Natural birth control methods have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Women are choosing to transition away from hormonal birth control in favor of natural birth control; such as the fertility awareness method. A common reason for this shift is due to the side effects experienced with hormonal birth control. While another reason could be the desire to choose a more holistic option to prevent pregnancy. Additionally, others use natural birth control methods while actively trying to conceive. Regardless of your reasons natural birth control can be an overwhelming and challenging transition. Especially when you have little knowledge of what natural birth control is.
What is Natural Birth Control?
Natural birth control can be described as any method used to prevent pregnancy without the use of hormones. The focus is placed on observing physical signs displayed by the body throughout your menstrual cycle. These signs identify peak fertility, ovulation and when to expect your period. It is during times of peak fertility that you will refrain from sexual intercourse or use a barrier method, such as condoms.
This approach is often referred to as a natural family planning method or the fertility awareness method. Additionally, it can be used to chart your cycle, and track your overall menstrual health and well-being. You may find this helpful in increasing awareness about your body and your unique menstrual cycle. Consequently, this may allow you to identify abnormalities or changes in your body which can indicate health issues.
Natural Birth Control Methods
There are a variety of natural birth control methods. And, deciding which one is the best for you can leave you with more questions than answers. Let’s overview the various methods used within the fertility awareness method.
Using a barrier method means you are using a contraceptive, such as a condom, diaphragm, or cervical cap to physically block sperm from entering the cervix. Starting with a barrier method while you’re working through the kinks of transitioning to the fertility awareness method can be helpful in the beginning.
If you are actively trying to become pregnant there is no need to use contraceptives during this time of transition. But, if you’re avoiding pregnancy they may prove helpful during times of peak fertility.
Standard Days Method
As for the standard days’ method, it relies on you understanding the length of your menstrual cycle. Cycle length varies from woman to woman but the average cycle length is between 21-32 days. This requires you tracking your cycle to identify what your length is. You’ll be able to predict ovulation when you know your cycle length. On average, ovulation occurs 14 days before your period. This means your fertile window will be 3 days before your expected ovulation date and 1 day after you ovulate. As for your peak fertility days, those will be the 2 days pre-ovulation as well as the day of ovulation.
For example, say you have a 28-day cycle. This means you will ovulate on day 14 of your cycle. You will be fertile on days 11, 12, 13,14 and 15. Your peak fertility days will be days 12, 13, and 14. If you’re seeking to prevent pregnancy you’ll want to abstain from sex during these 5 days or use a barrier method.
This method can be quite tricky and takes some time and paying close attention to your cycle length. You may find this method hard to follow if you have an irregular cycle that fluctuates month to month.
Cervical Mucus Method
As discussed in my prior blog post: Why Tracking Cervical Mucus is Beneficial. Becoming familiar with your cervical mucus can be helpful when tracking fertility. Tracking changes that occur with your cervical mucus each day indicates when you’re fertile and have ovulated.
As estrogen rises during your menstrual cycle cervical mucus changes. It transitions from a dry, sticky consistency to a clear, liquid and stretchy consistency. Experiencing clear, stretchy cervical mucus that resembles egg whites indicates you’ve ovulated. If you’re trying to conceive this would be the time to create some baby magic with your spouse. Whereas, if you’re not trying to conceive you would want to abstain from sex or use a barrier method.
This method does require intimate knowledge of your body. Which means you’re going to need to get up close and personal with your bodily fluids. But, it is a great way to identify your fertile window as well as show when you’ve ovulated. Additionally, it can also indicate issues with ovulation dysfunction and hormonal imbalance. While also making you aware of vaginal pH imbalances that cause infections.
Basal Body Temperature
This method requires you to monitor and record your resting body temperature upon waking in the morning. Your resting body temperature is known as your basal body temperature (BBT). And, it represents your body’s lowest body temperature when it’s at rest. The science behind this method is that during the first half of your follicular phase, before ovulation, your basal body temperature is at it’s lowest. This is due to the absence of progesterone. Yet, when ovulation occurs and the egg is released from your ovary progesterone levels begin to rise. This leads to a spike in your basal body temperature. Additionally when your basal body temperature drops this indicates the end of the luteal phase. Usually, when this happens your period will soon begin.
Tracking your basal body temperature daily will let you know when you’ve ovulated. But, it doesn’t let you know when your fertile days are. This can pose a problem for those seeking to prevent pregnancy since you could be having intercourse on fertile days. It can also be an issue if you’re seeking to become pregnant. This is due to not knowing when your fertile days are; which causes you to miss out on prime baby magic opportunities. But, it’s a helpful method for general period tracking and body knowledge. Indeed, it can be an early indicator of hormonal imbalance as well as ovulation dysfunction.
Simply put, this method is a combination of a variety of methods. This approach provides the best possible feedback in regards to your fertility and menstrual health. Typically this method combines the above methods in conjunction to determine fertile days, ovulation, as well as period prediction.
Having a general understanding of the length of your cycle can help identify your fertile days and ovulation. You can then monitor cervical mucus and BBT to provide real-time feedback about what phase of your cycle you’re in and if you’re fertile. Additionally, you may also choose to monitor cervical position as well as vaginal sensations to determine fertility. For those seeking to conceive the combination of this information will let you know when to have sex. Whereas, if you’re avoiding pregnancy you’ll refrain from sex or use a backup method.
In my opinion, this method is by far the best and it’s my favorite. There are a few caveats with using this method. One being that learning how to track your cervix can be confusing and requires daily checking. But, checking your cervix isn’t difficult once you become familiar with your body. Second, tracking BBT and cervical mucus will take you through a learning curve before you’re able to get it right. Adjusting to checking your BBT every morning may take some time. While learning and understanding your unique cervical fluid can be a bit perplexing in the beginning as well.
Yet, over about 6 cycles or 6 months, you should adequately understand your body. You should feel confident enough to track your fertility accurately.
Should You Switch?
As you can see there are a variety of options when it comes to natural birth control methods. Each of these options come with their own unique set of pros and cons. Pros that these methods all share is that they provide a natural, non-hormonal approach to birth control. And, they increase awareness of fertility and reproductive health. For the most part, they are free or low cost and do not require a prescription.
On the other hand, they do require a lot of patience and effort on your part. You will need to devote a good chunk of time to transition to these more natural methods. Allow yourself a period of 3 to 6 months to get the hang of tracking your fertility naturally. Become diligent with tracking and monitoring your symptoms and stick to your chosen method. This allows you to better understand how your unique body operates. Which in turn improves the accuracy and efficacy of natural birth control.
Additionally, you will have to become quite comfortable with your body in an intimate way. Especially if you plan on tracking cervical mucus or the position of your cervix. You can’t be squeamish or grossed out by your normal vaginal secretions. You must be willing to explore and learn more about how it all works and what it means for your fertility. This allows you to properly track and monitor your fertility each month.
Get Your Partner Involved
Sitting down and discussing the fertility awareness method with your partner is necessary. Your partner should be on board with you switching to a natural birth control method. It is important to note that the fertility awareness method does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or HIV. Ideally, you will want to practice this particular method of birth control in a committed, monogamous relationship. Especially, if you’re against using contraceptives. Take the time to discuss the particular natural birth control method you are considering to transition to with your spouse. Let them know the pros, cons, and what will be expected of them during fertile days of your cycle. This sets clear easy to understand expectations for you and your partner. Additionally, it allows them the opportunity to become more involved in the process and support you.
The Choice Is Yours
Deciding to switch to a more natural form of birth control is an important decision. If you choose to do so you should plan and prepare accordingly. Get support from your doctor, and find supportive communities that focus on fertility awareness. They can provide a wealth of information to guide you to successfully transitioning to a natural form of birth control.
What would you need to know before switching to a natural birth control method? Let’s talk about it! Meet me in the comments and let me know your questions or experiences with natural birth control.
About the Author.
Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I’m a health and wellness professional turned freelance writer and content creator. My personal struggle with infertility, endometriosis and ovarian cysts made me realize that there just isn’t enough information out there available to women to help them learn more about PCOS, endometriosis, adenomyosis, or fibroids. Basically there’s a serious lack of information concerning a variety of women’s health topics and issues and well I got fed up. I decided to be the change and created this blog in an effort to spread awareness and advocate for women’s health issues. It has now become my passion to educate and empower women to redefine their health and be their own advocate. You can find me on YouTube and Instagram. If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!