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Natural Family Planning: A Birth Control Alternative


  • Ms. Natalie Matis

    Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Natalie Matis is a nursing student at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. Her professional goals include certification as a nurse-midwife. She is married, has one child, and currently teaches the ovulation method of natural family planning.

20 Hidden Field, Andover, MA 01810.


There is currently a great need for a safe and reliable method of birth control in view of the medical hazards associated with the use of artificial contraceptives. The early natural methods of breastfeeding, calendar rhythm, and temperature have been superseded by two modern and highly effective methods: the ovulation method and the symptothermal method, which may be used to both achieve and avoid pregnancy. The ovulation method is based on a woman's observation of the behavior of her cervical mucus, which changes in character throughout the menstrual cycle. In addition to mucus observation, the symptothermal method includes temperature taking and cervical palpation. The results of several studies have found the natural methods to be comparable in effectiveness to contraceptive pills and the intrauterine device, although proper teaching and motivation of couples is required for their successful application. The periods of abstinence involved appear to engender improvements in the marriage. Knowledge of these methods is invaluable to the practice of midwifery.