Natural Family Planning (Fertility Awareness Method)

Fertility awareness or natural family planning is a way, when followed carefully, can be up to 99.6% effective in preventing pregnancy. In other words, it's as good as the IUD or Birth Control Pill, but without the side effects. The disadvantage is obvious. If you make a mistake in following the rules, and you were wanting to avoid pregnancy, the odds of a pregnancy is very high.

Becoming familiar with your fertility cycle has two advantages: it can help you to achieve pregnancy, and it can help you to avoid pregnancy.

You will need to learn this method if you are going to have successful preconception health, as it takes months or years to restore the body from the abuses caused by birth control
pills or the IUD.

FAM is not the same as the Rhythm Method but is based on sound fertility signs. It uses scientifically proven fertility signs, waking temperature, cervical fluid and cervical position.

How Fertility Awareness Works

During the monthly menstrual cycle, the egg released remains viable for about 24 hours. That means there needs to be seminal fluid present at the right location within those 24 hours
for fertilization to occur. During the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle, women produce cervical fluid to keep the sperm alive, and to create the right ecosystem for conception to occur.
Without the nourishing cervical fluids, the sperm die within a few hours or even less. During the fertile phase, cervical fluid changes, becoming egg white-colored and very stretchy, so
you can use the cervical fluid to determine when ovulation starts, and thus determine whether or not you are fertile. You can monitor your waking temperature to confirm ovulation as well, and use both observations of cervical fluid and the waking temperature to determine when ovulation has ended. Women can only get pregnant during the fertile times. Since the fertile time is of a limited duration, if you know when you are possibly fertile, you can use this information to either avoid pregnancy, or to get pregnant.

Hence, FAM is an extremely effective form of natural birth control or pregnancy achievement. FAM works by eliminating unprotected intercourse during the fertile times, and adding a
little extra room for safety before and after the possibly fertile phase. In safely practicing the guidelines, in a typical month you have about 20 days of possible unprotected sex, and generally 9-12 days of abstinence or use of a barrier

Many times, women who are supposedly infertile and can’t get pregnant actually are fertile, and it’s merely that their timing of intercourse is wrong.

Below is a chart on the effectiveness of FAM and other birth control methods. Studies by Contraceptive Technology look at two statistics for judging the effectiveness of contraceptive
methods. One is the user failure rate which is when a pregnancy results from the user’s incorrect use of the birth control method. The other rate is a method failure, when pregnancy results from a problem with the method that was properly followed.


% of Women Experiencing an Unintended Pregnancy within the First Year of Use
Typical Use
Perfect Use
No method
Fertility awareness-based methods

Standard Days method


TwoDay method


Ovulation method





Combined pill and progestin-only pill

ParaGard (copper T)


Mirena (LNG-IUS)


(Chart is from Contraceptive Technologies Study)

Typical use represents what normally happens in the real world due to mistakes made by the user. Ideal use represents how effective the birth control method is when used properly.

Learn more information about fertility, a healthy pregnancy, a safe birth, and natural parenting.

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