Natural Family Planning & Natural Birth Control Methods

faith February 1, 2013

I went on “the pill” 18 years ago.

It seemed like a sure fire way to prevent pregnancy. Of course, at age 16  I really had no business having sex to begin with, but that’s another story.

Fast forward 5 years and this newlywed was terrified of having children so the pill still seemed like the thing to do.

Then I read some interesting findings that the pill was actually dangerous to a woman’s health and long-term use was no longer highly recommended.  Other forms of chemical birth control carry their own set of risks so what is a couple to do if they want to space out their children or feel a need to hold off on having babies after they are married.? Let’s explore some alternative options.

What is Natural Family Planning?

In doing some research, this term seems to be coined mostly in the Catholic faith. I’m not sure why though, as that is what many of us aim for even if we are not Catholic, a natural way to prevent pregnancy until the timing is right for us.

Natural family planning is a broad term used for methods of observing a woman’s menstrual cycle in order to avoid pregnancy. All methods under this blanket are 100% natural with no physical alterations, drugs or devices used.

These methods can have effective rates of anywhere from 95-98% accuracy when used properly.

You may be thinking “Rhythm Method” but that is not what Natural Family Planning (NFP) is.

NFP is much more accurate than the Rhythm Method of the 1930’s.

Some components of NFP are measuring Basal Temperature and Mucus Observation.  When combined, these two methods can achieve 98% effectiveness.

Basal Body Temperature

Your basal body temperature is the lowest temperature your body reaches during sleep.  To get an accurate measurement you should record your basal temperature immediately after you wake up before you get up, move (much), talk or eat.

Since your basal temperature will rise as much as 1 degree when you are ovulating, after a month or so of tracking accurate numbers you will have a very good idea of when ovulation has occurred.  Keep in mind, sperm can live up to five days in the body so just avoiding sex on the day your temperature is higher is not going to be effective.

I recommend you chart your basal temperature for at least two months before relying on this method alone.  Once you’ve charted for two months you’ll know the time frame you can expect your highest basal body temperature and you can avoid sex for the week prior.

Combining basal body temperaturewith mucus observation is another way to increase your effectiveness and also allow for less abstinence time.

Mucus Observation

First, let’s remember that our bodies were created by God and the process of mucus discharge, periods, and the female anatomy are glorious creations. They aren’t gross or nasty even if they make us a bit uncomfortable sometimes.

Every fertile, normally ovulating woman produces cervical mucus.  Understanding and observing your mucus is a key tool in natural family planning as your mucus changes over the course of your monthly cycle. (Not your actual period but the entire month of cycling).

There are typically four stages of mucus production and quality that occur.

No and Low Production – This is the time of the month many woman may feel “dry”. This is the time immediately following your period.  Over the next few days your body will start to produce sticky yellow or cloudy white mucus.

Ramping Up – As your body approaches ovulation your mucus will increase and may be a creamy white color.

Approaching O-Day – As you approach ovulation your mucus production will be at its highest.  Some women report even needing to wear a panty shield to keep them dry and fresh during this time.  Your mucus will be thin, sticky and clearer, sometimes similar to an egg white.  You are now entering your most fertile time.

Slowin’ Down – After you ovulate your mucus will become thicker and less pronounced.

As you can see, by being aware of you basal body temperature and your mucus production you can tell when you are the most fertile and when to avoid sex if you’re looking to not get pregnant.  The bonus, when you are ready to get pregnant you’ll have a great leg up on the time time of month when you’re most likely to conceive.

Natural Family Planning & Natural Birth Control Methods

Other Options

You may be wondering, what do you do during the month(s) that you are tracking your basal body temperature and mucus.  Here are a few other suggestions for natural, or more natural birth control that may help you.

Condoms – Both female and male condoms reach 95-98% effectiveness when used properly.

Vaginal Contraceptive Film – Vaginal contraceptive film is a thin film of spermicidal contraceptive that is inserted into the vagina up to three hours before intercourse.  It dissolves with your body’s natural heat and does not need removed.  It doesn’t run, it isn’t sticky and you really don’t know it is there.  My husband and I used this for three years with 100% effectiveness. For more information on vaginal contraceptive film visit their website.

Sometimes family planning is necessary but you can be successful without using chemical contraceptives that have long-lasting side effects.

Have you tried natural family planning or other natural birth control methods?


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  1. My husband and I have used the Creighton Model for all 5 1/2 years of our marriage, and this is what we will continue to use. We absolutely love NFP. It allows us to plan our family without any hormones or unnatural substances, yet we have also found what a great boost it is in marriage. Using NFP correctly involves a lot of communication. It also really increases the amount of respect you have for one another and for your fertility. It is a beautiful thing.


  2. My husband and I use NFP. We tried other methods before we were TTC including the spermacides. I am allergic to latex, so that rules out condoms completely. I wanted to mention that the spermacides are a pretty harsh chemical. It was first developed as a cleaner for hospitals. I had a severe reaction to it it and within a few minutes was throwing my husband off of me trying to figure out how to get the VCF “washed” out. I was in pain for 5 days after. I found a natural spermacide called Contragel that we used paired with pull-out until we figured out my cycles. All a mute point since we’ve been TTC for 19 months with no luck.


  3. I’ve been using fertility awareness for many years. I’m so grateful to have learned the method in my early 20s and to have avoided all these years of artificial hormones coursing through my blood!


  4. I would recommend more than 2 months of charting prior to relying solely on NFP, especially if going off the birth control pill. I’ve been off the pill(and charting) for 8 months and haven’t had a cycle that was similar to the previous. I’ve been told it can take as much as a year for cycles to regulate after prolonged use of the rich control pill. Not that I’m not ovulating, I just can’t count on using NFP as a sole method of birth control at this time.


  5. I think the reason it is associated with the Catholic Church (we are Catholic) is that it is the only birth control method allowed by the Church so many Catholic organizations promote it.
    We have used NFP for about a year and half since the birth of our last child and it has been awful. During breastfeeding infertility and the first few cycles postpartum a LOT of (in the end, unnecessary) abstinence is required when “following the rules” (we use Creighton as well). And if both spouses don’t feel the same need to delay a pregnancy it can cause enormous tension with weeks or months of abstinence to that end. It sounds lovely in theory, and it is really neat to be that in tune with your body, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that nicely in reality.


  6. […] Join me today at Modern Alternative Pregnancy where I’m exploring some natural family planning options. […]


  7. My friend tried using this method, and actually ended up ovulating TWICE in one month…she feels a sharp pain for a couple of minutes when she ovulates, so after she felt it once, she figured she was good for the month…then a week later, she was in the mall when she felt another sharp pain from her other ovary, and KNEW she was going to get pregnant. She was right!


  8. My husband and I made the decision to stop using chemical birth control because of how it lowered my sex drive and caused me to have crazy bouts with depression. I bought a basal thermometer, started taking my temperature first thing every morning, and never noticed that it got higher or lower. Along with this I started tracking my cycle using an app on my phone. An app that doesn’t customize the length of each woman’s cycle; just bases everything off of a 28-day cycle. Guess who has a 25-day cycle? Me! Got pregnant within 2 months of going off the pill. We were surprised, of course, but overjoyed. I’m due in 4 weeks. Maybe we’ll try harder next time!


  9. I agree that it is important to engage in some sort of family planning if you are sexually active. It is surprising that there are so many alternative sources of birth control if you do not want to use condoms. It could be a good idea to consult with your doctor to see what option is best for you.


  10. Has anyone heard of Natazia (USA) or Qlaira (Europe)? Instead of using the synthetic hormones found in all other birth control pills, Natazia/Qlaira uses bioidentical hormones from plants. I have tried everything from Ortho Evra, to Mirena, to Nuvaring and I had problems with every single form of birth control that used artificial hormones.

    On Natazia/Qlaira I have had no weight gain, no crazy mood swings, no hair thinning, and no real side effects like the other birth controls gave me. Very pleased with Natazia/Qlaira.


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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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