Calendar-based family planning methods work by monitoring a woman’s fertile periods throughout her menstrual cycle. Before switching to this method, which is hinged upon fertility awareness, you should monitor your cycle over the course of a few months to note its regular duration. Knowing how many days your cycle typically lasts helps you better determine when your fertile periods are.
According to research, women are fertile for about six days after their menstrual cycle. Within this period, ovulation or the release of eggs by the ovaries occurs.
It’s worth noting that sperm can remain in the fallopian tubes for about 5 days after ovulation, so you can get pregnant even until six days after having unprotected sex during your fertile period.
Tracking your menstrual cycle can be a challenge if your period is irregular.
How can you track menstrual cycles if you have an irregular period?
First, be diligent in recording your cycles. If you keep it at, a pattern will soon emerge. For instance, if your period happens every 45 to 50 days, or even every other month, you can use this to inform your family planning method. Even irregular periods can be predicted if you pay close attention. Ovulation usually occurs in the middle of your cycle.
You should also take note of your vaginal discharge or cervical mucus. This discharge usually becomes more abundant as you approach your ovulation period. Once your mucus is clear, stretchy, and thick, then you are ovulating.
Recording your basal body temperature is also a good way to monitor ovulation as well as urine tests and blood tests, which can be done by your doctor.
What are the benefits and disadvantages of calendar-based family planning?
Naturally, these methods are cost effective and have no known side effects. They require no procedure or medications and they help women become more aware about their fertility.
However, it does have disadvantages. It can become tedious to keep monitoring your cycle constantly. In some cases, other methods of contraception may be required and calendar-based methods only about 86 to 88 % effective when it comes to birth control.
How can I calculate my fertile and unfertile days?
First, it would help to know that there are two types of calendar-based methods: the Standard Days and the Calendar Rhythm method. The Standard Days method is for those whose periods are regular, which ranges from about 26 to 32 days.
The Calendar Rhythm method is more adaptable; it helps women plan pregnancies by helping them identify their fertile and infertile days. It’s important to emphasize that about six months of menstrual cycle monitoring should be done to pinpoint a pattern before choosing this a family planning method.
To compute when your fertile days are, subtract 18 from the shortest menstrual cycle within the six months you have been monitoring your irregular cycle. This is when your fertile period starts. For instance, your shortest cycle is 26 days, the start of your fertile period is 8 days after your first menstrual flow.
To know the end of your fertile period, simply subtract 11 from your longest cycle period. If your longest was 34 days, you would be infertile on day 25 of your cycle.
Of course, consulting your doctor is the best way to know what works for you. It would help to be fully informed and know what your options are, especially when it comes to planning a family.
sources: Healthline, Virtual Medical Centre Australia, American Pregnancy Association, Livestrong.com
READ: 6 More signs that tell you that you’re at your most fertile