Family Planning Using the ‘Safe Period’ Method

Have you heard your friends talking about “safe period” birth control or perhaps read about this idea on the internet? There are a lot of birth control methods available, but a lot of the most popular ones, such as pills, patches, and injections, involve hormonal changes to the body that can have negative effects, especially if they are used on a long term basis. The “safe period” method is considered to be a natural way of planning and avoiding pregnancy without having to tamper with your hormones. While this method of family planning should not be considered a sole form of birth control, it is a great way to get an idea of when you might be least likely and most likely to become pregnant during your cycle.

How Does Natural Family Planning Work?

The safe period method involves using a calendar to map your cycle. After a swift calculation, you can determine when you will be ovulating. Ovulation is a week-long time during your cycle that you are most fertile because it is the time when your body should release an egg for fertilization. Bear in mind that sperm only have about a 24 hour window to fertilize the egg, but that sperm can also live inside the female body for up to a week after sex has occurred. That means that even though you had sex before ovulating, if the sperm are still alive and well inside your body at the time that you ovulate, you could become pregnant. This is great news for those of us hoping to become pregnant and welcome a little one into the family, but for those of us who are not ready for that just yet, it can be very valuable information for family planning!

Once you are able to pin-point the time that you should ovulate, then you can move on to figure out when the other two phases of the menstrual cycle will occur. The first phase starts on the first day of your period. This is when you are unlikely to become pregnant, but because the sperm can survive inside for up to seven days after sex, you still are at some risk of becoming pregnant, especially if you happen to ovulate earlier than you predicted. (But who wants to fool around on their period, right?) The second phase is ovulation. The third phase, also known as the safe period, is the time between the end of ovulation and the start of your period. During this time, the egg has already come and gone and so there is little chance that you could become pregnant unless you spontaneous release an extra egg after the first.

How to Calculate Your Safe Time

If the safe period sounds like a pretty good plan to you, then you might be wondering what information you need to calculate the three periods in your menstrual cycle. There are a few pieces of information that you need to know in order to make your calculations. First, what is your cycle length? In other words, how many days typically pass between your periods? The default is usually 28 days, from the first day of the last period to the first day of the next period, however it can be shorter or longer and varies from woman to woman. If you aren’t sure about your cycle length then you may want to see if you can back-track over the last few months of cycles, which means you will need to recall the first day of each month’s period.

Once you know your average cycle length you can calculate your ovulation day. This is usually the 14th day of a woman’s cycle (starting with the first day of her period) if the woman is on a 28 day cycle. For those of us who have shorter or longer cycles then ovulation typically will occur 14 days prior to menstruation.

Now, in order to calculate the semi-fertile period, you need to think back to the first day of your most recent period. From that day until about a week before your ovulation date, you stand a fair chance of becoming pregnant, however not as much as you would on the week that your ovulation date falls upon. This entire week should be avoided according to the “safe period” idea. About a week after ovulation occurs until the first day of your period is the time at which you are considered most safe from becoming pregnant. Provided everything went as planned and you have indeed already ovulated, then there should be no egg inside to fertilize. If you are sure that ovulation has occurred, you may not need to wait the entire week between ovulation and the start of your “safety period,” but that could still be a bit of a gamble! All in all, the safest time to have sex, according to this method, is between one to two weeks, depending on how much allowance you give after your estimated date of ovulation.

Is the Safe Period Family Planning Method Right for Me?

This approach to natural family planning is a great place to start but it shouldn’t be relied upon as a sole form of birth control. Hormonal fluctuations can easily change a woman’s date of ovulation, which can be caused by anything from stress to medication. It is recommended that you use this natural form of family planning in addition to a tangible form of birth control, such as spermicide or condoms; which will really reduce your chances of becoming pregnant.