Natural Birth Control
Using hormones to prevent pregnancy is not for every woman. Some don't like the idea of taking hormones while others just don't like the side effects caused by hormones. Although there are barrier methods that don't involve hormones, like condoms, some people are allergic to the latex that these contraceptives are usually made of. Other people just don't like the way they feel. While there have been great advances made in contraception in the last century, some people find these methods unsuitable for their lifestyle. For these people, natural birth control is best.
It is strongly recommended that these methods be used by people in a committed relationship. Because none of the natural birth control options protect against sexually transmitted infections (STI's), it is important to use a condom if you don't know your partners sexual history and/or both of you have not be tested for STI's.
Of all the birth control methods available, abstinence is the only one that is 100% effective all of the time. Abstinence means you completely refrain from having sex. However, there is still a possibility of becoming pregnant if your partner ejaculates on or near your vulva, which is the external genitalia area including the opening to the vagina. If you think there is a chance of this happening, you should encourage your partner to wear a condom even though you are not engaging in actual intercourse.
While abstinence is often encouraged as the best form of teenage contraception, those people in a committed relationship (including some teenagers) can find it hard to follow.
This is a very basic method of birth control and involves the man withdrawing his penis from the vagina just before he ejaculates. This method can be anywhere from 73% to 96% effective. For this method to work, though, a man must be able to know when he is about to ejaculate. As well, a woman must have complete confidence that her partner will withdraw at the appropriate time.
Since teenage males may not have the self control or be familiar enough with their body to know when they will ejaculate, this method is not recommended as a form of teenage contraception. Additionally, it is important to know that all males leak pre-ejaculate which can contain sperm and has the potential of causing a pregnancy.
Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs)
FAMs incorporate a variety of methods that can help a woman know when she is most fertile. These methods can be used both to prevent and aid in conception. FAM is anywhere from 75% to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Many women like using these methods because it allows them to be more familiar with the way their body works. If you are interested in these methods, it is best to first receive professional training on how to use them. Unlike other forms of contraception, like the birth control pill, improper use of these methods is more likely to result in a pregnancy.
Since FAM requires a woman's periods to be fairly regular and because it can take many months of training and tracking the menstrual cycle before it is effective, it is recommended that teenagers avoid this form of contraception. Additionally, FAM requires the co-operation of both partners for it to be most successful.
Temperatures and Mucus
The first method of FAM involves charting your daily basal body temperature. Since your body temperature rises slightly when you ovulate, charting your body temperature can help you better identify when you are ovulating. There are many devices available that can make tracking your temperature easier. Some women avoid having sex when they are ovulating (periodic abstinence) in order to prevent a pregnancy while others use another form of birth control, like condoms.
It is also possible to predict ovulation by observing the changes in your cervical mucus. This method is not for everyone since it requires you to become quite familiar with your body. It is also a good idea to have professional training for this technique if you plan to use it regularly. Again, this method helps you identify when you are ovulating, allowing you to engage in periodic abstinence or use another form of birth control to avoid pregnancy.
This is perhaps one of the oldest methods of contraception and definitely one of the best-known forms of FAM. However, it is not necessarily the most reliable. The rhythm method is based on the assumption that a woman ovulates exactly 14 days before the first day of her period. By tracking her periods and counting backwards 14 days, a woman can assume at what time of the month she will be ovulating and therefore is most fertile.
Unfortunately, very few women actually have that regular a cycle that ovulation occurs at exactly the same time every month. If you are interested in using this method, though, you may want to consider investing in one of the new electronic fertility monitors.
Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)
Breastfeeding is a well-known method of natural birth control since it delays the return of ovulation and the menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, you have to have recently given birth to be able to use it. It is recommended, though, that this method not be used for more than six months.
Women need to be exclusively breastfeeding for this method to be most effective. Since most babies start on some form of solids around six months, it is a good idea to start using other forms of birth control around this time. It is possible for your menstrual cycle to return even if you are breastfeeding. If you have had a period, there is a good chance that LAM will no longer be effective for you.
If you are in a committed relationship, using a natural form of birth control may be a good option for you. Talk with your partner, as well as your health care provider, to decide which natural method is best for you.
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