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Natural Family Planning aka Natural Birth Control

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Are you curious about natural forms of birth control and wondering if it actually works? Today’s podcast is for you! Welcome, I am Dr. Alison Dibarto Goggin, I am a functional medicine physician and a doTERRA wellness advocate and you are listening to Functional Wellness with Dr. Alison.

Last week we covered some information about hormonal and implanted birth control, the risks, benefits, and what you need to know about nutritional depletion and autoimmunity. Today we are covering natural birth control, commonly known as ‘natural family planning’.

For more information go to and order Toni Weschler’s book “Taking Charge Of Your Fertility” to learn everything you need to know about natural family planning.

Natural family planning means that you monitor your cycles and different aspects of your physiology to know when you are ovulating so you can either avoid or achieve pregnancy. I have many of my patients do this as well so we can track their hormones when testing isn’t an option or available for them.

There are actually a few types of natural planning, some more effective than others.

There is the rhythm method where you avoid unprotected sex during days 8-19, but that is assuming your cycle is 28 days long and you ovulate on day 14. This doesn’t work for women with irregular cycles, who don’t know when they ovulate, or women in peri-menopause states. Another factor is breastfeeding or recent pregnancy: you may not be able to tell when you are ovulating and these factors may not be reliable to avoid pregnancy.

The remaining models just take one aspect of your body changes and focuses on that being the only sign you need to monitor.

In my opinion, we need to monitor all of your symptoms and body changes! Especially if you are using this to avoid pregnancy. If you are not wanting to get pregnant, you absolutely need to take a class on this method before using it.

The signs and symptoms that you can monitor are:

1. Cervical mucus: cervical discharge will change over the month. After your period you may have none, then it will change to egg white consistency during ovulation and then become thicker. If there is a circle spot on your underwear, then that is a fertile mucus. If it is dry, or streaking, it is non-fertile mucus.

2. Basal Temperature: Your temperature will be low (around 97.0) prior to ovulation then spike after. The spike is not huge, it may rise .5-1 degree. Using a chart or app will help you see the spike visually and make decisions on your health.

3. Cervical position: prior to ovulation, your cervix will be low and closed. During ovulation it will be higher up and slightly open, then closing and lowering again after.

Let’s talk about some common myths that might trip you up with this method:

1. Traditional medicine teaches that sperm can only live up to 3 days. However, sperm can survive up to 5 days in a woman’s reproductive tract and perhaps even longer. Which means even though an egg only lives up to 24 hours, that you can be fertile for one full week during your cycle.

2. Ovulation actually occurs the day before your temperature shift so you need to plan around that time of the cycle.

3. You may or may not ovulate on the same day every cycle. Stress will strongly impact ovulation, typically delaying it which then pushes back the timing of your period. Many women think that they are stressed about a pregnancy result before their period and that delays it, when that is just not the case.

4. Natural family planning is not a good method for everyone to use as birth control. It is only for those who are able to track their symptoms and signs regularly, who understand the rules, and for those who are not concerned about STD’s while in a monogamous relationship. For achieving pregnancy, this is absolutely a great place to start.