Family Planning 101: Natural Methods

Family Planning 101

We know that choosing the right family planning method can be overwhelming. Not only are there lots of methods to choose from, but they all accomplish the same thing — reducing risk of pregnancy — in very different ways! Nivi is here to help you learn about the various methods available to you, and select one that fits you, your partner, and your lifestyle. That’s why we’ve created a series of blog posts about the different kinds of contraceptive methods and when they’re used: immediate, short-term, long term, permanent, and natural.


So, are you ready to see what methods are out there? Keep scrolling!



Natural Methods

Maybe other types of contraceptive methods scare you. Maybe you’d rather not risk anyone finding out that you’re trying to prevent pregnancy. Maybe you just don’t have access to other methods we talk about. Whatever your reason may be: it’s okay. There are ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy without modern, medical methods. They aren’t as effective, but they’ll reduce your risk.


Withdrawal Method
(AKA the Pull-Out Method)

Of all natural methods, the withdrawal method is the simplest. The meaning is right there in the name! It’s called the “withdrawal” method because that’s what a man does during sex—he withdraws from, or pulls out of, a woman’s vagina before he climaxes. In other words, he “finishes” anywhere but inside you. That can mean on you, on the sheets, or into a tissue—it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s nowhere near your privates!


Pros:

  • Like other natural methods, it’s beneficial when you can’t use modern, clinical methods due to pressure from your partner or family, or because it’s hard to get to a clinic or healthcare provider

  • It’s easy to understand and simpler than other natural methods

  • It can be done any time—whether you’re using another contraceptive method or not

Cons:

  • Sometimes it requires cleaning up after

  • It requires a LOT of trust (the male partner is completely in control)

  • Because sperm can be released from the penis during sex as well as a climax, it’s still risky; and not as effective as modern, clinical methods

  • It does not protect either partner against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)


The Rhythm Method
(AKA The Calendar Method)

If you’re a woman and you get regular periods, there are a few days a month when you’re less likely to get pregnant. The rhythm method, also known as the calendar method, takes advantage of those days by encouraging sex ONLY then, and at no other time of the month. That’s right—you make a schedule for sex! If day 1 is the day your period begins, then the rhythm method says you can have sex on days 1-7 and 20+ (when you’re less likely to be fertile and therefore less likely to become pregnant), and you avoid sex on days 8 to 19 (when you’re more likely to be fertile).


Pros:

  • Like other natural methods, it’s beneficial when you can’t use modern, clinical methods due to pressure from your partner or family, or because it’s hard to get to a clinic or healthcare provider

  • It can be done any time—whether you’re using another contraceptive method or not

Cons:

  • Every woman is different! Which means every woman’s period is different, and every woman’s fertile days are different. So just because one woman isn’t likely to get pregnant on days 8-19 doesn’t mean you aren’t likely to get pregnant on days 8-19

  • It’s risky, and not as effective as modern, clinical methods

  • It does not protect either partner against STIs


Lactational amenorrhea
(AKA breastfeeding)

Women who have given birth in the past 6 months and have breastfed since giving birth—at least 4 hours every day and 6 hours every night—and don’t use anything other than breastmilk to feed their baby do not ovulate. Ovulation is when the ovary releases an egg so it can be fertilized by a man’s sperm; so, if a woman doesn’t ovulate, it means she cannot get pregnant. It’s important to know that a woman who is not ovulating will also not get a period. So, if you get periods after giving birth, even if you only bleed as few as two days, you’re probably also ovulating (and can therefore become pregnant). .


Pros:

  • When done absolutely perfectly, this method can be nearly as effective as modern, clinical methods

  • It’s pretty easy to do (“Have you given birth? Just breastfeed a lot!”)

  • Like other natural methods, it’s beneficial when you can’t use modern, clinical methods due to pressure from your partner or family, or because it’s hard to get to a clinic or healthcare provider

  • It can be done any time—whether you’re using another contraceptive method or not

Cons:

  • It can only be used for the first 6 months of a new baby’s life

  • Women can become pregnant as soon as 1 month after giving birth, whether they’re using this method or not!

  • It requires breastfeeding a lot—something not all women are able to do (because they don’t make enough milk, their baby has trouble latching on to drink, or they have jobs or home responsibilities that keep them from breastfeeding as much as they need to)

  • Women who give their babies formula (even if they also breastfeed) cannot use this method as reliable birth control

  • It’s risky, and not as effective as modern, clinical methods

  • It does not protect either partner against STIs


 

Want to learn which method is right for you, and where to get it? Have other questions about sex, STIs, and contraception? Remember you can chat with Nivi on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger any time. It’s private, confidential, and free!


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