The Pros & Cons of the Fertility Awareness Method

Sex

Navigating the landscape of fertility and birth control can often feel like an intricate puzzle. Amidst various contraceptive methods, the Symptothermal Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) presents a unique and empowering approach.

woman clothed laying in waves

Navigating the landscape of fertility and birth control can often feel like an intricate puzzle. Amidst various contraceptive methods, the Symptothermal Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) presents a unique and empowering approach. It hinges on an intimate understanding of one's body and natural menstrual cycles, offering a holistic and scientifically-backed route to either achieving or preventing pregnancy.

Contrary to the often-held belief that women are always fertile, pregnancy cannot realistically occur in more than six days per cycle. This method allows women to identify those fertile days and use that information to either prevent a pregnancy or optimize their chances of conceiving.

This daily practice requires them to monitor and chart their primary fertility signs – cervical mucus, basal body temperature (waking temperature), and cervical positioning. Just like any other method of contraception, it offers both pros and cons.

The Pros of the Fertility Awareness Method

  • When done correctly, FAM is over 99% efficient in preventing pregnancy.
  • It can be used both to prevent pregnancy and to optimize chances of conceiving.
  • FAM can be practiced from menarche until menopause, in all reproductive stages.
  • Because it's a non-hormonal method of contraception, FAM can also be used while breastfeeding. 
  • Unlike some other forms of contraception, FAM does not have any short-term or long-term side effects.
  • FAM can be practiced by women who are or aren't sexually active, and intend to monitor their hormonal health and understand their infradian rhythms. 
  • FAM ensures shared responsibility between partners in achieving their reproductive goal (be it prevention or conception). For example, unlike with the pill or IUD, a man whose partner practices FAM is going to need to be aware of where she is in her cycle in order to modify his sexual activity according to her fertile window. Communication about their reproductive goal and how they can achieve it is essential for both partners and should not fall on the woman's shoulders alone.
  • FAM promotes sexual consent between partners by normalizing sex talk, bodies, and sexual preferences. 
  • It can be practiced by women with regular or irregular cycles, since unlike the rhythm method, FAM provides real-time data regardless of previous cycles and predictions. 

The Cons of the Fertility Awareness Method

  • Because FAM is self-directed, there is plenty of room for error with this method, making the real-life efficacy rate closer to 76%.
  • This method requires time, commitment, and practice. This might seem as a con for some people, while others may learn to appreciate this newfound way to connect with their bodies over time. 
  • This method provides no protection against sexually transmitted infections.
  • For FAM to be effective at preventing pregnancy, you will need to abstain from penetrative sex during your fertile window. However, you can still engage in other non-penetrative sexual activities with your partner. 
  • If a woman is in a relationship where she has no control over when sex takes place, FAM will not be effective in preventing a pregnancy.
  • FAM requires couples to actively modify their sexual activities based on whether or not they are trying to conceive.
  • Understanding the method and learning how to categorize cervical mucus and interpret the data is essential to practicing FAM correctly. Therefore, women with learning disabilities might find it more challenging to learn and practice the method.

A final note

There are pros and cons to every contraceptive method out there, so instead of looking for a perfect solution, look for a solution that works for your body, your lifestyle, and your goals. 

Special thanks to:

Zainab Alradhi

@Niswaorg

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