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Natural Family Planning Fertility Awareness Method

Fertility Awareness Method, FAM

Fertility awareness is a way, when followed carefully that can be up to 99.6% effective in preventing pregnancy. In other words, it’s as good as the IUD or Birth Control Pill, but without the side effects. The disadvantage to the natural family planning method is that if you make a mistake, cheat, or don’t follow the rules then the results can be an unplanned pregnancy. There other disadvantage to this method is that it requires abstinence from sex for at least 6-10 days of the month. This is because when you allow your natural cycle to happen, then you must avoid intercourse during the fertile times.

Becoming familiar with your fertility cycle has several advantages: it can help you to achieve pregnancy, and it can help you to avoid pregnancy. The biggest advantage is that it is the only effective and commonly available method of birth control that is not toxic and does not negatively impact your health or hormones. Indigenous cultures achieved birth control through abstinence, multiple wives, and by using special herbs. Unfortunately the use of herbs for birth control has not be well documented.

For the preconception health program I recommend, I encourage women to use this method to help prepare your body from pregnancy because it gives you time to  restore your body from the hormonal abuses caused by birth control pills or the IUD.

The Rhythm Method is not the same as FAM, the Fertility Awareness Method  but they have commonalities fertility signs. FAM teaches women to use: waking temperature, cervical fluid and cervical position which are scientifically proven fertility signs. This allows you to know exactly when you are fertile, so you can avoid or become pregnant.

How Fertility Awareness Works

The egg released during the monthly menstrual cycle remains viable for about 24 hours. That means there needs to be sperm present at the right location within that narrow window for conception to occur. During ovulation, women produce an egg white type of cervical fluid that keep sperm alive. This creates the right ecosystem for conception to occur.

The nourishing cervical fluids keep sperm alive much longer than the typical few hours they live. Just before ovulation and during ovulation the cervical fluid changes and becomes very stretchy and slippery. This sign can be used to determine when ovulation starts. FAM also involves monitoring your waking temperature to confirm ovulation as well, and use both observations of cervical fluid and the waking temperature to determine when ovulation has ended. Pregnancy only can occur during the fertile times. If you know when you are possibly fertile, you can use this information to either avoid pregnancy, or to get pregnant.

Fertility awareness is an excellent form of natural birth control or pregnancy achievement. FAM works by eliminating unprotected intercourse during the fertile times, and adding a little extra room for safety before and after the possibly fertile phase. In safely practicing the guidelines, in a typical month you have about 20 days of possible unprotected sex, and generally 9-12 days of abstinence or use of a barrier method.

Below is a chart on the effectiveness of the Fertility Awareness Method as compared to other birth control methods. Studies by Contraceptive Technology look at two important statistics for judging the success and failure rate of contraceptive methods. One is the user failure rate which is when a pregnancy results. Funny that they call it a failure. :) from the user’s incorrect use of the contraceptive method. The other rate is a method failure, when pregnancy results from a problem from using a contraceptive method correctly, but then having the method fail.

% of Women Experiencing an Unintended Pregnancy within the First Year of Use
Typical Use
Perfect Use
No method
Fertility awareness-based methods

——–Standard Days method


——–TwoDay method


——–Ovulation method

Combined pill and progestin-only pill
——–ParaGard (copper T)
——–Mirena (LNG-IUS)

Typical use represents what normally happens in the real world due to mistakes made by the user. Ideal use represents how effective the birth control method is when used properly.(Chart is from Contraceptive Technologies Study)

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