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As the adage goes - better safe than sorry. As much as we try to run away, we need to understand that it is important for the youth, especially those who are sexually active, to know the natural contraceptive methods that can be used to practice safe sex. Natural methods mostly rely on the menstrual cycle and observations of a woman’s body. The advantage is that it prevents unwanted surgical and medical procedures and is comparatively low cost compared to artificial methods. Artificial methods can be harmful as some of them are based on changing the hormonal levels. However, there are chances of unplanned conceptions through natural contraceptive methods as well because no method is a 100 percent safe.
Some common natural contraceptive methods are:
1. Mucous Inspection Method: The mucous inspection method depends on the cervical mucus that is produced by a woman’s body due to the activity of a hormone called estrogen. It has been observed that a woman has a significant amount of watery mucous-like secretion just before ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary). She can have intercourse from her last menstrual cycle to the day of the mucous secretion and should avoid it for a few days after ovulation to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.
2. Basal Body Temperature Method: This method is based on the fact that there is a dip in the temperature of a woman’s body 12-14 hours before ovulation (release of egg). However, this method is not completely effective because of two reasons. One is that the drop in the temperature is very small, around 0.5 degree C, and is hard to identify. The other reason is that there can be variations in the body temperature due to several other reasons and a woman has to constantly monitor the temperature if she chooses to follow this method.
3. Natural Abstinence: This can be of two types. In the first type, the couple avoids intercourse a few days prior to ovulation, on the day of ovulation, and a few days after ovulation. This might not be completely effective as ovulation (release of egg) can be irregular. In the second type, the couple completely avoids sexual intercourse (penis to vagina contact). This is 100% effective if followed consistently.
4. Lactation Amenorrhea: This method is based on the principle that a female doesn't ovulate during lactation (around 6-9 months after she has given birth to an infant). Amenorrhea means the absence of period; during lactation when there is an absence of menstruation ovulation does not occur. This is not completely reliable as the exact date of ovulation cannot be determined.
5. Calendar Rhythm Method: This is based on the menstrual calendar of a woman, where she calculates the total number of days she is fertile in a month, based on her previous menstrual cycles. But if the periods are irregular, then the number of fertile days increases. The time period is calculated by subtracting 18 days from her shortest menstrual cycle and 12 days from her longest menstrual cycle to determine the beginning and end of the fertility period.
6. Withdrawal or Coitus Interruptus: This isn't a completely effective method. Here, the male withdraws just before ejaculation, which may prevent pregnancy. It has no physical side-effects, nor does it require a medical prescription.
It is also known as the pullout method. It is dependent on self-control and does not help prevent STDs.
Everyone is advised to use contraceptive methods in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies and be safe from STDs.
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