Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)
Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM)
FAM, Rhythm Method, Calendar Method, Period Tracking
75% typical; 99% perfect
Affordable, non-hormonal, easily reversible, no script required, effective for planning pregnancy.
Highly user dependent, ovulation is highly variable between women and affected by many external factors, higher unplanned pregnancy rate compared to other methods.
How do the Fertility Awareness Methods work?
Fertility Awareness is a way of monitoring when ovulation occurs and making sure you only have unprotected intercourse on the days when you aren’t at risk of becoming pregnant, based on your ovulation cycle and sperm survival rates.
Since sperm can remain active for up to 7 days, this means that you can become pregnant for around 8-9 days before ovulation, and 3 days after ovulation has finished. This means you could be fertile for around a week each month. Using FAM means not having sex during those days, or ensuring that you’re using another method of birth control if you do.
Since every person’s cycle is different and can be affected by factors such as illness, stress or travel, fertility awareness requires a commitment to monitoring daily changes and symptoms of the cycle. If your cycle does change, it’s really important to watch this, as it does make it harder to work out when the fertile window is and creates a greater risk of sperm being in the body when a viable egg is present.
Tip: There are a number of Fertility Awareness apps available. Try and choose one that requires you to monitor your basal temperature as well as the level of cervical mucous, these will be the most effective.
Some other things to keep in mind when choosing an app.
- DON’T include anything you wouldn’t want an advertiser to know about.
- DON’T rely just on a period tracker to help avoid pregnancy. If you can use another form of contraception, you should also use that. If your periods are very regular, apps can help you work out the days that are safer to have sex.
- DO use your period tracker as a tool to talk to your health care provider. If you see you’re having irregular periods, bring that information to your practitioner to find out why.
How do I use the Fertility Awareness Methods?
There are a few different methods of fertility awareness. You can use them individually, but it’s more effective to combine them all into what’s called the “symptothermal” method.
Method 1: The Calendar Method. This involves keeping track of your period and ovulation on a calendar. You need to do this for 6 cycles to accurately determine the length of your cycle, and if you find that it’s shorter than 27 days the method is not compatible with your cycle.
Method 2: The Standard Days Method. This is a variation on the calendar method and is only really a good option if your cycle is extremely regular (i.e. never shorter than 26 days, never longer than 32 days). People using this method don’t have unprotected sex during days 8 to 19 of their cycle.
Method 3: The Temperature Method. Every morning, before you do literally anything else, you need to check your temperature. You need to track your temperature for 3 cycles to work out what your temperature fluctuations are. After ovulation, your body temperature will rise by a few degrees, which will help to predict your fertility periods.
Method 4: The Cervical Mucous Method (AKA The Ovulation Method). This method requires you to keep track of your vaginal discharge and cervical mucous levels on a fertility chart. You need to chart at least one full cycle, to work out the changes in colour, texture, smell and volume that help to determine when you’re ovulating and fertile.