Are you desperately looking for a natural birth control? Trying to conceive but have no idea when is the right moment? Are you wondering how your menstrual cycle actually works?
If you answered yes to one of these questions, this article is for you! I am introducing you to the fertility awareness method (FAM); a natural way to observe your fertility whatever phase of life you are in!
If you read my previous posts related to birth control, you already know that I was taking the pill for several years and that going off of it completely altered my hormonal balance.
If you want to learn more about what happened when I went off the pill, click here.
After seeing my body change and struggling to restore hormonal balance, I promised myself to never go back to the hormones again.
It is when looking for a hormonal-free birth control that I learned about the fertility awareness method.
I find it very important to inform you about this method because a lot of women still don’t know anything about it. If that is your case, don’t worry, it’s not your fault!
I discovered it doing my own research and I am very disappointed that doctors don’t give women this option to prevent pregnancy or regulate their cycle!
You already know my opinion on hormones, but my goal here is not to tell you to go off of them or transition to a natural method. It is your body, your life, so choose what works for you and your lifestyle.
Also, I am not a doctor by any means and have no degree in this field. I am only sharing my experience and the knowledge I gained through my own research on the internet, books, documentaries and my monthly follow-up with my family planner counselor.
If you want to try this method, I highly suggest you to be attended by a professional.
What is the fertility awareness method?
The fertility awareness method is a natural way to monitor your fertility. It is natural because it doesn’t include any form of hormones.
This method consists of observing your body change throughout your menstrual cycle. These bodily variations concern your basal temperature (the lowest temperature of your body) and cervical mucus OR cervical position.
Yes, these change throughout our cycles, isn’t it amazing?
Who can use the FAM?
Every woman can use the FAM to monitor her fertility. Whatever stage of life you are in right now, you can benefit from it in a way or another!
Whether you are single or in a relationship, whether you want to have a baby, prevent getting pregnant, balance your hormones, understand your cycle or even monitor your pre-menstrual phase.
I often read and hear that the FAM is not recommended to women whose cycles are irregular. The people saying that are the same who will recommend you taking the pill to “regulate your cycle“.
Listen. Taking hormones will only hide the problem instead of solving it.
On the contrary, the fertility awareness method will enable you to understand where these irregularities come from and take action to treat them!
The only condition to use this method would be not to be under any hormonal birth control.
The reason being that when taking hormones, you have a programmed/fake cycle and your body isn’t working how it would naturally.
Even if it is pretty obvious, I would like to mention that, as with hormonal birth control, the FAM does not protect against STI.
How does it work daily?
Every morning, you have to take your temperature as soon as you wake up and observe your cervical mucus during the day (you can also observe your cervical position, but it requires more practice to get there lol).
2) The chart
The daily collected information should be reported on a specific chart. You can do it via a mobile app or on your laptop but doing it on paper is in my way the most effective way.
Drawing it yourself will enable you to better understand how it all works together and not be influenced by some color codes or automated previsions (that are not always right!) that some apps provide us.
3) The cycle analysis
Once you report the collected data to your chart, you will be able to analyze one section by one and identify where are your fertile and infertile days in your cycle.
I personally start by looking at the temperatures.
At the beginning of the cycle (from period day one), the temperatures are pretty low. When ovulation occurs (or just after), temperatures will rise due to progesterone production. Finding this shift in temperatures will enable you to find where ovulation happened.
This is an example of one of my cycles. You can see how there’s a rise in temperature at day 20.
I then take a look at the cervical mucus data to confirm when ovulation took place.
At the beginning of each cycle, cervical mucus tends to be nonexistent and/or have a creamy texture. When getting closer to ovulation, they will become more elastic and transparent. The texture can resemble egg whites and it is no coincidence.
Because of its flexibility, sperm cells will be able to slip down to the cervix and meet the egg for fertilization to occur (contrary to infertile days where a dense mucus will block your cervix entry). How fascinating is that?!
Therefore, it is when cervical mucus’ texture goes back to creamy/dry/nonexistent that you can confirm ovulation occurred.
Everybody is different, so basal temperatures and the texture of cervical mucus will vary on every woman. It is therefore important not to compare yourself to anybody else than yourself, through your menstrual cycles.
The temperatures and mucus analysis will enable you to identify where the fertile and infertile phases are. If your goal is to prevent pregnancy, you should avoid having sex on your fertile days (or have protected sex). If you want to have a baby, that’s when you’ll have the most chances to get pregnant!
PROs and CONs
Do you feel like it is super complicated at first sight? Well, that’s what I thought too, but don’t worry!
Even though it seems way more tedious than taking a pill every day and forgetting about it, believe when I say that it is like everything in life.
When you know nothing about something, it seems like it is impossible. But once you start doing it, you get used to the process!
Taking my temperature and checking my cervical mucus is now part of my daily habits such as brushing my teeth!
- No hormones! Your body won’t have to go through secondary effects when you start the method or go off of it (A-MEN).
- 98% proven reliability by WHO (source) which is as much as condoms if used correctly.
- No budget needed. Since there’s no prescription, the method won’t cost you anything. The only costs to expect stand in a basal thermometer and the price of potential consultations with a family planning counselor.
- You get to learn your body. Before starting to use this method, I had no idea what my mucus was there for! Now, I realize that everything that happens in our bodies is strongly correlated to our menstrual cycle.
- You’ll want to improve your lifestyle. Stress, anger or diet can have direct consequences on how your cycle is functioning. This will encourage you to improve your day-to-day life and feel better overall!
- Shared responsibility. My feminist side is driving this last point. As a woman, I always felt that the pressure of getting pregnant lied especially on my shoulders since I was the one taking the pill and I had to remember taking it.
With this method, it is a little bit different; you are still the one who has to check on yourself and take your temperature, but your partner will be more involved.
First, because he will probably wake up when your thermometer will ring (oops) but most importantly because you can share the situation and involve him in the chart analysis!
This way, you will be both aware of the daily situation and decide together whether you should have (protected) sex or not. In case of an accident, the responsibility lies on both rather than on the woman only.
- Regularity is necessary for the method to be reliable. Taking your temperature and observing your cervical mucus are things to do every single day, particularly when you start using the method.
- It will take several months to learn the process. Learning how your body works will require you some time to understand how the method works with your cycles.
- Some days, you’ll have to have protected sex or no sex at all if you use FAM as a birth control. Otherwise, there are no restrictions! So yes, this can be a huge CON, but I try to see this in a positive tone. Sex doesn’t necessarily mean penetration, be creative (-;
- External factors (such as a common cold, medication intake, alcohol or lack of sleep) can disrupt the analysis of your cycles. Once again, yes, it can be bothering, but this goes hand in hand with the fifth PRO I mentioned. Life happens, but when you have a healthy lifestyle, you won’t be that much concerned about it.
As I’m writing this, it has been almost one year since I’ve been using the fertility awareness method and you can probably tell I approve it.
Since I went off the pill, it was a done deal. Living without hormones changed me and my body, and I have gone past the point of no return.
Even though at the beginning I was a little bit skeptical because the method seemed to be too restrictive, you’ll see that you will have more and more freedom once you’ll learn to know your body and cycles.
Once again, for the method to be reliable, you need to do it correctly. I highly recommend you seeing a doctor or family planning counselor to start on a solid base and don’t take any risks.
The fertility awareness method is, in my opinion, the best way to discover our bodies and feel more womanly than ever!
I’ve been following the method set up by Sensiplan which is an european portal. Unfortunately, the book and charts I use are in French.
However, I managed to find some equivalent resources in English.
Please comment down below if you have any recommendations to share!
Many apps are now available to track your cycles. However, I do not recommend using them on their own, read why in this article. I only use the app Flo to write down my temperatures and cervical mucus.
There are many more available such as:
And that’s it! I really hope that this article taught you something new and helped you get a clearer picture on what FAM is!
If you have any questions concerning the method or my personal experience, do not hesitate to leave a comment below or reach me out via my contact form!
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