Nat­ural fam­ily plan­ning: Con­tra­cep­tion with­out hormones?

by Britta
Natürliche Familienplanung, Hormonfreie Verhütung, Alternative zu der Einnahme der Pille, für Vulvani, natural family planning

While a few years ago the pill was used almost exclu­sively as a hor­monal con­tra­cep­tive, body aware­ness has changed con­sid­er­ably recently. The trend is now that more and more peo­ple want to use con­tra­cep­tion with­out hor­mones and stop tak­ing the pill after years of use. This is because hor­monal con­tra­cep­tive meth­ods influ­ence the hor­mone bal­ance and can have var­i­ous side effects. But what safe alter­na­tives are there to tak­ing the pill? Con­dom, which is one of the bar­rier meth­ods, is also widely used. How­ever, if you want it to be even more nat­ural, Nat­ural Fam­ily Plan­ning can teach you to inter­pret var­i­ous body sig­nals cor­rectly and to use addi­tional con­tra­cep­tives only on the fer­tile days. 

Con­tra­cep­tion with­out hormones

Nat­ural Fam­ily Plan­ning (NFP) includes all con­tra­cep­tive meth­ods that do not influ­ence hor­mones or the body in gen­eral. There­fore, there are no phys­i­cal side effects. Although fam­ily plan­ning is included in the name of these hor­mone-free meth­ods, they are suit­able for both plan­ning and avoid­ing preg­nancy. How­ever, suc­cess­ful appli­ca­tion requires prac­tice and time, strong body aware­ness and a con­scious exam­i­na­tion of one’s own body. The hor­mone-free con­tra­cep­tive meth­ods are based on the nat­ural men­strual cycle and use var­i­ous cri­te­ria to deter­mine when ovu­la­tion occurs. This makes it pos­si­ble to deter­mine both the approx­i­mately five to six fer­tile and the remain­ing infer­tile days in the men­strual cycle of a men­stru­at­ing per­son. If there is no desire to have chil­dren, addi­tional con­tra­cep­tion is used on the fer­tile days using bar­rier meth­ods such as con­doms. By con­sciously observ­ing the cycle, a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the own body is developed.

What meth­ods of nat­ural fam­ily plan­ning are used? 

Hor­mone-free con­tra­cep­tion as part of nat­ural fam­ily plan­ning includes the Billings method, the tem­per­a­ture method and the symp­tother­mal method. 

1. Billings method

With this method the change in the nature of the cer­vi­cal mucus is observed every day dur­ing the men­strual cycle. Shortly before and around ovu­la­tion, the con­sis­tency of the mucus changes. This allows the fer­tile days of the cycle to be deter­mined. On the fer­tile days, the cer­vi­cal mucus tends to be rather thin and more abun­dant. This has nat­ural advan­tages. It is a nat­ural lubri­cant so that the sperm are opti­mally trans­ferred to the uterus. On infer­tile days, the cer­vi­cal mucus tends to be thick, inelas­tic or not present at all. In any case, it takes prac­tice to cor­rectly cat­e­go­rize the cer­vi­cal mucus and to deter­mine the dif­fer­ences. The analy­sis of the cer­vi­cal mucus can be done dur­ing a nor­mal visit to the toi­let and will hap­pen nat­u­rally over time. 

2. Tem­per­a­ture method

With this method, the basal body tem­per­a­ture is mea­sured orally every day. The basal tem­per­a­ture is the body tem­per­a­ture mea­sured for three min­utes imme­di­ately after wak­ing up in the morn­ing and before get­ting up. The basal body tem­per­a­ture changes dur­ing the men­strual cycle. Shortly after ovu­la­tion it rises by a few tenths of a degree for at least three days in a row. Con­se­quently ovu­la­tion and the fer­tile days can be deter­mined ret­ro­spec­tively. In this way, the fol­low­ing infer­tile days can be con­cluded as well. Since the basal body tem­per­a­ture changes only very slightly, it is impor­tant to use a ther­mome­ter with two dec­i­mal places. 

3. Symp­tother­mal method

With this method, both the changes in basal body tem­per­a­ture and the changes in cer­vi­cal mucus are doc­u­mented and inter­preted together. It is thus a com­bi­na­tion of the tem­per­a­ture method with the Billings method. There­fore this mixed method is best suited for Nat­ural Fam­ily Planning.

How do I keep track of Nat­ural Fam­ily Planning?

For Nat­ural Fam­ily Plan­ning var­i­ous char­ac­ter­is­tics, such as basal body tem­per­a­ture and the com­po­si­tion of the cer­vi­cal mucus, must be observed daily. Addi­tion­ally the first and last day of men­stru­a­tion are also doc­u­mented. In the course of the men­strual cycle, other para­me­ters, such as mood swings, can be recorded as well. This requires dis­ci­pline, because only with con­tin­u­ous and con­sci­en­tious doc­u­men­ta­tion can these meth­ods pro­vide certainty.

The greater the period of time when data is recorded for nat­ural fam­ily plan­ning, the greater the cer­tainty of avoid­ing an unwanted pregnancy.

The analy­sis and doc­u­men­ta­tion of the data can be done either ana­log or dig­i­tal. For exam­ple, a men­strual cal­en­dar, a cycle app or a cycle com­puter can be used for this. How­ever, it is advis­able to start by record­ing the data in a men­strual cal­en­dar in the tra­di­tional way and to learn to eval­u­ate the char­ac­ter­is­tics independently.

Learn­ing how to use the Nat­ural Fam­ily Plan­ning method

In order to learn NFP cor­rectly, con­scious obser­va­tion of one’s own body is very impor­tant. There are for exam­ple trained NFP con­sul­tants to pro­vide indi­vid­ual advice and infor­ma­tion. Of course there are also good books to read about the topic inde­pen­dently. Here are two rec­om­mended readings:

And what kind of con­tra­cep­tion are you using?

Feel free to tell us about your per­sonal expe­ri­ences with dif­fer­ent con­tra­cep­tive meth­ods in the com­ments or in a pri­vate mes­sage. What is your favourite method of con­tra­cep­tion? What works well for you? And which meth­ods have you already tried? We look for­ward to hear­ing from you!

Hin­weis: Wie auch die hor­monellen Ver­hü­tungsmit­tel, schützen auch die Meth­o­den der natür­lichen Fam­i­lien­pla­nung nicht vor sex­uell über­trag­baren Krankheiten.

Published at 6. January 2020
Britta Wiebe is the co-founder of Vulvani. She loves researching, writing and designing new articles or innovative educational concepts about menstruation all day long. When she is not travelling the world, she enjoys spending time with her loved ones in the beautiful city of Hamburg in Germany. Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter

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