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Definition of Family planning, natural

Family planning, natural: Also known as fertility awareness, periodic abstinence and the rhythm method, this approach entails not having sexual intercourse on the days of a woman's menstrual cycle when she is most likely to become pregnant or using a barrier method (such as a condom, the diaphragm or a cervical cap) for birth control on those days.

Because a sperm may live in the female's reproductive tract for up to 7 days and the egg remains fertile for about 24 hours, a woman can get pregnant within a substantial window of time -- from 7 days before ovulation to 3 days after. Methods to approximate when a woman is fertile are usually based on the menstrual cycle, changes in cervical mucus, or changes in body temperature. Depending upon this form of birth control is the most likely form for women to become unintentionally pregnant.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=9770
Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012

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