For married couples who are not planning to conceive a child just yet, several options on birth control and family planning are available. Among the options, there are artificial methods and natural family planning approaches, which include the fertility awareness method.

In the artificial birth control, there are pills, barrier devices, injections and other strategies being used. For people who are utilizing the barrier devices, such as condoms and diaphragms, these devices could be of help. However, several couples complain on the reduction of sensation during sexual intercourse while the man is wearing a condom.

Fertility Awareness MethodOn the other hand, a diaphragm application may also feel a bit uneasy on the woman. The barrier devices are not 100% foolproof.

There are cases that some torn devices allow the passage of sperm through the cervix into the birth canal.

Other methods such as having pills and injectables (Depo-provera) also pose a risk of several complications. Some women who employ such birth control measures experience bloating, prolonged cessation of menses and headaches.

Some surveys even report that the long-term use of pills could advertently cause infertility. This is sad news for those who are planning to have children later. Because of the many disadvantages of artificial birth control, several couples employ the fertility awareness method.

The utilization of the fertility awareness method makes use of the monthly signs of ovulation as the basis of having or not having intercourse. The measures included in the method comprise the calendar method, basal body temperature (BBT), cervical mucus monitoring and cervical observation.

For women who have regular menses, the calendar method works more effectively. For a 28-day regular cycle of a woman, the ovulation occurs on the 14th day from the first day of menstruation. An ovum could last for 12-24 hours after its release; a sperm, on the other hand, could actually survive within the womb for 2 to 3 days, even up to 5 days.

In order to avoid the fertilization of the egg cell, intercourse should not be done 3 days before and 3 days after the peak of ovulation. For instance, if the ovulation of a woman is set on the 14th day of the month, fertilization is most likely to occur from days 11-17. For women who have irregular menses, it is difficult to actually determine the safe and unsafe days.

However, in fertility awareness method, a woman is asked to record the duration and interval of her menses in a span of 6-8 months. Thereafter, the longest and shortest cycles are identified.

In order to know the safe and unsafe days, one should subtract 18 from the length of the shortest cycle and mark the result as the first fertile day.  Then, 11 should be subtracted from the length of the longest cycle. The answer is the day of the last fertile period.

Basal body temperature works by taking one’s temperature before getting out of bed, consistently every day. Just before ovulation, the temperature drops briefly. During the 12 hours of ovulation, there is a marked increase of temperature which occurs briefly.

After 3 days of sustained elevated temperature, the ovulation ends and the safe period begins. In order to make use of the cervical mucus monitoring, one should take note of the consistency (stretchy, thick, and sticky), color (cloudy, white, yellow, and clear) and the quality (wet, slippery, dry) of the cervical mucus.

This could be collected by wiping the fingers on the vaginal area front to back. One would know the peak of ovulation if on the wettest day, the mucus is stretchy and transparent. Fertilization would most likely occur two days before and after the peak of the wettest day.

The fertility awareness method has several advantages. It allows both partners to understand the reproductive cycle better and plan pregnancies ahead of time. In addition, it does not have any major side effects or complications. The only challenge that it entails is the commitment of the couples in abstaining from intercourse during the unsafe days.