a natural contraceptive.

The Mucus Method consists of careful observation of the daily cervical mucus. The woman must watch her cervical mucus closely for any change to determine the days leading up to ovulation. Cervical mucus becomes more profuse and stretchy, and has an egg white consistency several days before ovulation. Intercourse must be avoided when the cervical mucus changes to prevent pregnancy from occurring.

A newer version of the Mucus Method, known as the Billings Method, is based on a woman simply monitoring her mucus production based on how her discharge seems throughout the day. Actual touching is not involved. The woman records her observations at the end of each day to determine an ever-changing pattern to help pinpoint ovulation.

The Symptothermal Method works by monitoring the body's temperature daily for a rise as little as 0.4° Fahrenheit (0.2° Celsius). Each morning the woman uses a basal body thermometer to take her temperature and writes the number on a chart. When the temperature rises, her ovulation is close to occurring and the couple must abstain from sexual intercourse to avoid pregnancy.

A combination of the Rhythm Method, the Symptothermal Method and the Mucus Method can be a successful form of natural birth control. The natural contraceptives methods combined are said to offer an effectiveness rate ranging from 90 percent to 98 percent when used correctly. Along with being used as natural contraceptives, the combination of methods also helps to determine peak fertility for couples who wish to conceive a child.

Using natural contraceptives by charting the cycle through length, body temperature and mucus production can be challenging for women who have varying cycle lengths. There is a greater rate of failure, because the body is always changing and numerous things can affect the cervical mucus. All of these things mean a woman with a longer or shorter cycle has greater difficulty predicting exactly when her ovulation will occur. Couples seeking to try natural contraceptives should contact a doctor for a referral to a natural family planning instructor who can work with the couple to develop a personalized body chart.

Discussion Comments


natural family planning is the more healthier, moral and dependable method- how i wish couples knew!

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    • Charting fertile days by using a basal body thermometer is a natural contraceptive.
      By: svetlana larina
      Charting fertile days by using a basal body thermometer is a natural contraceptive.