Commonly heard Falsehoods about the Fertility Awareness Method, #2: The Fertility Awareness Method is not an effective form of birth control

Here’s another quote I read recently on a fertility forum: “A friend of mine got pregnant using the Rhythm Method!” (when arguing that the Fertility Awareness Method is ineffective)

Come on, people!! It’s no surprise that someone got pregnant using the Rhythm Method. The Rhythm Method is the Russian Roulette of birth control. The Rhythm Method and the Fertility Awareness Method are NOT the same thing. Got it? Good.

Still, women who have used hormonal birth control throughout their reproductive years are often skeptical of the effectiveness of the Fertility Awareness Method, even if they do recognize that FAM and the Rhythm Method are not the same thing. This is understandable. We’re not taught in our high school health classes that women are fertile for only a few days each cycle, and we’re used to having a doctor tell us what’s going on with our bodies, rather than determining that for ourselves. So, it just seems easier to leave the business of avoiding pregnancy up to a pill, rather than our own devices.

But studies show that when used correctly, the Fertility Awareness Method is just as effective as the Pill. As long as you track your basal body temperature and cervical fluid each day (and cervical position if you want additional confirmation of the fertile window) and follow the 4 rules of using FAM as birth control, you can safely use FAM to avoid pregnancy. Keep in mind that this requires a daily commitment and strict adherence to the rules. Even if you almost always have a 28-day cycle, but you forgot to track your temperature for a few days during your fertile window and didn’t confirm a sustained temperature shift, you can’t assume you are safe to have unprotected sex on day 27. You never know when stress, lifestyle changes, or any other factor might affect your cycle and cause you to ovulate later than usual. That’s why it’s crucial to track your signs each day so you can know for sure if and when you ovulated.

Also, if you do have sex during your fertile window, the method is as effective as the barrier method that you use. So if you use condoms, that’s a 97-98% effectiveness rate with perfect use. 

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