Fertility Awareness Method

What is it?

The fertility awareness method (FAM) is a way of tracking a someone’s menstrual cycle on a daily basis to determine when they are fertile. FAM can be used either as a method of contraception (by avoiding unprotected vaginal sex during fertile periods) or as a means of encouraging pregnancy (by participating in vaginal intercourse during fertile periods).

How does FAM work?

FAM works by preventing sperm from reaching an egg. This is done by not having intercourse around the time of ovulation.

There are a few different ways to track the time of ovulation.

  • Temperature Method: Take your temperature every day when you wake up. Take your temperature before you do anything else as movement can impact your temperature. When your temperature slightly rises for at least three days, you have just ovulated.
  • Cervical Mucus Method: Check your cervical mucus (or vaginal discharge) every day. Generally, when the cervical mucus is clear and slippery like egg whites, you are most fertile, and when the cervical mucus is a white/yellow colour and cloudy like cream, you are less fertile.
  • The Calendar Method: Tracks your menstrual cycle over several months in order to predict your most fertile days. Contact Planned Parenthood Ottawa for more detailed instructions on this method.
  • If you are preventing pregnancy, you should avoid unprotected vaginal sex during your fertile period:
    • 5 days before ovulation
    • 3 days after ovulation

How much does it cost?

Free, unless you don’t have a digital thermometer. These cost about $15.

How effective is it?

About 76% effective with typical use.

Does it reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections?

No, it does not reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Reasons someone might choose this method of birth control

  • It’s free
  • No side effects
  • Both partners can be involved, and it may promote communication between partners

Reasons someone might not choose this method of birth control

  • Can interrupt sex
  • Requires lots of practice
  • Ovulation can be affected by stress, diet changes, etc.

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