August 22, 2017

Fertility Awareness

Fertility awareness (a.k.a. natural family planning) is all about tracking your menstrual cycle to determine the days you can get pregnant. This requires paying very close attention to your body and its patterns. There are several different ways to do this.


  • 76-88% effective!
  • You must stick with the program. It requires a lot of self-discipline.
  • Doesn’t affect your ability to get pregnant after you stop using it.

How to Use It

There are several different ways to track your cycle. That’s all the fertility awareness method is—tracking your cycle and not having sex on the days you can get pregnant (or using an alternative method of birth control if you do).

  • Standard Days (SDM): record periods & determine when you can’t get pregnant
  • Two Day (TDM) & Cervical Mucus: observe cervical secretions to see when you’re fertile
  • Body Temp (BBT): chart body temperature every morning to determine ovulation
  • Symptothermal: tracking many different signs and symptoms
  • Lactational (LAM): breastfeeding suppresses fertility

Side Effects

Pros Cons
  • Doesn’t cost a thing—except for the price of a basal thermometer or CycleBeads
  • No prescription necessary
  • No hormones added to your body
  • No worries about side effects (other than the possibility of getting pregnant)
  • Helps you learn more about your body and how it works


  • Takes planning, record-keeping, and self-control
  • Requires abstinence (or use of an alternate method) for at least a week per cycle
  • Both partners need to participate 100%
  • The Calendar Method and the Standard Days Method don’t work for women with irregular periods
  • Not something you should try if you’ve just gone off a hormonal method, because the hormones effect your cycle (you’ll need to use a non-hormonal method while you’re learning to track your cycle)
  • Hard to stick to the plan if you’re drunk