Natural Methods of Birth Control (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Introduction to birth control
- What are natural methods of contraception?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of natural methods of birth control?
- Calendar rhythm method
- Basal body temperature method
- Mucous inspection method
- Symptothermal method
- Ovulation indicator testing kits
- Withdrawal method
- Lactational infertility
- Douching and urination
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
What are the advantages and disadvantages of natural methods of birth control?
Natural methods are typically very inexpensive compared to other methods of birth control unless a woman chooses to purchase ovulation test kits.
Advantages of natural methods of birth control include:
- A woman does not need to take medication or use hormonal manipulation.
- No procedures or fittings by a physician are required.
Disadvantages of natural birth control include:
- It can be difficult to estimate or know precisely when a woman is fertile, allowing increased chances for unplanned conception.
- Natural methods are not as effective as some forms of contraception.
- Ovulation test kits are used by some couples using natural methods of contraception, and the cost of these kits is another potential disadvantage.
- Being unable to have intercourse at certain times of the month is a disadvantage for some women.
Calendar rhythm method
The calendar rhythm method to avoid pregnancy relies upon calculating a woman's fertile period on the calendar. Based upon her 12 previous menstrual cycles, a woman subtracts l8 days from her shortest menstrual cycle to determine her first fertile day, and 11 days from her longest menstrual cycle to determine her last fertile day. She can then calculate the total number of days during which she may ovulate. If a woman's menstrual cycles are quite irregular from month to month, there will be a greater number of days during which she might become pregnant.
The calendar method is only about 80% effective in preventing pregnancy and when used alone, it is considered outdated and ineffective.
Basal body temperature method
The basal body temperature (BBT) method is based upon the fact that a woman's temperature drops 12 to 24 hours before an egg is released from her ovary and then increases again once the egg has been released. Unfortunately, this temperature difference is not very large. It is less than 1 degree F (about a half degree C) when the body is at rest.
The basal body temperature method requires that a woman take her temperature every morning before she gets out of bed. A special thermometer that is more accurate and sensitive than a typical oral thermometer must be used, and the daily temperature variations carefully noted. This must be done every month. Online calculators are available to help a woman chart her basal body temperature.
To use the basal body temperature as a birth control method, a woman should refrain from having sexual intercourse from the time her temperature drops until at least 48 to72 hours after her temperature increases again.
Next: Mucous inspection method
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