Do Natural Birth Control Methods Really Work?

For sexually active couples who aren't a fan of using birth control pills to prevent pregnancy, natural birth control methods may seem like an appealing option. Fertility awareness methods, or natural family planning, fall under the category of natural birth control methods, according to the National Health Service (NHS). Tracking your menstrual cycle and understanding signs of fertility is crucial for success during this process. A woman can recognize fertility signals by monitoring the length of her menstrual cycle, changes in cervical mucus, and daily body temperature readings. By keeping consistent records of these measures, she may be able to gauge when she's most fertile during her cycle. To improve the accuracy of fertility predictions, the NHS recommends measuring your menstrual cycle for at least a year.

After ovulation, your body temperature rises by about 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Planned Parenthood, so keeping daily records of your body temperature with the temperature method can let you know when you're no longer most fertile. You should find three consecutive days of your temperature being higher than the previous six days to determine when your ovulation period has ended, as explained by the NHS. Before ovulation, you may also notice that your cervical mucus is more wet and slippery if you follow the cervical secretion monitoring method.

Although these natural birth control methods are available as non-hormonal alternatives, how effective are they in actually preventing pregnancy compared to other birth control methods?

How effective are natural birth control methods?

When considering natural birth control, you may wonder how likely it is to successfully avoid an unplanned pregnancy. Just like other birth control methods, there are advantages and disadvantages to using natural birth control methods. According to Medical News Today, natural birth control methods can be a more cost-effective option, as most of them are free. Also, unlike birth control pills, they don't alter hormones in the body or lead to unpleasant side effects.

Despite these attractive advantages, natural birth control methods have up to a 23% failure rate and an unpredictable 77-98% effectiveness rate, compared to the birth control pill's 91-99% effectiveness rate. The NHS reports that 1 to 9 out of 100 women who properly follow the natural family planning instructions will still become pregnant. 

For natural birth control methods to work, a person must be consistent and committed to the demands of this method. They also must be able to accurately track their menstrual cycle. As a result, women with irregular periods may find this method more difficult than women with regular periods.

Due to these reasons, Medical News Today suggests utilizing another non-hormonal form of contraception in addition to natural methods if you wish to avoid becoming pregnant.