Fertility Awareness-Based Methods.
A Fertility Awareness-Based method (sometimes referred to as natural family planning) is a way for a woman to find out what days during her menstrual cycle she is not likely to get pregnant. This is done by keeping track of the changes that occur in your body during the menstrual cycle. You should not have sexual intercourse on your fertile days, unless she or her partner uses a barrier birth control method, such as a diaphragm or condom.
Cervical Mucus Testing: With cervical mucus testing, a woman observes the changes in her cervical mucus to tell her when she may be fertile. Without this mucus, sperm die within an hour or two. A woman's mucus develops several days before ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary), telling the woman her fertile days have begun. If used correctly, it is about 97% effective. Most women notice some cervical mucus within a few days after your period has stopped. The mucus starts out as cloudy and feels sticky. A few days later, it becomes clear, stretchy, and slippery. You are most likely fertile from the time you start noticing cervical mucus until four days after you stop having the clear and slippery mucus.
The Calendar Rhythm Method: With the Calendar Rhythm Method, you keep track of the length of your menstrual cycles for 6-12 months to figure out the days when you are likely to get pregnant. It is probably at least 90% effective when used correctly, although more studies are needed on the effectiveness of this method.
Calculate the longest and shortest of your menstrual cycles. Subtract 18 from the number of days in your shortest cycle. This number will be the first fertile day of your current cycle. Subtract 11 from the number of days in your longest cycle. This number will be the last fertile day in your current cycle. Avoid unprotected intercourse from the first through the last day of your fertile time. You need to repeat this process with every cycle to find out your fertile days.
The Symptothermal Method: The Symptothermal Method teaches women to recognize their fertile days by tracking changes in their cervical mucus, body temperature (at rest), and the position of the cervix. When used correctly, this method is about 97%-98% effective in preventing pregnancy. Ask your health care provider for help in using this method. With this method, you take your temperature every morning before getting out of bed (known as basal body temperature). Each day, look at the color of your cervical mucus to see if it is cloudy, white, yellow, or clear, and feel the mucus to see if it is sticky or slippery and stretchy. Check the position of your cervix, which becomes more open when you are fertile (ask your health care provider to help you learn to do this). Record your temperature, cervical secretions, and the position of the cervix on a chart every day. You can find out when you are likely to be fertile by noticing changes in these three fertility signs.
Emergency contraceptive prevents pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse. Emergency contraception can be used when a condom breaks, after a sexual assault, or any time unprotected sexual intercourse occurs. It should not be used as your only protection against pregnancy. There are two types of emergency contraceptive pills (sometimes called the "morning after pill").
One type contains only the hormone called progestin. It is more effective than combination pills and the risk of nausea and vomiting is also lower. The other type of ECP uses a combination of hormones (estrogen and progestin) found in some kinds of regular birth control pills. Side effects can include nausea and vomiting.
The current treatment schedule is one dose within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse and a second dose 12 hours after the first dose. A recent large study found that ECPs should be taken as soon after unprotected intercourse as is practical. Most women can safely use emergency contraceptive pills, even if they cannot use birth control pills as their regular method of birth control.
IUDs can also be used as a form of emergency contraception. The copper-T intrauterine device (IUD) can be inserted up to five days after unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy. The IUD can then be left in place for up to 10 years if long-term contraception is desired.
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