- Fertility & Reproductive Systems
Fertility Awareness Method for Natural Birth Control: The #1 Rule
If you've ever looked into the natural birth control methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) or the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), you might have noticed there are a lot of rules. Rules about when and how to check your fertility signs, rules about how to count which days as fertile and which days as not, and rules about when it's safe to have unprotected sex.
Some of these rules have names, like the First Five Days Rule, but the number one rule never seems to get a clear mention. Which is a problem, because I have seen many people try NFP or FAM and end up pregnant because they didn't follow it.
Yes, I know, I'm dragging this out. Here it is:
Give it Time
You cannot use NFP or FAM effectively to prevent a pregnancy unless you are already familiar with your cycles, and you can't do that until you have a solid history of full charts to look at and start to see your particular patterns. I cannot emphasize enough that every woman is different. You need at least 6 months of charts before you can start depending on NFP and FAM for birth control.
For instance, one of my key signs is a significant temp drop right as fertile cervical fluid (CF) starts. This is super important for me because it takes some of the guess work out of interpreting CF. As soon as I get that one really low waking temp, I know that it's no-go time, even if I'm not seeing other fertile signs. It took me 9 months of charts to finally recognize that. Nine months.
So what this means is that in the meantime you need to be using other methods. Here's the bad news: To get those 6 months of charts, you can't be using anything that messes up your cycle, so all forms or hormonal birth control are out. Things like spermicide can make your CF signs hard to read at first, so basically all you're left with are condoms. Yes, I know, boo hiss boo hiss.
But if you're not willing to take the time to get a baseline idea of your charts and fertility signs, you are setting yourself up to fail. And in this case failure = baby.
If you've charted, how many months did it take before you felt comfortable using NFP/FAM to prevent pregnancy?