Natural Family Planning
Compiled by Reyda Cruz-Tabora, M.D.
This article starts below.
Natural family planning is the avoidance of pregnancy without the use of drugs, devices, or surgical procedures. It only involves abstinence from sexual intercourse during the fertile period of women. There are two accepted methods of natural family planning: temperature method and mucus or Billings method.
The temperature method involves the daily recording of basal body temperature. The temperature is obtained using an oral or axillary thermometer while in bed, right after waking in the morning. The temperature is taken and recorded daily. A rise in the basal body temperature occurs after the ovulation period.
As an indicator of fertility, the basal body temperature can detect only the end of the fertile phase because the temperature remains elevated for about three days after the shift.
When using this method, intercourse is avoided during the start of menses until three days after the temperature rise. Intercourse is allowed after this day until the start of the next menstruation.
Mucus or Billings Method
This method involves the evaluation of vaginal secretions (mucus). Safe periods (dryness) is characterized by thick, tacky and opaque secretions. Mucus of this type breaks easily when held between the thumb and forefinger and stretched. There is a sensation of dryness in the vulva.
Abstinence period (wetness) is characterized by clear, watery and abundant secretions. If held between the thumb and forefinger, it stretches for several inches before it breaks. Abstinence must be maintained throughout the time when mucus changes until three days after the peak of mucus secretion.
Advantages of natural family planning
- No drugs or devices
- Improved communication between partners
- Religious acceptability
Using the two accepted methods improve the identification of fertile days and increases the efficacy of natural family planning.