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Natural family planning (fertility awareness)

Natural family planning

Natural family planning is a method which involves assessing when a woman is most fertile during her monthly cycle and avoiding unprotected sex during this time.

It requires a woman to plot the times of the month when she is fertile and when she is not.  You also have to record fertility signals such as body temperature and cervical secretions (fluids or mucus) to identify when it’s safer to have sex.

Fertility awareness should only be used if you have been taught by a specialist teacher.


Key Facts

  • If instructions are followed correctly, this method can be up to 99% effective, depending on what methods are used.
  • You have to keep a daily record of your fertility signals and can take three to six menstrual (monthly) cycles to learn the method
  • If you want to have sex during a time when you might get pregnant you will need to use a condom
  • Your fertility signals can be affected by things such as illness, stress and travel
  • Fertility awareness will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)


Who can use natural family planning?

Most women are able to use natural family planning. However, there are some circumstances where it is not recommended as a form of contraception, or as your only form of contraception. You should discuss if it is suitable for you with your GP.


Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Natural family planning is acceptable to all faiths and cultures
  • It can be used to help you plan avoiding pregnancy or becoming pregnant
  • It is a non-hormonal form of contraception
  • Most women can use this method if trained by a specialist teacher


  • It doesn’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIS)
  • It can take a few cycles to learn how to monitor your fertility signals
  • It requires daily commitment from both partners
  • It may not be suitable if your periods are irregular 

Free and confidential advice and support

Contact a sexual health adviser

The Passionate about Sexual Health (PaSH) Partnership) is a collaboration between BHA for Equality, George House Trust and the LGBT Foundation. The PaSH Partnership will deliver a comprehensive programme of interventions to meet the changing needs of people newly diagnosed with HIV, living longer term with HIV or at greatest risk of acquiring HIV.

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Providing advice, support and resources for LGBT people to take control of their sexual health and wellbeing