Why It Is Done
Fertility awareness is done to help a
woman learn when she is likely to ovulate. This information can help a
- Become pregnant. Pregnancy is most likely to
occur when sexual intercourse occurs close to the time of
- 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
- They are willing to pay close attention to the woman's
- 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
To use fertility awareness as a birth control
- The woman should have regular menstrual
- The woman must watch her body for changes during her
menstrual cycle. She must keep good records of her cycles.
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
- 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
Record the dates of your
menstrual periods for 6 to 8 months. See if your menstrual cycle is regular and
how many days it is. If your cycle is regular and about 28 days long, you are
most likely to ovulate 14 to 15 days after menstrual bleeding begins.
To find the first day that you are likely to be fertile, take 18 away
(subtract) from the number of days in your shortest menstrual cycle. Your first
fertile day should be that many days after your menstrual bleeding begins. For
example, if your shortest menstrual cycle is 26 days long, you would subtract
18 from 26 to get 8; your first fertile day would then be the 8th day after
menstrual bleeding begins.