We all know that finger-crossing and rough guesses about when we're fertile is not the way to make sure that fertility awareness works as contraception*.
You have to know what you’re doing.
But just how careful do we have to be?
Does using the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness mean we have to check our waking
For the first few months, the answer is yes. You need to know how your body works. How to recognise when you are fertile and when you’re not. Whether you usually have long or short menstrual cycles or whether you’re completely unpredictable.
After that it’s up to you - though if your cycles are very irregular you will have to be extra careful.
It would be great if noticing and recording fertility signs could become part of your daily routine - like brushing your teeth, or charging your phone. Apart from anything else, it can be interesting to notice how your cycles are (or aren’t) affected by illness or stress (positive or negative).
But if you don’t see this as part of your daily routine, don’t worry, you’re not alone. One of the ultimate options is a “fit it and forget it” method of contraception like the IUD, implant or contraceptive injection, but fortunately there are alternatives.
There might not be a “fit it and forget it” version of fertility awareness but it is possible to rely on a more minimal approach. Some women only record their fertility signs for long enough to confirm that they have definitely ovulated and are in the “late infertile” part of their cycle.
The key thing is not to jump to this stage too quickly, or to just think “oh, my period’s due in the next few days, I’m safe to have unprotected sex”. Extra-long cycles can come out of the blue – especially if you’ve been ill or stressed. Even good stress (like a holiday) can delay ovulation so you need to be sure that you have kept track of your fertility signs, including what time you take your waking temperature. Your temperature can change if your waking time varies or you have a disturbed night.
It is also worth having an extra-sensible month every so often, just to check how things are going. This might seem like a hassle but just remember how much time you're saving on doctor appointments..
If you want to find out more, check my support page.
*Although finger-crossing and rough guesses still counts as far as the statistics are concerned - which is one of the reasons that the typical use failure rates for fertility awareness are 24% (Trussell ). The perfect use failure rate for the method I teach (symptothermal) is less than 1%.