Natural Birth Control Methods - Which to choose?!
Did you know that “natural birth control” isn’t just referring to one natural method? Or even better, isn’t just referring to using condoms or pulling out?
Don’t worry - most people don’t. In fact, most people don’t even know that natural birth control options exist beyond having to use condoms or crossing their fingers and hoping that pulling out worked.
The truth, however, is that there are several different types of natural birth control.
When people talk about natural birth control, they’re almost always cycle tracking based birth control methods that allow users to prevent pregnancy using signs of fertility in their current and past menstrual cycles. These methods are often called fertility awareness methods and natural family planning methods. Some natural methods are more effective than others.
Natural birth control methods are based around the foundation that a woman can AT MOST only become pregnant for about 6 days per month. That’s right - it has been scientifically proven that you can only get pregnant for at most about 6 days of any given menstrual cycle. This is because sperm can live in your body for up to 5 days under optimal cervical fluid conditions and an egg once released during ovulation only stays alive for 24 hours. The 5 day lifespan of the sperm + the 1 day lifespan of the egg = 6 days for possible conception. After that span of time, the egg dies off and you cannot get pregnancy until you menstruate and ovulate again in your next cycle. (SOURCE 1: see below)
When I first learned this my mind was blowwnnn.
We’ve been taught in schools and doctor’s offices that we have to completely rewire our natural hormone production with birth control pills and IUDs for years, if not decades, of our lives to simply avoid what has been scientifically proven to be 6 days of any given menstrual cycle. That just seems crazy.
If you’re like me when I first learned this fact, then you’re probably sitting there like - “Oh, please, 6 days. I am smart enough to figure out when those 6 days are and keep myself safe without disrupting my healthy hormonal state!”
I love that about us.
Today, to help you get started, I’m breaking down some of the most popular natural birth control methods and giving you the inside scoop on why I chose to teach and use the Sympto-Thermal Double Check Method.
The Rhythm Method
Let’s get this out of the way. The rhythm method does not work. It is outdated and highly ineffective and has a high accidental pregnancy rate. (Source 2: See below)
The rhythm method attempts to prevent pregnancy by predicting when you will be fertile in your current cycle based on your fertile window in past cycles. Here’s why that doesn’t work…
Your body is not a robot and your menstrual cycle doesn’t run like clockwork. You could ovulate earlier or later this month than last month based on things like stress, diet, supplements, medication, illness, and more. So trying to predict when you will ovulate this month based only on when you ovulated in the past is quite inaccurate.
And yet, unfortunately, this is the method most people (and doctors) think we’re talking about when we say “natural birth control.” But, that’s like saying when people these days talk about common birth control methods, they’re referencing the cervical cap. It’s outdated, not that effective, and irrelevant to modern times.
The Temperature-Only Method
The temperature only method is very effective. It has a efficacy rate of up to 98.8%. (SOURCE)
It involves taking your temperature daily to understand when ovulation has occurred because once you’re able to know that you ovulated, you’re able to know that within 24 hours the egg will die off and it will be impossible for you to conceive until your next cycle begins.
Temperature tells you that you’ve ovulated because progesterone raises your basal body temperature (waking temperature) and is ONLY produced once you ovulate. So temperature before ovulation will be low and temperature after ovulation will be higher due to the presence of progesterone.
The issue with this method is that it requires a long period of abstinence or condom use because it does not allow the user to know when ovulation is going to happen - only after it has happened. So all days leading up to ovulation and your temperature rise AND several days after require abstinence or condom use. Where’s the fun in that?!
The Billings Ovulation Method (aka the Cervical Fluid Method)
The Billings Ovulation Method is also very effective. It has an efficacy rate of up to 97.8%. (SOURCE) It involves tracking daily cervical fluid secretions to understand when ovulation is GOING TO happen and when it likely ended.
Each month prior to ovulation, follicles in your ovaries begin to mature and release estrogen. This increase in estrogen triggers your body to make cervical fluid to allow for better sperm mobility and longer sperm lifespan to increase the chances of pregnancy once ovulation occurs. A woman can notice this production of cervical fluid by touching her vaginal opening daily.
In the presence of this high estrogen cervical fluid slowly transitions from dry or sticky to more fertile wet and runny, then cloudy and stretchy, then ultimately clear, slippery and the consistency of raw egg-whites --- this egg-white like cervical fluid is the most fertile type of fluid and is the type of fluid most commonly associated with ovulation and fertility.
Once ovulation has occurred the production of progesterone begins which dries up fertile-type cervical fluid and signals to us that ovulation has occurred and we will be out of our fertile window in a few days.
((Insider Scoop - This is the first-ever natural birth control method that I used. I used a combination of self-teaching and a 60 minute coaching session with a Billings Method Instructor back in 2013. I used this method effectively on its own for about 5 years!)
The Sympto-Thermal Single Check Method
The Sympto-Thermal Single Check Method is the method popularized by Toni Weschler and her book Taking Charge Of Your Fertility. This book is a must-read.
This method works by combining both the temperature method and the cervical fluid method. The user uses cervical fluid readings to open their fertile window and a temperature peak plus sustained high temperatures to close their fertile window. Thus allowing for unprotected intercourse both before and after the ovulation. This method enhances the efficacy of the cervical fluid only method by confirming fertile window close using the temperature method.
The issue with this method is that it relies only on one cycle tracking rule to open and close the fertile window, which may - in some cases - allow for opening the window too late or closing the window too early. That is why I choose to teach an even more advanced version of this method called...
The Sympto-Thermal Double Check Method
The Sympto-Thermal Double Check Method is highly effective AND allows for unprotected intercourse both before and after ovulation. It enhances the efficacy of the single check method because it requires the application of two tracking rules for both opening and closing fertile window.
For example: For opening the fertile window users use BOTH cervical fluid readings and the earliest potential date of ovulation based on previous cycles to determine the last day after menstruation that they can have unprotected intercourse and not get pregnant -- rather than ONLY relying on cervical fluid readings. Users also must observe BOTH a cervical fluid peak and temperature peak and apply associated rules in order to close their fertile window.
Because of the application of two tracking rules for borth opening and closing the fertile window the Sympto-Thermal Double Check Method is up to 99.5% effective with proper use! That’s the same as the pill! (SOURCE)
That’s right - there’s a natural birth control method that is just as effective as the pill with proper use AND it allows for you to have sex without condoms or back-up methods! This might just be the best kept (and most genuinely infuriating!) secret I’ve ever come across. Am I right?
So - whenever you hear my talk about “natural birth control” I am always talking about the Sympto-Thermal Double Check Method unless I say otherwise - because, well, it’s safe, effective, and down-right life-changing!
Here’s what some of my clients had to say about it…
“Since working with Brandy I’ve learned more about my cycle than I have in the other 25 years of my life! Before working with Brandy I was so in the dark about how suppressed my hormones were which was affecting SO much in my life - things that weren’t even related to my cycle. Now I’m preventing pregnancy by simply tracking my cycle and have been able to go off of hormonal birth control for the first time since high school!” - Alicia, VT
“Before I started working with Brandy on cycle tracking, I honestly didn’t think I could do it! I had read all the books and done all the “right” things to harness the power of my cycle but it all seemed so complex. Within our first few weeks together, Brandy helped me to learn how to properly track my cycle!” - Allison, VT
Want to learn more about how you can work with me too? Head to my work with me page to learn all about my natural birth control coaching offerings (and more!)
Disclaimer: The information presented here is NOT enough to begin using natural birth control methods of pregnancy prevention. It is always recommended that you work with a trained instructor. Brandy Oswald is not a doctor or medical provider and cannot give medical advice or provide any information concerning the diagnosis or treatment of any health condition. She also does not guarantee the efficacy of any birth control method. The information provided by Brandy Oswald and Do It Naturally is of a general nature and is intended only for educational purposes to help with your personal health improvement goals and should not be relied on as medical advice. Always consult a physician with any health concerns and prior to changing your diet, lifestyle, supplements, or prescription medicine routine. Should you choose to use the information provided by Brandy Oswald it is of your own volition and you recognize that neither Brandy nor Do It Naturally is held liable for any intended or unintended outcomes.
I hereby WAIVE AND RELEASE Brandy Oswald and Do It Naturally LLC from any claim, demand, cause of action of any kind resulting from or related to my participation in reading her blog articles, classes, workshops, and all service offerings provided by Brandy and Do It Naturally. I understand and acknowledge that I am fully responsible for any and all risks, injuries, or damages, known or unknown, which might occur as a result of my participation.
Source 1: https://www.nfpta.org.uk/faq/
"The ovum lives 24 hours but is only fertilisable for 12 of those 24 hours.
The sperm live 5-6 days in a welcoming environment.
This is a joint fertility of 6-7 days."
Source 2: https://www.tcoyf.com/fertility-info/
"The Fertility Awareness Method is NOT the Rhythm Method. The Rhythm Method is nothing more than an obsolete, ineffective guessing game that uses past cycles to predict future fertility. The Fertility Awareness Method, on the other hand, is a scientifically-validated, effective, and natural method that involves charting three primary fertility signs on a daily basis, so that a woman’s fertility can be accurately determined."