Fertility Awareness Method
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).
There are various types of Fertility Awareness Methods. The one I teach is known as the Symptothermal Method which tracks three key fertility signs. These primary signs are 1) basal body temperature, 2) cervical fluid and 3) cervical position (this one is optional). This information, together with a set of specific rules can be used to avoid or achieve pregnancy. It can also be used to gauge your reproductive and overall health.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How can this be used as a form of natural birth control and how effective is it?
What’s the efficacy rate? 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).
How does it work? If you’re having healthy, regular cycles, then you’re only fertile during a small window each cycle.
Here’s the science: 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 phase where you may be fertile each cycle is approximately 7 days (or 1/4, 1/3 of the cycle). During this fertile phase you may wish to choose a barrier method of your choice or to abstain. During your consultation, we explore which options best suit your desired outcomes.
How can this help me to optimally time conception?
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.
Why should I learn with an Instructor?
The high efficacy rates for this particular method is based on studies done on groups that learnt the method from a qualified Fertility Awareness Method Instructor. Therefore it is highly recommended to learn from an instructor if you wish to use the method successfully.
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.
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/