Natural family planning is not a foolproof method, but it is possible. A woman, who wants to be responsible and in control of her body, can stay away from use of contraceptives if she wants to. This can be done using the so-called family planning chart. This chart is used to plot the basal temperature of the woman throughout the menstrual cycle because it is related to ovulation. The natural family planning method can work best when the approach is systematic; rather than just put dates and observations in your head, you can write it down. Whoever said that, “the palest ink is still better than the most retentive memory” must have realized the wisdom in jotting notes and in this case, plotting the chart.
Tracking a woman’s monthly cycle can generate valuable information such as ovulation period, safe and unsafe periods, and temperature readings. A temperature reading is the same thing as the basal body temperature. Basal body temperature (BBT) is the lowest body temperature that the body can attain, which happens after a long night of sleep with minimal metabolism. Thus, it is measured upon waking up in the morning.
Ovulation among women causes BBT to rise by about half to one degree Fahrenheit or one-quarter to one-half degree Celsius. The rise and fall in the BBT of a woman describes her ovulation cycle as biphasic in pattern. Charting these temperature readings manifest the pattern within each menstrual cycle that can be used as an element of fertility awareness.
Pregnancy can be avoided or can be fulfilled if one understands and can determine with accuracy the period of ovulation. Charting is an important tool whether a couple wants a child, a woman is trying to elude pregnancy despite sexual activity, or a woman simply wants to understand her body. The family planning chart can be created by measuring the BBT every morning using a basal thermometer. This kind of thermometer is widely available in most large drugstores and can be used vaginally, rectally or orally. Temperature reading is most importantly taken consistently from any of these locations upon waking up, before doing anything else and for at least five full minutes.
Plotting the Body Basal Temperatures
Plotting starts on the first day of the menstruation, which is accompanied by bleeding. There are blank boxes that are intended for the months. In the row marked by the word “Bleeding,” the woman must write H, M or S. Mid cycle bleeding or spotting are indicated in this row as well. Taking the BBT starts on the fifth day of the cycle every morning after the temperature is taken. This is to be recorded on the corresponding line until the next menstrual period starts again.
Aside from the temperatures, other physical manifestations and observations must also be recorded in the appropriate boxes. These include changes in the consistency if the vaginal mucus, headaches, cramps, spotting, breast tenderness, overall mood, size of the cervical opening, the firmness of the cervix, and how high the cervix is in the vagina. All these help in the successful utilization of the sympto-thermal method of birth control.
Interpreting the BBT Chart
How would you know if you are ovulating? Ovulation is indicated by a change in the temperature readings. It is safe to give this process about three days or as long as the temperature is higher than normal. This means that those who want pregnancy to happen must have the intercourse around those days and those who want to prevent pregnancy must consider those the unsafe days of the cycle. Other physical signs during ovulation can confirm this such as a soft, open cervix, clear, stretchy cervical mucus, and sometimes spotting and/or mild cramping.
This functionally serves as a family planning chart. Those who want to resort to natural family planning methods can use this to prevent unwanted pregnancy successfully. It is easy to do but requires diligence.