Guide to Birth Control
What you need to know, whether you plan on having another child or not
I'd like to use "fertility awareness" as my birth-control method. How can I be sure I'm doing it right?
By paying careful attention to detail. With perfect use, various forms of the "rhythm" method -- including charting basal temperature, monitoring cervical mucus, and noting cervical position -- can be up to 94 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. But with typical use, that number drops to only 75 percent. So consider taking a class in natural family planning -- many Catholic hospitals offer them. Your odds of success are greater if you combine more than one of the methods, which track a variety of signals. And the more familiar you become with your cycle, the less likely you are to have sex during the riskiest times of the month.
If your religion permits it, use a backup method for the first few months until you learn when your most fertile days are. Similarly, you can use a different method during the first six months postpartum, or until your periods become regular again.
My husband got a vasectomy after our first child, but now we want to have more. Is it really permanent?
It can be reversed, but it's pricey (from $6,800 to $13,000) and the success rate is only 30 to 40 percent. Another option to consider: A physician can use a needle to remove sperm from the testicles and then perform in vitro fertilization.
Dana Sullivan is the coauthor of The Essential C-Section Guide.