The last blog post I made was all about the negative aspects of hormonal birth control that are relatively unknown in our society. (You can go back and check it out here).
In this post, I’m going to discuss an alternative to hormonal birth control that I discovered and have used to successfully prevent pregnancy, and then to get pregnant when I wanted to! It’s called the Fertility Awareness Method, or FAM. There are other methods besides this that do not involve synthetic hormones, like the copper IUD, diaphragm, condoms, abstinence, etc., but I am not going to go into details with any of those because I believe FAM is such a natural – and cost-effective!-method. And you don’t need to insert or wear anything while you are practicing it!
I started taking birth control pills when I was 17. I had a boyfriend at the time and wanted to be sure I didn’t make any mistakes before going off to college! A few years after starting the pill, I switched to the NuvaRing for its convenience – you just insert it and forget about it! The NuvaRing also allowed me to skip my period for months at a time, which I assume is not what Mother Nature intended me to be doing. I remained on the NuvaRing until I was 29 – 12 years on hormonal birth control in all, as is the story with many young women. No one ever explained any possible negative side effects to me and I struggled over the years with anxiety, intermittent depression, acne, and mood swings without ever considering my birth control might have something to do with it all.
Once I got married, I knew I wanted to stop using hormonal birth control. By that point I had researched it enough to know I would be better off without it. And I have been, as I’ll discuss below.
My knowledge of FAM came mostly from Toni Weschler’s book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 20th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health, which I have recommended to several people since reading it and implementing the fertility awareness method.
Essentially, FAM is a way for you to get in touch with your body and your menstrual cycle by paying attention to and tracking your waking temperature and your cervical shape and fluid. You may or may not have ever paid any attention to these aspects of your body, but they actually do serve a purpose! I doubt your ob-gyn ever discussed your cervical fluid with you, unless you had an abnormal change in it, and you were probably prescribed an antibacterial or anti-fungal prescription.
I started tracking my waking temperature every morning with an easy to use thermometer (I like this one:Sure Success® Digital Basal Body Temperature Thermometer with Backlit LCD Display, ±0.09° F Accuracy for Ovulation Tracking). I recorded the temperature in an app that accompanies the book – Taking Charge of Your Fertility from the app store. This will show you a graph of your temperatures throughout the month. You can also track your cervical fluid, cervical position/softness, intercourse, and menstruation. Once you become familiar with the signs of fertility, you will develop a sense of when you ovulate, and when you will get your period.
While you are just getting started tracking and come off of your hormonal birth control, I highly recommend having a backup for sex like a condom or just abstaining in order to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
For me personally, I tracked and recorded my cycle for a year to prevent pregnancy with success. When my husband and I decided to try to get pregnant, I knew when I would ovulate and we were able to conceive the same month we decided to try to have a baby. I obviously can’t guarantee the same results, but I can’t talk highly enough about how well this method works.
Have you tried FAM? Would you want to? I’d love to read your comments!