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What Are Natural Birth Control Methods?

Natural birth control methods are ways to prevent pregnancy without using hormones or birth control devices such as condoms. However, these strategies are generally less effective than many other contraceptives.

Fertility Awareness

Fertility awareness-based methods offer a way to prevent pregnancy naturally by tracking your menstrual cycle to recognize the signs of ovulation. If you know when you’re ovulating, you can estimate which days you are most likely to conceive. You can avoid having sex on the days when you’re most fertile to decrease your chances of becoming pregnant.

With fertility awareness-based methods, you can use one or more of the following strategies to predict your fertile days:

  • Using a calendar to count the days in your cycle.
  • Tracking changes in your cervical fluid.
  • Charting your basal body temperature.

These methods require discipline to make sure you track your fertility correctly. In addition, you’ll have to abstain from sex for several days each month to avoid becoming pregnant. With typical use, fertility awareness-based methods are upward of 76% effective.

Other Types of Natural Birth Control Methods

Other methods of natural birth control include:

  • Withdrawal: Withdrawal requires a man pulling his penis out of the vagina before he ejaculates. This method is about 78% effective.
  • Lactational Amenorrhea Method: Also known as LAM, this method is very effective but requires exclusive, frequent breastfeeding and only works for up to six months after giving birth.
  • Abstinence: Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy because it requires refraining from all forms of sexual activity.

Pros and Cons of Natural Birth Control

Natural birth control is free and has none of the health risks or side effects that, although rare, might occur with hormonal birth control. With the exception of abstinence, however, natural birth control is less effective than many other types of contraceptives, including birth control pills.

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