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    Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

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    Fertility Awareness

    Why It Is Done

    Fertility awareness is done to help a woman learn when she is likely to ovulate. This information can help a woman:

    • Become pregnant. Pregnancy is most likely to occur when sexual intercourse occurs close to the time of ovulation.
    • Avoid pregnancy. A couple may use fertility awareness for birth control if:
      • Their religious beliefs do not allow the use of other methods of birth control.
      • They wish to use a "natural" method of birth control that does not use medicines, surgery, or other devices.
      • They are willing to pay close attention to the woman's cycle.
      • They are willing to not have sex or to use another birth control method during fertile days.
      • Preventing a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is not a concern.

    To use fertility awareness as a birth control method:

    • The woman should have regular menstrual cycles.
    • The woman must watch her body for changes during her menstrual cycle. She must keep good records of her cycles.
    • Both partners must do this method together. The couple must be willing to not have sex or to use a barrier contraceptive on days when the woman is fertile.
    • The couple must be willing to have an unplanned pregnancy if this is their only method of birth control.

    How To Prepare

    Before you use fertility awareness as a method of birth control, record three or four of your menstrual cycles to find your pattern of ovulation. If you are trying to not become pregnant during this time, use a method of birth control that does not affect ovulation (such as a condom, diaphragm, or the copper intrauterine device [IUD]) or do not have sex.

    Basal body temperature is checked using a special oral thermometer marked in fractions of a degree so you can see even small changes in temperature better than with an ordinary thermometer. Easy-to-read digital thermometers can be found in most pharmacies or at family planning clinics. Do not use a digital ear thermometer for this method.

    How It Is Done

    For fertility awareness to work well, it is best to use all of the following methods together.

    Calendar (rhythm) method

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    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: /2, 14 1
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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