Image of a lock indicating safety, for natural family planning (safe days)
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Safe days: pros and cons

Many people rely on safe days as their main birth control method. But that can be quite a risk. Find out more about safe days and their pros and cons.

What is it?  

Before we dive into the pros and cons, let’s make sure we know what safe days are.

It’s easiest to get pregnant halfway through the menstrual cycle – during ovulation. If you have unprotected days a few days before, during, or just after ovulation, you are likely to get pregnant. People use this knowledge to calculate ‘safe days’: the days when you are at a low risk of conceiving if you have unprotected sex.

Pros
It's natural

Many people don't want to use hormonal birth control methods because it’s not fully clear what happens to our bodies when we put artificial hormones into it.

Counting safe days is completely natural and doesn’t require any medication. That also means that there are no side effects.  

That’s also an advantage if you want to have a baby in the near future – you don’t need to wait for your cycle to normalise after having taken birth control for a while.

There's help

You can use quite a few tools to help you calculate your safe days. This includes measuring your body temperature every morning, using apps to log your symptoms, and tracking symptoms, such as vaginal discharge.

The more you understand and track your cycle, the less likely you will be to become pregnant unexpectedly. So you will need to read a lot before getting started for the best results.

It's cheap

Counting your safe days is a cheap way to avoid pregnancies. Unless you want to invest in a thermometer to measure your temperature daily, all you need is a calendar or a free app, and you are good to go.

Cons
High risk of pregnancy

Twenty-five out of 100 women who use only safe days to prevent pregnancy for a year get pregnant. So, compared to other birth control methods, there is a really high risk of getting pregnant.  

That means that, if you absolutely do not want to get pregnant, this is not a good method for you.

You need regular periods

Safe days will only work for you if you have a very regular cycle. If your cycle is very different every time, it will be much, much harder to accurately track your cycle and hence your safe days. If you have irregular periods, safe days might not be a good option for you and you should look into different birth control methods.

Meticulous

This is a birth control method that needs you to be meticulous. You need to check and chart, and you cannot skip that. You need to continuously have your cycle on your mind – otherwise, you are at risk of getting pregnant.

Need for backup

You still need to plan for a back-up. Biologically, women are more into sex just before they ovulate (the higher risk days). So, if you feel like you want to have some fun between the sheets during that period, you need to think about a backup method then.

Do you have questions about safe days? Ask our forum moderators for help today.

Comments

Hi Jane, safe days are one of the most unreliable ways to prevent pregnancy, and we really don't recommend it at all. When your safe days are really depends on the length of your cycle. Technically speaking, the first seven days before and after your period, as well as the time of your period, are relatively safe. But, if you have a shorter cycle (shorter than 28 days), or an irregular one, this will vary. Also keep in mind that sperm can survive for up to five days and longer inside the body- so even if you have sex on a 'safe' day, you can still get pregnant, because the sperm survived until your ovulation date. So you see, it's a very inaccurate. And lastly, of course this won't protect you from STDs. Only condoms will. So we really recommend a more reliable method. 

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