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Natural Contraception

Natural contraception involves various natural and non-medical methods to avoid pregnancy.

Natural contraception methods include:

  • Fertility awareness 

  • Withdrawal method

  • Lactational amenorrhoea

Fertility Awareness Method

How does it work?


Fertility awareness involves noting signs of fertility during your menstrual cycle to calculate when you are most likely to become pregnant.


This can include:

  • Measuring your body temperature

  • The length of your menstrual cycle

  • Cervical mucus


Oestrogen and progesterone can cause changes in your body temperature during your menstrual cycle.

After ovulation, your temperature is slightly higher.

You should measure your temperature with a digital thermometer every morning when you get out of bed.

It should be done at the same time everyday and before you eat or drink anything.

The fertile period is likely over if you have 3 readings in a row which are slightly higher than the previous readings.

Cervical Mucus

Your cervical mucus changes in quantity and texture during your menstrual cycle due to hormonal changes.

Cervical mucus can be checked by inserting a clean finger into your vagina or inspecting your underwear.

Shortly after your period, there will be no mucus and the vagina will be dry.

At the start of the fertile period, a sticky and cloudy white mucus is produced.

Just before ovulation the mucus becomes clear and wet and becomes thicker again after ovulation.

Menstrual cycle

This method involves recording the first day of your period on a calendar and calculating the number of days between each period to find out your cycle length.

The menstrual cycle lasts 28 days on average but can last between 21 and 40 days.

Measure your cycle lengths for at least 1 year (12 months) to ensure an accurate calculation. Subtract 20 days from your shortest cycle to calculate the first fertile day.

The fertile period usually lasts around 8-9 days.

Who can use it?

Fertility awareness can be used by the majority of women.


However, it may not be suitable if you:

  • Have irregular periods

  • Are unwell

How effective is it?

Fertility awareness can be up to 99% effective if used perfectly and depending on the method used. In reality, it is around 76% effective with typical use.


There are advantages to using fertility awareness such as:


  • Increased awareness of your fertility

  • There are usually no medical side effects

  • There is little to no cost involved


The disadvantages of fertility awareness include:


  • Planning and organisation is needed

  • It can take a while to learn how to use this method

  • Sex must be avoided or other contraception used during the fertile period

  • Lack of protection against STIs and HIV

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Withdrawal Method

How does it work?

The withdrawal method also known as 'pulling out' is when the penis is removed from the vagina before ejaculation to prevent semen entering the vagina.


How effective is it?

The withdrawal method is approximately 78% effective.



The withdrawal method has its advantages such as:


  • There are no medical side effects

  • It is free to use



The disadvantages of the withdrawal method include:

  • Lack of prevention against STIs

  • Pre-ejaculate can contain semen so it is not a reliable contraceptive method

  • Can be difficult to withdraw in time

  • Requires trust in your partner

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Lactational Amenorrhoea

How does it work?

Lactational amenorrhoea is when ovulation stops due to exclusive breastfeeding after childbirth.

This means that your period will stop and you are less likely to become pregnant.


How long does it last?


This only works for 6 months after birth or until your period returns.


How effective is it?


Lactational amenorrhoea can be up to 98% effective is used perfectly and for the correct duration. 



Lactational amenorrhoea has its advantages such as:

  • No interruption to sex

  • No medical side effects

  • It is free to use

  • It also benefits your baby/babies



The disadvantages of lactational amenorrhoea include:


  • Lack of prevention against STIs

  • It can be very difficult to exclusively breastfeed

  • It only lasts for up to 6 months or until your first period after childbirth

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