There seems to be some debate, and I’ve heard it from my own clients, about whether or not it’s possible to practice fertility awareness for contraception accurately and effectively by using mucus only.
I have to tell you that temping is not intrinsically better than not temping! But there’s a big caveat here: it all depends on how you were trained.
It’s not about your lack of skill, it’s simply is that some methods are designed to be mucus-only and some are designed to be used with temperatures. The key to success is sticking to the rules you were trained in.
If you learned a sympto-thermal method (STM), which is designed to be used with a temperature check to confirm ovulation, then those methods are not quite as robust when it comes to the mucus portion because they have the temperature confirmation built into the rules.
Mucus-only methods, like Billings, Creighton, and even Justisse, are designed to be effective with mucus only.
When research has been done on Billings and Creighton, their perfect use rates have been found to be over 99% effective, and this is based off women being taught by a trained teacher and then followed up with chart reviews and discussions to make sure the women are doing it correctly.
This is also the reason that “dry days” can be used for unprotected sex before the fertile phase of the cycle starts (as long as certain criteria are met) with these same methods. This is in contrast to STM which has a five day rule, where unprotected sex is not allowed after day five of the cycle until after infertility has been confirmed by temperatures going up and staying up. If this is the way you learned, and you want to avoid pregnancy, please do not have unprotected sex after day five and please continue to use temperatures.
One advantage of mucus-only methods is that you will quite likely have more days within your cycle that are considered infertile where you can have unprotected sex, and for a lot of couples that is definitely a bonus!
So if taking your temperature feels like a chore, you have small children who don’t allow you to get good sleep, or you just can’t be bothered, it’s totally fine to stop temping as long as you understand your particular method and how you were trained, and what the risk of no thermometer will mean for your chances of pregnancy.
And, if you want to learn how to use a mucus-only method effectively, check out Justisse or one of the other options that are available for you.