Methods of Natural Family Planning – classification:
The methods of Natural Family Planning can be classified according to the number of fertility indicators used by the method :
- (A) those methods that use more than one fertility indicator.
- (B) those methods that use just one fertility indicator.
(A) Natural Family Planning Methods using more than one fertility indicator:
The symptothermal methods of natural family planning use a combination of fertility indicators usually ‘cervical mucus’ and ‘basal body temperature (BBT)’ with or without other fertility indicators to define the beginning and end of the fertile phase. The ‘symptothermal double-check method’, (multiple index method), which is taught by the Natural Family Planning Teachers’ Association of Ireland (NFPTAI) uses two indicators of fertility, (‘cervical mucus’ and the ‘calendar rule’, whichever comes first), to identify the beginning of the fertile phase, and two indicators of fertility, (‘cervical mucus’ and ‘Basal Body Temperature’, whichever comes last), to signal the end of the fertile phase.
Initially the woman will be taught to observe all indicators (including palpation of the cervix), during the learning phase and from this initial combination, the woman can tailor the method to her particular circumstance by using the two indicators that are more convenient for her to mark the beginning and the end of the fertile phase. The following two fertility indicators ‘palpation of the cervix’ and the ‘calculation rule’ (‘calendar rule’) are never used alone, but only in combination with the ‘basal body temperature (BBT)’ and/or the ”cervical mucus’ indicators.
(B) Natural Family Planning Methods using just one fertility indicator:
There are two methods of natural family planning that use just a single fertility indicator:
- (i) The ‘Ovulation Method’
- (ii) The ‘Temperature Method’.
(i) Ovulation Method:
The ‘Ovulation Method’ also known as ‘Billings Method’ or the ‘Cervical Mucus Method’ uses cervical mucus observations at the vulva as a single fertility indicator to define the beginning and end of the fertile phase. The ‘Ovulation Method’ of natural family planning is widely used throughout the world. (For the ‘Ovulation Method’ in Ireland see webpage www.naomi.ie )
(ii) Temperature Method:
The Temperature Method is a single index method of Natural Family Planning using the basal body temperature as the fertility indicator. Couples wishing to avoid pregnancy are advised to restrict intercourse to the post-ovulatory phase, (i.e. the definitely infertile phase as defined by the RULES of the Temperature Method; the ‘definitely infertile phase’ is so called because the ovum is dead and no further ovulation will occur in that cycle).The Temperature Method is a highly efficient method of avoiding pregnancy but is used less often nowadays as it can only be applied to the post-ovulation phase, i.e. it can only detect the end of the fertile phase, and for this reason long periods of abstinence may be required.
Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM):
LAM is a Method of natural family planning which applies only to a particular situation, i.e. after childbirth, and it can only be applied for a limited period of time.1,2
- Perez, A. Labbok, MH. Queenan JT. ‘Clinical study of the Lactational Amenorrhoea Method for family planning’; Lancet 1992; 339; 968-70
- Kennedy KI, Rivewra, R. McNeilly AS.; ‘Consensus Statement on the use of breastfeeding as a family planning method’; Contraception, 1989; 39 (5): 477-496
To be most effective, the woman must be taught the Symptothermal Double-Check Method of Natural Family Planning by a qualified natural family planning teacher.