What is Fertility Awareness?
Fertility Awareness is a practice that involves cultivating a relationship and understanding of your fertility, cycles and body. In includes observing and charting certain fertility biomarkers (signs). This information can then be used to make certain lifestyle choices and informed decisions regarding your reproductive and sexual health.
There are various types of Fertility Awareness Based Methods. The one I teach is known as the Fertility Awareness Method, which uses the Sympto-Thermal Method of tracking three key fertility signs. These primary signs are 1) basal body temperature, 2) cervical fluid and 3) cervical position.
The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) uses this information, together with a set of specific rules to avoid or achieve pregnancy. It can also be used to gauge your reproductive and overall health.
Fertility Awareness Method for birth control:
Many women aren’t aware that if they’re having healthy, regular cycles, that they’re only fertile during a small window each cycle. The lifespan of the ovum/egg once released during ovulation is approximately 12-24 hours or 48 hours in the case of ova/multiple eggs being released (how non-identical multiples are born). The average lifespan of sperm is approximately 3-5 days if supported by cervical fluid. Therefore the period where one may be fertile is approximately 7 days (or 1/4, 1/3) of every cycle. Knowing this type of information is vital when it comes to deciding which type of birth control to choose.
For optimal timing when trying to conceive:
We’re commonly taught that we ovulate on cycle day 14 and that having a 28 day cycle is the norm. However this isn’t always the case. In fact with the many charts I have come across, I’ve barely seen anyone have regular back to back 28 day cycles and constantly ovulate on day 14. There are variations of “normal” regarding the number of days we bleed, the day we ovulate and the overall length of our cycles. To optimise your chance of conceiving, you want to know when you’re in your fertile window in order to best time it. Furthermore, charting your cycles may bring to light hormonal imbalances, or other health conditions that you may want to address prior to trying to conceive.
Learning with a certified Fertility Awareness Educator:
As we’re all unique, so too are our menstrual cycles. Therefore in order to use FAM effectively as birth control, it’s important to learn how your cycles specifically expresses itself. For example, for those with PCOS, experiencing irregular cycles or breastfeeding it’s not so straight forward and may take some time learning your cycles. Therefore learning the method with a trained instructor is something I highly recommend.
I’m a fully certified FAM practitioner, trained by Sarah Bly of The Well (formerly, Grace of the Moon) https://graceofthemoon.com/ and registered with the Association of Fertility Awareness Practitioners (AFAP). I’ve been charting my cycles and effectively using FAM for over 6 years.
I offer consultations in person or via Zoom for international clients. (Note: for international clients, please get in touch for pricing in your currency). For books, podcasts and other FAM resources: https://lightofre.com/resources/womens-health/
Is the Fertility Awareness Method the same as the Rhythm Method?
No! The Rhythm Method is an outdated method based on past cycles to calculate and predict future cycles. FAM however is a scientifically proven, effective method that involves charting three primary fertility signs on a daily basis, so that one’s fertility can be accurately determined.
How effective is FAM as a form of birth control?
When used correctly (perfect use) it’s 99.4%-/99.6% effective and 98.4% for typical use (P F. Herman Study of Sympto-Thermal Method).
What are the drawbacks?
As a method of birth control, FAM isn’t for everyone. It is only appropriate for those who have the discipline to learn the method well, and then to follow the rules once they have understood them. It also doesn’t protect against STD’s.
Which thermometer do you recommend using to chart your cycles with?
I recommend using a basal body temperature (BBT) thermometer that isn’t a quick read, has limited beeps and that has a back light. There are thermometers out there that connect via blue-tooth to apps on phones which can be convenient, but pricey and aren’t necessary to begin with.
What about paper charting vs apps?
Whether you choose to chart your cycles via paper charting or via an app is entirely your choice. What I do recommend however is that if you’re choosing to use an app, to use it solely for recording purposes and not using the predictions that come with it.
The app that I recommend to chart your cycles is https://www.readyourbody.info/