Natural methods and withdrawal
The information you need to know to doing contraception au natural.
Remember that the age of sexual consent in the Republic of Ireland is 17 and the age of sexual consent in Northern Ireland is 16.
Natural methods of contraception do NOT protect against sexually transmitted infections, and are 80-98% effective based on careful use.
How do natural methods work?
In natural methods, body temperature and other changes are recorded every day to monitor when the body is most fertile. These signs and symptoms are used to estimate when a woman is most fertile, and when she should avoid sex or use a barrier method such as condom or diaphragm. It is important that you attend training before using a natural method as contraception. Organisations such as Accord and the National Association of Ovulation Method Ireland (NAOMI) provide training. You’ll also need to be motivated to take your temperature before getting out of bed in the morning, to monitor your other signs throughout the day and to put them on a chart. However, this only takes a few minutes per day and you can download easy to use fertility awareness programmes online.
Some people think that withdrawal is a safe natural method of contraception, but it’s not very effective, and should NOT be used by young people. Withdrawal means removing the penis from the vagina just before the semen (cum) starts coming out. Unfortunately, small amounts of semen can leave the penis during sex without either person realising it, making withdrawal very unreliable. Withdrawal does NOT give good protection against pregnancy and does not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
Advantages of natural methods:
- There are no harmful side effects. You don’t need to worry about things like headaches, weight gain etc. when using natural methods, as you are not taking any hormones.
- Natural methods are accepted by all faiths and cultures. If you are religious, this may be important to you.
- Many women feel empowered by the knowledge they gain from tracking their cycle. Women with irregular cycles often like the fact that ‘charting’ allows them to predict when they will get their period.
- These methods can also be used to help plan a pregnancy. So if you decide you want to get pregnant, all you have to do is follow the opposite rules!
- Natural methods are cheap. You don’t need to pay for anything, aside from the initial training and maybe some barriers (such as condoms, diaphragms, caps) during your fertile phase.
- Natural methods don't protect against sexually transmitted infections.
- You do have to be committed to use a natural method.
- Natural methods take time to learn. For this reason, natural methods must not be used as your contraceptive while you are learning. Most teachers state that you should practice recording your signs for three months before using it as a contraceptive.
- You need to be willing to not have sex during your fertile phase or to use contraception such as a condom or diaphragm instead.