Family planning is an important conversation for any couple. Whether you and your spouse are trying to conceive, or would like to postpone pregnancy, Dr. Chavira can walk you through the process of natural family planning (NFP). With decades of experience caring for women of all ages, you can feel confident in the compassionate guidance Dr. Chavira provides at his Phoenix OB/GYN office.
What is natural family planning?
Natural family planning is the result of decades of research into a woman’s menstrual cycle. It refers to the process of using scientific, moral, and natural methods to either achieve or postpone pregnancy. For many couples, this issue is incredibly important.
By observing the signs and symptoms of your menstrual cycle, you can more accurately determine whether you’re in a fertile or infertile phase. With this information, you may choose whether to engage in sexual intercourse with your partner.
The natural family planning process generally involves three important metrics, including your:
- Menstruation calendar
- Basal body temperature
- Cervical mucus
With insights from these three factors, you can use natural family planning methods to determine when you ovulate and are at your most fertile. Over time, you will also become increasingly familiar with your own unique ovulation schedule so you can plan for or abstain from sex.
How does natural family planning work?
You may be wondering how natural family planning works. Dr. Chavira can help you learn more about the process so you can feel confident in predicting your most fertile days. In general, this is how it works.
1. Calendar tracking
First, by tracking your menstruation calendar you can establish basic information about your cycle. Plan on analyzing eight to 12 months in order to get a clear, accurate picture. In general, the average menstrual cycle is between 28 to 32 days. (Day one is considered the first day of your period.)
The first day of your fertility window is generally determined by subtracting 18 days from the length of your shortest cycle. Your last fertile day of the month is determined by subtracting 11 from the length of your longest cycle. The time between these two days are considered your fertility window. This is when you are most likely to become pregnant if you engage in intercourse. Likewise, if you’re trying to postpone pregnancy, this is when you would abstain from sexual activity.
You can use a daily journal or calendar to track information about your cycle each month. There are even smartphone apps and computer programs that can simplify and automate the process for you.
2. Basal body temperature
Taking your bodily temperature with a Basal thermometer each morning is another way to help you determine where you are in your cycle.
You’ll record your daily temperature and analyze several months. As you look at your chart, you’ll see that your temperature is usually consistent prior to ovulation. However, after ovulation has occurred, there will be a sharp increase in your body temperature. This can help you pinpoint your monthly ovulation and fertile periods.
Because this temperature change happens after you have already ovulated, it’s important to use several months of records to notice patterns. Like tracking your menstrual cycle, there are apps and journals that can make it easier for you to analyze your monthly temperature variations over time.
3. Cervical mucus
The consistency of your cervical mucus changes throughout your cycle. An average period consists of approximately five days of bleeding, followed by three to four dry days. After this, your mucus will continue to increase and change in consistency for approximately nine days before you reach your wettest day.
At this point, your cervical mucus should resemble egg whites. Ovulation usually occurs within one to two days of this clear, slippery, and stretchy mucus. By recording details about your cervical mucus in your fertility calendar, you will be better able to track changes that indicate ovulation is coming.
Learn more about natural family planning
Dr. Chavira currently serves as the medical director of Natural Family Planning (NFP) at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. As a board-certified OB/GYN with a passion for protecting the dignity of human life, he strives to help couples understand the importance of this method.
The information here is just a starting point, as every woman’s cycle is different. If you would like to learn more about natural family planning methods and how they can help you better understand your cycle, call Dr. William Chavira today.