Fertility Awareness

Fertility awareness involves being able to identify the signs and symptoms of fertility during the menstrual cycle so you can plan or avoid pregnancy.

This information is about using fertility awareness methods as contraception to help you avoid getting pregnant.

Using fertility awareness methods for contraception is also known as natural family planning.


  • Using fertility awareness makes you more aware of your fertility and can help to plan a pregnancy or avoid a pregnancy.
  • There are no physical side effects.
  • It can help you recognise normal and abnormal vaginal secretions.
  • It can help you to communicate about your fertility and sexuality.
  • It's acceptable to all faiths and cultures


  • It takes 3–6 menstrual cycles to learn effectively.
  • You have to keep daily records.
  • Some events, such as illness, lifestyle, stress or travel, may make fertility indicators harder to interpret.
  • You need to avoid sex or use external condoms or internal condoms during the fertile time.
  • Fertility awareness methods don't protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

How effective is it?

If 100 sexually active women don't use any contraception, 80 to 90 will become pregnant in a year.

If used according to teaching and instructions, fertility awareness methods are up to 99% effective, depending on which method is used. This means that up to one woman in 100 will get pregnant in one year.

If natural family planning methods are not used according to instructions, more women will get pregnant.

Natural family planning is more effective when taught by a specialist natural family planning teacher, and when more than one fertility indicator is used.

Some people choose to combine their fertility awareness knowledge with condoms (external condoms or internal condoms)  – this is sometimes known as fertility awareness combined methods. The effectiveness of this depends on how well you use condoms.

How do I learn this?

You'll need to find someone to teach you how to use fertility awareness methods.

Some of our clinics offer fertility awareness teaching. Please call 03003031948 making sure you state that you are looking to start this particular method so they can book you with an appropriate clinician.

If it is not available in your area, you may need to find your own teacher – some charge a fee.

For more information visit the FPA website.