The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is a form of natural family planning (NFP) that uses the body’s signs to predict ovulation, so you can avoid intercourse when it could lead to conception.
The fertile window only lasts 6 days each cycle—the day of ovulation, and the 5 days before it. FAM involves following your basal body temperature, symptoms, cervical fluid consistency, and other signs of ovulation that you can track in the Ovia Fertility app to identify which days of your cycle are the fertile days.
How effective is FAM?
When it comes to the effectiveness of a certain form of birth control, you’ll often see two statistics: perfect use and typical use.
Birth control pills, for instance, have about a 99% effective rate under perfect use. This means that if you take the pills at the same time every day, and never miss a day, there’s a less than 1% chance that you’ll conceive in any given year. However, most do not use birth control perfectly, which results in a typical use rate of about 91%.
FAM is up to 99% effective under perfect use. Sounds pretty great, right? Unfortunately, FAM is only about 74% effective with typical use. This means that if you’re actively looking to avoid pregnancy, FAM alone is probably not the birth control method for you.
Making use of FAM
Although FAM as a primary form of birth control isn’t for everybody, being aware of when you ovulate and are fertile can be useful as extra protection against getting pregnant. If you’re on the ‘pill’, for instance, avoiding intercourse on your most fertile days can help you avoid pregnancy, just in case the pill fails.
FAM can be a helpful addition to your family planning tools, but it’s difficult to rely on by itself, especially if you’re still recovering from childbirth. Given the risks of a second pregnancy within 18 months of a prior delivery, your healthcare provider may recommend using an additional form of birth control beyond FAM.
You should speak with your healthcare provider if you have any questions about birth spacing and family planning.
- “Fertility Awareness-Based Methods of Family Planning.” ACOG. FAQ 024 from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Apr 2015. Web.
- “Fertility Awareness.” Planned Parenthood. Retrieved from: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/fertility-awareness.
- “How effective is the birth control pill?” Planned Parenthood. Retrieved from: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-effective-is-the-birth-control-pill.