My experience with natural contraception and no, this is not the rhythm method!
Firstly, I wish they taught natural contraception in school. This information seems to be kept out of the mainstream as if every single girl is too irresponsible to know her body. Just dish out the pills and be over it! Even if this is not used for contraception, it is still very important for girls to know about their body and not to be scared about what is going on inside our vaginas.
For the Natural Family planning, there are three things that I have to do: check my cervix, measure my Basal temperature and check my vaginal mucus.
Checking my cervix: Yes, sticking your fingers up the vaginal opening and finding the cervix. For the first time, I learnt exactly what the cervix was and diagrams of the female reproductive organ seemed much clearer now.
Measuring my basal temp: who knew the basal temperature changes for different reasons. The temperature is done first thing in the morning before getting up and fully waking. It can change when you having a period and ovulating, also if you’ve had a night out.
Checking the vaginal mucus: as gross as this sounds, it’s another way to learn about my body.!
This is a description of what is done:-
- Body temperature. This typically rises slightly when you ovulate and remains higher until your next period. There are many factors that can upset this, such as illness, and taking medicines (like paracetamol, which can lower your temperature). However, if you take your temperature before getting out of bed each morning, a pattern usually emerges. This will show you when ovulation has occurred. Computerised thermometers are also available which work by combining information about the length of your menstrual cycle and temperature.
- Secretions from the neck of the womb (cervix). These change throughout the menstrual cycle:
- Just after a period, there is not much secretion and the vagina is dry for a few days.
- About eight days before ovulation, the secretions become more moist, sticky, and cloudy.
- Four days before ovulation the secretions become wet, clear, slippery and stretchy (like egg white).
- A day or so after ovulation the secretions dry up again until after the next period.
So by observing the changes in your secretions, you can predict the 7-8 days before ovulation.
- Cycle length. Ovulation usually occurs 12-16 days before a period. If your cycle is very regular then this may help to predict ovulation.
- Ovulation prediction kits. These are devices that you can buy from a pharmacy. There are two types of ovulation prediction kits. They both measure hormone levels. One measures them in your urine and the other measures them in your saliva.