What is FAM ? What is natural family planning


Published: May 20, 2015, 10:35 a.m. - Last Update: July 16, 2015, 1:16 p.m.


Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) or Natural Family Planning (NFP) allows women to identify their fertile days each menstrual cycle. While many women use this method to achieve pregnancy, it is also a reliable way of pregnancy prevention. Despite common misconceptions, the terms FAM, NFP and the Rhythm Method cannot be used interchangeably.


FAM and NFP are practiced in much the same way with one main difference. NFP, commonly practiced by Catholics, requires abstinence on fertile days, while FAM condones the use of barrier methods such as condoms during the fertile phase. Both methods work with a woman's unique cycle rhythm to determine the fertile and infertile phases with a high level of accuracy. The Rhythm Method, or calendar method, assumes every woman has a 28 day cycle and determines the fertile days based solely on the first day of menstruation. Since most women do not have a standard 28 day cycle, this method does not have a high effectiveness rating.


In order to identify fertile days with the Fertility Awareness Method, menstrual data is recorded. Additionally, other symptoms such as basal body temperature (BBT) and/or the consistency of cervical mucus are being tracked each day. BBT is the lowest body temperature of the day, usually achieved after long periods of rest, which is why it is most effective to record the temperature first thing in the morning upon awakening.
















Once an egg is released, a woman’s body temperature will rise about half a degree above the normal baseline temperature. The temperature stays elevated until shortly before the next menstruation. If conception occurs, the body temperature will stay at an increased level throughout the first trimester of the pregnancy.


Sperm can survive up to 5 days in a woman’s fallopian tubes. Therefore, the 5 days leading up to ovulation are critical for couples trying to avoid pregnancy. During those fertile days, a barrier method such as condoms must be used in order to prevent a possible conception.


Some fertility monitors such as Daysy can assist in reliably predicting fertile and non-fertile days with the Fertility Awareness Method. That way, women do not have to chart BBT readings each day in order to know their fertile window.




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