Health The real deal on “nat­u­ral” birth con­trol. And, should you ex­er­cise be­fore or af­ter work?

New trend: young women are con­sid­er­ing ditch­ing their pills and patches. Good idea, or kinda nuts? The ex­perts weigh in.

Glamour (South Africa) - - La Une -

Five years ago, I’d re­ceive a few phone calls a year from women in their 20s about fer­til­ity-aware­ness meth­ods of birth con­trol,” says Katinka Lo­cas­cio, a doula who trains women in the tech­nique. “Now, I get a few calls a month.”

No, this isn’t the oldfash­ioned rhythm method; FAM, as it’s called, is far more pre­cise than that. It iden­ti­fies when you’re fer­tile based on body signs that change dur­ing your monthly cy­cle, so you can de­ter­mine when it’s OK to have sex. Con­fused? This is what you need to know:

1It takes dis­ci­pline

One of the most com­mon types of FAM, the symp­tother­mal method (STM), in­volves check­ing cer­vi­cal fluid and tem­per­a­ture daily, and log­ging it in a chart or a free app, like Kin­dara.

“It takes me 10 or 15 min­utes a day,” says Bianca Dis­te­fano, 24, a nurse. “But I don’t need to take time to fill a pre­scrip­tion.”

What if your cy­cle isn’t like clock­work? Pro­po­nents ar­gue STM is still ef­fec­tive be­cause you con­stantly gauge body signs to as­sess your preg­nancy risk. But ob-gyn Dr Rebecca Bright­man says that it’s not that sim­ple: “If you’re ir­reg­u­lar, the time from the first day of your pe­riod un­til ovu­la­tion can be un­pre­dictable. Some­one who has a 43-day cy­cle one month and a 35-day cy­cle the next has no idea when she’ll ovu­late,” she says.

Sperm can live for up to five days. Get the tim­ing wrong and – whoa, baby.

2You can’t be squea­mish

You’ll need to be OK with touch­ing your cer­vi­cal fluid a few times a day. As you chart all of that info, you’ll no­tice pat­terns: you’re drier right af­ter your pe­riod; at peak fer­til­ity, the fluid is stretchy and clear (think egg whites).

But be­ing in tune with your body has ben­e­fits, says Sarah Bly, a fer­til­ityaware­ness ed­u­ca­tor. “For some women, the Pill can squash your ups and downs of arousal; [with FAM] you get to lis­ten to your own li­bido,” Sarah ex­plains.

3You need a backup method at first

Ex­perts say to chart three to four ‘prac­tice’ cy­cles – more if you’re com­ing off hor­monal con­tra­cep­tion – to spot your body’s pat­terns. So con­doms are a must un­til then.

4It’s not fool­proof

While one small study found that women who were in­cred­i­bly rig­or­ous in chart­ing had a 99% suc­cess at pre­vent­ing preg­nancy, the CDC re­ports that with typ­i­cal use, FAM is just 76% ef­fec­tive, com­pared with 91% for the Pill.

“If a baby isn’t ideal, but not aw­ful, FAM may be fine for you,” says ob-gyn Dr Katharine O’con­nell White. “But if a baby would de­rail your life, use a more ef­fec­tive con­tra­cep­tive.”

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