Why I want you (and all your friends) to learn Fertility Awareness
Today I’m telling you what I really think - - about why I want you and all your friends, and all your relatives, and everyone you went to high school with - to learn Fertility Awareness (FA)!
But let me back up by saying - -
I don’t think you should have to use FA for birth control (unless it suits you).
I do think FA is an essential piece of your reproductive well-being that is overlooked and rarely taught.
If your schooling was anything like mine, you went to a school where your sex education was pretty much “don’t get pregnant - and - don’t get an STI!”
And that was it.
Through your adolescent years that wisdom got infused with a good bit of fear (pregnancy will ruin your life!) and cultural shame (periods are disgusting!).
Et voila, you came into your adult-life with no real grounding in how your menstrual cycle worked, or how to take care of it when things got wonky.
It took me decades to learn;
you’re only fertile a few days each cycle.
you can understand how your cycle works.
your lifestyle choices impact your period, fertility, pregnancy and menopause !
there’s so much you can do for period pain and cycle irregularity - that isn’t taking the pill.
you can nourish your body through periods, pregnancy, menopause and every transition of your life.
The reason I want you to learn FA is so that you have a chance to develop a deep understanding of and connection with your own body.
From the place of deep understanding about your own body, you get to make choices that suit you.
Those choices are empowering and allow you to decide how you move through your own life.
If you want to use the Fertility Awareness Method for contraception - you can - it’s hormone-free and when learned with a trained instructor the sympto-thermal method of Fertility Awareness is 99.6%* effective.
FA is also massively helpful in achieving pregnancy - especially if you struggle with irregular cycles.
But there’s so much more to Fertility Awareness than avoiding or achieving, pregnancy.
FA not only gives you the power of choice - of how to direct your creative energy and fertility - at every cycle.
It also offers you an amazing insight into your own health so you can understand what’s going on with your body and what affects your cycles and ovulation.
Ovulation is a key indicator of your well-being.
Regular ovulation is just as important as your other vital signs.
If your cycle becomes irregular or erratic that’s when you say “Ok what’s going on with ovulation? What’s going on with my hormones and what's causing these problems?”
FA helps you track changes in your body and your life - and shows you how they’re related.
Say you have a really stressful job change or relationship break-up and your cycles gone awry.
The changes in your cycle could be from the emotional stress you're experiencing or from the changes to your normal habits that stress brings with it.
Maybe the stressful event caused you to start eating differently or not at all or having disturbed sleep.
FA helps you understand how your lifestyle - including nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress impacts your body and affect your cycles.
FA takes the anxiety out of late periods.
When you’re practicing FA there’s no such thing as late period anxiety.
There’s no staring at the calendar and thinking… "oh sh*t did we accidentally conceive!? "
When you practice FA you know what's going on in your cycle, at all times.
You know exactly when you ovulated and if ovulation is late - causing a late period, you’ll have insight about why it’s delayed.
So when your period is late you’re not left thinking “Oh no!”
Ok - - but what if you do have a risky sexual encounter in your fertile window?
With fertility awareness you’ll know on the day you had potentially fertilizing intercourse and you’ll be able to make decisions about what to do next.
You can use Fertility Awareness regardless of where you’re at in your fertility journey.
Whether you have irregular or wonky cycles, an underlying health condition like PCOS or Endometriosis, have just had a baby and your waiting for your period to return, FA gives you accurate insight about the timing of ovulation - and tells you exactly what your cycles are doing and when your fertility is returning.
Fertility Awareness helps you understand the hormonal and energetic changes at each phase of your cycle.
It helps you understand why at some phases of your cycle you feel really creative and passionate and at others you feel tired and withdrawn.
Learning about these shifts allows you to work with the energy of your constantly shifting body rather than against it.
To learn more about these phases check out: Wild Body.
Fertility Awareness is basic body literacy.
It’s having a clear understanding of how your body and menstrual cycle works and what’s going on in a way we’re not usually taught about growing up.
FA helps you understand how your lifestyle choices impact your cycle, fertility and period symptoms.
And it gives you a map to explore the energetic dimensions of your cycling self.
I don’t think that everyone needs to - or should - use Fertility Awareness for birth control.
Sometimes it’s simply not the right choice, other times it’s not the right choice - at this moment.
It’s about informed decision making.
Hormonal birth control like the Pill has a myriad of side-effects and works* by suppressing ovulation (and/or thinning the uterine lining / thickening your cervical mucus) making it less than ideal for many folks.
Non-hormonal methods like condoms, while readily available - have their down sides too.
Fertility Awareness takes time to learn, it requires building trust with your body, daily awareness, recording of your fertility signs and following the rules - so it won't be for everyone.
It’s about empowerment.
If you have a menstrual cycle, it impacts your daily life, it affects your decision making, and it sometimes causes distress or debility.
Having the knowledge of how your body works, when you can and can’t become pregnant in your cycle and which herbs and foods support your cycle is deeply empowering.
And that’s what I wish everyone could have an opportunity to learn.
It’s up to us to remember and learn and teach and share.
To move beyond the cycles of shame and misinformation that we’ve been taught.
To reclaim our relationship with our cycles and our bodies, so we can live aligned with our own rhythms and feel deeply well throughout our lives.
To learn more about how Fertility Awareness works - sign up to the newsletter - and I'll let you know when I post again!
*The sympto-thermal method of Fertility Awareness is 99.6% effective for contraception when learned with a trained instructor in the method.*
*Trussel (2011) Contraceptive failure in the US. J Contracepton.
**There are a number of different hormonal birth control options - I.e. Hormonal IUD, The Pill and mini-pill. While The Pill works by suppression of ovulation, the hormonal IUD and Mini-Pill affect cervical mucus and uterine lining.
Hibiscus flowers by Cameron Ahlvers on Unsplash