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Natural Family Planning

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What is natural family planning?

Natural family planning is a way to prevent or plan a pregnancy. Natural family planning helps you understand your body's rhythms to learn when you are most likely to get pregnant each month.

What are the natural family planning methods?

  • The symptothermal method means you will chart your daily body temperature. You will need to buy a basal body thermometer at the store. Take your basal body temperature before you get out of bed in the morning. Keep track of each reading. Your basal body temperature will increase when you ovulate. You are more likely to get pregnant when it is higher.
  • The cervical mucus discharge method means you will check your cervical mucus each day. Discharge is clear, slippery, and stretchy when you ovulate. The amount is also higher than usual. Discharge is thick, sticky, and cloudy when you are not ovulating. Check your cervical mucus each day to learn when you ovulate.
  • The calendar, or rhythm, method means you will count the number of days between your periods. This will tell you when you ovulate. This method can work if the number of days in your cycle is the same each month. If you have irregular monthly periods, the natural family planning method is not as accurate.

What else do I need to know about natural family planning?

  • Natural family planning does not decrease your risk for a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
  • The success of natural family planning depends on how well you measure your menstrual cycle. You will need to learn the exact timing of your cycle and follow it closely. Your menstrual cycle can be affected by any of the following:
    • Changes in exercise habits
    • Caffeine or unhealthy foods
    • Stress, depression, and anxiety
    • Health problems or illness
    • Increasing age
    • Weight gain or loss

What are the risks of not following natural family planning correctly?

  • You may become pregnant when you do not want to.
  • It may be hard to know when you are fertile.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have questions or concerns about natural family planning.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.