Failing to plan is planning to fail. Plans improve the quality of life and when it concerns something as big as family, it is definitely important. Sympto-thermal method is a type of contraceptive method that aids family planning. It is a natural birth control method where pregnancy is averted by avoiding intercourse on certain days of menstrual cycle. This contraceptive method is popular as it is solely natural and does not cause any side effects.

The days in a woman’s menstrual cycle with high probability of conception can be determined either by observing the body temperature of the woman or keeping track of other cues denoting ovulation. These days vary from one person to another depending on the routine of their cycles. If observed carefully, these days can be identified by the woman without using the help of any external sources.

During ovulation, ovary releases the egg. The egg so released has a life span of 24 hours. If the egg gets fertilized by a sperm in these 24 hours, a zygote is form which develops into an embryo and the pregnancy develops. Since the life span of sperm is 3-5 days, about three to six days during the ovulation period is considered as pregnancy risk period.

Symptom-thermal method specifies its nature in the name itself. The term ‘sympto’ denotes the cues of the body and ‘thermal’ stands for the temperature of the body. The sympto-thermal process is implemented by recording the basal body temperature of the woman on a daily basis. In the initial months of using this method, temperature should be recorded every day. With time, this can be limited to certain days in the middle of the menstrual cycle, provided they are regular.

The body temperature is measured by a special type of thermometer known as basal thermometer. Unlike the traditional thermometer, these record even minute changes in body temperature. During ovulation period or more specifically after the egg is released, the body temperature increases. The rate of increase, though minute, varies from one person to another.

The normal body temperature is considered to be between 97.2 F and 97.4 F. After ovulation, the temperature increases to an average of 98 F, at the least. The ovulation is expected to be over when the temperature remains elevated for about 3 days. The fertile period starts about 5 days before the day of initial temperature rise and ends in 3 days of elevated temperature.

Another way to determine the ovulation period by this method is to look for symptoms of ovulation. The main symptoms to watch out for includes cervical firmness and mucus, breast sensitivity, mid cycle cramping and mood swings. With careful observation, this can confirm the fertility period. Intercourse after ovulation period is safer than that before it. The last safe day would be about 5 days before the day the temperature rise starts.

With only a failure rate of 1%, the sympto-thermal method is the best natural contraceptive method. The only drawback mentioned about this method, is the long abstinence period.