Dr. MJ Bazos, Patient
What is natural
Natural family planning is a way to help a
couple determine when sexual intercourse can and cannot result in pregnancy.
During each menstrual cycle, one of a woman's ovaries releases an egg. This
process is called ovulation. The egg moves toward the uterus through the
fallopian tubes, where fertilization may take place. An unfertilized egg may
live for 12 to 24 hours. The egg will be shed later during the menstrual period
if it isn't fertilized. A woman is most likely to become pregnant if sexual
intercourse takes place just before or just after ovulation.
During the menstrual cycle, a number of changes
occur in a woman's body. By keeping track of these changes, couples can plan
when to have intercourse and when to avoid intercourse, depending on whether
they are trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy.
How does natural
family planning work?
Two methods of natural family planning are
currently taught. The first is the ovulation method. In this method, the days
just before and just after ovulation are determined by checking the woman's
cervical mucus. When a woman is most likely to become pregnant, the cervical
mucus is stretchy, clear and slick. Some people say that the cervical mucus
during this time looks and feels much like an uncooked egg white.
The second method is called the symptothermal
method. With this method, the woman takes her temperature each day with a
special thermometer and writes it down on a chart. At the time of ovulation, a
woman's temperature will rise slightly. The woman also checks the consistency of
her cervical mucus. She may also notice other changes, such as pain in the area
of the ovaries, bloating, low backache and breast tenderness.
In both methods, couples use a special chart to
keep track of the changes in the woman's body.
How effective are
these methods in helping a couple avoid pregnancy?
These methods can help a couple avoid pregnancy
if the couple receives training from a specialized instructor and if they
carefully follow all of the instructions provided. (Ask your doctor how to find
an instructor who is specially trained in teaching natural family planning.)
Both methods can be 90% to 98% effective (2 to 10 pregnancies per 100 couples)
when they are practiced correctly. However, if a couple doesn't follow the
instructions completely, these methods will be much less effective. In practice,
these methods may not be as reliable as other forms of birth
family planning help a couple achieve pregnancy?
Yes. As many as 2 out of 3 couples who don't
have fertility problems become pregnant if they have sexual intercourse on the
days that the cervical mucus is clearest and most stretchable.
What about the
The rhythm method is based on calendar
calculations of previous menstrual cycles. This method doesn't allow for normal
changes in the menstrual cycle, which are common. The rhythm method isn't as
reliable as the ovulation method or the symptothermal method and is generally
not recommended. Women who have no variation in the length of their menstrual
cycles can use the rhythm method to know when they are ovulating (14 days before
the start of their period).
What about women
with irregular cycles or who are breast feeding?
It is common for a women to have menstrual
cycles that are irregular (either longer or shorter than 28 days). A woman who
has irregular menstrual cycles may still be able to tell when she is ovulating
by watching for the changes in her body.
Special instructions have been developed for
mothers who are breast feeding their babies. Ask your doctor for these
instructions if you're breast feeding.
What are the
advantages of natural family planning?
First, natural family planning does not involve
the use of medicines, mechanical devices or chemicals. Side effects or risks
that may occur with the use of such medicines or devices will not occur with
natural family planning methods. Second, natural family planning methods are
inexpensive. A fee is usually charged for instructional training and supplies,
but there are no ongoing costs. Third, natural family planning methods require
partners to share the responsibility for planning or avoiding pregnancy.
Typically, couples who use these methods notice an increase in communication and