Natural Family Planning: What Is It and Does It Work?

Natural birth control, conception and fertility awareness techniques explained

When the time comes to start a family, you always think everything will go according to plan. In a perfect world, this would be the case. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. Below, we will discuss the idea of natural family planning, and whether or not it is effective.

What is Natural Family Planning?

Natural family planning (known as the NFP) is a way of identifying a woman's most fertile days, either to postpone pregnancy or make an attempt to conceive. It is a form of fertility awareness in which a woman monitors the signs of ovulation to pinpoint the days when conception is most likely to occur. There are no drugs involved, and no use of infertility treatments.

What if my Menstrual Cycles Aren’t Regular?

NFP only works for women with reliable, regular menstrual cycles. If your cycles are irregular, it is impossible to accurately predict when ovulation will occur. The chance of unintended pregnancy is much higher in this situation.

What Are Some Methods Of Natural Family Planning?

The following methods are used to determine a woman's fertile window and identify when ovulation is most likely to occur:

  • Ovulation Method. This method involves monitoring of a woman's cervical mucus throughout the month. The woman identifies the changes in her mucus and notes the changes. When the mucus reaches a clear, stretchy consistency (resembling an egg white), it means that ovulation is about to occur.
  • Symptothermal method. The woman monitors her Basal Body Temperature (BBT) on a daily basis, using a BBT thermometer, and records the exact temperature. When ovulation is about to occur, there will be a slight rise in her body temperature. This is when conception is most likely to happen.
  • Rhythm Method. After monitoring menstrual cycles for a few months, a woman uses the dates to determine when ovulation occurs every month. These are the days when chances of conception are high.

Does Natural Family Planning Work?

NFP can be effective, but it must be done accurately. The woman must be fully committed to monitoring the changes in her body each day, at the same time, without fail. Keep in mind that the menstrual cycle can go through natural changes each month, so NFP is not as effective as other fertility and birth control options.

Some of the above-mentioned methods are more effective than others. The Ovulation Method is usually the most reliable, with the Rhythm Method being the least reliable of the three. Most women find it most effective if they combine the use of all three methods.


Trying to conceive a baby can be one of the most exciting times in a woman's life. On the flip side, conceiving before you are ready can put your life on hold. No matter which method of natural family planning you choose to use, it is important to apply it properly and accurately for the best results.

If you have any questions about NFP, birth control or fertility treatments, contact the knowledgeable well women care providers at All About Women. With offices located in Gainesville and Lake City, we are proud to provide women across North Florida with the best OB/GYN medical services.