COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS
Fertility awareness is a method that requires you to observe fertility signs and work out exactly what stage of your menstrual cycle you are in. You need to identify the stages at which you are not fertile, and having sex at those times. If fertility awareness interests you, you are advised to use a barrier method or abstain from sex altogether on the days you are fertile. If you wish to get pregnant, fertility awareness can help you to identify which days you should be having sex to achieve pregnancy.
Each technique is complex and relies on a deep and intimate knowledge of your own menstrual cycle. The techniques base themselves on the fact that there are specific days during each menstrual cycle, the days before and shortly after ovulation, where you can get pregnant and others where you cannot, which is where the intimate knowledge and the calculations come in. There are a number of different methods such as tracking the days of your cycle, paying attention to body temperature fluctuations and keeping a very close eye on changes to your cervical mucus. There are several more techniques but they can all be thrown by slight changes to your cycle, a miscalculation, spontaneous lifestyle resulting in non-regular sleeping time or a host of other variables.
PROS / CONS
- It can be used when breastfeeding
- It’s hormone free
- If you want to get pregnant, it can help you to know on which days you should have sex
- Using it can take practice
- It requires keeping track of your menstruation cycle all the time
- It requires a very regular lifestyle
- It’s open to mistakes
- It can interfere with spontaneity
- It’s unreliable as it does not take variations in your cycle into account
- Does not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes. However the couples must be highly motivated, well-trained in their method, and committed to avoiding unprotected sex during the fertile time.
For many couples, these methods provide reliable information about the fertile days. If the couple avoids vaginal sex, or uses condoms, a cervical cap or diaphragm during the woman's fertile time, fertility awareness methods can be effective. Using withdrawal or spermicides during the fertile time is less effective and not recommended.
How many days of abstinence or use of another method might be required for each of the fertility awareness methods?
The number of days varies based on the woman's cycle length. The average number of days a woman would be considered fertile and would need to abstain or use another method varies between 12 to 18 days dependent on the fertility awareness tracking methodology. To avoid an unintended pregnancy you must use another contraceptive method, such as condoms, during your fertile days.
As women and their cycles are different, ovulation varies depending on the length of your cycle, which can range from 21 days up to 35 days.
Let’s have a look at two examples:
Ovulation happens about 14 days before your menstruation starts. That means: if your average menstrual cycle for example is 28 days, you ovulate around day 14, and your most fertile days are days 12, 13 and 14. If your average menstrual cycle is 35 days ovulation happens around day 21 and your most fertile days are days 19, 20 and 21. How to count your cycle? The first day of your menstruation is the beginning of a new cycle, hence day 1.
During monthly bleeding the chances of pregnancy are low but not zero. Bleeding itself does not prevent pregnancy, and it does not promote pregnancy, either. In the first several days of monthly bleeding, the chances of pregnancy are lowest. As the days pass, the chances of pregnancy increase, whether or not she is still bleeding. The risk of pregnancy rises until ovulation. The day after ovulation the chances of pregnancy begin to drop steadily. Some fertility awareness methods that depend on cervical secretions advise avoiding unprotected sex during monthly bleeding because cervical secretions cannot be detected during bleeding and there is a small risk of ovulation at this time.