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Family Planning

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Natural Family Planning

Natural family planning, also called periodic abstinence, requires users to practice abstinence during the fertile period of a woman's menstrual cycle. Clients using natural family planning may use one technique or a combination of techniques to identify the start and end of a woman's fertile period. Natural family planning can be very effective when clients are properly trained and counseled and when they are motivated to avoid unprotected intercourse for a week or more each month. For other women, however, failure rates can be quite high. The method has no side effects. No medical condition restricts a client's eligibility for use of the method. Some characteristics of natural family planning are highlighted below.


2% to 30% failure rate during first year of use; depends on a woman's ability to identify the fertile period of each menstrual cycle and couples' motivation and discipline to practice abstinence when required

Age limitations         

No restrictions

Parity limitations

No restrictions

Mode of action

Helps a client prevent pregnancy by avoiding unprotected sexual intercourse during the fertile period of a woman's menstrual cycle

Effect on STD risk

Not protective

Drug interaction


Duration of use

Most women can use natural family planning safely throughout their reproductive years (if they are satisfied with the method and have no problems with it)

Return to fertility

Immediately upon discontinuation

Return to Contraceptive Method List

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