Natural Family Planning

Natural family planning allows you to closely monitor your or your partner's menstrual cycle so you can have sex when there is a no or a reduced risk of risk of pregnancy.

How effective is natural family planning?

  • Natural family planning is up to 99% effective depending on the method used - this means that if 100 women followed the methods for one year, 1 of them would get pregnant.
  • However, there would be more pregnancies if the methods are not followed correctly.
  • It is more effective if you are taught by a family planning doctor or nurse.

How does it work?

  • You are most fertile during approximately 8 - 9 days in your cycle around ovulation and you need to avoid having sex during these days
  • You will be taught how to identify these days by:
    • your temperature
    • cervical mucus
    • your cycle length
  • You can also use fertility monitors that detect ovulation to help you avoid these days


  • There are no hormones or chemicals involved
  • You can involve your partner in understanding your cycle and body
  • There are no side effects
  • It is acceptable to all faiths and religions


  • Your cycle can change - for example, if you are travelling, stressed or ill
  • It takes approximately 3 - 6 months to understand your cycle
  • You need time and patience to document and chart you cycle daily
  • There is no protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Other techniques

  • Withdrawal technique - when ejaculation is about to happen, the man withdraws from the vagina and ejaculates outside. However, this method is not reliable as there can be sperm leaked inside the vagina before ejaculation (pre-ejaculate)
  • If you are exclusively breastfeeding, you are covered from a contraceptive point of view but this is not completely reliable
  • Abstain from sex

Further sources on information

You can find further reliable information on the Family Planning Association website:
Or Fertility UK at
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