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What is the Billings Method?

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Updated August 03, 2011

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What is the Billings Method?

Billings Method

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Question: What is the Billings Method?

The Billings method is a form of natural birth control. The Billings method, also referred to as the Billings ovulation method, ovulation method or cervical mucus method, seeks to teach women how to recognize their own fertility patterns, so they can choose when to avoid sexual contact (to prevent pregnancy) or initiate sexual contact (in the attempt to conceive).

Answer:

The Billings ovulation method is based on your interpretation of your cervical mucus. Generally speaking, over the course of each menstrual cycle, cervical mucus changes in predictable ways. Specifically, cervical mucus is affected by estrogen 6 days before ovulation and becomes clear and elastic. So, ovulation is likely to occur the last day that mucus shows these properties. After ovulation, cervical mucus is affected by the production of progesterone and becomes thick, sticky and opaque.

The Billings method teaches you how to understand your individual fertility pattern by analyzing your cervical mucus each month. This is easily done by taking a cervical mucus sample (by hand) every day and recording its quantity, appearance and feel (as well as noting any other fertility/physical signs) on a daily chart. The Billings ovulation method allows for you to identify the fertile phase of your menstrual cycle by the presence of cervical mucus, and the sensation it produces at the vulva in the days leading up to ovulation.

As per the Billings method, there are 4 rules to follow for natural contraception: 3 early day rules and the peak rule:

  • The early day rules have to do with the days leading up to ovulation – during this time, the cervical mucus tells you that you have begun your fertile phase. The peak rule applies once the peak day (ovulation) has been identified.
  • The peak day is often characterized by being the last day of "lubricative sensation" and occurs extremely close to the time of ovulation. According to the Billings ovulation method, you may be fertile for another 3 days, and menstruation should occur 11-16 days later.

The Billings ovulation method doesn’t require any form of rhythm counting, temperature taking, hormonal drugs or devices and allows couples to share in the responsibility of natural family planning. This natural birth control method can also be used from puberty to menopause, while breastfeeding, and in women who don’t have regular menstrual cycles. It is important to note that the Billings method cannot be used with hormonal contraception (like the pill) because these birth control methods affect the hormones that regulate natural fertility symptoms, like cervical method. When you begin the Billings method, it is best to abstain from sexual intercourse as you may confuse sperm and/or seminal fluid with cervical mucus.

It is essential that you have accurate knowledge of this natural birth method before relying on it to prevent pregnancy. Success of the Billings method is greatly dependent upon proper teaching, correct understanding, accurate cervical mucus observation and daily charting, mutual motivation and cooperation between the couple. Couples can achieve a greater understanding and confidence by using an accredited Billings ovulation method teacher.

Effectiveness of the Billings Method: The Billings ovulation method is 78% to 97% effective. This means that with perfect use, 3 out of every 100 women who use the Billings method will become pregnant in one year. With typical use, 22 out of every 100 women who use the Billings method will become pregnant in one year.

Has your iPhone become an essential part of your life? If so, why not use it to assist in Natural Family Planning by charting fertility?

Sources:

Evelyn Billings and Ann Westmore (2000). Billings Method: Controlling Fertility Without Drugs Or Devices. United Kingdom: Gracewing Publishing.

UpToDate. "Pregnancy rate (percent) during first year of use." Accessed: June 21, 2010 via private subscription.

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