These days, there are tons of options for birth control — but one of them doesn't spend as much time in the spotlight as others. Natural rhythm methods (you may have heard it called fertility awareness) is a lesser known option for birth control, and it could be the one you've been searching for.
Drs. Daniel Esteves and Tania Lugo are dedicated to giving you the best information on all of your birth control options and walking alongside you as you decide which is best for you. In this blog, we take a closer look at what the natural rhythm method has to offer.
What is the rhythm method?
On paper, the rhythm method is simple: You keep track of your fertility throughout your menstrual cycle and avoid having sex during ovulation (the days when you're most fertile). During ovulation, your ovaries release an egg, and sperm can fertilize it at any time shortly before, during, or after.
The effectiveness of the rhythm method depends on a few different factors, such as:
- How regular your cycle is
- How reliably you can predict ovulation
- The tools you use to predict ovulation
You can use a few different methods to calculate your “safe days.” Most women begin by pinpointing when they ovulate. Usually, this happens around day 14 of your menstrual cycle, but everyone is different, so it's important to get to know your body and your cycles.
Even if you have regular cycles and predictable ovulation days, you can still track specific body signals, including your basal body temperature and cervical fluid.
Your basal body temperature elevates once ovulation is over. If you take your temperature at the same time every morning and watch for this slight increase, you'll know it's safe to have sex. Similarly, you can monitor your cervical fluid (discharge). The fluid becomes more watery during your fertile days, like egg whites. You can also buy ovulation tests at your local drugstore.
Sometimes, an app on your smartphone can help you keep track, but remember that the app uses an algorithm to predict your fertility. It's best to use a few different tracking methods if you're going all-in on the rhythm method.
Compared with other types of birth control, this type of natural family planning has many advantages. The rhythm method:
- Doesn't come with any side effects
- Doesn't require that you take medication
- Doesn't require doctor appointments or prescriptions
- Is inexpensive and accessible
Bonus: The rhythm method may help you get more in tune with your menstrual cycle, help you get pregnant more quickly down the road, and/or expose a lack of ovulation, which can indicate an underlying condition, such as polycystic ovary syndrome.
Most will tell you that the biggest drawback to rhythm methods is that it's not as reliable as other methods, especially if your menstrual cycles vary from month to month. You also have to be extremely diligent — unlike other methods, all of the work lands on you and how careful you are.
For instance, if you're tracking ovulation by taking your basal temperature, you may find it challenging to stick to this method and get an accurate reading if you find yourself getting up at night or at different times in the morning.
The ideal candidate
So, who does the rhythm method work for? The good news is that virtually anyone can try it, but a few things make you an ideal candidate. It's an excellent option for you if you:
- Can tolerate a higher risk of pregnancy
- Are willing to use a backup method of contraception if necessary
- Have regular menstrual cycles
- Are willing to commit to learning and tracking your cycles
- Don't need to use barrier methods to prevent STIs
- Have religious objections to birth control
- Don't want to take medications
- Are looking for a more natural approach
If you're worried about your ability to get pregnant in the future, you may consider the rhythm method since it doesn't add a variable to any potential fertility issues.
The bottom line
The rhythm method was created on the idea that all or most women have menstrual cycles that are consistently 28 days and relied on women counting days on a calendar. Now, there are many ways you can track your fertility based on your unique cycle's duration, making it a more viable option. We recommend the rhythm method to any woman who is committed to learning more about her body and to preventing pregnancy in a more natural way.
There are more options for birth control than you may realize — and we want to help you find the one that works best for you. Call or click to schedule an appointment at our Lawrenceville, Georgia, office today.