While a few years ago the pill was used almost exclu­si­vely as a hor­mo­nal con­tracep­tive, body awa­reness has chan­ged con­si­der­ably recently. The trend is now that more and more people want to use con­tracep­tion without hor­mo­nes and stop taking the pill after years of use. This is because hor­mo­nal con­tracep­tive methods influ­ence the hor­mone balance and can have various side effects. But what safe alter­na­ti­ves are there to taking the pill? Con­dom, which is one of the bar­rier methods, is also widely used. Howe­ver, if you want it to be even more natu­ral, Natu­ral Family Plan­ning can teach you to inter­pret various body signals cor­rectly and to use addi­tio­nal con­tracep­ti­ves only on the fer­tile days. 

Contraception without hormones

Natu­ral Family Plan­ning (NFP) inclu­des all con­tracep­tive methods that do not influ­ence hor­mo­nes or the body in gene­ral. The­re­fore, there are no phy­si­cal side effects. Alt­hough family plan­ning is inclu­ded in the name of these hor­mone-free methods, they are sui­ta­ble for both plan­ning and avoiding pregnancy. Howe­ver, suc­cess­ful app­li­ca­tion requi­res prac­tice and time, strong body awa­reness and a con­scious exami­na­tion of one’s own body. The hor­mone-free con­tracep­tive methods are based on the natu­ral mens­trual cycle and use various cri­te­ria to deter­mine when ovu­la­tion occurs. This makes it pos­si­ble to deter­mine both the appro­xi­mately five to six fer­tile and the remai­ning infer­tile days in the mens­trual cycle of a mens­trua­ting per­son. If there is no desire to have child­ren, addi­tio­nal con­tracep­tion is used on the fer­tile days using bar­rier methods such as con­doms. By con­sciously obser­ving the cycle, a bet­ter under­stan­ding of the own body is developed.

What methods of natural family planning are used? 

Hor­mone-free con­tracep­tion as part of natu­ral family plan­ning inclu­des the Bil­lings method, the tem­pe­ra­ture method and the sym­pto­ther­mal method. 

1. Billings method

With this method the change in the nature of the cer­vi­cal mucus is obser­ved every day during the mens­trual cycle. Shortly before and around ovu­la­tion, the con­sis­tency of the mucus chan­ges. This allows the fer­tile days of the cycle to be deter­mi­ned. On the fer­tile days, the cer­vi­cal mucus tends to be rather thin and more abundant. This has natu­ral advan­ta­ges. It is a natu­ral lub­ri­cant so that the sperm are opti­mally trans­fer­red to the ute­rus. On infer­tile days, the cer­vi­cal mucus tends to be thick, inelastic or not pre­sent at all. In any case, it takes prac­tice to cor­rectly cate­go­rize the cer­vi­cal mucus and to deter­mine the dif­fe­ren­ces. The ana­ly­sis of the cer­vi­cal mucus can be done during a nor­mal visit to the toi­let and will hap­pen natu­rally over time. 

2. Temperature method

With this method, the basal body tem­pe­ra­ture is mea­su­red orally every day. The basal tem­pe­ra­ture is the body tem­pe­ra­ture mea­su­red for three minu­tes immedia­tely after waking up in the morning and before get­ting up. The basal body tem­pe­ra­ture chan­ges during the mens­trual cycle. Shortly after ovu­la­tion it rises by a few tenths of a degree for at least three days in a row. Con­se­quently ovu­la­tion and the fer­tile days can be deter­mi­ned retro­spec­tively. In this way, the fol­lowing infer­tile days can be con­clu­ded as well. Since the basal body tem­pe­ra­ture chan­ges only very slightly, it is important to use a ther­mo­me­ter with two deci­mal places. 

3. Symptothermal method

With this method, both the chan­ges in basal body tem­pe­ra­ture and the chan­ges in cer­vi­cal mucus are docu­men­ted and inter­pre­ted tog­e­ther. It is thus a com­bi­na­tion of the tem­pe­ra­ture method with the Bil­lings method. The­re­fore this mixed method is best sui­ted for Natu­ral Family Planning.

How do I keep track of Natural Family Planning?

For Natu­ral Family Plan­ning various cha­rac­te­ris­tics, such as basal body tem­pe­ra­ture and the com­po­si­tion of the cer­vi­cal mucus, must be obser­ved daily. Addi­tio­nally the first and last day of mens­trua­tion are also docu­men­ted. In the course of the mens­trual cycle, other para­me­ters, such as mood swings, can be recor­ded as well. This requi­res disci­pline, because only with con­ti­nuous and con­sci­en­tious docu­men­ta­tion can these methods pro­vide certainty.

The grea­ter the period of time when data is recor­ded for natu­ral family plan­ning, the grea­ter the cer­tainty of avoiding an unwan­ted pregnancy.

The ana­ly­sis and docu­men­ta­tion of the data can be done eit­her ana­log or digi­tal. For example, a mens­trual calen­dar, a cycle app or a cycle com­pu­ter can be used for this. Howe­ver, it is advi­s­able to start by record­ing the data in a mens­trual calen­dar in the tra­di­tio­nal way and to learn to eva­luate the cha­rac­te­ris­tics independently.

Learning how to use the Natural Family Planning method

In order to learn NFP cor­rectly, con­scious obser­va­tion of one’s own body is very important. There are for example trai­ned NFP con­sul­tants to pro­vide indi­vi­dual advice and infor­ma­tion. Of course there are also good books to read about the topic inde­pendently. Here are two recom­men­ded readings:

And what kind of contraception are you using?

Feel free to tell us about your per­so­nal expe­ri­en­ces with dif­fe­rent con­tracep­tive methods in the comments or in a pri­vate mes­sage. What is your favou­rite method of con­tracep­tion? What works well for you? And which methods have you already tried? We look for­ward to hea­ring from you!

Hin­weis: Wie auch die hor­mo­nel­len Ver­hü­tungs­mit­tel, schüt­zen auch die Metho­den der natür­li­chen Fami­li­en­pla­nung nicht vor sexu­ell über­trag­ba­ren Krankheiten.

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | britta@vulvani.com | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.