NFP, natural birth control

NFP or Natural Family Planning is a natural way to identify the fertile and infertile periods in a woman. This method is more reliable than the calendar method because it is determined individually. Anyone who wants to use this method must proceed carefully.

What is the course of a normal menstrual cycle?

The total duration of a normal (or average) menstrual cycle is 28 days. In many women there is a small deviation in the first part of the cycle, but the course remains the same.

One starts counting a menstrual cycle from the beginning of the maturation of a new egg. This is day 1. Menstruation also begins on this day. A maturing egg, which together with the covering in which it matures is called a follicle, secretes more and more estrogens as it grows. These estrogens are essential to ensure that the mucus plug in the cervix becomes lighter so that it can allow the sperm cells to pass through. At other times of the cycle, this mucus plug is too thick to allow the sperm cells to pass through, causing them to quickly die in the acidic environment of the vagina. The thinned mucous membrane not only ensures that these sperm cells can reach an egg cell, but also provides protection and therefore a longer lifespan of the sperm cells.

Ovulation takes place on approximately the 14th day, in reality between the 11th and 16th day . Ovulation, or ovulation, is the moment when the follicle bursts and the egg is released. The egg is most fertile during the first 12 hours after release. The total lifespan of an egg cell is 24 hours.

After the egg is released, the remaining follicle will produce increased progesterone production. It is this hormone that ensures that the uterine lining thickens so that the egg can implant. If the egg is not fertilized, implantation will not take place. In that case, she will die and the excess uterine lining will be broken down. This is the beginning of a new cycle and the first day of menstruation .

What is NFP?

NFP or Natural Family Planning is a method that takes into account various parameters during the woman’s cycle. A combination of these parameters gives a woman who can interpret them a good view of her fertile period. The

calendar method alone , which is based on the length of a cycle, is not enough. Most women’s cycles, although usually around 28 days, can vary slightly. Therefore, this parameter alone is not clear enough. In this way one can approximately determine the fertile period between the 11th and the 16th day.

Just relying on the temperature is not enough because our temperature can also be influenced by other factors. Keeping a close eye on body temperature does help indicate ovulation, but one cannot rely solely on this.

Therefore, NFP uses both of these factors in combination with the consistency of the endometrium or mucous membrane in the cervix. By also taking this factor into account, one can clearly define the beginning and end of a fertile period.

Body temperature

In general we can divide the menstrual cycle into 2 temperature levels; during the first phase of the cycle, before ovulation, the temperature is lower than during the second phase or after ovulation. During ovulation, the temperature rises by an average of 0.2°C and remains so during the second phase. The yellow body then ensures extra hormone production of progesterone and this hormone is responsible for this temperature increase. By knowing this and recording it accurately, one can observe the beginning of the infertile cycle.

It is important to know and adhere to the rules for temperature measurement. If this is not done, the findings will not be accurate and therefore cannot be continued. The following rules must therefore be followed:

  • Measurements immediately after waking up but before getting up
  • To get a good grip in the beginning, it is important to measure daily
  • Measure after at least 1 hour of sleep
  • Always use the same thermometer for measuring (this may be a regular mercury thermometer)
  • Always measure in the same way (never under the arm; it is best to measure rectally, vaginally or orally)
  • Immediately record the temperature on the cycle chart

If you connect the different dots with a temperature value, you will get a clear curve. This allows you to follow the course of the cycle perfectly.

One can say that a temperature increase , and therefore ovulation , has occurred if 3 consecutive temperatures are measured, all of which are higher than the temperatures measured the 6 days before. Between the highest temperature of the past 6 days and the third increased temperature, a difference of 0.2°C must be measured to be able to speak of a clear temperature increase.

The cervical mucus

Because it would be possible for the sperm cells to pass through and survive in the cervical mucus, it must change consistency before ovulation . Normally, the mucus in the cervix is thick, tough and sticky. This generally has a white or yellowish color. However, the closer you get to ovulation, the clearer and stretchier this mucus will become. the color will also change to transparent and it will feel more slippery. This is the period where it allows the sperm cells to survive for several days in the acidic environment of the uterus. After ovulation, the mucus becomes thick again and, as it were, closes off the uterus.

It is important to check the extensibility and consistency of this mucus daily. These findings are also noted on a cycle map. The consistency of the mucus can be easily determined by rubbing the vagina with a finger or toilet paper. Some days this will feel dry while other days it will feel more slippery. The color and consistency can also often be clearly seen from what remains on the toilet paper. So one should pay attention to the feel of the mucus as well as its appearance. Both data can be noted on the map.

How to interpret the data

It can be said that the infertile period , after ovulation, begins on the last day, when the following signals were observed:

The evening of the third day after the mucus peak day The evening of the third day with a rise in temperature To

determine the fertile period , one must count back. Ovulation itself usually takes place between the two days before the temperature rise and the day of the temperature rise. Because sperm cells can survive for up to 4 days, one must count 6 days before ovulation to determine the fertile period. An additional 1 day margin is added and it is therefore stated that the 8th day before the temperature rise is the last infertile day. The observation of the cervical mucus is also important as an additional indicator to determine the infertile period.

It is important to realize that ovulation can sometimes differ by a day between cycles. Therefore, one must play it safe for a period of time until one has fully mastered the method and can proceed on 12 cycles of data. Only then can one determine with certainty what the fertile and infertile days are.