Natural family planning, fertility awareness, natural birth control, FAB, FAM - chances are you have heard these terms thrown around and may only have a vague idea of what they mean. All of these are terms used to describe basically the same thing - a set of practices that enable a woman to plan or prevent pregnancy by identifying when she is fertile during her cycle.

Some people consider "natural family planning" to be a term specific to family planning methods that are advocated by the Catholic Church. And a few go even further and define it as a way only to conceive children. But most people consider natural family planning to be a broader term that can be used interchangeably with fertility awareness, natural birth control, etc.

So what are the different natural family planning methods?

There are two kinds of natural family planning methods: calendar-based and symptoms-based.

Calendar-based family planning methods rely on tracking a woman's cycle and identifying her fertile days based on the lengths of her cycles. By far the easiest to use and most effective of these methods is the Standard Days Method which is based on a fixed formula. It is designed for women with cycles between 26 and 32 days long, and identifies the fertile days as days 8 through 19 of a woman's cycle. It is used with a visual tool such as CycleBeads® or software applications such as iCycleBeads, and is more than 95% effective at preventing pregnancy. 

Symptoms-based family planning methods rely on identifying physical symptoms that are signs that a woman may be in her fertile window. They involve tracking a woman's temperature and/or mucus secretions. These methods include the TwoDay Method, the Sympto-Thermal Method, the Ovulation Method, and the Billings Method.

To prevent pregnancy while using a fertility awareness-based method, a couple uses a barrier method such as a condom or diaphragm, or abstains from intercourse during a woman's fertile days.

Posted in: Birth Control Options, Fertility Awareness, Natural Birth Control

Tags: natural family planning, natural birth control, fertility awareness, NFP, FAM, FAB, natural methods, Standard Days Method, calendar based family planning methods, symptoms based family planning methods, the TwoDay Method, Billings Method, Symptothermal Method, Ovulation Method, fertile days

1 comment for "Natural Family Planning, NFP, Fertility Awareness - What Does It All Mean?"

SuzyKnew says:

Yes, you're right that cyclebeads are often associated with practicing Catholics who follow the church's teaching against contraception; but, as you indicate, they are also a good family planning method for women who want a natural option. is dedicated to improving women's reproductive health.


Comments are closed for this post.