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

6 Alternatives to the Birth Control Pill

birthcontrol3

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