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My husband and I have gone through quite a few different methods of birth control since getting married. Our first method was the “no birth control whatsoever” method, many times referred to as Quiverfull.
While I still feel like that is a great idea, it did not work for me. I had my two boys within a year of each other and my hormones were not happy! So we decided that even though we liked the idea of having however many kids we were supposed to have, I needed a break.
So I went on a birth control pill. Now I’ve never been a fan of birth control pills however, I didn’t have knowledge of any other alternatives.
We eventually stopped using birth control pills due to the ingredients in the pills and the fact that it is possible that if you amazingly get pregnant on the pill despite all the blocking preventions the pill is supposed to do, it can stop the fetus from implanting thus causing you to abort the fetus. That to us is not all right.
I wanted a natural form of birth control!
Thanks to a friend and the internet, we learned about Natural Family Planning (NFP) and began to figure it all out.
Natural Family Planning – A Natural Form of Birth Control!
The idea behind Natural Family Planning is that you read your body’s signals to tell you when you are fertile.
There are many variations and some work better then others. However, when done properly, Natural Family Planning can be just as effective as taking an oral contraceptive.
Reasons to Consider Natural Family Planning
1) It’s free!
2) It is not difficult
3) No nasty chemicals/hormones going into your body
4) No side effects
5) Does not generate any waste for landfills
6) No possible abortion of unplanned pregnancies
7) It IS effective.
Now lets talk about the nitty gritty details. Just a warning, the following will probably be a bit too much information for some.
The Three Basic Types of Natural Family Planning
1) Symptom-based methods (cervical mucus, basal body temperature, cervical position)
2) Calendar-based methods (relying on your past cycle to predict how this cycle will be, not very accurate as each cycle can very)
3) The Breastfeeding method (properly known as Lactational Amenorrhea Method or LAM, which relies on breastfeeding since it reduces your fertility. However it does not work for every women and even if it does work out, you must keep watch for fertile signs as LAM can stop working anytime)
My preference is the symptom-based methods as they are the most overall accurate. Out of the different techniques for the symptom-based methods, I use and recommend tracking by cervical mucus.
Basal body temperature is a nice secondary, however since it only tells you that you ovulated AFTER you have ovulated it is not a very good method of avoiding pregnancy by itself. Cervical position is just messy and difficult to judge, in my opinion.
A bit more on cervical mucus charting…
When tracking your cervical mucus there are basically four stages for every menstrual cycle:
1) your monthly period
2) a dry cycle in which there is no cervical mucus
3) a wet cycle in which there is cervical mucus and this is when you are fertile
4) another dry cycle in which you have already ovulated and there is now no chance of getting pregnant.
By recognizing these four cycles and avoiding intercourse when you are fertile, you can have an effective form of birth control.
It is also a good method to use when trying to achieve pregnancy as well, except in that case you want to have intercourse during fertile times.
If you are wanted to start using Natural Family Planning as your natural form of birth control, you will need more information that what I just provided. Taking Charge of Your Fertility is basically the bible on Natural Family Planning and all things fertility based.
A great book that I recommend on cervical mucus tracking is Love and Fertility by Mercedes A. Wilson. It's a bit old fashion in it's illustrations but it is very easy to understand and very thorough.
I loved NFP until it failed…I am still sorting that one through. Note to self, you should still use secondary protection for a few months until you really get the hang of things!!
Taking Charge of Your Fertility is quite possibly the most eye-opening book regarding birth control and fertility.
See, I am really interested in using Natural Family Planning, but I don't know if my husband and I have enough self control! Haha! And I don't really trust condoms. Although one week a month to not have sex doesn't really seem that bad, hmmm… It's definitely something I am considering, seeing that I'm already familiar with checking my CM through TTC.
Tara: the one week isn't too bad. You do have the option of using a barrier method during that week, although then it is referred to as Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).
you're really brave! I'm pregnant with my second and thinking that two might be enough for our family. I had originally wanted more, but I feel (there is no other way to say this without sounding so cheesy, so bear with me) that this baby is the one that will complete our family. I've been thinking a lot about birth control, because my husband and I clearly cannot trust ourselves with condoms . . . and I've read an entire book on NFP, just haven't been ready to commit yet. So I commend you!
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Hi Brittany. I just came across your blog. For the benefit of others, I'd like to second the NFP or FAM once you know how to use them correctly. It does also help if you're more regular, though it's not required. We use Fertility Awareness (checking cervical mucus, taking morning temp, and using condoms during fertile time) and have had no surprises in the last 4 and 1/2 years of using this method. This is nice because there isn't a need to abstain when the hormones are usually working the most for the woman to be interested! : ) As far as condoms giving enough protection, 1) you need to make sure to use them properly, and 2) we checked consumer reports for high quality ones with good ratings.
We read the Taking Charge of Your Fertility and The Art of Natural Family Planning.
We are TTC right now, however, I will not be going back on BCP. The BCP is what I'm 99% sure set my hypothyroid off. I was never able to be on a BCP very long and not knowing any difference, we'd switch every 1.5 years or so due to my body "adjusting" to it. The adjustment would lead to what the Dr's labeled as PMDD. I started Ocella (generic of Yasmin) and my TSH was 1.5 (normal), 3months later it was at 3.8, 6 months at 4.9. I talked to my doctor after reading other reports similar and I stopped taking it. Immediately my TSH dropped back to 2.3. I think the damage had been done, 6 months later my TSH was back up. Not sure if it was from the severe car wreck (which can exasperate) or if my thyroid was just worn out.
Once everything straightens out and we have our little one, we will be using NFP. I am allergic to latex, so condoms are out, the spermicide on them is nasty stuff too (use to be used as an industrial hospital cleaner) and our options besides NFP are very limited. I wish someone would have educated me about this stuff beforehand… Thanks for the great blog!
Glad that you're spreading the good news of Natural methods of family planning, I definitely recommend an instructor over a book situation. They have the experience, and can help you navigate NFP, which is simple (meaning focussed in its application), but not always easy.
People also need to know that Natural Methods of Family Planning can be used to identify, diagnose and treat women's wellness issues. For those in that boat, please see fertilitycare.org
I agree that you should probably use additional precautions until you get the hang of NFP. It is also a good idea to keep track of your cycle in a notebook. That way, after a few months, you have a record of what your cycle SHOULD be so you know if something is off. I use an iPad app to keep track of everything. It is called WomenLogPro. They have it for phones and computers too.
I too am allergic to latex (so I hope you read this) but there are decent latex free condoms. I use to be very name brand specific but now I don't think there is a need because the material they use is very durable. I just buy what is on sale.
Love the book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" and LOVE LOVE LOVE NFP and FA as Birth Control options!
This is really interesting. I've been on the pill for 14 years and don't get a period at all, which is nice, but I don't like altering my hormones and have often wondered what it's doing to my body in the long run.