Fertility Awareness: Costs, How To Use
Fertility Awareness-based methods—and tracking your body’s natural rhythm—take time and commitment, but they don’t cost a lot.
- Thermometer: You can get one in the $10 range at any grocery, drug, or super-store—just make sure it reads to the tenth decimal place. For those seeking to prevent pregnancy through means other than fertility awareness, The Right Time health centers stock all methods of contraception and offer free or low-cost contraception to those who need it.
- Fertility Awareness Chart: Free download one here or here.
- CycleBeads: This is a color-coded string of beads that represents the days of a woman’s cycle and helps her use the Standard Days Method correctly. Available online in regular and deluxe versions, ranging from $10-$25.
- Classes: Free up to $25-100+ per hour depending on where you go. Ask your health care provider or local health center if they know of qualified instructors, or check out the Fertility Awareness Center to find out about workshops in your area. (The center also offers instruction by phone, for a fee.) Some church-based organizations offer free classes, but they may require you to be married or engaged and want you to skip sex (rather than use another method) during your fertile times.
- Barrier Method: Depends on what method you choose (you’ll need this only if you choose to have sex during your fertile time of the month).
How To Use
Fertility awareness-based methods come down to this: Track your menstrual cycles and don’t have sex on the days that you can get pregnant; if you do have sex on those days, use an alternate method, like a condom—male or female—or diaphragm.
There are several different methods you can use to track your cycle and ideally you’ll use a combination of them to help with accuracy and success. They all involve observing changes in your body and calculating where you’re at in your menstrual cycle. This takes effort and commitment, so before you decide this is the method for you, be sure you really understand what you’ll need to do. Be prepared not to have sex for at least seven days out of every month. And if you do knock boots on your fertile days, have backup birth control on hand.
Standard Days Method
In order for this one to work for you, your menstrual cycle must be between 26 and 32 days long. This method incorporates CycleBeads, a handy string of colored beads that help you mark off the days of your menstrual cycle and track your fertility. Get more info here.
To get the hang of it, check out the Fertility Awareness Center. It has lots of information including where to find workshops in your area. They can even coach you on this over the phone.
Every day you’ll check to see if you have any cervical secretions. If you notice secretions of any type—today or yesterday—you’ll consider yourself fertile. That means no sex or using an alternative form of birth control if you notice any of your body’s natural goo. Get more info here.
Cervical Mucus Method
Ready to check your goo? This involves monitoring changes in your cervical mucus on a daily basis. This idea is that you can get pregnant from the onset of your secretions (when your goo is clear, stretchy, slippery, and wet) until three days after it stops. Best when used with Symptothermal Method or Standard Days method.
Body Basal Temperature Method (BBT)
You’ll take your temperature every morning before you get out of bed and write it down on a fertility awareness chart. Download one here or here. Best when used with Symptothermal Method or Standard Days Method.
This method predicts fertility by combining more than one of the other Fertility awareness-based methods, most often the Body Basal Temperature Method and Cervical Mucus Method. Get more information here.
There are entire classes you and your partner can take to learn how to use this one, so we’re not going to go into the details here. Churches teach some classes, healthcare professionals teach others.
Lactational Amenhorrea Method
Breastfeeding can be used as a family planning method up to six months after having a baby. For this to work, you have to meet all three of the following criteria:
- No menstrual bleeding since your baby was born.
- You only breastfeed your baby (no other foods or liquids given).
- You feed your baby at least every four hours during the day and every six hours during the night.