Natural Birth Control Options

  • Medical Author:
    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.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    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.

Birth Control Methods, Side Effects, and Effectiveness

There are a variety of birth control options, and it can be confusing when choosing the option that works best for you and your partner. Questions to ask yourself when considering birth control options are

  1. How important is STD (sexually transmitted diseases) protection?
  2. How effective is the birth control type or option?
  3. What are the side effects of the type of birth control?
  4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the type of birth control?

Quick GuideChoosing Your Birth Control Method

Choosing Your Birth Control Method

Natural birth control facts

  • Birth control is the use of practices, medications, or devices to prevent pregnancy.
  • Natural methods of birth control, or natural family planning, are a type of birth control that relies on observations about the woman's body and menstrual cycle.
  • Natural methods of birth control include fertility awareness methods.
  • Examples of natural methods of birth control include
    • calendar rhythm method,
    • basal body temperature method, and
    • cervical mucus examination.
  • Advantages of natural methods include
    • cost savings,
    • lack of prescriptions or health-care visits, and
    • avoidance of medications or procedures.
  • Disadvantages of natural methods are the fact that they can be difficult to use correctly and that sexual intercourse must be avoided at certain times of the month.

What are natural methods of contraception?

Natural methods of contraception are considered "natural" because they are not mechanical and not a result of hormone manipulation. Instead, these natural methods to prevent pregnancy require that a man and woman not have sexual intercourse during the time when an egg is available to be fertilized by a sperm.

The fertility awareness methods (FAMs) are based upon knowing when a woman ovulates each month. In order to use a FAM, it is necessary to watch for the signs and symptoms that indicate ovulation has occurred or is about to occur.

On the average, the egg is released about 14 (plus or minus 2) days before a woman's next menstrual period. But because the egg survives 3 to 4 days (6 to 24 hours after ovulation) and the sperm can live 48 to 72 hours (up to even 5 days in fertile mucos), the actual time during which a woman may become pregnant is measured not in hours, not in days, but in weeks.

FAMS can be up to 98% effective, but they require a continuous and conscious commitment with considerable monitoring and self-control. Although these methods were developed to prevent pregnancy, they can equally be well used by a couple to increase fertility and promote conception.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/26/2015

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