Natural methods


Abstinence or celibacy may be a lifestyle choice. Saying "no" and meaning it is the most appropriate response in many situations. However, strong, passionate feelings or undue pressure can make it hard to refrain from having sex. Be realistic if using this method.

Alcohol and drugs can seriously interfere with decision making. Making a pledge may help motivation but is no protection in many situations.



The technical term for this method is coitus interruptus but it also has many popular names such as "being careful" or "pulling out".

The man recognises when he is about to come (ejaculate) and withdraws the penis so that the sperm does not enter the woman's vagina. Sometimes he withdraws too late and then the woman will need to take emergency contraception.

The success of the method varies greatly and the influence of alcohol and drugs can ruin the best of intentions. Another hazard is that the pre-ejaculate (fluid before the orgasm) may contain sperm.

Natural family planning

There are a number of terms that are used for natural methods such as fertility awareness, sympto-thermal method, "safe times", and the rhythm method.

Natural family planning relies on the fact that the physiological changes that occur in a normal menstrual cycle can be detected by the woman. Ovulation normally occurs about 14 days before the onset of the next menstrual period. The two most reliable signs are the changes in cervical mucus and the rise in temperature that occurs after ovulation. Specialist clinics that teach this method are provided by Natural Fertility New Zealand. 

The success of the method depends on the care with which it is used and the natural fertility of the woman. For careful users the failure rate is as low as 2 pregnancies per hundred couples using it over a year. An average failure rate is about 20 pregnancies per hundred couples per year.

Breastfeeding or Lactational Amenorrhoea Method (LAM)

This is a good method for those who are fully breastfeeding: feeding baby on demand without food supplements. Guidelines advise that it can only be relied upon in the first six months after delivery and only if there is no return of menstruation in that time. Suckling by other means such as a "dummy" is discouraged.

The risk of conception up to six months is about 2%.