Natural family planning is a method of both contraception and conception where a woman monitors and records different fertility signals during her menstrual cycle to work out when she is most likely to get pregnant. Over a three-month period you will record three separate fertility signals these being the length of your menstrual cycle, changes to your cervical secretions and daily readings of your body temperature.
If you we explore the statistics of natural family planning it has been proven that it can be up to 99% effective, but only when all steps are correctly followed. Meaning due to the contraceptive nature it can acceptable to all faiths and cultures. As the name would suggest this is a natural method, meaning there is no medication involved, so there is no physical or mental side effects to this method, apart from of course pregnancy.
The menstrual cycle is the length of time between the first day of your period, until the day before your next period starts. The length of your menstrual cycle will vary over time, so it is important to measure your menstrual cycle over a twelve-month period. During this cycle an egg will be released from one of your ovaries and travels down the fallopian tube, this is known as ovulation. Your fertility period in this menstrual cycle is likely to last for eight to nine days, by tracking this cycle you can more accurately tell when these eight to nine days of fertility will be.
Examining changes in your cervical secretions will involve you gently placing your middle finger into your vagina and pushing it up to around your middle knuckle. There should be a change in the amount and texture of your cervical secretions during the different times in your menstrual cycle. For the first few days after your period, you will likely find your vagina to be dryer than usual and you will not feel any secretions. As your body prepares for ovulation your hormone levels will rise, you will probably find that you start to produce secretions that is moist, sticky, white and creamy. Just before ovulation these secretions will get wetter and clearer, this will be you at your most fertile.
The daily readings of your body are important as there is a small rise in body temperature after ovulation. As classical forms of thermometers like ear or forehead will not be accurate enough for this method, measuring your body temperature will require the use of a digital thermometer, or perhaps more useful the use of a specialised thermometer for natural family planning. Before you leave your bed every morning you need to take your temperature and then record it, it is important this record is taken at a similar time every day and before any other morning activity is undertaking. When attempting to undertake this method it is important to look for three days in a row when your temperature is higher than all of the previous nine days, the increase in temperature is not noticeable to yourself and is usually around 0.2 degrees, after this it is highly likely you are no longer fertile.
It is important to remember that though this method explained can be effective, it is always important to search out a specialist for both instruction and training in natural family planning.