If You Are Consider Using Natural Family Planning, You Will Need To Know How To Chart Your Fertility To Prevent Pregnancy. Ask Any Woman Dealing With Infertility And She’Ll Tell You The Ins And Outs Of Predicting Ovulation Through Charting. While C

If you are consider using natural family planning, you will need to know how to chart your fertility to prevent pregnancy. Ask any woman dealing with infertility and she’ll tell you the ins and outs of predicting ovulation through charting. While charting fertility is an extremely common practice in this case, there are many women utilizing this strategy for the opposite reason -- to not get pregnant.

Tiernan McKay


When executed properly, fertility charting can be extremely effective in preventing pregnancy, without the common side effects or health concerns associated with pharmacological forms of birth control. If you have the discipline and perform each step correctly and consistently, fertility charting may be a great option for you.

Why chart your fertility?
While hormone-based birth control pills are extremely popular and generally considered safe, they can pose health risks such as an increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks and strokes (especially if you smoke). Other possible side effects include nausea, breast tenderness, fluid retention and weight gain.

Find out more about your birth control options here.

For some women, the benefits of this option far outweigh the risks. For others, a natural form of birth control, such as fertility charting, is a better option. Lindsey Anderson, from Phoenix, Arizona, decided to start charting her fertility because her birth control pills were causing migraines. “After I started taking the Pill, I just wasn’t feeling great,” she says. “I had frequent headaches and felt like my hormones were out of control. After trying several different types of birth control pills, I decided to try charting my fertility instead.”

How to chart your fertility
There are several different methods for charting fertility, otherwise known as Natural Family Planning. The Rhythm Method is based on the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle and relies on a consistent timeframe (for example: 28 days with ovulation occurring on day 14) to be successful. Check out our ovulation calculator that allows you to plug in your dates to create a customized calendar of your most fertile days.

The downside is that a woman’s cycle can vary, often rendering the Rhythm Method ineffective because of its rigidity. A better option for women who do not have extremely regular cycles is the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).

In her hugely popular book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, Toni Weschler explains that Fertility Awareness depends 3 primary signs of fertility: waking temperature, cervical fluid and cervical position. By carefully charting these factors, you can see a pattern of ovulation so that you know when you are fertile. You will need a thermometer to take your basal body temperature (find out more about this method here), meticulous observation skills for observing your cervical fluid (mucus becomes abundant and egg white in texture when ovulating) and a charting method.  Check out this printable basal body temperature chart to help you keep track.

Is charting your fertility a reliable way to prevent pregnancy?
If you’re depending on fertility charting for birth control, you must dedicate yourself to truly learning the method and have the discipline to follow-through. To be most effective, you need to avoid intercourse or use an alternative form of birth control 5 days before you ovulate through 3 days after, which is about one-third of your monthly cycle. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this method is 90% effective when executed correctly, however your chances of becoming pregnant with natural family method can be as high as 25%, especially if your menstrual cycle is irregular making it harder to pinpoint exactly when you ovulate.

What about ovulation predictor kits – are they effective? Find out more about charting your fertility here.

Pros and cons of natural family planning
The benefits of fertility charting include the ability to use it for birth control or family planning, the suitability for women who have concerns (either religious or health-related) over hormone-based birth control and an increased awareness of your body. On the flipside, this method requires a considerable level of commitment, self-control, planning and calculating. “I do need to set my alarm on the weekends to be sure I’m taking my temperature at the same time every day,” says Anderson. “It’s tough, but it is definitely better than experiencing regular headaches. Plus, I really like the fact that I’m not taking a prescription anymore.”

Of course, birth control is a very personal decision that must be carefully considered in light of your own specific situation. Think natural family planning may be right for you? Do your homework and if you’re ready for the commitment, talk to your doctor or health care provider. 


For more information on birth control:



recommended for you