You may have heard a variety of efficacy rates for Fertility Awareness Methods as birth control or family planning, + perhaps wonder what the correct rate really is. The answer to this isn’t as simple as, “Oh, it’s 97% effective.” Why? Here are 3 reasons:

  • There are 𝕕𝕚𝕗𝕗𝕖𝕣𝕖𝕟𝕥 𝕜𝕚𝕟𝕕𝕤 𝕠𝕗 𝔽𝕖𝕣𝕥𝕚𝕝𝕚𝕥𝕪 𝔸𝕨𝕒𝕣𝕖𝕟𝕖𝕤𝕤 𝔹𝕒𝕤𝕖𝕕 𝕄𝕖𝕥𝕙𝕠𝕕𝕤 (FABMs), + they track different biomarkers + have a variety of different rules. Because some rules are more conservative than others, + because some biomarkers are more accurate for knowing the fertile window than others, understandably the efficacy rates vary between methods. The method with the highest efficacy rate is the Symptothermal Double-Check method (most popular is Sensiplan). This method tracks cervical fluid, BBT, *and* adds in some calculation rules for the opening of the fertile window — giving a perfect use efficacy rate of 99.6%! Methods that track less, or which have less specific parameters will necessarily be less effective.
  • There is also a 𝕕𝕚𝕤𝕥𝕚𝕟𝕔𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕓𝕖𝕥𝕨𝕖𝕖𝕟 𝕡𝕖𝕣𝕗𝕖𝕔𝕥 𝕦𝕤𝕖 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕥𝕪𝕡𝕚𝕔𝕒𝕝 𝕦𝕤𝕖. FABMs are user-dependent methods, meaning they are only as effective as the woman + couple who are using them! Note here that if you are not following specific rules pertaining to a specific method, you are not practicing FAM! You’re just taking risks. But even for those who learn a specific FAM, it’s still 100% your responsibility to follow the rules. If you take risks, it’s not the method that didn’t work! (I’ll talk more later about barrier use vs abstinence in the fertile window, called BAFTing.)
  • Those who 𝕝𝕖𝕒𝕣𝕟 𝕗𝕣𝕠𝕞 𝕒 𝔽𝔸𝕄 𝔼𝕕𝕦𝕔𝕒𝕥𝕠𝕣 𝕧𝕖𝕣𝕤𝕦𝕤 𝕥𝕙𝕠𝕤𝕖 𝕨𝕙𝕠 𝕤𝕖𝕝𝕗-𝕥𝕖𝕒𝕔𝕙 will generally have higher success, because there’s less opportunity for confusion about biomarkers + rules. All the high rates you see are from women who learned from Educators and followed their method’s rules, so there are really stats for those who self-teach. 🙂

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