State-of-the-art of non-hormonal methods of contraception: IV. Natural family planning

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Despite the popularity of ‘modern’ contraceptives, natural family planning (NFP), including fertility awareness-based (FAB) methods and withdrawal, are practised in most countries. Worldwide FAB methods and withdrawal are used, respectively, by about 3.6% and 2.9% of all couples of reproductive age. This article describes the underpinnings of the different NFP methods, their rationales, histories, rules for use, efficacy and in broad categories their prevalence. Pregnancy rates of FAB methods with perfect use have ranged between 0.3 and 5.0 per 100 users per year, but typical use rates rises into the teens or higher. Withdrawal requires the male partner to be aware of his impending climax and to pull out of the vagina before ejaculation. Perfect use and typical pregnancy rates for withdrawal are estimated to be 4 and 27 per 100 per year, respectively. Many couples find NFP in accord with their own beliefs, satisfactory in its effectiveness and useful in planning a desired pregnancy. Many prize their self-control in practising NFP or withdrawal. In our research we used Medline, Popline and the Cochrane Library search engines in English, local institutional libraries, our own files in our native languages, the literature references contained therein, and source recommendations from colleagues.