Creighton, Billings, Sympto-thermal, Standard Days and Marquette are just a few examples of the many different methods of Natural Family Planning. You may be wondering why there are so many different methods. It can definitely seem overwhelming when you first trying to decide on what method to use.  

While it may seem like an annoyance, we are so fortunate to have so many options to best suit each individual woman.  

As a medical student, I have seen firsthand the long list of different formulations of hormones, materials and devices used as contraception. We are taught to continue trying different combinations until the patient finds a method that suits her and whose side effects are at a minimum.  

Women using NFP deserve to be catered to in the same way. Some women don’t have reliable temperatures and benefit from a method that uses predominantly mucus observations, while some women have scant mucus. To help clear the confusion more, here are the basics of the three most common styles: 

Symptothermal: Symptothermal methods of NFP use multiples observations to check for signs of fertility. They most commonly use a triple-check system that includes basal body temperature, cervical mucus and cervical position. Women are taught to make observations of these three signs and note them in their charts. 

Symptohormonal: Symptohormonal methods use a cross-check of observations similar to symptothermal method. The primary observation in symptohormonal method is monitoring urine levels of luteinizing hormone (LH). This is the hormone that signifies ovulation and is utilized in ovulation prediction kits. Women using this method double-check their levels of LH with another sign of fertility such as mucus observations. 

Mucus only: Mucus only methods require women to make observations of their cervical mucus throughout the day in terms that are much more specific than the previous two methods (as this is the only sign the method relies on). The women record the consistency, sensation produced and color of their mucus. 

We have this redundancy of methods to ensure no woman is left behind. Some people have problems with taking their temperature every morning, some woman don’t have reliable mucus production.  

These different methods allow a woman to apply her observations to what fits her lifestyle best at the time.