Fertility awareness methods have been around for centuries, long before hormonal methods of contraception like the birth control pill, patch, IUD, and Nuvaring were invented. Today, there are still some people who say monitoring their fertility is still a sufficient method to prevent pregnancy. There are even smartphone apps that claim to simplify the process for couples by recording data about a person’s monthly cycle and their basal body temperature.
However, the effectiveness of these methods can be questionable. Mayo Clinic reports that 24 of every 100 couples using this approach will wind up pregnant within the first year of trying it.
Dr. Minkin said that the reason why fertility awareness isn’t the strongest approach to prevent pregnancy is that a person’s menstrual cycle length can vary from month to month and that the exact day the egg is released from the ovary can be late or early. This makes it difficult to figure out exactly when a person is ovulating.
She told INSIDER, “In general, you ovulate about 14 days before you get your next period. If you have a 28 day period, then you’re ovulating around day 14; counting the date of your period as Day 1 of your cycle…let’s say somebody’s shortest cycle is 21 days and their longest is 35. She’s probably ovulating anywhere from day 11 to day 21. You could be very cautious and say you’re not having sex from day nine to day 23 if you want to be super safe.”
Dr. Minkin added that fertility awareness apps might be great for monogamous couples who wouldn’t mind getting pregnant, but for anyone who is deliberately trying to avoid pregnancy, they definitely should not rely on this method alone.
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