Starting natural family planning and how to use it

It can take up to 6 months of tracking your cycle before you feel confident about predicting ovulation and knowing when to use extra precautions.

When you're getting started, it’s recommended to work with a specialist natural family planning trainer who can teach you how to chart your cycle. They’ll also show you how to review the charts regularly, to help you predict ovulation and work out your fertile period each month.

To get help and support with natural family planning, you'll need to: 

What thermometer should you buy?

Regular ear or forehead thermometers are not accurate enough for measuring your temperature for natural family planning.

It’s better to use a thermometer that measures very small increments: 1/10th or even 1/100th of a degree. These are often known as ‘basal’ or ‘ovulation thermometers’.

What chart should you use?

There are many charts available online, along with digital apps. The NHS suggests using fertility charts from the Fertility Education and Training site, where you can also get information on how to use them.

Don't stress out about your charts for at least 3 months, and use condoms for all of that time. I'm also just putting a word out there for newbies to build in checking their cervical mucus and not just rely on your temperatures. Natural family planning is a really good way to understand what is going on with your hormones and to know your body.

Which app should you use?

Make sure you use a licensed app. 

As far as we know, only the Natural Cycles app is licensed, but there are likely to be more in the future.

Did you know?

Many people use this kind of fertility tracking to identify their most fertile time when they’re planning a pregnancy.

Everything you wanted to know about sexual health and wellbeing - your questions answered by our expert team.