There are a number of natural methods of fertility management, but only a few (notably, the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM), the Creighton Method (CrM) and the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM)) have been demonstrated to be consistently reliable in avoiding and also achieving a pregnancy. Unlike the old Rhythm Method, these modern methods of natural fertility management are very effective – more effective in fact, than some popular contraceptives, such as condoms and diaphragms. Natural methods also have the advantage of being free of physical side effects. See the page Birth Control Methods for a detailed overview of the various family planning methods.
Billings Ovulation Method (BOM)
Named after its developers, Drs John and Lyn Billings of Melbourne, this method teaches a couple how to identify the fertile and infertile days in a woman’s cycle by observing the changes in the cervical fluid. Fluid is secreted by specialised cells in the cervix immediately prior to and at the time of ovulation. The fluid can be felt and seen when it leaves the woman’s body at the vulva (i.e. the opening of the vagina).
A couple using this method keeps a daily record of the woman’s vulval sensations as well as the colour and consistency of any fluid secretion. These observations allow the couple to determine when they are fertile (Fig. 2).
Creighton Method (CrM – Fertility Care)
This method is similar to the BOM, except that it involves a standardised and more detailed system for describing and recording the cervical fluid. The CrM is particularly helpful as a diagnostic tool in the detection of many gynaecological abnormalities.
Sympto-Thermal Method (STM)
This method incorporates the change in a woman’s body temperature following ovulation, and some other indicators, in addition to the cervical fluid symptom. The temperature change can be very useful in confirming the cervical fluid observations.