If you are in a relationship and do not want to become pregnant, you may be undecided about your birth control method. If you don’t want to rely on hormonal birth control or barrier methods, you can try fertility awareness. When you know the days you have a high chance of becoming pregnant, you can avoid intercourse on those days. In the fertility awareness method, both the man and woman are responsible for preventing pregnancy together.
How It Works
The only time you can become pregnant is about 24 hours after ovulation. If you use the fertility awareness method, you track your signs of ovulation to pinpoint the time when you could become pregnant. Since sperm can live inside your body up to five days, you must refrain from having sex — or use a barrier method like a condom — in the days leading up to your ovulation. Estimating your ovulation date correctly is the key to making fertility awareness work as a way to prevent pregnancy.
Track your ovulation using different methods. You could take your basal body temperature every morning, and write it down on a chart. The day after you ovulate, you’ll see a sharp spike in temperature. This can show you a pattern as to which day in your cycle you ovulate. You can also monitor your cervical mucus by sticking your fingers inside your vagina and swiping them around the cervix. If there is a lot of clear mucus that is stretchy, you are more fertile. You can also simply count the days in your cycle or use ovulation test strips, which show a surge in luteinizing hormone about a day or two before you ovulate. Combining more than one of these methods will give you a better picture and can help make this work for you.
If you want to avoid a pregnancy using the fertility awareness method, you need to avoid sex for five days before and three days after ovulation. Ovulating on time is never a sure thing, though, so to account for errors, you may want to add three days to the beginning and end of that estimation. Aside from abstaining from sex, you could also use a barrier method.
Fertility awareness is only effective in women who have a regular cycle. If your cycle is irregular, you will never be able to predict the day you ovulate.
The only method of birth control that is 100 percent effective is abstinence. According to the American Pregnancy Association, fertility awareness can be 90 percent effective if you are following the method correctly. However, typical use involves a larger margin of error. Failure rates of the average user are around 25 percent.