Women today are looking for ways to prevent pregnancy without using the birth control pill or another form of chemical birth control. For some women, contraceptive pills just don't cut the deal. If tracking and monitoring your reproductive cycle is fine by you and you can avoid sex during your fertile window, you can do family planning without using the contraceptive pill. Using natural ways to avoid pregnancy can help you understand your body better, have greater control over your sex life and say no to birth control pills.
1. Understanding Your Fertility
a- Learn about Ovulation: Ovulation happens when one of your ovaries releases an egg cell that begins to travel down the fallopian tube. The egg is ready to be fertilized during the next 12 to 24 hours if it meets a male sperm cell. If it meets a sperm and gets fertilized, the egg implants in your uterus; in other words, you become pregnant. If the egg doesn't get fertilized during that 12 to 24-hour period, it is released along with your uterine lining, and you have your period. Most women ovulate halfway through their menstrual cycle. The average cycle lasts 28 days, but it can range from 24 or fewer to 32 or more. The first day of your cycle is when your periods begin.
b- Learn what it means to be Fertile: When you have sex, sperm cells are ejaculated into the body, where they can live for up to five days. Pregnancy is possible if you have unprotected sex in the five days before ovulation and up till the day you ovulate. This is your fertile window, and to avoid pregnancy, you have to avoid unprotected sex during this time. It sounds simple, but it's actually quite difficult to pinpoint exactly when this window ends and begins since every woman's cycle is different. The point of doing family planning, natural or not, is to prevent sperm from meeting your egg cell during your fertile window.
c- Understand how Natural Contraception works: Natural contraception, which is often called fertility awareness or natural family planning, has two parts. First, you have to track your fertility cycle well enough to pinpoint when your fertile window begins and ends. Second, you have to avoid having intercourse when there's a chance you could get pregnant. This is one of the natural ways to avoid pregnancy which, when used perfectly, is 90 percent effective. When used typically, it is 85 percent effective.
d- Three Daily Tasks for Tracking your Body's Reproductive Cycle: Taking your basal body temperature, checking your vaginal mucus, and recording your findings on a calendar. Over time, you can analyze the BBT chart and have a fair idea of when your fertile window begins and ends. Hence, this is another one of the natural ways to avoid pregnancy.
The tricky part is figuring out precisely when is it okay and not so okay to have sex. Most women avoid sex for a stretch that starts a few days before the fertility window begins and ends a few days after the fertility window ends to play it safe. If you want to keep having sex, you can also choose to use a condom or another contraceptive method during this stretch, keeping the contraceptive pill at the bay.
Tracking your cycle is not an exact science. Your cycle can change drastically from month to month, based on factors like weight gain or loss, stress, illness, and aging. If you want the natural methods of avoiding pregnancy to be effective, it's essential to use all the tracking methods as religiously as possible, and analyze the data over time.
2. Monitoring Your Basal Body Temperature
a- Buy a Basal Body Thermometer:The lowest temperature of your body in a span of 24 hours is called basal body temperature. Your body goes through a slight rise in temperature right after ovulation. Monitoring your basal body temperature over time can give you an indication of when your peak fertility time is about to begin. Basal body thermometers are available in drugstores and should come with a chart to help you track your temperature every day.
It's important to get a basal body thermometer, which measures your temperature's changes in small increments.Thermometers which are used toi check the temperature during fever, might not be as effective as a BBT thermometer.
b- Take and record your Basal Body Temperature every morning:To accurately track your basal body temperature, you must take your temperature at the same time every day. When checking your BBT, the right thing to do would be to measure it just after you wake up; before you get out of bed and start moving around. Place the thermometer by your bed and adapt the habit of taking your temperature first thing in the morning.
c- Look for a Temperature rise that lasts somewhere between seven and twelve days: Before you ovulate, your average body temperature will range between 97.2 and 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. After about two to three days past ovulation, your body temperature will sharply rise between 0.4 and 1.0 degrees. This rise in temperature usually lasts between seven to twelve days before dropping back to the lower temperature. Tracking this temperature rise and fall from month to month will reveal a pattern, allowing you to begin anticipating when your body will next ovulate.
3. Checking Your Cervical Mucus: Examining your cervical mucus every morning can help you avoid birth control pills. Begin checking after your period bleeding begins to vanish slowly. Cervical mucus, which is secreted by the cervix, changes in texture, color and smell throughout your cycle. You can observe the patterns, by checking it daily, to predict your fertile window.
a- During the time of three to five days after your period ends, you'll probably have little or no discharge. Pregnancy chances are slim during this time.
b- After the dry period, mucus will be cloudy and a little tacky. It's improbable (but not impossible) that you'll get pregnant if you have sex during this time.
c- Following the tacky discharge, it will start to become white or yellowish and creamy, similar to lotion. You are more likely to become pregnant if you have sex during this time, but your fertility has not yet peaked.
d- Following the creamy discharge, you'll notice thin, stretchy mucus with the consistency of egg whites. It might stretch between your fingers without breaking. Ovulation occurs on or after the last day this mucus is produced. This kind of mucus suggests that you're extremely fertile, and the likelihood of getting pregnant is high.
e- Afterward, it will return to the cloudy, tacky stage for several days.
f- The cycle ends when your period comes.
4. Tracking Your Cycle on a Calendar:
a- Know your Period Cycle: Aside from taking your temperature and testing your mucus, you can use a calendar to track your cycle and help inform your predictions about when you're fertile.
Generally, women with regular cycles have a cycle that lasts between 26 and 32 days, although there are some women with shorter or longer cycles. The first day of your cycle is the first day your period starts, and the last day is the beginning of your next period
b- Track your Cycle on a Calendar: You can mark a circle on the first day your cycle starts each month, mark it with a dot, or use another way of identifying the first day of your period. At the end of each cycle, count the number of days your cycle lasted.
c- Use the patterns to Predict when you will be Fertile:First, find the shortest cycle you've ever tracked. Subtract 18 from the number of days the cycle lasted, and write down the number. Then, find the first day of your current cycle on your calendar. Use the number you wrote down to count forward from the first day of your current cycle. The day you halt on should be your first fertile day.
Don't rely on this method without the others. You might be tempted to skip taking your temperature and checking your mucus, but the calendar method alone is not reliable enough to accurately predict when you'll be fertile. You can use the calendar method to reinforce the patterns you come across from the other methods.You can track your fertility on Ela.
5. Applying Your Findings:
a- Figure out when you're most likely to be Fertile: Your window of fertility begins at the time when all the patterns align to indicate that you are about to ovulate. After you've used each of the methods for over a period of time, figuring out your cycle should not be too difficult.
b- Make smart decisions about when to have Sex:For most women, the window technically lasts for about six days: the day of ovulation and the five days before it. Some people believe in prevention and avoid having sex for at least a week before their predicted ovulation, and several days afterward. Others stop exactly five days before they think they'll ovulate.
c- If not tracking, then contraception: If you miss tracking your temperature while on vacation, or haven't checked your vaginal mucus this month, do not rely on natural contraception to prevent pregnancy until you have at least two or three months' worth of careful records to fall back on again. You can also rely on using condoms or any other form of contraception to prevent pregnancy.
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