Modern contraceptives vary in effectiveness from 94 per cent with the diaphragm up to 99.9 per cent with the Pill. But you pay for this success rate. They all have adverse side effects, ranging from depression, headaches, heavy bleeding and even dea

What doctors don’t usually tell you (or believe, in many cases) is that there is a safe and natural alternative method to these artificial devices and pills. One reason this particular method isn’t talked up more is that it offers no organization or company financial benefit. Once you learn how to do it, there is nothing to purchase, no prescriptions to take to your chemist, no drug company’s coffers to fill. Best of all, there are no possible short or long term side effects.

This method is now referred to as Fertility Awareness or Natural Family Planning (NFP), rather than its older, perjorative label, ” rhythm”.

Most couples don’t realize that the potential for conception every month occurs in an astonishingly short period of time. The human egg can only live for 12 to 24 hours and sperm a maximum of five days. By knowing how to avoid this fertile time, it is possible to have intercourse most days of the month without using a contraceptive and still avoid pregnancy. The same method works in reverse. If you’re trying to get pregnant, by pinpointing your fertile phase you can maximize your chances of conceiving.

If you use it correctly NFP is 97 per cent effective, as effective as a condom. Contrary to popular belief, NFP can be used even if you are irregular, breastfeeding or pre-menopausal.

Three bodily signs pinpoint your fertile time. By cross checking these you can obtain a high degree of accuracy in determining your fertile phase.

The first is to take your basal body temperature, the temperature of the body at rest, first thing in the morning. An expanded scale thermometer is used to monitor small changes in body temperature. Progesterone is released after ovulation, and causes a small rise of 0.2C (0.4F). On the third day of this rise, it is safe to have intercourse until menstruation begins.

Cervical mucus is the main fertility sign used to give advance notice that ovulation is about to happen. It is an extremely valuable sign for couples trying to conceive as well as for avoiding pregnancy. At the beginning of the cycle oestrogen is low and the cervical mucus is scant and sticky with some dryness at the entrance to the vagina.

Just before ovulation the mucus becomes glass like and it is possible to stretch an unbroken shimmering thread between the thumb and index finger. This alkaline mucus nourishes the sperm and guides them upwards, protecting them from the acid pH of the vagina.

After ovulation, progesterone is released, causing the mucus to form a criss cross cervical barrier, preventing the passage of sperm into the womb.

Just after menstruation, the cervix is low in the vaginal canal and the opening of the cervix is firm and closed, feeling like a dimple. As the oestrogen increases, the cervix is drawn up and the opening widens and softens similar to the softness of lips. The rising and opening of the cervix enables the sperm to travel into the uterus, and cervical changes help you to note your fertile time. After ovulation, the cervix lowers in the vaginal canal, becomes firmer and closes again.

Besides being safer than any other method of conception NFP allows women to become more aware and in tune with their bodily cycles. And its effectiveness has been extensively researched and scientifically documented over several decades far longer than many methods on your chemist’s shelves.

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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