The birth control methods that we have discussed so far require the use of pills or devices. Some of these methods have side effects in some users, and there can be health risks associated with using oral contraceptives and the IUD. The barrier methods we have looked at—condoms, vaginal spermicides, and the diaphragm—have fewer side

At a Glance

■ TABLE 10.7 Oral Contraceptive Pills for Emergency Contraception

Instead of Progestin-Only Plan B

Ovrette: 20 pills as soon as possible within 120 hours and 20 pills 12 hours later after unprotected intercourse

Estrogen-Progestin Alternativesa 2 pills as soon as possible within 120 hours after unprotected intercourse and 2 more 12 hours later:

Ogestrel Ovral

4 pills as soon as possible within 120 hours after unprotected intercourse and 4 more 12 hours later:










5 pills as soon as possible within 120 hours after unprotected intercourse and 5 more 12 hours later:






aIn 28-day packs, only the first 21 pills can be used. The last 7 contain no hormones.

SOURCE: Adapted from Princeton University, Office of Population Research & Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (2006), Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Emergency Contraception in the United States of America. Retrieved 2006 from the Emergency Contraception website: http://ec. princeton. edu/.

fertility awareness methods

Birth control methods that use the signs of cyclic fertility to prevent or plan conception.

effects, but they require that the couple use them each time they have intercourse. In the next paragraphs, we look at methods of birth control based on changes during the menstrual cycle. These methods, which may answer some couples’ needs, are some­times referred to as natural family planning or fertility awareness methods. They are based on the fact that a fertile woman’s body reveals subtle and overt signs of cyclic fertility that can be used both to help prevent and to plan conception.

There are four different fertility awareness methods: the standard days method, the mucus method, the calendar method, and the basal body temperature method. Any of these can be used in combination to increase effectiveness (Frank-Hermann et al., 2007). About 3% of Catholic women in the United States use natural family planning (Jones & Dreweke, 2011). During the fertile period, couples using fertility awareness methods can abstain from intercourse and engage in other forms of sexual intimacy or can continue having intercourse and use other methods of birth control during the fertile time (Gribble et al., 2008). Unfortunately, present research indicates that, other than the standard days method, fertility awareness methods are considerably less effec­tive than most other birth control methods (Jennings et al., 1998).

standard days method

A birth control method that requires couples to avoid unprotected inter­course for a 12-day period in the middle of the menstrual cycle.

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