Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) / Natural Family Planning (NFP)

Fertility Awareness – Natural Family Planning (NFP) – Safe Time – Dates

This method is suitable for all women who have a regular(it) menstrual cycle and others keen to learn more about their body.


What is Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness ?

Dates / Calendar / The Safe Time

Withdrawal (Pulling Out)

Base Body Temperature

Cervical Mucus Consistency

Cervical Gland Changes


LAM (Lactational Amenorrhoea Method) – Breastfeeding

What is Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness?  

  • Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness (NFP/FA) is the avoidance or planning of pregnancy by assessing a woman’s fertility signals.

  • NFP/FA should not be practiced without first learning the complications of this method.

  • It is best if taught by a specially trained Natural Family Planning trainer – preferably over the course of 6-12 months.

It requires knowledge of:

  • Dates / Calendar /Safe Time.
  • Withdrawal (pulling out).
  • Base body temperature.
  • Cervical mucus consistency.
  • Cervical gland changes.
  • Persona® / Tech Methods.
  • LAM (Lactational Amenorrhoea Method) – ie. breastfeeding.

Dates / Calendar / The Safe Time  

  • As a method of Natural Family Planning, Dates/calendar/safe-time is NOT safe if a woman has EVER:

  • Had an irregular menstrual cycle.

  • Has polycystic ovary syndrome.

  • And any of the contra-indications also listed for Persona®.

The Safe Time is not recommended in Family Planning circles as a safe method and is not considered reliable without certain training.

  • It requires careful charting of at least 12 menstrual cycles before use and lessons from a recognised Natural Family Planning Trainer.

  • It relies on charting the length of menstrual cycles and is used in conjunction with other body signs and symptoms.

  • It necessitates long periods of abstinence.

  • It is not suitable for all women.

  • It provides NO protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

Withdrawal (Pulling Out)  

  • Withdrawal must NOT be relied upon as a method of Natural Family Planning despite many people believing it to be a safe form of contraception. 

    • There are sufficient live sperm at the tip of an erect penis BEFORE penetration and ejaculation (in pre-cum) to swim into fertile mucus and cause pregnancy or infection (if an infection is present).

  • It provides NO protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).


Base Body Temperature  

After ovulation a woman’s body temperature remains slightly higher for three days, indicating the post-ovulatory phase.Base body temperature is rarely used on its own because it can only help signify the post-ovulatory phase.


Cervical Mucus Consistency  

  • Under the influence of oestrogen, the follicles are stimulated to produce an egg (oocyte), and the cervix (neck of the womb) generates a clear and stretchy, fertile type of mucus.This is called Spinbarrkite mucus and consists of lush proteins and little channels through which sperm can swim to reach the fallopian tube. It becomes more stretchy nearer ovulation. 

  • Sperm feed off it while waiting for ovulation.

  • Some women make fertile mucus for a day.

  • Others make it for up to 7 days.

  • This determines the length of time sperm can survive inside a particular woman and how easily she can become pregnant.

  • Within 4 days of ovulation, under the influence of progesterone, the mucus is thick, clumpy, and impenetrable to sperm again.

  • This lasts until the start of the next period / menstrual cycle.


Because cervical mucus varies throughout the menstrual cycle, this method of Natural Family Planning is sometimes called the mucus method, Billings Method or Catholic method.

  • The onset of the fertile phase is noticeable by the first cervical mucus presence at the vulva each cycle.

  • Finger insertion is advisable.

  • The last day is noticed by the last presence of clear, watery, stretchy cervical mucus.

  • This reverts to a thick infertile plug by the 4th day after ovulation.


Cervical Gland Changes  

  • Cervical gland changes are seldom used as a method of Natural Family Planning alone and are not always easy to detect.

  • The cervix (neck of the womb) changes with the onset of the fertile phase.

  • It softens, opens slightly, is moister and, towards ovulation, moves upward in the vagina.

  • After ovulation, it closes, hardens slightly and lowers again.


Persona® / Electronic & Technological Methods

Persona® is a mini-computer which can work out a woman’s safe times. To be effective, you need to understand how to use it – and understand your body very well. It isn’t available free at clinics but may be bought at selected chemists. 

• It is not suitable for every woman.  

LAM (Lactational Amenorrhoea Method) – Breastfeeding  

  • Women who fully breastfeed, delay their return of ovulation and menstruation.LAM is used as a method of Natural Family Planning because is up to 98% effective – but ONLY if all 3 of these conditions apply:

  • The woman is not having periods.

    • She fully – or nearly fully – breastfeeds.

    • The baby is less than 6 months old.


After that protection reduces and additional contraception is advisable.

For more on Fertility Awareness, click to visit FertilityUK.org, run by a nurse specialist in that topic.

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