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Fertility Awareness Method for Natural Birth Control: It's Not the Rhythm Method

Updated on January 19, 2016
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One of the most common misconceptions is that natural family planning (NFP) and the fertility awareness method (FAM) are the same thing as "the rhythm method." People often think that NFP and FAM don't work because the rhythm method is not reliable — seriously, don't use it. For anything. Ever. Here's why:

The rhythm method hinges on women having exact 28-day cycles and always ovulating on day 14. This very, very, very rarely happens. It's true that a woman is only fertile about 48 hours out of her entire cycle, but the rhythm method fails to account for two things:

1. The man's fertility

Sperm can live up to 5 days inside a woman's body in the right conditions — and possibly longer. This means having unprotected sex up to 5 days before ovulation very well could result in a pregnancy.

2. Ovulating on any day other than 14

Very few women's cycles go according to the textbook, and cycles can — and very often do — differ, even in the same woman. Any little thing out of place, like an early or delayed ovulation, makes the rhythm method completely unreliable.

There are so many different factors that influence fertility that it is absolutely impossible to prevent a pregnancy by simply counting days on the calendar. Natural family planning and the fertility awareness method can and do work if you are willing to get to know your body and commit to tracking your cycle every month.

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