Natural family planning depends on methods that can determine when intercourse does not result in pregnancy. A woman can keep track of the changes that take place in her body during the menstrual cycle, and thus the couple can plan when to have or not have intercourse to avoid pregnancy. The same methods are used by families who are trying to conceive and need to identify the most fertile period. Natural family planning thus goes two ways.
The ovulation method
This type of natural family planning determines the fertile and infertile days by checking the cervical mucus. When the mucus is stretchy, slick and clear, chances are that the woman can get pregnant. The mucus looks like uncooked egg white during the fertile period.
The Symptothermal method
It involves taking the basal temperature every day. The temperature is written down in a chart. During ovulation, the woman's temperature will rise slightly with about 9 degrees Fahrenheit. The woman should also check the consistency of the cervical mucus. Other possible symptoms that accompany ovulation include breast tenderness, low backache, bloating and slight discomfort in the abdomen.
The period when you are most likely to get pregnant is right before and after the ovulation. This interval usually expands between the 9th and the 21st day of the menstrual cycle, for a woman with a 28-day period. Such information is relevant for natural family planning, yet it is not enough to make the above methods 100% reliable for the prevention of pregnancy.
There are natural family planning instructors who teach couples the most efficient ways to make the best out of the above methods. Talk to your family doctor to refer you to one such professional. However, in practice, this kind of birth control has proved less reliable than in theory. Most specialists recommend the use of a second means for birth control such as barrier methods. Condoms, for instance may successfully support natural family planning.
Keeping communication open with the life partner is of vital importance for the success of natural family planning. Unless your spouse is willing to cooperate and not have sex during the 12 days of the fertile period, you need to find other birth control means to prevent pregnancy. Natural family planning therefore requires mutual agreement and lots of support and understanding in the couple. It does not work for every family, because it cannot be considered a unilateral decision that only a member agrees to.