Birth Control Behavioral Methods (cont.)
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Fertility Awareness Method
Women who use the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) monitor body temperature and cervical signs of pregnancy similarly to those who practice NFP. However, women using FAM may either avoid intercourse or use a backup nonhormonal method of birth control, such as a condom, during the fertile period.
Women using FAM monitor 3 primary fertility signs: basal body (waking) body temperature, cervical mucus, and cervical position.
Basal body temperature before ovulation is considered to range from 97-97.5°F. After ovulation, temperatures rise to about 97.6-98.6°F and remain elevated until the next period begins, about 12-16 days later. Temperatures usually rise within a day or so after ovulation, so the rise in temperature generally means that ovulation has already occurred. A basal body temperature chart can be obtained from 4women.gov.
Cervical mucus qualities are also charted throughout the menstrual cycle. Cervical mucus qualities during the menstrual cycle are designated as absent, dry, sticky, creamy, or egg-white. A woman is most fertile when her cervical mucus has the consistency of a raw egg-white. During this time the cervical mucus is clear and elastic.
The cervix becomes softer near the time of ovulation, and this change facilitates the passage of sperm upward through the uterus to the fallopian tubes. The cervix also moves forward during this time because of the effects of estrogen on the ligaments that suspend the uterus.
For maximum effectiveness, FAM users follow 4 rules:
Intercourse is not considered "safe" for avoiding pregnancy unless all of these rules are followed. It is recommended that 2 full cycles be charted before relying on this method.
FAM has advantages and disadvantages.
Other Methods of Periodic Abstinence
Several other methods of periodic abstinence exist.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/7/2016
Omnia M Samra, MD
Bryan D Cowan, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Lee P Shulman, MD
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Birth Control Behavioral Methods - Patient Experience
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