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) temperature, cervical fluid, 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 stay elevated until a woman’s next period, 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 fluid qualities are also charted throughout a woman’s cycle. Cervical fluid qualities aside from during the menstrual period are designated as nothing/dry, sticky, creamy, or eggwhite. A woman is most fertile when her cervical fluid is like a raw eggwhite. During this time, cervical fluid is clear and stretchy.
The cervix becomes softer and opens around ovulation so that the sperm can pass through the uterus and to the fallopian tubes. The cervix also rises during this time during because of the effects of estrogen on the ligaments that hold your uterus in place.
For maximum effectiveness, FAM users follow 4 rules:
Intercourse is not considered "safe" for avoiding pregnancy unless all of these rules are met. It is recommended that 2 full cycles be charted before relying on this method.
FAM has advantages and disadvantages.
Omnia M Samra, MD
Bryan D Cowan, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Lee P Shulman, MD
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