I never cease to be amazed by the number of times I run into people who tell me that they have been trying to get pregnant for nearly a year, but have never been taught the most basic information about their bodies. If only people were routinely taught the fundamentals of human reproduction in school, scores of couples would not be erroneously led to believe they have an infertility problem. This is where the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) comes in.
The Fertility Awareness Method is an easy but scientific means of charting the woman’s menstrual cycle on a daily basis. It involves observing the two primary fertility signs: waking temperature and cervical fluid, and the optional third sign: cervical changes.
It is the most practical way that a woman can tell on a day to day basis what is going on in her body. Not only can she use it for pregnancy achievement or natural birth control, but it can alert her to numerous potential gynecological issues.
The hallmark of a healthy cycle is ovulation, and more specifically, when it occurs in the cycle. Charting easily allows women to know if and when they are ovulating. If a woman isn’t ovulating, it can be indicative of many possible causes which would need to be rectified if a woman wants to become pregnant.
But a doctor is only as good as the data he/she has to work with. So if a patient comes in with nothing to provide her physician, her doctor will have to start at Square One and conduct all sorts of potentially invasive and expensive diagnostic tests, many of which would be totally unnecessary if the woman were charting her cycles.
FAM allows women and their health practitioners to determine many potential problems relating to their cycle, including:
• not ovulating
• delayed ovulation
• luteal phase defects
• unsuitable cervical fluid production
• hormonal imbalances
• insufficient progesterone levels
The Fertility Awareness Method is incredibly simple. When the alarm rings, you simply slip the digital thermometer in your mouth until it beeps, about a minute. Then whenever you use the bathroom, observe what it feels like when you wipe herself (always from front to back!) Does it feel dry? Creamy? Slippery? Then in the evening, record it. That’s it!
Yet it’s amazing how many women are initially put off by the thought of “so much work.” But do you begrudge brushing your teeth every day? FAM doesn’t take anymore time to chart your two fertility signs each day! And scores of women have the same reaction to learning how to chart: initially, they are incredibly excited about the sense of control they finally feel over their bodies.
But that excitement often evolves into anger when they realize all of the years that they thought they were infertile, only to discover that they simply needed to understand their particular cycles. Or when they realize all the side effects and physical ramifications they endured over the years with most methods of birth control. Or they feel humiliated when they remember all the times they ran off to the gynecologist, seemingly every month, for what turned out to be absolutely normal and healthy cyclical cervical fluid.
So what is the most practical take-home message I could give you when trying to get pregnant? Learn the empowering benefits of charting your cycle! Then have sex on those few days each cycle when you have slippery cervical fluid at your vaginal opening. And keep in mind that it won’t necessarily be Day 14, since women may ovulate earlier or later in the cycle than that day.
By Toni Weschler, Fairhaven Health guest contributor
Toni Weschler is the author of “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”, a national bestseller widely regarded as the preeminent guide to helping women conceive naturally. For over 20 years she has been a committed educator having started “Fertility Awareness Counseling and Training Seminars (FACTS) back in 1986. She recently completed another book, “Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body” which helps teenage girls to better understand their bodies on a day-to-day basis.