As I've said before, there were four basic types of birth control methods. The fourth being periodic abstinence. Before I get into that, I want to point out that, yes, I do realize that I haven't discussed the withdrawal method. And since I really don't think it goes well with today's topic, I'm going to save that for another time this week. Two short entries instead of one lengthy one might be good for this journal!
Okay, on to today's subject!
Periodic abstinence is when a woman abstains from sex while she is fertile. A woman ovulates (discharges an egg from her ovary) fourteen days before her menstrual cycle. Because sperm can live in a woman's body for two to five days, most find it safe to say a woman should abstain for a week - a few days before day 14, day 14, and a couple days after.
Note: Not every woman ovulates on day fourteen. This is just an average. Unless a woman knows her body really well, this method can be more than a little risky.
Don't have a regular menstrual cycle? Trust me, you're not alone. Luckily, there's other ways to find out whether you're ovulating.
Mittelschmerz occurs when a woman feels the sensation of ovulation. The sensation is a slight pain in the lower abdomen on either the left or right side. Not all women can recognize this, either because they're not tracking their cycle and so don't expect it, or because it's too subtle for them to note.
A more easily noticeable way to discover when a woman is ovulating is to take her temperature. A woman's temperature will rise slightly (somewhere between .4 and .8 degrees) when she ovulates. This requires using a high-resolution thermometer every morning at the same time. It's really important to stay on a schedule because after ovulation occurs, for eleven to sixteen days afterward, the temperature remains at the risen temperature, dropping at the time of menstruation. This method is more often used for women attempting to get pregnant than for those trying to avoid it, but hey, whatever works.
A last way to tell if a woman is ovulating is by her cervical mucus. Not exactly the most glamorous way to go about it, but if a woman were to check her cervical mucus daily, she'd find that during ovulation the mucus thins (to allow sperm through). When a woman is not fertile, cervical mucus becomes thick and hostile to sperm.
For more information on cervical mucus and how to correctly observe it:
Some down sides to these methods to discover ovulation:
* A woman's temperature can change due to outside sources that have nothing to do with ovulation. Illness, sleep deprivation, etc.
* A vaginal infection can change the consistency of cervical mucus, while certain medications can dry it up
Effectiveness of periodic abstinence: Theoretically, 91-99%. Typical use, 75%