A-Z List | Accessible Info | Careers | Contact Us

Images from Peel Region
revised Friday June 19 2009

Fertility Awareness

What is fertility awareness and how does it work?

Fertility awareness methods are a way of pinpointing when you will ovulate and can become pregnant therefore avoiding intercourse at that time. Some methods include:

  1. Keeping track of your menstrual cycle by taking your temperature with a special thermometer and charting it everyday.
  2. Taking note of changes in your cervical mucus to help figure out when you will ovulate (release an egg from the ovary).

Some women take special classes to learn how to use these methods correctly. Partners also need to be involved.

How effective is it?

This method is about 80% effective when uses properly. This is lower than many other birth control methods. It can be difficult for young women to predict ovulation because they may have irregular periods.


There are advantages to fertility awareness methods including:

  • using this to plan or prevent a pregnancy.
  • helping women learn about their body
  • low cost
  • no side effects
  • a woman's control over this method.


Fertility awareness also has some disadvantages including:

  • requiring a lot of time and commitment to do properly
  • no protection from sexually transmitted
  • infections (STI), including HIV
  • requiring abstinence or condom use during the time in your cycle when you are most fertile and therefore likely to become pregnant
  • if you are ill or feeling stressed your menstrual cycle may change. You may not be able to rely on these methods.
  • requiring a great deal of commitment, and self-control by both the woman and her partner.

Additional Information

Prior to relying on fertility awareness, practice using this method for 6 months while using a back-up method such as condoms. This is necessary to identify ovulation patterns and to know if this method will work for you. You and your partner will need to avoid having vaginal intercourse for several days before, during, and after you ovulate, because sperm can live up to seven day inside a women's body, and an ovum (egg) lives for one to two days. Therefore, sperm might still be present in the fallopian tubes several days after having vaginal intercourse.

Further Resources

For more information, call 905-799-7700 and ask for Sexual Health Information.

Health Topics A-Z | Information for Professionals | Information for Workplaces
| School Corner | Employment/Volunteer Opportunities | Clinics, Classes and Events | Resources & Factsheets | Translated Information | About Public Health | Contact Us | Public Health Home Page

Revised: Friday June 19 2009

Home | Contact Us | Search | A-Z Topic List
Privacy | Service Commitment

Smaller Text Larger Text