Thursday, October 30, 2014

Putting it all together

In earlier posts I described three of the main signs of fertility
Today I want to talk a little bit about putting these together. The general rule if you want to avoid getting pregnant is to avoid intercourse unless all three signs indicate that you are not fertile.

More specifically, couples should
  • Stop having intercourse as soon as "less fertile" cervical fluid starts.
  • Start having intercourse only after 4 days with ALL of the following
    • Increased temperature indicating ovulation.
    • "Less fertile" cervical fluid or no cervical fluid.
    • Hard, closed cervix.
  • Not have intercourse if they aren't sure what they are observing.
As couples grow more familiar with the woman's cycle, they are often able to apply more complex rules to calculate a narrower window of fertility, and thus couples are able to increase the number of days they can have intercourse. "The Art of Natural Family Planning" and "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" both describe these rules in more detail.

One of the interesting aspects of natural family planning is that it doesn't assume a goal - many couples use NFP to increase the likelihood of pregnancy (in fact, using NFP to achieve pregnancy is probably more mainstream!), and many couples who use NFP to avoid pregnancy also use it to achieve pregnancy when they want children.  NFP also gives couples flexibility in determining their chances of getting pregnant - a couple using NFP to space children may decide to only follow the rules loosely, perhaps by waiting for "more fertile" cervical fluid before ceasing intercourse, while a couple that strongly wants to avoid pregnancy for several years may be very conservative when applying the rules.

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