Someone asked us:
Q. Are there any telltale signs that you’re ovulating? And what’s the best way of keeping track of your cycle so you can avoid sex during ovulation? Also, do you think that’s a good method to try? Because I’m too broke for birth control and I don’t like the feel of condoms so I don’t know what else to do.
Yes, there are some telltale signs of ovulation, the point in the menstrual cycle when an egg is released, and fertility awareness-based methods (FAMs) prevent pregnancy by helping you figure out the days of your cycle when you’re most likely to get pregnant. If you avoid unprotected vaginal intercourse, or use an additional method on all of these “unsafe” days, you’re not likely to get pregnant.
But predicting safe days takes some effort. There can be 12 or more unsafe days in a month depending on the FAM you use. The trick is figuring out when you’re about to ovulate. If you have regular cycles, never shorter than 26 days and never longer than 32 days, you can track your safe days using Cycle Beads, a smartphone app, or a calendar. Charting your body temperature or the changes in your cervical mucus also help you identify safe days. Some people do all three just to be safe.It’s a good idea to learn as much as possible before you start a FAM – there are even classes you can take to learn how.
Some people really love their FAMs. They’re free, don’t have any side effects, and they help you understand your body better. But they definitely take some work, require you to avoid unprotected vaginal intercourse for over a third of each month, and they aren’t the most effective birth control option.
If you’re curious about other inexpensive options, check out our birth control information, use our My Method tool to help find a method that works for you, or contact your local Planned Parenthood health center to learn more about ways to make your health care more affordable.
-Nathan at PPFA