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Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

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Fertility Awareness

What To Think About

  • To use the fertility awareness methods effectively, consider taking classes on natural family planning from a trained health professional. Many women's clinics and hospitals offer classes.
  • Fertility awareness methods used for birth control do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Home kits to help with fertility awareness are not always accurate. Kits that measure luteinizing hormone (LH) may have different results but may help when you use them with other methods. Kits for some of the other methods do not always accurately predict ovulation. More studies are being done.

If you are breast-feeding

  • Women who breast-feed after having a baby often go several months (sometimes longer than a year) before they start having menstrual periods again. This is called lactational amenorrhea. For many women, full-time breast-feeding means you do not ovulate, so breast-feeding can be an effective method of birth control if all of the following conditions are met:
    • You gave birth less than 6 months ago.
    • You are breast-feeding exclusively and do so day and night and your baby is not sucking often on a pacifier. Breast-feeding is not an effective method of birth control if your baby is also getting formula feedings.
    • You are not having menstrual periods.
  • Many women experience a few days of bleeding about 6 or 8 weeks after giving birth. If you are breast-feeding full-time and not using any formula, you may not get pregnant at this time. But if you start regular menstrual periods after this "6-week bleed," you should start using another method of birth control to prevent pregnancy.
  • Although breast-feeding may provide some protection against pregnancy, it is best to use another method while breast-feeding if you do not wish to become pregnant.

Related Information

Other Works Consulted

  • Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Female infertility. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 1137–1190. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerFemi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last RevisedDecember 7, 2011
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 07, 2011
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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