Sex without condoms feels better for both men and women, but you risk pregnancy–and sexually transmitted diseases–when you don’t use them. If you are not using hormonal birth control and want to limit your chances of getting pregnant without using condoms, you need to time your intercourse correctly. Using fertility awareness, you can use condoms only when you have a higher chance of conceiving.
A woman can only get pregnant shortly after she releases an egg. When you know when you are about to ovulate, you can take precautions to prevent pregnancy during that time but have unprotected sex during other times. However, doing this involves carefully tracking your menstrual cycle over a long period of time.
To determine your “safe” days for having unprotected sex, you need to track your menstrual cycle. The first day that you get your period is Day 1 and the days keep counting until you get your period again, which starts your next cycle. For most women who have a 28-day cycle, ovulation occurs anywhere from Day 14 to Day 16. You can further predict your date of ovulation by tracking your basal body temperature every morning and checking your cervical mucus. Your “unsafe” days are from five days before ovulation to three days after. The other times–during your period, about a week after and a week before–are generally “safe” to have unprotected sex.
Sperm can live inside your body for up to five days, so it’s important to consider that when using fertility awareness to prevent pregnancy. This means that you shouldn’t have sex from five days before you think you are going to ovulate.
Your own cycle may not be average. You may ovulate much sooner or much later than the average woman. The only way that you can truly know how close to your period it’s safe to have sex is to track your own cycle and learn your signs of ovulation. Tracking your fertility cycle is not a 100 percent effective way to prevent pregnancy. Even if you have a regular cycle, stress or hormonal changes can alter it, causing you to ovulate at an unusual time. Additionally, some women may ovulate more than once per month, which can cause a pregnancy if you don’t realize that this is occurring.
You should only use tracking your cycle to prevent pregnancy if you are having sex within a loving relationship and are prepared to accept the consequences of a pregnancy. Only a condom will prevent sexually transmitted diseases.