What is Safe Period?
Simply put, safe days are days in your cycle on which the likelihood of getting pregnant is significantly lower as compared to other days. These are the days that you are not fertile. The days before and after ovulation which is also a natural method of contraception if your period cycles are regular. Also called the Fertility Awareness Method “FAM” or the Rhythm method. FAMs are ways to track your ovulation so you can prevent pregnancy by having sex on the days you are least likely to get pregnant.
To know when one needs to understand how the body works. The menstrual cycle is commonly divided into three phases:
- the follicular phase (pre-ovulatory phase)
- the luteal phase (post-ovulatory phase)
Each phase of your period cycle varies from woman to woman, the average menstrual cycle being 28 days. Menstrual cycles are counted from the first day of menstrual bleeding. Lasting for 5-7 days.
Who can use this method?
While there are many popular birth control aids in the market like pills, hormone shots, IUDs, it’s not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea.
- If you’re looking to try something natural it’s potentially a good idea to try this method as it is completely natural and costs nothing.
- Calculating safe periods method can be used by anyone in a healthy sexual relationship, provided it’s done the right way. To chart your period regularly and measuring that your cycle is consistent month after month is important for this method to be accurate.
- Also called the ‘natural family planning’ method, it is adopted by many couples. Married couples who do not hear getting pregnant and are planning a child, even if not immediately, are the best category to use this method.
How many days before and after periods is safe?
Moving on to the big question- WHEN!
According to safe days calculator tools, you are safe in the first 7 days of your periods.
The 1st day is the day your period starts.
The 1st-7th day being less fertile.
8th day to 20th day being fertile.
From 21st day to rest of the cycle are considered as safe days for sex for women with a regular cycle of 26-32 days.
The remaining days, 8th to 21st day, your body is considered fertile and the likelihood of you getting pregnant is way higher if you participate in unprotected sex.
Ovulation normally occurs once in a menstrual cycle (one ovulation per period). The egg is normally released 14 days before your period starts ie. somewhere around mid-period. If a woman has regular monthly periods (the number of days between the start of each period is exactly the same) then ovulation will occur at the same time during each cycle. That will help you map your fertile days.
How do you calculate safe days?
It’s simple to remember the safe days for sex. A woman can calculate supposed safe days to be more aware of their cycles easily. 1-7th day, 21st- till your cycle completes or you could use a safe period calculator to avoid pregnancy. For this, you have to note your period for at least 6 months and note the number of days between the starting date and the next period date.
Who cannot use a safe period calculator? (other considerations to keep in mind)
- You cannot use this method if the average length of your menstrual cycle is less than 26 days or more than 32 days.
- After childbirth, you can use this calculator only after six regular menstrual cycles.
- Teens and women reaching menopause cannot rely on this method.
- Keep in mind, since this isn’t a barrier birth control tool, it doesn’t protect you against STDs.
- If your cycle is irregular and varies in duration month after month.
- The method works best if a couple has a stable relationship, good communication, and strong motivation to use it correctly.
- Some couples choose FAM because it’s safe, less expensive than other methods, and requires no drugs or devices. It can be easily discontinued any time pregnancy is wanted. Hence there are no disadvantages to this method.
Can a woman get pregnant as soon as her period ends?
A lot of women ask and wonder how long after the periods is it safe to have unprotected sex. The risk of conceiving using the FAM method can be calculated based on how long your fertile period is. The days near ovulation are your fertile days- when you’re most likely to get pregnant. An egg lives about a day after ovulation and sperm live up to 5 days after sex. So you’re basically fertile for around seven days of every menstrual cycle: the five days before you ovulate, and the day you ovulate are your less fertile days.
The various methods of FAM-
1. Calendar Method –
Calendar (Rhythm) Method predicts when ovulation will happen based on when ovulation occurred in past cycles. Start with counting days on the first day of your period and tabulating the number of days until the first day of your following period.
This method is not recommended for women with cycles shorter than 27 days. You can determine your “less fertile days” and your most fertile days once you have tracked the number of days in each of your cycles for at least 8 cycles. At least 12 cycles are preferred for accuracy.
2. Ovulation Method –
Ovulation (Mucus) Method involves watching the changes in cervical mucus. Normal vaginal discharge changes at the time of ovulation. When you’re most fertile, there is more mucus, and it feels wet and slippery. After ovulation, there is less mucus and it’s sticky, blocking sperm from entering the uterus. Women can check their mucus daily to tell when they’re most fertile. In order to use this information to figure out when you may or may not be at the height of your fertility, you need to examine your mucus several times a day and chart it in a calendar.
3. Basal Body Temperature Method –
Basal Body Temperature Method (BBT) depends on taking daily temperature readings to determine when ovulation is occurring. There is a rise in temperature when ovulation occurs. By taking your temperature first thing every morning, and graphing the results, you can often tell if you’ve ovulated.
4. Sympto-Thermal Method –
Sympto-Thermal Method uses a combination of various methods that identify symptoms of ovulation. These include the mucus method, basal body temperature, cervix changes, and other symptoms such as breast tenderness, abdominal heaviness, slight lower abdominal pain, or slight bleeding. This method may work better for women with irregular or less distinct mucus changes.
5. Standard Days Method
The Standard Days Method is a type of calendar method for tracking your fertility. It commonly involves tracking your cycle by moving a rubber ring around a special string of beads called Cyclebeads. This method is only useful for women who have regular cycles which never fall shorter than 26 days or extend longer than 32 days.
Advantages of safe period days methods
The benefits are as follows:
- It’s Inexpensive
- Can be used while breastfeeding
- Ability to become pregnant as soon as you stop
Other benefits include:
- No side effects on hormones
- No physical commitment
- Need for medication
- No prep work needed before intercourse
Things to remember while having sex in a safe period.
FAMs are about 76-88% effective: that means 12-24 out of 100 couples who use FAMs will get pregnant each year, depending on which methods are used.
However, carefully calculated use of FAM along with keeping a discipline to check your fertility signs and charting your cycle every day further reduces the chances of getting pregnant.
The best way to use FAMs is to combine temperature, cervical mucus, and calendar methods. Each of these methods relies on different signs to predict your fertile days so using them together gives you a more accurate idea of your fertility, making FAMs more accurate.
Feel free to talk to a health professional to find a birth control method that suits you and your cycle the best.