Out With the New, In With the Old Birth Control Techniques

White egg with pink female symbol isolated on white
Women are most fertile between the ages of 20 and 24, but can still easily conceive throughout their 20’s. However, for 25-year-old Aisha Mukooza, pregnancy is simply out the question right now.

“I can’t afford to get pregnant,” Mukooza said.

Like many young women, Mukooza uses birth control in order to prevent pregnancy; however, she uses a method that many would consider “old school.” “I have my thermometer under my pillow. I take it, and then take the reading and put it in Kindara,” Mukooza said.

Kindara is a mobile application on Mukooza’s smartphone that helps her keep track of her temperature. When Mukooza ovulates, her body temperature naturally rises.

Mukooza is just one of many young women who are foregoing hormonal birth control in favor of older methods but with a modern, digital twist. These women are using a method known as Natural Family Planning, or Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM).

Many experts warn that FAM is one of the least successful means of birth control, because it can be difficult if not complicated to do accurately. However, thanks to technology, some women feel it is the best, and most natural option.

Ironically, FAM is especially popular among women who are trying to conceive. Now, an increasing number are using these very methods to prevent pregnancy. With its roots deep in the Catholic Church, FAM is beginning to lose its religious association as more and more secular women begin using it. Many say they are leery of the side effects associated with hormonal birth control.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only a small percentage of women — 1-3% — use FAM as a form of contraception, but a research study from the University of Iowa found that more women were aware of it. In fact, 1 in 5 women would consider it an option.

Hormonal birth control, commonly referred to simply as “the pill,” is the most common pharmacological contraceptive. Studies show that nearly 4 out of 5 American women use it. Yet, almost 30% of all users cease taking the pill due to adverse side effects such as nausea, weight gain, sore or swollen breasts, spotting and mood changes, according to research from the CDC.

When Mukooza’s then-boyfriend, and now-husband, asked her to consider using the pill or getting a hormonal implant, she was strongly against it.

“I wouldn’t have it,” she said. “I was literally scared of hormonal birth control. I didn’t like the potential side effects.”

“I’m a healthy person. I try to eat healthy food, so the idea of being pumped with synthetic hormones didn’t appeal to me, in fact, it was scary,” Mukooza said.