Ask Kindara: Can I use the Fertility Awareness Method without checking my cervical mucus?

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Hi!
Will charting work at all for me if I don't ever check my cervical fluid? Not crazy about doing it and just wondered how important it is....
Thanks,
Jackie

Hi Jackie,

Thanks for your question! You can chart to avoid pregnancy using only temperatures if you want, but keep a few things in mind. 

If you really don't want to track cervical mucus, you can use the Temperature Method, which essentially uses the First 5 Days Rule and the Temp +3 rule to identify your window of infertility. Definitely read the full article, but here’s a breakdown of the rules that apply to the Temperature Method:

  • First 5 Days Rule: You are generally considered infertile the first 5 days of your menstrual cycle, unless you have ever had a cycle that was less than 25 days long. This rule applies only if you observed a clear BBT shift 12 to 16 days prior to the start of your cycle (4).  
  • Temp +3 Rule: You are generally considered infertile the evening of the 3rd day after your BBT shift. This sustained increase in temperatures for at least 3 days suggests that ovulation has occurred (5). You need to make sure the BBT shift is sustained for at least 3 days because it's possible that you won't ovulate until 24 hours after your temperature shift, and it's possible to release two eggs within 24 hours of each other (this happens 5-10% of the time, so don't take your chances!) (3).
  • You must assume that you're fertile starting on the Cycle Day 6 of your cycle, no matter what (2). Abstain or use protection until you've confirmed ovulation with a sustained temperature shift. You’ll likely have more unsafe days than if you also tracked cervical mucus, which means longer period of abstinence or barrier methods (such as condoms) (1).

Exceptions:

  • If any of your cycles in the past 12 months have been less than 25 days, you should consider yourself infertile for only the first 3 days of your cycle. This is to avoid the risk of getting pregnant due to early ovulation. 
  • If you are beginning to experience signs of menopause or are breastfeeding, do not rely on this method, as you can experience major hormonal changes that could cause early ovulation. 

 You'll definitely get a better understanding of how fertile you are on any given day if you choose to measure cervical mucus.  Also, the Temperature Method does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or infections.

 Checking your cervical mucus might seem intimidating or maybe even a little gross at first, but rest assured, over time you will get used to it!  Here's a guide that shows you how easy it can be.  

 Hope this is helpful!

 

References

  1. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/fertility-awareness/whats-temperature-method-fams 
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/basal-body-temperature/about/pac-20393026 
  3. https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/ovulation-faq/
  4. Weschler, Toni. (2015). Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health.
  5. Martinez, A., van Hooff, M., Schoutc, Erik., van der Meer, M., Broekmans, F., Hompes, P. (1992). The reliability, acceptability and applications of basal body temperature (BBT) records in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gyneocology and Reproductive Biology, 121-127.

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