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Health Information and Tools > Sexual and reproductive health > Birth control >  Fertility awareness-based (FAB) methods
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Sexual and Reproductive Health

Fertility awareness-based (FAB) methods

What are FAB methods?

FAB methods help people understand how to prevent a pregnancy by not having sex during the fertile time. There are many different methods (like the Standard Days Method®, Calendar Rhythm Method, Cervical Mucous, Basal Body Temperature, TwoDay Method®, and Symptothermal Method).

With FAB methods, a person:

  • identifies the most likely time to get pregnant (fertile time)
  • must not have sex (abstain) or use another method of birth control during the fertile time
  • needs one-to-one training to know how to use the methods the right way

How well do FAB methods work to prevent pregnancy?

  • There’s about an 85% chance of getting pregnant after 1 year of having unprotected sex.
  • How well FAB methods work is hard to estimate. With typical use (not following exact directions) the pregnancy rate is about 24% after 1 year.
  • FAB methods don’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.
  • Use a condom every time you have sex (vaginal, oral, anal) to lower your risk of STIs and HIV.

FAB methods may not work and aren’t recommended if you:

  • have periods that aren’t regular
  • have recently had a baby
  • have conditions or factors that affect body temperature (like fever, trouble sleeping, and shift work)
  • have just started having periods
  • are breastfeeding
  • are getting close to menopause
  • have recently stopped a hormonal method of birth control
  • have a lot of vaginal infections, which makes it hard to track your cervical mucous

Don’t use FAB methods if a pregnancy would:

  • be hard for you
  • put your health at risk because of a medical problem

Talk to your health care provider to decide if FAB methods are right for you.

What are the benefits of FAB methods?

  • There are no added hormones.
  • You don’t need any birth control supplies except a basal thermometer and a way to keep track of your information (like monthly charts or a calendar). FAB methods may work well if you have certain personal, religious, or cultural beliefs about birth control.

What are the disadvantages of FAB methods?

  • You have to keep track every day so you know exactly where you’re at in your cycle.
  • To use these FAB methods you need to have good communication with your partner. You’ll need to talk about being abstinent or using a barrier method of birth control (like a condom) during fertile times.

Where can I get more information?

If you’re interested in FAB methods, contact the organizations below for teaching and support:

What else do I need to know about FAB methods?

  • Get emergency contraception a​s soon as possible to help prevent pregnancy if you think you haven't followed FAB methods correctly.
  • Fertility monitors (like ovulation predictor kits and electronic hormonal fertility monitors) can be used to improve FAB methods.
  • FAB methods can also be used to help you get pregnant.​​

What else is important to know about consent, sexual activity, and birth control?

  • You have the right to decide to have sex or not. Talk with your partner or partners about consent.
  • There’s an 85% chance of becoming pregnant within one year, if no birth control is used for vaginal sex.
  • Use a condom or barrier every time you have sex (oral, vaginal, anal). Condoms help prevent pregnancy, STIs, and HIV.
  • You can lower your risk of HIV by taking an HIV prevention pill every day. Many Albertans can get it for free. Visit HIV PrEP to find out more.
  • Transgender and gender diverse people who have a uterus can use hormonal birth control. It can help prevent pregnancy and make periods lighter and less painful.

Where can I find more information?

If you have questions, need to find a sexual health clinic near you, or want more information, call Health Link at 811 anytime, day or night, to talk to a registered nurse.

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