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Fertility awareness

Fertility awareness is a method to plan or avoid a pregnancy by recognising the signs of fertility in your menstrual cycle. This page explains how this method works.

What is fertility awareness?

A graph to help track a woman's fertility.

Fertility awareness is recognising the signs of fertility in your menstrual cycle. It can be used to:

  • understand your own menstrual cycle
  • plan a pregnancy
  • avoid a pregnancy.

How reliable is it for preventing pregnancy?

The method can be 97% effective if you can easily recognise the fertile phase and use the method correctly. This effectiveness means three out of 100 people using fertility awareness will get pregnant each year.

However, typically the pregnancy rate is closer to 25 out of 100. This is because:

  • people have not been taught correctly
  • people do not understand how to use the method
  • people have sexual intercourse during the fertile time
  • it is difficult to recognise the signs of fertility.

What do I need to learn?

We strongly recommend you consult an experienced teacher before using fertility awareness as a method of contraception/ārai hapū.

You need to know how to:

  • understand your menstrual cycle
  • check your cervical mucus
  • take your temperature
  • recognise other signs of your fertile phase
  • use this information to plan or avoid a pregnancy.

You can then use this knowledge and some tools to identify the fertile and infertile phases of your cycle. While you are learning this method it is recommended you do not have sex unless you use condoms.

Where can I get more information?

You should consult an experienced teacher before using fertility awareness as a method of contraception. See


Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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