The fertility awareness method (FAM) is a scientific and natural approach to birth control that is as safe and effective as artificial birth control when used correctly.
Since ancient times, women have been trying different methods to prevent pregnancy. Science has come a long way in developing artificial birth control, but unfortunately, that often comes with a long list of risks and potential side effects. The pill can cause mood swings and/or weight gain. IUDs can perforate the uterus or cause ectopic pregnancies.
Many women today want to live more natural, healthy lifestyles. If you wouldn’t want to eat an apple that has been genetically modified or sprayed with pesticides, why would you ingest chemicals every day to change your body’s natural processes? The good news is that you don’t have to!
The fertility awareness method
Thanks to the fertility awareness method, women can avoid pregnancy without any pills, patches, injections or implants. No, this is not the rhythm method. Fertility awareness method (FAM), also known as natural family planning, is the scientific practice of tracking a woman’s cycle from menstruation through the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase to avoid or achieve pregnancy.
Sadly, even today many women do not know how their own bodies work. Each month an egg in the ovaries matures. Then the ovaries release the egg during ovulation. If no sperm fertilizes the egg, it dissolves. If there is no fertilized egg, the uterus then sheds the lining it had prepared for it, which comes out during menstruation.
A woman can only become pregnant if she has unprotected sex during her fertile phase, which is the time shortly before and during ovulation.
There are a number of symptoms that indicate when a woman is fertile. The two main ones are cervical mucus and basal body temperature.
Cervical mucus is a fluid or gel-like discharge from the cervix. It changes in amount, appearance, and consistency during a woman’s infertile and fertile phases.
Basal body temperature is the lowest body temperature at rest. It is always lower before ovulation, and rises after. Fertility awareness users closely monitor their unique symptoms and avoid having sex when they are fertile. Most women are infertile the first six or so days of their cycle and the last twelve to fourteen days.
Fertility tracking methods
There are a number of methods you can use to track your fertility. Some methods, like the Creighton model, only track a woman’s cervical mucus. Other methods, such as the Symptothermal method, monitor basal body temperature as well as cervical mucus. There are also methods, like the Marquette Model, that use monitors to test a woman’s luteinizing hormone and estrogen levels to know when she is fertile and ovulating.
Each method has their own rules about when sex should be avoided before ovulation and how many days after ovulation it is “safe” again to resume intercourse. Several methods, such as Creighton and Symptothermal, offer teaching from certified instructors, but you can teach yourself if you so choose. There are even smartphone apps, like Kindara, that will interpret your cycles for you.
Fertility awareness empowers women by putting them in control of their own bodies. With the knowledge you gain from fertility tracking, you not only can avoid pregnancy, but also learn about your own health. If you have irregular cycles, tracking them will help you figure if you have a hormonal imbalance.
Fertility charting also can show you if any lifestyle changes have had an effect on your cycle. Charting is also very helpful for a woman as she goes through menopause. It is an excellent alternative for women who do not wish to use artificial birth control.