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What is the best natural family planning method?
Last month I shared three methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP), also known has Fertility Awareness, that I have used: Sympto-Thermal (STM), Creighton, and Justisse. These are just three of the many methods of charting your cycle that are available. So how do you find which is best for you?
Get as much information as possible
Mucus-only methods are great for those who are limited in how much information they are able to obtain about their cycles. However, it can be hard to confirm ovulation with these methods. Temperature-only methods also exist, but I do not recommend these for fertility awareness.
The more information you can get about your cycles, the better. This includes mucus, temperature, cervix, and any secondary symptoms you experience throughout your cycle. Sympto-Thermal, Fertility Awareness Method, Justisse, and others will teach you how to interpret all of these symptoms together.
If you are not able to get all of these information about your cycle, don’t give up hope!
Are your temperatures consistent?
This point will make or break whether methods like Fertility Awareness Method and Sympto-Thermal will work for you. It is recommended that you get at least 3 hours of sleep before you take your basal body temperature and that you take it at about the same time every day.
Some people’s basal temperature will be more sensitive to changes in routines than others. Those with newborns not sleeping through the night, who do shift work, or for any reason do not get a solid night of sleep may struggle to see clear shifts in their temperatures after ovulation. There are a few possible work-arounds, or these people can simple rely on a mucus only method, such as Creighton Model or Billings Ovulation Method.
Those with reproductive health problems such as PCOS should also look into the Creighton Model. Its connection with NaProTechnology will allow you to work with doctors and learn about the options that are available to you beyond hormonal birth control.
What is your budget?
What I love about NFP is that is it free. I bought a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility in order to self-teach myself the Fertility Awareness Method – less than $20. Many Catholic churches offer free STM classes to couples. Creighton Model classes, which include an introductory class and individual follow ups with a teacher, are quite affordable compared to a lifetime of birth control. There is also sliding scale financing available. Once you learn how to chart your cycles, there is no ongoing cost at all to use it for either birth control or to help achieve a pregnancy.
For those with room in their budget, they may enjoy the added confirmation of using fertility monitors like Lady Comp or ClearBlue. I personally have no experience with these methods, and then tend to only be reliable for those with regular cycles. If you choose to use a method with a fertility monitor (like Marquett), this must be done in conjunction with tracking additional fertility signs to ensure accuracy and safety.
Which natural family planning method do I use?
Having a baby right now is not an option for me, and we are on a very tight budget. For this reason, I track as many symptoms as thoroughly as I can, and I do all of my own interpretation rather than relying on a device. Justisse is my primary method, but I have made it my own. I really enjoy using the Creighton charting, while also tracking the addition STM symptoms, and using the Justisse color coding.
However, the Justisse charts did not work for me: the temperatures are in Celsius and too high for me. The chart is only 35 days long, and my cycles are frequently between 35-40 days; it’s a waste of paper to chart the last three days of my cycle on a new sheet. I missed a few places for recording information from my TCOYF charts.
When you have found the best charting method for yourself, and have experience interpreting your charting, you may choose to take the route I did: I created my own charts. It is actually quite simple with a bit of Excel knowledge! For an example of what this looks like and what you can do by creating your own, feel free to check out my chart:
Next week I’ll be sharing my favorite apps for charting my cycle. Stay tuned!
Do you use natural family planning? What method do you use?
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