If you prefer a more natural or holistic approach to birth control, several options allow you to tune into your body and still avoid pregnancy. Truthfully, holistic birth control methods do require more awareness and thought than popping a pill each day, and depending upon the approach you choose, may require abstinence during fertile times. All natural methods work by avoiding sex or by opting for a barrier method during fertile times, then using no contraceptive during infertile times. Effectiveness depends upon your commitment, the method you choose and even your body.
The rhythm method relies upon three assumptions. First, every woman ovulates 14 days before the start of menstruation, plus or minus two days. Next, sperm can live for up to three days in the body and, finally, that the egg is viable for 24 hours. If you have a regular cycle, avoiding intercourse for several days before ovulation and a day after will, theoretically, provide protection against pregnancy. Many women have irregular cycles, making this method less effective than others. Failure rates range from 13 percent to 20 percent, according to the Epigee website.
Standard Days or Cycle Beads
Cycle beads or the Standard Days method relies upon a more modern understanding of the menstrual cycle and fertility. The first seven days are safe, as are all cycle days after day 20. Day 8 to day 19 pose a higher risk of pregnancy. Cycle beads allow you to monitor and keep track of fertility easily with a simple color coded system. A rubber ring is moved from bead to bead to mark each day. If abstinence is practiced during fertile times, this method is 95 percent effective, according to the Contracept website. This method should only be used by women who have a cycle between 26 and 32 days long.
Natural Family Planning
Natural family planning (NFP) relies upon the body’s natural fertility signals, including basal body temperature, cervical mucus and cervical position. Signs of fertility are monitored and charted each day. Changes in temperature and cervical fluid are used to indicate fertility. Couples may abstain or choose to use a barrier method during fertile times. NFP is more effective than the rhythm method and works for women with irregular cycles. The overall effectiveness of NFP, if abstinence is practiced, can be as high as 98 percent, according to the Family Doctor website.