Natural Birth Control

How does it work?

There are many types of natural birth control methods. The most effective natural method is checking cervical secretions for the wet and slippery, clear and stretchy fertile mucus. Sperm can live in the fertile mucus for 5 to 10 days or more. You ovulate within 24 hours of the last day of clear stretchy mucus.

Basal body temperature indicates when ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary) has occurred, but that is too late if you had sex the night before when fertile mucus is present. You check and chart the temperature daily for 6 months. Look for a drop in the temperature and then a rise of al least 0.6 of a degree that stays up for at least 3 days.

Rhythm (periodic abstinence) is going by the calendar and assuming you ovulate at mid-cycle. Many women do not always ovulate at mid-cycle, and so just using the calendar method is very unreliable.

How effective is it?
Effectiveness varies a great deal depending on the method and the users. It ranges from 80% to 98% in different studies.

What's good about it?
It does not harm your body in any way. You learn about how your body works.

What's not good about it?
It is not very effective for many people. It takes a while to learn the method(s) and become skilled in using them. It requires very high motivation on the part of the user, and it requires full cooperation from the woman's partner. It may require many days of abstinence each month. It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Where can I learn more about this method?
The Emma Goldman Clinic publishes a book titled Fertility Awareness: A Natural Way to Avoid or Achieve Pregnancy. This book is about a natural way to control fertility by learning to identify the physical changes that accompany the different phases of the menstrual cycle. By learning to recognize these changes as they occur, you can plan which days are safe or unsafe to have sexual intercourse if you are trying to prevent conception, or which days are best for conception if you are planning a pregnancy. In addition to controlling fertility, the techniques for recognizing cycles of fertility can help you become an intelligent participant in your own health care, when used in conjunction with other self-health skills such as breast and cervical self-exams.
Click here to visit the Emma Store where you can purchase Fertility Awareness: A natural way to avoid or achieve pregnancy for only $7.
The chart below is to help you keep track of your reproductive cycle, as instructed in our book. You can fill in what mucus you observed, and what your basal body temperature was for each day. You can click this link to open the chart as a pdf that you can save on your computer. You can also use the chart displayed below.

Mucus chart