Fertility Awareness is a beautiful observational practice of body literacy, natural birth control and/or conception. We deepen our understanding of the internal rhythms of our body by recognizing when we are fertile and when we are not.
The daily practice of fertility awareness is based off of research done with the Petra Frank-Hermann study, which held 900 women with their 17,638 menstrual cycles. In the end, it showed a 99.6 – 99.8% effectiveness rate for natural birth control.
How does Fertility Awareness work?
Simply explained, we produce two main hormones which switch “on” in the body at separate times of our cycles; estrogen for the first half and progesterone for the second half.
Our basal body temperature (BBT), cervical fluid (CF) and cervix are each affected by these hormones, giving us the signs we need to practice the fertility awareness method.
We can use the method’s 4 rules to decide whehther we would like to try to conceive, abstain or use a barrier method to prevent pregnancy, or simply use the observed signs to follow our gynecological health.There are zero negative side effects from practicing the fertility awareness method.
At the beginning of each cycle, the uterus thickens with the help of estrogen.
As estrogen reaches it’s peak, cervical fluid becomes higher in water content. This is how we determine our point of change and peak day! Aka, the first day of observed cervical fluid, and the last day of our most Super fertile fluid (which we find in retrospect..). We will then count 4 days after our peak day as a buffer to confirm ovulation (in conjunction with our temperature rise).
During our fertile wave, we are relying on the efficacy of the contraception we are using. Some options are: Abstaining, condoms, withdrawal, oral sex…
Following ovulation, the uterus becomes nourished even further by progesterone to prepare its growth for a possible pregnancy to be sustained. This hormone switch lasts an approximate 12-16 days. Welcome to the luteal phase!
During the luteal phase, cervical fluid will dry up and temperature will spike due to the rise in progesterone. Once we have confirmed ovulation with both CF and temp counts, we can enjoy unprotected intercourse through the remainder of our cycle.
If the egg becomes fertilized during ovulation and we become pregnant, BBT will remain high for more than 18 days.
- Conception can only occur during the fertile window
- Abstinence, or barrier methods like condoms and withdrawal during the fertile window will prevent unwanted pregnancy
- Having unprotected sex during the fertile window will increase chances of becoming pregnant
Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
A basal body thermometer measures the temperature under our tongue immediately after waking up in the morning. It should be taken:
- Daily, at the same time every morning, +/- one hour
- Taken consistently, the earlier the better (5-8am)
- After deep sleep
- Before getting up out of bed to use the bathroom, communicating, any physical contact, etc.
- Taken under the tongue
Keep in mind that viral infections that cause fevers, restless sleep, prescription medications, mouth breathing, varying work schedules, alcohol, etc, will affect basal body temperature readings.
Cervical Fluid (CF)
A vagina is acidic for majority of the menstrual cycle, and cervical fluid comes in to alkalize the environment in order to keep sperm alive and able to travel through the cervix, into the uterus, and through the Fallopian tubes.
Regularly check the sensation of your CF at the vulva multiple times each day to observe an accurate quality and quantity of fluid.
How Much Does Fertility Awareness Cost?
A basal body thermometer costs approximately $9 – $30. Follow the link to read about the most favored basal thermometers available today.
The best books to read more on this subject are:
Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler ~ approximately $15
The Fifth Vital Sign by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack ~ approximately $24
Garden of Fertility by Katie Singer ~ approximately $20
Hire a fertility awareness practitioner:
The cost of hiring a fertility awareness practitioner varies depending on whom you work with.
What Are The Side Effects?
You will not get any side effects by using FAM.
How Effective Is it?
99.6% Effective with perfect use, .4% Failure rate
76% Effective with typical use, 24% Failure rate
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