How to Use The Fertility Awareness Method as Your Form of Birth Control

The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) has a 99.4% efficacy rate, and a 99.6% efficacy rate if you abstain from sex on the 6-8 days (that’s right, as women we are only fertile a 24-48 hours each month, but men are fertile 365 days a year) a month you are in your fertile window.

These percentages are the same as hormonal birth control options!

If you are currently taking a form of hormonal birth control, I encourage you to look into your other options; The Fertility Awareness Method and the Daysy Thermometer being a few of them.

By exploring your options you are empowered with the ability to make the best decisions for your body.

Charting with Period Apps

The best period apps are the ones that ask you for your waking body temperature. Apps that do not ask for this are simply predicting when you ovulate, which is impossible because there is no way to predict when you will ovulate.

If you are relying on ovulation prediction this is using the Rhythm Method, NOT Fertility Awareness Method.

While the luteal phase (post ovulatory) in women tends to stay consistent for each woman, the follicular phase (pre-ovulatory) can change due to factors like stress, illness, and travel. These variables can throw off your ovulation by days or weeks! So ditch the apps that “predict” your cycle, and instead download one that uses your daily temperature recording to pin-point when you ovulated. My favorite is app is Kindara.

3 Fertility Indicators:

1. Cervical Fluid
2. Temperature
3. Cervical Position (optional)

1.Temperature

When taking temperature make sure to do first thing in the morning before getting out of bed or drinking water. If your temperature is taken later in the day, or if it is unusually high, mark it as “questionable”.

Ovulation– after ovulation your temperature will spike by at least 2/10 of a degree than the highest of the previous six recorded temperatures and WILL REMAIN ELEVETED until you menstruate. Ex: on your temperature spike day, count back six temperature recordings and draw your coverline over the highest of the six.

Coverline– the line drawn over the highest of the six temperature recordings before ovulation. All of your post-ovulation (luteal phase) temperature recordings will be above this line. Within 16 days of ovulating you will start your period. If you have 18 consecutive high temperatures, you are pregnant.

Wait to have unprotected sex until you have at least 3-4 high temperature recordings to make sure you actually did ovulate. It’s better to play it safe.

Example Graph:

2. Cervical Fluid

Your cervical fluid will increase leading up to ovulation. This is due to increased ovulation levels. When you have fertile cervical fluid have protected sex. Over time you will find your cervical fluid pattern.

Raw egg white that stretches between fingers means you are fertile. Avoid sex or use a condom.

Cervical fluid tends to increase as you get closer to ovulation and dries up after ovulation.

Peak Day- the last day of fertile cervical fluid. You will ovulate the day of or within 2 days of your Peak Day. Peak Day is only known by hindsight.

3. Cervical Position (optional)

The opening of your cervix is hard like the tip of the nose, but leading up to ovulation it drops and gets softer as it opens.

You are fertile on the days leading up to ovulation. Once you start getting fertile cervical fluid, assume you are fertile. This can be anywhere from 8-10 days for you. After ovulation you can not get pregnant for that particular cycle.

FAM is 99.4%-99.6% effective which is the same as hormonal birth control options.

Further Resources:

Daysy Fertility Monitor

“Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler

“Fertility Friday” Podcast

“The 5th Vital Sign” by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack

Holistic Remedies for Ovarian Cysts

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If you are a woman, chances are you have had at least one ovarian cyst in your life. Perhaps you weren’t even aware of it, or perhaps it caused you a bit (or a lot!) of discomfort.

I’ve had my share of ovarian cysts in the past, and because I didn’t know what I know now, they caused me an exponential amount of unnecessary grief.

I first started suffering from cysts when I was a teenager because of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is why the doctors put me on the birth control pill at the age of 15. It did prevent me from getting cysts for the time I was on it (but at the price of weight gain and depression), but because the pill doesn’t get to the root of the problem, my PCOS was at a raging full force when I got off the pill at 21.

When I was 29 I experienced the worst ovarian cyst of my life. While on honeymoon in Thailand, a 5 x 5cm cyst grew on my left ovary and twisted around it, causing hemorrhaging. I had to be rushed to the hospital for an emergency laparotomy to remove the cyst. Luckily my ovary was saved. In this very rare case, surgery was necessary. But as you will learn later in this article, surgery is rarely the best option, and is best to be avoided.

When I was 30, I had yet another cyst. This one on my one-year wedding anniversary while in Vietnam! Seriously, can a girl catch a break?!  Because I was so petrified that this one would twist like the previous one, I had my husband take me to the hospital immediately, even though I was not in as much pain as the one from the previous year. Trust me, you will know if your cyst is in torsion, because it is extremely painful.

The ultrasound indeed showed another 5×5 cm cyst on my left ovary. I was gutted. The doctors insisted on surgery, and because I didn’t know what I know now, I agreed. This time a less invasive procedure called a laparoscopy was performed.

A year later at 31 I had yet another cyst. This time I was in the U.S. so I decided to go to a gynecologist. The ultrasound showed another 5×5 cm cyst on my left ovary. He suggested we watch and wait, and in the meantime I should take the birth control pill to shrink it.

I respectfully declined the birth control pill, and he was not very pleased.

I turned down the pill with confidence because I had done quite a bit of research since my previous ovarian cyst ( in the past year I literally made it my mission to learn EVERYTHING I could about them).  So I now had the knowledge to make better decisions, and I rejected the birth control pill therapy, and instead took the holistic route. I knew the signs to look out for if the cyst did go into torsion, and if this did happen I knew I would need to get an ultrasound immediately in case I did need surgical intervention.

However, surgery was obsolete, as with my holistic treatment the cyst dissolved with my period two weeks after it formed.

 No surgery required. No birth control pills.

Today, I’m ovarian cyst free, and even if I do get another one, I wouldn’t be worried at all because I now have the knowledge of how to get rid of it on my own. And I would like for you to be empowered with this knowledge as well.

If you’re suffering from ovarian cysts, chances are you are so confused about all of the conflicting advice out there, due to the fact there is no consensus among physicians on how to treat them. It’s overwhelming I know. This article should hopefully shed some light on the situation for you.

Ovarian Cyst:

Enlarged fluid-filled sacs on the ovary, typically categorized by when they occur in relation to ovulation. (1)

For the sake of time, we will only discuss the most common type of ovarian cyst called a Functional Ovarian Cyst. There are three types of Functional Ovarian Cysts which we will cover today.

Functional Cysts:

These cysts are called “functional” because they develop as a result of normal functioning of the menstrual cycle. Their cause is always hormonal. They can occur once in your life, or recur frequently.

3 Types of Functional Ovarian Cysts:

1. Follicular Cyst

This is the most common type of ovarian cyst. With this cyst, the follicle around the egg continues to grow as you approach ovulation, but instead of rupturing to release the egg as it should, it instead grows into a cyst that encases the egg inside, preventing ovulation.

Cause: There are many hormonal imbalances that can cause this. PCOS being one of them, as well as hypothyroidism.

Treatment: These will usually always resolve on their own by day five of your next period, although in the mean time they can cause quite a bit of discomfort such as pelvic pain and nausea. The only case in which surgical intervention needs to take place is if the cyst twists around the ovary. If you are in a lot of discomfort and do not want to wait a few weeks for your period to dissolve the cyst, you can get a progesterone injection to disrupt estrogen dominance and instigate an earlier period. Surgery can be performed, but it should always be considered a last resort, since it can compromise fertility by causing scarring.

2. Luteinized Unruptured Follicle (LUF)

This cyst occurs when the maturing egg prepares to be released at ovulation, and the follicle that encases the egg goes through the sequence of normal ovulation, however the egg remains stuck in the follicle, so ovulation does not actually occur, even though it seems as if it did because a corpus luteum that produces progesterone is still formed.

Cause: A hormonal imbalance is at play and this type of cyst is believed to occur in 15% of women dealing with infertility.

Treatment: Just like the Follicular Cyst, this cyst will most likely go away on its own by day five of bleeding. A progesterone injection can be used if pain is overbearing. The injection will instigate a period within three-five days.

3. Corpus Luteum Cyst

In this type of cyst, the egg is released and normal ovulation takes place. However, the opening where the egg was released is sealed off and excess fluid fills it forming a cyst.

Cause: Fertility drugs raise the risk of this type of cyst.

Treatment: These cysts are the most innocuous in nature and almost always go away on their own within a few weeks to months. You can get pregnant with this type of cyst, and if you do, the cyst will usually resolve within the first three months of pregnancy.

Holistic Methods to Encourage Ovarian Cysts to Dissolve

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If you have found yourself with one of these cysts, you might find yourself in a bit of discomfort. It is common to get bloated in the abdomen, and to feel tenderness, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, and discomfort in doing daily activities. From my personally experience I found that the pain came in waves. Sometimes lasting a few hours at a time, or maybe even minutes. If I stayed away from exercising I felt much better, so on the days I had the cyst I stuck to light yoga.I also find some holistic treatments to help ease the pain, and speed up the dissolution of the cyst.

However, if you at any point feel such severe pain that you can’t stand up, or use the bathroom, or if you get a high fever or start vomiting, you must go to the hospital immediately. It is very rare, but ovarian cysts can go into torsion and cause infection. In this case surgical intervention is most likely required.

1. Castor Oil Pack:

Place a castor oil pack on your lower abdomen for 30-minutes to an hour each day. The castor oil can help break down the cyst, and increases blood circulation.

2. Herbal Tea Tonic:

Drink Yogi Moon Cycle tea 2-3 times a day. Add 1 teaspoon black strap molasses, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, and a pinch of black pepper.  The potassium in the black strap molasses will help dissolve the cyst, as well as the apple cider vinegar. The turmeric will lower inflammation which will help ease the pain. This is more of an old wise woman remedy, and is not backed by medical research or the FDA. But many women have found this tonic to work, myself being one of them.

3. Epsom Salt Baths with Clary Sage:

Epsom salt baths will help soothe and relax, and it will help ease pelvic pain. Added bonus is the Epsom salt draws out toxins which will help with future hormonal balance. Make sure to get Epsom salts with no added fragrances or chemicals. Place five drops of clary sage essential oil into the bath, as clary sage is a well known oil for promoting hormonal balance.

4. Zinc

Your ovaries need zinc to function optimally, yet sadly, many of us are deficient in this crucial mineral. I recommend supplementing with zinc as well as eating plenty of zinc rich foods such as egg yolks, pumpkin seeds, and oysters. Selenium, iodine, and magnesium are also very important.

A Note on Recovery:

While you are in recovery stay away from strenuous activity and exercise. Focus on self care and slowing down. Treat your self with love and kindness. Use this time to focus on the patterns in your life that aren’t serving you so you can get to the root of the hormonal imbalance causing these cysts in the first place. I encourage you to team up with a holistic practitioner who will help you investigate and find out what is causing these cysts, and who can help you formulate a lifestyle and diet change that will promote hormonal balance.

If you have any more questions, please write them in the comments section below, and I will be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.

With Gratitude

Health Coach Jenna

Sources:

  1. Weschler, Toni. Taking Charge of Your Fertility: the Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health. William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins, 2015.

Why Ovulation is More Important Than Your Period

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Don’t get me wrong, periods are amazing. I’m a huge fan. But we get so caught up with our monthly bleed that we forget about the most important aspect of our cycle.

Ovulation.

Ovulation usually happens mid-cycle, except for ladies on the birth control pill, as they do not ovulate nor have a period, instead they experience what is called a “withdrawal bleed.” Also, some women not on hormonal birth control will experience anovulatory cycles (a bleed that occurs without ovulation ) due to various hormone imbalances. If your cycle is longer than 36 days, you either experienced delayed ovulation, or you did not ovulate.

3 Reasons Ovulation is Critical:

1. Fertility:

You can’t get pregnant if you don’t ovulate, so if that is on your agenda, ovulation is necessary. But remember, the ability to conceive is a sign of good health, so even if you aren’t planning for a family now or ever, you still want to be fertile. I recommend the Fertility Awareness Method  (no it’s not the Rhythm Method!) for those of you both planning pregnancy planning or avoidance.

2. Healthy Periods

Our bodies can’t produce the hormone progesterone without ovulating.

Each month when you ovulate, a corpus luteum is created that grows on the surface of your ovary, and this is where all of your progesterone is produced.

Progesterone is responsible for lightening your periods, as it counteracts the affects of estrogen. So if you are not ovulating you will most likely be in a state of estrogen dominance, and this is a big culprit for heavy and painful periods.

3. Healthy Body and Mind

Progesterone is the calming hormone that helps us stay resilient to stress and sleep well. This is why women who don’t ovulate (especially women with PCOS) can suffer from anxiety.

And that’s not all this super hormone can do. Progesterone nourishes our hair and nails by reducing male hormones, as well as boosts energy by stimulating the thyroid and the metabolism. And recent research has found that women who don’t ovulate experience bone loss at a faster rate than women who do ovulate, so it’s a crucial component to preventing osteoporosis.

Signs of a progesterone deficiency:

  • PCOS
  • Infertility
  • Endometriosis
  • PMS
  • Hair loss
  • Premenstrual migraines
  • Heavy periods
  • Fibroids
  • Acne
  • Osteoporosis

So do you now see why it’s SO crucial to ovulate?

4 Steps to Confirm Ovulation:

1. Check your cervical fluid. When you’re close to ovulation and ovulating, your cervical mucus will look like that off the clear part of an egg and stretch between your fingers.

2. Chart your temperature. There are many apps out there to help you do this. I personally use Kindara . Each morning when you first wake up, before doing anything or eating or drinking anything, take your temperature. After ovulation has occurred your temperature will spike 2/10ths of a degree and will remain elevated until menstruation.

3. Use LH strips.

LH (luteinizing hormone) spikes a few days before ovulation. LH signals a follicle to swell and burst releasing an egg into your fallopian tube. When an LH strip  shows positive, you can expect to to ovulate few days later. If you don’t get an LH surge you will not ovulate that month. Note that women with PCOS might have several LH surges throughout the month, so this might not be an accurate way of determining upcoming ovulation.

4. Note any sensations. Some women feel a sharp twinge in their ovary when the egg releases.

I hope this article has inspired you to start charting, because awareness is the number key to taking charge of your reproductive health. If you are interested in more reading I recommend “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler.

xxxx

Health Coach Jenna

Post Birth Control Syndrome + 5 Steps to Balance Your Hormones After the Pill

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If you recently quit hormonal birth control, you’re probably going through a bit of hell right now. I know it’s not fair, but you are going through something called Post Birth Control Syndrome.

This withdrawal process from hormonal birth control (HBC) lasts anywhere from 6-12 months, and it peaks at month 6 (1). It’s usually around this time that you might feel like giving up and going back to the pill. But please stay strong and power through this phase, because if you do you will be rewarded.

So why is this happening?!

The reason you are suffering is because your body is detoxing from synthetic hormones. This also usually causes a surge in androgens which can cause acne and other PMS symptoms.

To make matters worse, since you haven’t ovulated or had a period all these years while taking hormonal birth control ( HBC shuts down ovulation, so you’ve really just been having a “withdrawal bleed” or “pill bleed”) you’ve been robbed from making the hormone progesterone.

Progesterone is literally nature’s chill pill, so trust me, you want this!

Calming you down is not all that this super hormone can do! Progesterone nourishes our hair and nails by reducing androgens (male hormones), as well as boosts energy by stimulating the thyroid and the metabolism. And recent research has found that women who don’t ovulate experience bone loss at a faster rate than women who do ovulate, so progesterone is also a crucial component of preventing osteoporosis.

And since you haven’t been ovulating while taking hormonal birth control, it might take some time before your body starts ovulating and menstruating again.

So what is a “pill bleed”?

Pill bleeds are pharmaceutically induced bleeds that involve no hormone production on your end at all. So all of the “periods” you had while on hormonal birth control were just for show. Let me repeat, these “periods” were completely fake (exception being the Copper IUD and Mirena IUD. Read below for statistics).

Shocking, right?

When a women ovulates without the use of hormonal birth control, she creates progesterone and estradiol. These hormones have a multitude of benefits for your mood, bones, thyroid and metabolism. They’re pretty much essential for a women’s physiology. This means that women who take a form of hormonal birth control are robbed of these crucial hormones that keep us healthy and happy.

It’s one of the largest injustices to women’s health today, and it’s no wonder many women who take a form of hormonal birth control experience depression.

In October 2016 JAMA psychiatry released a study conducted by researches from the University of Copenhagen. In the study, titled “Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression” they tracked one million women over the course of 13 years and concluded that women who use hormonal birth control are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with depression (2).

The fact that hormonal birth control is the most widely used form of contraception used today is infuriating. The practice is antiquated, and it’s time this harmful trend comes to an end.

Now is the time to take our reproductive system back into our own control. For the sake of our health, and the next generation’s. 

Common Symptoms of Post-Birth Control Syndrome Include:

  • Amenorrhea (loss of menstruation)
  • Heavy, painful periods
  • Infertility
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Acne
  • Migraines
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Blood sugar dysregulation
  • Anxiety
  • Gas or bloating
  • Changes in bowels
  • Inflammation and other immune imbalances

So now the road to recovery begins.

Your 5 Step Plan When Coming Off The Birth Control Pill (or any other form of hormonal birth control):

1. Reestablish your natural hormonal rhythm.

Your hormones fluctuate during different times of your cycle.

There are four cycles:

  1. Menstruation–  Estrogen begins to increase and progesterone is low.
  2. Follicular Phase- Estrogen peaks, progesterone is low.
  3. Ovulation–  Estrogen begins to fall and progesterone peaks.
  4. Luteal Phase– Both estrogen and progesterone dip.

Even if you are not yet ovulating on your own, it is important to encourage the production of estrogen and progesterone at the right times of the month. This will help you eventually start to ovulate on your own.

Two methods to reestablish natural hormonal rhythms:

  1. Seed cycling. Seed cycling is one of the simplest and most effective holistic remedies for balancing hormones.This ancient technique helps restore the balance of  the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone by rotating certain seeds into your diet during the two different phases of your menstrual cycle (follicular and luteal phase).
  2. Vitex– Vitex is an herb that promotes ovulation by protecting your hypothalamus gland from stress and from preventing your pituitary gland from making too much prolactin. Basically, it increases your levels of dopamine, which lowers your levels of prolactin, which makes your luteinizing hormone go up, and then makes you ovulate and make progesterone!

A note of caution about Vitex: Please do not use vitex until you’ve been off of hormonal birth control for at least three months. I recommend 1,000mg a day taken as a single dose first thing in the morning before breakfast. Stop taking it on days 1-5 of your cycle, and then start again. Discontinue use after six months. If you have PCOS please talk with a health care practitioner first, because it might not be the best choice.

2. Replenish nutrient stores.

Hormonal birth control causes leaky gut, preventing your body from absorbing all the nutrients from your food. As they say in Ayurveda “you are what you digest.”.

This is why women who come off hormonal birth control are deficient in nutrients and minerals such as zinc, B12, magnesium, D3, iodine and selenium-all nutrients necessary for ovarian health. So it’s imperative to replenish these levels ASAP.

3. Support detox pathways.

It’s important to open your detox pathways, as this is how you will flush out excess estrogen in the body, as well as all the synthetic hormones you’ve built up from the use of hormonal birth control . Ways to do this are by going on a cleanse like my 20-Day Hormone Reboot Program . Dandelion root tea, taking Glutothione, chlorella, and/or activated charcoal. NAC is also a great supplement. And of course, drink lots of water and eat plenty of liver supporting foods like broccoli sprouts, dandelion greens, beets, and cauliflower.

4. Rebuild your gut.

Most women’s gut post hormonal birth control is in a state of dysbiosis due to leaky gut. You must get your microbiome to a healthy state in order to start digesting and absorbing your food properly. Do this by taking probiotics, eating 2-3 servings of fermented foods daily, and drinking gut healing bone broth and collagen.

5. Nourish your thyroid

If you’re thyroid is not operating properly, it can prevent you from ovulating and having a healthy period. To support your thyroid, take 150 mcg of iodine daily (nothing more unless advised by a trained practitioner), and replenish your stores of selenium, 1-3 brazil nuts a day will do the trick, or 150 mcg in pill form daily. I encourage you to take a serum ferritin test and if your levels are too low (you want a level of 50-90 ng/ml) then supplement as needed.

Okay, I know this is a lot of information to absorb, and it might be overwhelming at first. But please be reassured that although it might seem like the end of the world, you can and WILL get through this.

And know that you are not alone. Please contact me today for a 30-minute consultation, so we can get you on my 20-Day Hormone Reboot Detox to get your hormones back on track, so you can start feeling the way you’re designed to- healthy, happy, and PMS free!

With Gratitude,

Health Coach Jenna

* exceptions being the copper IUD which uses no hormones, and the Mirena IUD which has low levels of hormones. In the first year the Mirena suppresses ovulation in 85% of cycles , and in the second year 15% of cycles.

Sources:

  1. Briden, L. (n.d.). Period repair manual. p.34.
  2. Skovlund CW, Morch LS, Kessing LV, Lidegaard O, Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Nov 1;73(11):1154-1162.PubMed PMID: 27680324.

5 Things Women Who Take the Birth Control Pill Should Be Doing NOW.

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TRUTH: If you are currently taking the birth control pill, then you are most likely deficient in crucial vitamins and minerals.

What doctors don’t often tell their patients before putting them on the pill is that it:

  • Creates an imbalance in gut bacteria and causes leaky gut syndrome
  • Depletes nutrients (because they can’t be absorbed due to leaky gut)
  • Disrupts the microbiome
  • Creates chronic inflammation because of the high estrogen dose
  • Decreases fertility
  • Is linked to depression

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty pissed that doctors don’t disclose this information before writing the prescription. Especially when they are prescribing the birth control pill for preventable things like irregular periods and acne. In these cases, the doctor is doing the patient a huge disservice by not delving deeper and running labs to find out what the underlying hormonal imbalance is that is causing the issues in the first place.

Prescribing the birth control pill is just plain lazy.

(For those of you trying to prevent pregnancy and you are wondering what your other options are, please CLICK HERE.)

Okay, so what if you’re on the pill and you don’t plan on quitting any time soon? Well, this is your right entirely and seeing as my main goal is to help support you on your journey, I have a few tips for you.

In addition to taking birth control pill, you should start doing these five things:

1. Take a multivitamin.

Because the birth control causes leaky gut, your body is not absorbing all the nutrients from your food. This is why it is crucial to take a daily multivitamin. I can not emphasize enough how important this is.

And babes, please splurge on this one. Don’t buy the $10 bottle at CVS, this will just give you $10 urine. Instead, opt for Green Vibrance ( I like this one because it also has your probiotics-winning!), or Garden of Life.

2. Take Vitamin D3 : Vitamin D is crucial for hormonal and metabolic function,  yet around 80% of people are deficient in it. In addition to taking a Vitamin D supplement, make sure to get at least 10 minutes of direct sun exposure a day as this helps activate your supplement.

3. Take B12 with Folate- B12 can protect against dementia, increase immune function, maintain nerves, and regenerate cells. It’s necessary for maintaining methylation reactions that repair DNA and prevent cancer. It’s hard to get enough B12 from our diet, and if you are vegan or vegetarian it’s even more difficult. It’s even MORE difficult if you are on the birth control pill, as your body can’t absorb nutrients efficiently due to leaky guy.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is no joke. It can cause extreme fatigue that can disrupt your daily life, and make it hard to function. Tasks that seem easy can appear daunting when suffering from fatigue.

4. Eat at least 2-3 servings of fermented foods daily. Your body depends on your gut to remove excess hormones, that’s why it’s vital to keep your microbiome healthy. Sadly, the birth control pill has been shown to disrupt gut flora and create an environment that allows for an overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast. Eating fermented foods will help keep your microbiome balanced. However, if fermented foods are upsetting you, look into getting tested for SIBO.

5. Take a probiotic. Taking a high grade probiotic is your insurance ticket that makes sure beneficial strands of bacteria are being introduced to your gut daily. For optimum health you should maintain an 85-to-15 percent ratio of good bacteria to bad. Once the bad bacteria rises above 15 percent, the immune system begins to slow down and sets off a chain reaction that promotes disease, digestion problems, and interferes with nutrient absorption.

Alright ladies, good luck! And remember, your diet is the most powerful tool you have to keep you vibrant and healthy. So continue to incorporate a variety of vegetables and quality fats into your diet always!

xxxxxx

Health Coach Jenna

6 Alternatives to the Birth Control Pill

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When I was 23, after having been on the birth control pill since the age of 14 (prescribed for ovarian cysts), I had had enough of the horrible side effects of the pill. So I quit. And guess what? I didn’t have a period for three months, I had terrible acne, and I was experiencing mood swings.

After three months of having no period (amenorrhea) I visited the doctor and asked him for help. So what was his answer?

“Take the birth control pill”.

This was my first “aha” holistic moment, ladies. It’s where it all began. To me it sounded counterproductive to get back on the pill after just quitting it three months prior.  I knew I wanted my body to have a healthy period on its own.

So I went to an herb bar (I know so heady right?) because back then I didn’t know anything about health coaches, holistic doctors or healers. But I had heard of this herb bar in Austin from a friend. So I talked to a very lovely woman at the counter and she prescribed a tonic (click here for a simple version you can make at home). Well guess what? After one month of drinking this tonic I had my first pill- free period in ten years! It was oh so empowering!

So What Are My Other Options?!

Okay, so after reading my previous article about the serious side effects associated with the birth control pill, you are probably starting to think that the pill is not the best thing for your body. But what other methods of birth control can you use?

Listed below are the safest and best alternatives to the oral contraceptives. And I realize they all have their pros and their cons, so just weigh them out to see which one suits you best.

 1. Fertility Awareness Method: 99.4% effective

The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) requires you to track your menstrual cycle and abstain from unprotected sex during the time you can get pregnant. On average there are 8-10 days a female can get pregnant. There are many apps that you can download to track your cycle. I use Kindara. You can even get a Daysy thermometer that does all the work for you! All you have to do is take your temperature first thing in the morning. Even if you don’t choose this method, it’s a good idea to use an app like this to track your periods. Please note that if you have irregular periods or your period is outside of the 36 day range, then this method is not for you. That said, women with irregular cycles should still chart their cycles because it will provide invaluable insight into the root of the problem. Also note, if your period tracker app doesn’t ask for your temperature, then it is not FAM but the Rhythm Method. The Rhythm Method is often confused with FAM, but RM is not a reliable birth control method.

2. Condoms: 98% effective

Oh gosh, really? Yes. Really, really. Give them a chance. Plus, if you are using the Fertility Awareness Method, you’ll only have to use them 8-10 days per month. The condom is the most effective of the barrier methods, and because it is the only method that prevents against STDs, it really is the best option for single ladies.

3. Withdrawal: 96% effective

There is no sperm in pre-ejaculatory fluid, but your partner must make sure he urinates prior to sex to get rid of any sperm from previous ejaculations.

4. Diaphragms: 94% effective

These are like condoms for girls that sit up in the cervix. But unlike a condom they can be put a few hours before sex. You must go to ta doctor to get fitted for one, and they last up to two years.

5. Today Sponge: 91% effective

These can be purchased over the counter at your local pharmacy. It can be inserted 24 hours ahead of sex so that give you lots of flexibility. The sponge is inserted with spermicide and is placed like a cap over your cervix.

6. Copper IUD:

If you are uncomfortable with the above barrier methods, are unable to consistently chart your cycle to use FAM, or are not responsible or reliable with your birth control methods, then your next best option is the copper IUD. It doesn’t contain hormones, which is excellent because it means you will still ovulate. It’s also great for ladies looking for something more permanent as it lasts for ten years. The copper IUD is inserted into your cervix, and stops the sperm from making it way to your uterus. However it does require insertion and removal by a doctor (which can be painful) and can cause heavy periods.

Okay ladies. You now have homework to do. Reflect on these alternatives, and if you have a partner, I encourage you to include them in on the conversation to find out which one suits your lifestyle as a couple best. If you’d like support during this transition, sign up for a consultation with me today.

And remember, if you decide to stick with the birth control pill that is entirely your right. No one is judging you. This is your decision to make. I encourage you to listen to your intuition for guidance.

Xxxxxx

Health Coach Jenna