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.