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The Symptothermal Method Explained

Today we’re going to talk about a method of natural family planning known as the symptothermal method. In this post, we’ll look at what the symptothermal method is, how it works, and more. We’ll also take a look at some of the non-hormonal birth control options out there that can be used as an alternative to the symptothermal method. Read on to learn more...

What is the symptothermal method?

In simple terms, the symptothermal method is a way to monitor your fertility and prevent pregnancy. The symptothermal method can’t be defined as one approach - instead it's a combination of different fertility awareness-based methods (known as FABMs for short).

The most commonly combined methods are the basal body temperature method and the cervical mucus method (also known as the Billings Method). If you were using these two FABMs together, you would need to both manually chart your temperature readings throughout your menstrual cycle while also keeping track of changes in consistency to your discharge (or cervical mucus). 

Other FABMs include the standard days method and the rhythm method. These both involve counting cycle days to find the fertile window and can also be used alongside temperature charting and cervical mucus tracking to monitor fertility with the symptothermal method.

The challenges of using a fertility awareness-based method

If you’re thinking about switching to a fertility awareness-based method such as the symptothermal method, this can be a big commitment as FABMs tend to require more work than many other birth control methods. Some options like the cervical mucus method also require training before you can use them as birth control.

Keep in mind that FABMs typically involve a six-month monitoring period before they can be used as contraception - this works as a sort of buffer while you get to know your cycle length and look out for any irregularities. You should also be aware that some FABMs, such as the standard days method, are only a viable birth control option for those with certain cycle lengths.

All that said, your birth control choice is personal and there are many reasons for choosing a FABM or another natural birth control method. Only you will know what works best, but it’s good to weigh up the pros and cons and think about the work before you choose a method.

Why choose a fertility awareness-based method?

We’re all different, so we all have different needs when it comes to our contraception. For some our birth control choice is based on beliefs or lifestyle choices, for others it might be a medical requirement or to help relieve symptoms of a health condition. 

Fertility awareness-based methods are hormone-free and are often talked about in terms of natural family planning - this is a big pull for many who want to move away from hormonal birth control. Some FABMs also offer rewarding learning experiences as the monitoring helps users of the method get to know their bodies even better.

Keep in mind that before switching birth control methods, it’s always a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional to discuss your medical history and find out about the full range of contraceptive options available to you. 

Other types of non-hormonal birth control

Now we’ve talked about the pros and cons of using a FABM like the symptothermal method, we want to take some time to look at some other options. Below we’ve listed out some other non-hormonal birth control methods you might want to consider alongside the symptothermal method and other types of FABM:

The copper IUD

There are a couple of types of IUD available. However, unlike it’s hormonal twin, the copper IUD doesn’t contain any hormones. The copper IUD is highly effective at preventing pregnancy, and once fitted, can remain in place for up to 10 years! 

The copper in the IUD creates a hostile environment for sperm, it also thickens cervical mucus, and stops the implantation of a fertilized egg cell. This also means that the copper IUD can be used as an emergency birth control method if fitted up to five days after unprotected sex. 

Natural Cycles

The first ever FDA cleared birth control app, Natural Cycles uses basal body temperature readings combined with an algorithm that learns the pattern of your unique cycle to identify your fertile days. You can then choose to either abstain from sex or use a condom on the days when you know you’re fertile. Since Natural Cycles finds and confirms your specific ovulation it can still be used by those with irregular cycles. 

Unlike other forms of natural family planning, Natural Cycles is designed to remove the complex and time-consuming task of manual charting. As well as adding temperature readings, you can also log changes to mood, sex drive and even track the amount and consistency of cervical mucus.

The condom 

Perhaps the most well-known hormone-free birth control method, condoms are easily accessible as an over-the-counter-birth-control option, and have the added bonus of protecting us from sexually transmitted infections. Condoms work as a physical barrier, preventing sperm cells from entering the female reproductive system. 

There are two types of condom available: the more common male condom (worn on the penis) and the female condom (worn inside the vagina). As well as getting them in-store, you can also order condoms online

Natural birth control that’s powered by science

Thanks for reading up on the symptothermal method! We hope you’ve learned lots about fertility awareness-based birth control methods. Remember, whatever birth control method you choose is a personal choice and only you will know what works best for your body. 

At Natural Cycles we’re passionate about delivering hormone-free birth control that’s regulated and certified. Our birth control app uses basic biology combined with the technology of an algorithm that learns and adapts to your unique cycle. Why not find out if Natural Cycles could work for you today?

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Written By

Jennifer Gray

Jennifer Gray is an award-winning writer with more than five years’ experience covering reproductive topics ranging from birth control to planning pregnancy. She is passionate about providing women with accurate information grounded in science they can use to take charge of their own health - while also dispelling myths that exist within the field of women’s health. She holds a Master of Science from the University of Edinburgh and currently lives in Ireland.

Jack in a suit and tie holding a microphone and giving a presentation.

Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

Dr. Jack Pearson is a previously HCPC registered Embryologist with a PhD in reproductive medicine. Prior to joining Natural Cycles leading Medical Affairs, he worked for more than 10 years in a clinical setting working at some of the busiest fertility clinics in the UK. Today he spends most of his time working with experts at the world’s leading institutions to carry out important research with the vision to further the field of female health. He earned his PhD from the University of Sheffield specializing in Sperm Metabolism and currently lives in London.

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