Apart from the calendar method of calculating safe period, we can use other symptom based methods such as TwoDay Method, ovulation method, BBT method, and the symptothermal method. All of them are natural contraceptive methods.
The symptothermal method of checking fertility period combines both the temperature method and the cervical mucus method. A major difference between the cervical mucus and temperature method is that you can check the mucus any time of the day, unlike the temperature method. The most important thing is consistency.
They use the symptom based method (natural contraceptive methods) with caution in women that have miscarriage or abortion, chronic conditions that raise the body temperature, abnormal vaginal discharge, new mothers or breastfeeding mothers.
Different Natural Contraceptive Methods
There are different natural contraceptive methods, such asB
- calendar rhythm method
- basal temperature method
- cervical mucus method
- 2-day method
- ovulation indicator testing kits
But in this post, we will handle the symptothermal methods.
The Temperature Method
The temperature method, also known as the basal temperature method (BBT) is used to predict the ovulation day in the menstrual cycle through changes in the body temperature. It is done using a special large-scale basal thermometer that can be used in the mouth or rectum (rectal thermometers are more accurate)
The body temperature changes slightly during the menstrual cycle. It is lower before you ovulate, about 97°F (36.1°C) and 97.5°F (36.4°C). During ovulation, it moves slightly higher to between 97.6°F (36.4°C) and 98.6°F (37°C). If a woman gets pregnant, the temperature rise persists, but if not, the temperature decreases again and then the period comes.
To use the body temperature method, get the fertility awareness chart from a doctor or a nurse. You will use the chart for three months before relying on the temperature method for birth control.
The best time to track the temperature is when you wake up, before you eat, drink, have sex or get out of bed. Track the slight changes (0.2° to 0.5°C (0.4° to 1.0°F) and patterns in your body temperature, noting them down in the chart.
It is important to note that activities such as smoking, stress, drinking, sickness, using electric blanket can mess with the normal temperature. Keep note of them.
How to Use the Temperature Method to Calculate Safe Period
If the woman’s temperature increases above the body temperature, and stays high for 3 days, ovulation has happened, as well as her fertile period. The woman is in her safe period from the 4th day, and can have sex from the 4th day to the next period.
The couple should avoid vaginal sex (use a condom or a diaphragm) from the first day of the monthly bleeding to 3 days after her temperature has increased above the normal temperature.
Cervical Mucus Method
This is also called the Billings method or ovulation method. During menstruation, there are hormonal changes which results in the secretion of mucus in the cervix.
The mucus changes in color, quantity and texture, especially during ovulation in the menstrual cycle. The Billings method relies on monitoring the changes in the cervical mucus. It is a difficult method that requires the guidance of a doctor or a nurse.
How to Use the Cervical Mucus
You must chart the mucus for one full cycle before using this method. Track your mucus from the end of your period. To check the mucus, you can either:
- Check your undies, note the color and texture of the discharge.
- Insert clean fingers into the vagina and check the color and texture.
- Before you urinate, wipe the vagina with white toilet paper and check the texture and color.
Use your thumb and index finger to check the consistency of the mucus. Avoid sexual contact when using the cervical mucus method. Activities such as sex, breastfeeding, certain medications, using lube, douching, early menopause, STIs, vaginitis, surgery in the cervix, oral contraceptive (morning-after-pill) can cause changes to the cervical mucus.
There are changes in the mucus during the cycle. During the period, blood flow covers it. After the period, there are 3 to 4 days (dry days) without the mucus. They may be safe period if you have a long cycle.
Before ovulation, you have sticky white, cloudy or yellow. They appear in the vagina for up to 5 days or fewer. This is not a safe period. Just before ovulation, and during ovulation, there is an increase in mucus, clear and slippery like white eggs. This is the fertile period that lasts for up to 4 days and leads to ovulation. It is not a safe period.
After ovulation, there are 11 to 14 days when there are less mucus, cloudy and sticky. It gradually dries. They are safe days before the next period.
How to Determine the Safe Period Using the Cervical Mucus Method
While using this method, the safe period starts after ovulation when the slippery mucus stops. The cloudy and sticky discharge which follows also stops before the period. The safe period is for 11 to 14 days. For those with longer period, dry days after the period can be safe.
The unsafe period is three major times during the period. First, when the body secrete mucus before the ovulation. It lasts for 3 to 4 days and ends 4 days after the mucus peaks. Another unsafe period is during the period for those with a short cycle. This is because it is difficult to separate the mucus when mixed with the period blood.
The few days after your period ends and 2 to 3 days before the signs of mucus in the cervix are also unsafe.
This is a simpler version of the cervical mucus method for women who are sure of the days they have their mucus. If you do not have cervical mucus for yesterday and today, you may be safe to have sexual contact.
But if you have the mucus either yesterday or today, you will need to use a protection while having sex. With this method, they considered only 12 days being the safe period.