Family planning or avoiding pregnancy in a pandemic

Howdy, I’m Catnip and I teach couples how to chart their fertility naturally to avoid or assist in achieve in getting pregnant. As pretty much all of us know if the power goes out or the stores are empty getting to an app or a pharmacy becomes an issue very fast. Even getting into the doctor’s office as we have seen the last 5 months can be an issue.

So what do you do when you can’t access condoms, hormonal birth control or you want to get an IUD or copper coil? You learn to chart. Some folks use an app, but that’s not reliable for reasons including the above power issue, but more importantly 90% of apps are calender based methods – counting or rhythm method.

What I teach is called the Creighton FertilityCare Model and it is done with making observations of natural biological signs and interpreting those signs to understand if a woman (or a couple) is fertile or infertile on that day.

I’d love to answer questions you have and am happy to direct you to resources for different methods.

The big ones are Cervical Mucus charting, Temperature Charting and Hormone Charting.

I love discussing fertility, woman’s gynecologic health, and all around topics of intimacy. No question is too gross, too weird, or too complicated. If I don’t have an answer, I’ll find out or I’ll direct you to someone who has an answer.



  • Comments (16)

    • 5

      If someone was only able to remember one simple concept/rule/etc when it comes to “how to avoid pregnancy without any technology”, what would it be?

      • 11

        Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time?

      • 9


      • 11

        Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder…..

      • 6

        Haha, well… you’re not wrong.

        I agree, Abstinence if the easiest rule to follow if it’s your intention to avoid pregnancy. And the healthiest, to be honest.

        We teach the concept that if you can not be sure if a day is one of fertility or infertility then the couple treats it like a day of fertility then decide based on their intention (achieving or avoiding) if they will use that day for genital contact.

        We say genital contact vs intercourse because pre-ejactulatory fluid has been shown to Ave high concentrations of sperm. And if that sperm comes into contact with fertile cervical Mucus, even without penetration, pregnancy can result.

        So when in doubt, abstain.

      • 5

        Abstinence is clearly the best, but what’s the next best? I’ve been in too many undeveloped or remote areas (a proxy for any area after SHTF) where the locals make so many children because they shrug their shoulders and say “what else are we going to do for fun?”

        What’s the one memorable / non-tech-based tip you’d give to people who won’t be abstinent but would prefer to avoid pregnancy? eg. I’m guessing it’s some rule of thumb of the “safest window” as it relates to the menstrual cycle, remembered in a way that wouldn’t involve specific tracking/testing (ie. as a percentage of the way through the cycle)

      • 5

        That’s unfortunately not how the menstrual cycle works. The length of time between ovulation and menstruation (the end of the cycle) tends to be fairly stable for individual menstruators (though different between them) but the time between start of menstruation and ovulation is easily affected by illness, stress, exercise levels, temperature, and hormonal variation. Once your period begins it’s somewhat plausible to guess  when you last ovulated but much less reliable to guess when you next will ovulate. You see the issue there for trying to prevent pregnancy. An additional wrinkle is that there are physical signs that you can use to detect ovulation, including cervical mucus that the Creighton method is based on — but your fertile window begins up to 5 days _before_ ovulation, and those signals can be very faint at that point.

        The method that you’ve described, using only a calendar to predict fertility, is known as the calendar method or rhythm method, and you’ve probably heard jokes about it for good reason. Even people who do use it suggest tracking for at least 6 months to establish individual ovulation patterns. More sophisticated fertility awareness methods like the Creighton method are more effective and have some great benefits, but SHTF situations are precisely where they’re least likely to be effective.

        I think the rule of thumb you’re looking for is this: reproductive healthcare needs to be considered as important as wound care when preparing and stocking for disaster situations.

      • 3

        Before birth control, one method was to insert half a pulped lemon. Both a barrier method and the lemon juice was a spermicide. Also kills other pathogens, like HIV. Citrus juice at a low level increases the chances of conceiving a girl, while an alkaline environment, douching with a baking soda solution, for example, increases the chance of conceiving a boy.

    • 5

      Thanks for posting this! I’ve been wondering about the Mirena IUD I’ve been using for the past year. I love having an IUD, and I’m glad I haven’t had to get the Pill from a pharmacy during the pandemic. But I’ve been thinking about folks who might need to have their IUDs removed or replaced during the pandemic. What will happen if in two years when mine is scheduled to be replaced, I can’t make it to the doctor?

      We’d love to talk more about gynecological issues and prepping! Thanks for raising this!

      • 9

        most IUDs are shown to be effective several years beyond the replacement date they put on marketing — worth searching your particular brand to find out!

      • 5

        I agree with @hbic that different IUD’s have different lengths of time they are usable. You’re doctor’s office should be able to tell you or you can likely find that info with a quick Google search of the brand name.

        The question I would have is what happens if you can not access your doctor at all to have it removed. We’re taught of course not to remove them ourselves, for safety reasons.

        Like the implant, coil, or IUD I’d personally rather know what my body is doing any given day of my cycle vs relying on a medical device that can fail, cause an injury, or can not be removed easily in an emergency without a medical professional.

        Not shaming or anything like that, I love discussing the female reproductive system. 🙂

      • 3

        Thanks so much for your reply! This is a fascinating topic, and one I think we should cover on the blog once the world stops spinning just a little bit!

      • 8

        If you do write an article, definitely worth noting that removing one’s own IUD (or a friend’s, I suppose!) is definitely possible in an emergency situation. It’s even become a bit of a trend and area to study in reproductive healthcare. There are YouTube videos and everything!

      • 5

        Indeed, I was able to remove my IUD myself. I had one prior that I couldnt have removed alone as the strings had curled up and no longer could be reached. It would have been much easier to have someone else remove it, just because the strings were hard to reach myself, it took a few minutes to reach but once I did, it very easily slid out with a gentle tug.

    • 4

      Great topic! I use fertility awareness in between conceptions. I find temperature tracking to be too time consuming, so I just do cervical fluid monitoring coupled with watching the dates/calendar. It’s a great, low tech way to prevent or plan a pregnancy provided your cycles are pretty regular and you have enough cervical fluid to get a decent reading on its progression.  I imagine it would be harder to pull off though for women with erratic cycles or minimal cervical secretions…

      • 3

        That’s awesome! I love fertility awareness. My husband and I have been using Creighton for 5 years now with one planned pregnancy.

        I have a history of Endomeitriosis, low progesterone, and irregular cycles. Because of charting I can navigate my body’s biological markers and know when I am fertile or infertile.

        We really love the method we use because even with continuous mucus we are able to navigate poor quality mucus vs good quality mucus based on my body’s production and still have the majority of the month available for intercourse when we are avoiding pregnancy.

        Also because of charting we knew I had medical things that needed addressed. Sadly things that take an average of 7 years to get diagnosed.

        Creighton also can be used with limited mucus production (cervical secretions) in fact, when we see low production of cervical Mucus that can be a cause of infertility, hormonal imbalances, or a vitamin B6 vitamin deficiency.

        re:Infertility due to low cervical Mucus production,

        The female body needs basic things for non-medical assisted conception to occur.

        • Good Sperm
        • Good Eggs
        • Good Mucus

        The absence of one of these and pregnancy will likely not occur.