Birth Control Part 4 -Fertility Awareness

Occasionally, folks may have issues with hormonal methods of birth control. Weight fluctuations, mood swings, physical discomforts are just some of the reasons why someone would choose to forego the hormonal methods and barrier methods may be cumbersome for others. In these instances, choosing to use a “rhythm method” that is based on the body’s natural fertility signs, and are effective for many families.

Lactational Amenorrhea Method

The Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is a modern, temporary birth control that has been developed to help support both breastfeeding and family planning use. Used in the first 6 months postpartum by exclusively breastfeeding individuals, it is based on the natural infertility resulting from certain patterns of breastfeeding.

The LAM method relies on the following three criteria.

  • Menstruation has not returned beyond the first 8 weeks.
  • The baby is fed on demand. At least every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night exclusively from the breast. No supplements of any kind are given.
  • The baby is less than 6 months old.

The demands on the nursing parent’s body, associated with the LAM method work by preventing ovulation.

It is important to note that the LAM method should not be used to prevent pregnancy if the nursing parent is having spotting or has had a menstrual cycle before 8 weeks post birth.

It is also important to note that ovulation happens before menstruation. So it is possible for a nursing parent using the LAM method to become pregnant before they have their first post-birth menstrual cycle.


Natural family planning (or “fertility awareness method”) is a method of contraception where a woman monitors and records different fertility signals during her menstrual cycle to work out when she’s likely to get pregnant. Conversely, this method can also be used to plan conception as well. The book, “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” has been used for decades to help people learn how to begin noticing these fertility signs and begin tracking them.

There are 3 different fertility signals you can monitor and record for natural family planning.

  • the length of your menstrual cycle
  • daily readings of your body temperature
  • changes to your cervical secretions (cervical mucus)

It’s best to record these measures together to give you a more accurate picture of when you’re likely to be most fertile.

  • If natural family planning is followed correctly, it can be up to 99% effective. This means that 1 woman in 100 who use natural family planning will get pregnant in 1 year.
  • It is less effective if the instructions aren’t carefully followed.
  • There are no physical side effects, and you can use it to plan when you get pregnant.
  • You have to keep a daily record of your fertility signals, such as your temperature and the fluids coming from your cervix – it takes 3 to 6 menstrual (monthly) cycles to learn the method.
  • Your fertility signals can be affected by illness, stress and travel.
  • If you want to have sex during the time when you might get pregnant, you’ll need to use contraception, such as a condom, diaphragm or cap.
  • By using condoms as well as natural family planning, you’ll help to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Regardless of the method you choose, its ok to change your mind if you find its not working for you anymore.

    Our next and final post will discuss permanent methods of birth control. The permanent methods may *occasionally reversed if one chooses to have more children, but it is not always successful. Stay tuned!


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