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Unwanted pregnancy: natural methods UNWANTED PREGNANCY: NATURAL METHODS
Using the onset of bleeding as day 1 and the day prior to the onset of bleeding as the last day of the cycle, map out your cycles for eight months. Find the longest and shortest and work out the times of ovulation in both cycles. This occurs fourteen days before the first day of bleeding in any one cycle. So if your cycle is 28-32 days long you will ovulate at some point on days 14-18 in any one month. Allow four days either side for safety. This means (continuing the example-the days will differ for different individuals) that you are unsafe from day 10 to day 21 in any month. Outside this time span you are probably safe.
• Costs nothing.
• Gets around religious prohibitions on using 'artificial' methods of birth control.
• No medical side-effects.
• Makes couples more aware of the woman's reproductive cycle and the functioning of her body.
• Leads to couples finding alternatives to penis-in-vagina sex.
• Very unreliable.
• Needs constant checking of cycle lengths to be sure that they are not changing.
• Rules out penis-in-vagina sex for twelve days a month unless you are absolutely regular. Couples who don't like making love during the woman's period will add at least four days during menstruation to this, making half the month either unsafe or unsuitable.
• Constant worry about timing can be unpleasant for both partners and probably leads to less sex overall.
A method which combines the taking of the woman's daily body temperature and an awareness of the state of her fertility cycle through charting her cervical mucus condition. The method is complicated to do well and needs practice. In principle it works as follows:
When the cervical mucus is relatively thick and cloudy in the early days of a cycle it may be safe to have sex unless your cycle is very short.
As the mucus becomes slippery, thin and clear, ovulation is about to occur. As soon as the mucus appears to stop being thick and cloudy stop having unprotected sex. Avoid intercourse until three full days after the 'peak' of slippery mucus. Obviously, this takes some experience at judging.
The safest time for sex using this method is from the fourth day after the peak slippery mucus day until the first day of a period.
• Costs nothing.
• Good for religious groups for whom contraception is prohibited.
• No medical side-effects.
• Makes a woman (and her partner) much more aware of her reproductive cycle and the functioning of her body.
• Encourages the use of methods of love-making other than penis-in-vagina intercourse.
• Unsafe. Studies have shown that in the best hands the reliability can be near to that of the diaphragm but this can only be achieved by restricting sex to a relatively few days of the month.
• As with the calendar method, travel, illness, drugs, stress infections and so on can all affect cycle length and so throw off the calculations. Women with irregular cycles find such methods tricky too.
• As with the calendar method, many days every month are unsafe, and others may be regarded as unsuitable because of menstruation. This can suit the couple with a low sex drive very well but for others it means using alternative methods of love-making, many or all of which are unacceptable to some.
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