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How to Avoid Pregnancy Naturally: 3 Fertility Awareness Methods

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 31, 2023

    How to Avoid Pregnancy Naturally: 3 Fertility Awareness Methods

    Couples who want to avoid unintended pregnancies have two options: rely on contraceptive medicines or physical devices or decide on a natural birth control method. This article focuses on how to avoid pregnancy naturally using fertility awareness methods.  

    Natural Birth Control, Defined

    Natural birth control or natural family planning involves actions that couples take to prevent pregnancy naturally. It doesn’t involve contraceptive pills containing hormones capable of stopping ovulation (releasing an egg cell from the ovary). It also doesn’t use physical devices, such as intrauterine devices (IUD) or condoms.

    Many natural methods require fertility awareness, which means not engaging in sex in the presence of clues that signal fertility. There are also methods, such as withdrawal and lack of menstruation during breastfeeding, that don’t depend on fertility clues.

    While considered less convenient, natural birth control methods can be highly effective if done right and when couples stay committed to their decision. Reports say it can be up to 99% effective.

    The Pros and Cons of Natural Birth Control Methods

    Before we discuss how to avoid pregnancy naturally, let’s first tackle the pros and cons of natural family planning.

    Besides being up to 99% effective, below are the other pros to using natural family planning:

  • Where pills can lead to side effects like headache, breast tenderness, nausea, and spotting, natural family planning methods don’t produce any physical side effects.
  • Natural methods don’t require procedures or fittings; in most cases, they don’t cost anything.
  • Couples with strict beliefs can freely do natural family planning because they are approved by the Catholic Church and some Protestant denominations.
  • On the other hand, below are the cons:

    • Natural family planning mainly depends on fertility awareness, and sometimes, it’s pretty challenging to determine when exactly a woman is fertile.
    • Couples cannot engage in penetrative sex when the woman is fertile unless they resort to unreliable natural methods, such as withdrawal, or use devices, like condoms.

    How to Avoid Pregnancy Naturally Using Fertility Awareness Methods

    Below are some of the ways on how to avoid pregnancy naturally:

    1. Calendar method

    For the calendar method to work, you need to keep track of your menstrual cycles for at least six months. Basically, you need to record the first days of your menstruation and then count the days between each cycle. If most of your cycles are shorter than 27 days, the calendar method may not be suitable for you.

    Here are the detailed instructions on how to do the calendar method:

    2. Basal body temperature method

    A woman’s body temperature drops by about half a centigrade before ovulation and rises again once the ovary releases the egg cell.

    For the basal body temperature to work, the couple needs to track the woman’s basal body temp using a special thermometer at the same time each morning upon waking up and before getting out of bed.

    To avoid unintended pregnancy, couples must abstain from the moment they see the drop to about 3 to 4 days after the woman’s temperature rises again.

    3. Cervical mucus method or Billings method

    Another way on how to avoid pregnancy naturally is to inspect the woman’s cervical mucus.

    According to experts, couples should refrain from sexual intercourse from the day the cervical mucus becomes thin, clear, and stretchy up to the 4th day after the mucus becomes thick, cloudy, and sticky.

    Final Reminders

    For fertility awareness methods to work, couples need to be consistent in following the instructions correctly. Still, remember that other factors may come into play.
    Case in point: illnesses, stress, and environment may affect the body temperature. Likewise, the calendar method won’t work if the woman has irregular menstruation. And finally, changes to cervical mucus are unique to every woman.

    Learn more about Women’s Fertility here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jezreel Esguerra, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 31, 2023

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