Super effective, ineffective, too hard to deal with, essential information every woman should know, not piratical, a simple practice once it’s implemented…
It’s all too much to handle, right?
Why there is so much conflicting information
One huge thing? Semantics. “Fertility awareness based methods” is a term used as an umbrella term that encompasses many methods. Some of them are very effective, others not so much.
What I teach is the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness, which has the highest effectiveness of the fertility awareness based methods (over 99% effective) and can be used for regular and irregular cycles alike.
In addition, since fertility awareness is grouped together with natural birth control methods people tend to think of herbal birth control, withdrawal, or other methods that are ineffective or just plain suck to use.
You can see this in almost every article you read or video you watch about it. Listen to the words. They are very unspecific or throw around terms like they are interchangeable even though they are very different. Fertility awareness ≠ The rhythm method ≠ Withdrawal ≠ The sympto-thermal method ≠ Too many more that are often interchanged for one another and not the same thing.
If there is one thing I am for, it’s getting correct information out to people, and when I see this happening it makes me cringe (or want to throw my computer across the room, you know, whatevs).
So if you find that you can’t make sense of any of it anymore, refer back to my blog post on the topic.
The bad rap
In addition to the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness being classed with a whole slew of other birth control methods, it also gets a bad rap because of another thing thing:
Sure, with all methods you need to use them correctly and consistently to get the good effectiveness offered. The thing is, with the sympto-thermal method you really need to not take risks.
It’s very important, if you use this method, to use it correctly.
That’s not meant to scare you; the method is not difficult to use correctly, it’s just that if you aren’t committed you may be likely to take the risks I spoke of above.
What that means is this: You may be a little more ambivalent, generally sub-consciously, than you think about a having a kid. This could translate into “taking chances” with your birth control.
If this happens and you are on a hormonal contraceptive, your hormones will likely still be messed up enough to cover you, but with this method, if you take a risk by definition you are having unprotected intercourse during the time you are most likely fertile.
The reason for this is that this method works by defining the time that you are fertile. With that fertile time you either abstain, use alternate sex, or use a barrier (or two). It’s easy to figure out when you are fertile, but a lot of the margin of error comes in if you decide to have unprotected intercourse on a day that is in that fertile window. By definition, breaking the rules puts you at the time that intercourse would be most likely to lead to conception.
This leads to a higher user failure than many other methods, even though perfect use failure is extremely low. If you want to learn more about perfect and typical use statistics you can check out my post on them by clicking here.
You may also be interested in the statistic that only 5% of unintended pregnancies are from those that use their preferred method, whatever that method may be, correctly.
Kinda confusing? Here’s a visual:
As you may be able to tell, those mere 16% of women who were not using contraception or had a month or longer lapse in contraceptive methods accounted for 52% of all of those unintended pregnancies.
Next up, those who used their method imperfectly accounted for 43% of the unintended pregnancies, and those who used their method without fail, only 5%.
Basically, whatever method you choose, use it well. If effectiveness is important to you, it’s the very least you will want to do. This is particularly important when using the sympto-thermal method (Psst.. That’s one of the reasons I recommend learning with a person rather than a book) since taking risks is so, well, risky.