The Fertility Awareness Method
Hi! It's so nice that you're here!
I’m really passionate about Women’s health. You may have missed my last live. It was all about the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). It is available on my Instagram page.
Fertility Awareness helps you to deeply understand your health and hormones, avoid pregnancy naturally and time conception better.
It is often confused with the rhythm method – NO this is not FAM. FAM uses current cycle data to assess fertility, while the rhythm method uses past data accurately to predict patterns in current and future cycles. There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about the method.
I was shocked to learn about FAM. I wasn’t told that we couldn’t get pregnant every day of our cycle! FAM taught me that we are only fertile 6 days per cycle.
Male bodies are fertile every day.
It is 5 days that sperm can survive in cervical fluid leading up to ovulation and 1 day where the egg survives after ovulation = total of 6 days.
Interestingly, fertility is at an all time low right now. Women (and men) are 50% less fertile than their grandparents!! (Ready more about it in the following books: Fifth Vital Sign by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack or Countdown by Shanna H Swan). The main causes of infertility are hormonal dysfunctions and scarring/inflammation. I’ll go into this another time! There are so many things that are disrupting our hormones (perfumes, micro-plastics, household cleaners…). Your menstrual cycle can be seen as your Fifth Vital Sign. It gives you information about your overall health.
So what does birth control do for us?
I have mixed feelings towards BC. On the one hand its been great for women to be in charge of their health and not worry about pregnancy. BUT the side effects outweigh this for me.
I say this now, but I was pro-pill for 13 years.
The list of side effects of birth control is pages long! It causes low sex drive, mood changes, yeast infections, blood clots, breast and cervical cancer, headaches, depression, mineral deficiencies…. the list goes on and on.
They tried making a male birth control but it wasn’t approved. Giving women BC is the simple solution to our problems. Heavy flow – take the pill. Cramps – take the pill. Irregular cycles – take the pill.
The pill is not the solution. You are not curing the problem. You are masking whatever is happening.
On most pills – you are not ovulating. The bleed that happens is a withdrawal bleed that is triggered by synthetic hormones. Ovulation is the only way we make progesterone – we need it because it has a balancing effect on estrogen and is essential for our overall health.
Here are the efficacy statistics:
– Cervical mucus and BBT = 99.6%
– Copper IUD = 99.2% effective
– Hormonal IUD = 99.6-99.9% effective
– Combined oral contraceptives = 93% effective
– Male condom = 87% effective
The main event of our cycles is OVULATION not menstruation. If you’re not ovulating, you’re not having a true cycle. Ovulation is a sign of health. With PCOS or stress an anovulatory cycle can occur where there are multiple attempts to ovulate but it doesn’t occur. Eventually you’ll get a break-through bleed because estrogen stimulates the endometrium to grow to a point where the womb can’t hold it anymore so it sheds.
There are 2 phases – pre ovulation and post ovulation. The post-ovulation phase doesn’t really change. But pre-ov changes depending on many factors such as stress, alcohol, travel. If your post-ov phase is 13 days, then you are likely to get your period 13 days after ovulation.
So you can only get pregnant around ovulation. If you want to achieve pregnancy it is important to know around when that happens. You cannot pinpoint exactly when. The window stays open for 24-48 hours. Most couples don’t know when they are ovulating – it is not on day 14 of your cycle!! It is important to know what the fertile signs are in order to get pregnant (and avoid it).
I talked about the different ways you can track your fertility and how to find the fertile window.
Some methods included:
– measuring basal body temperature (BBT) – resting body temperature. You temp will rise after ovulation has occurred and stay up until menstruation this is because progesterone increases our body temperature. You can use an oral thermometer under tongue (2 decimal places) at the same time every day OR Tempdrop is a great one, you wear it at night – great for interrupted nights or if you work night shifts. (If you’re interested in buying, here’s a discount for you: http://tempdrop.refr.cc/odetteb)
– observing cervical fluid – look for the stretchy, egg white – this means that ovulation is coming. After ovulation, it will dry up again.
– observing cervix – the cervix position will change throughout the cycle. Estrogen causes the cervix to rise and become softer and more open (pre ov). progesterone causes cervix to sit lower and feel firmer and closed (post ov). You won’t feel much of a change unless you’re around ovulation.
– measuring LH levels – LH strips which you pee on when you notice stretchy eggwhite CM. Best time is mid-morning. Once positive, ovulation occurs between 24-48 hours afters. (Read the packaging, some are different).
There are certain rules depending on the type of method you choose.
For example, after you have confirmed ovulation, you wait 3 additional days just to make sure that there isn’t another egg being released – sometimes women release a second egg so its important to wait those 3 days. It doesn’t happen randomly! It will only happen in that window. Some women, like myself, have long pre-ov phases, so there are also days here that are ‘safe’ days. There are different rules depending on the method that you choose. Like only having sex on alternate dry days. For some people, their pre-ov phase is super short so theoretically, they can also get pregnant on their periods.
For achieving pregnancy:
– Use days with greatest quality mucus
– Time is around the LH surge
– Accurate timing can be enough for some couples but in many cases there’s more to the story. The Fertility Friday Podcast has a lot of information about this for conception.
– Avoid contact during ovulation phase when you observe fertile cervical fluid. If using condom, you are counting on the efficacy rate of the condom which is 87%.
There are also different rules for postpartum and how often/much you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding contributes to ovulation suppression, so the greater amount of breastfeeding, the greater the suppression of ovulation. This is because prolactin is produced during breastfeeding which suppresses the hormones which trigger ovulation.
So what does a healthy cycle look like? (All method have different barriers but these are the averages)
– 3-7 days menstruation – a few heavy days and a few light days.
– At least 1 day of peak cervical mucus (stretchy, egg white)
– Post ovulation phase between 9-18 days.
– Total cycle length ranges from 24-36 days.
– Premenstrual symptoms should be few and mind or non-existent.
Things that can affect readings and ovulation:
– Physical exercise
– Emotional state
– Body needs to feel safe to ovulate
– Sleep patterns
– Alcohol and drugs
Potential signs of imbalance:
– Extended periods of fertile mucus – excess estrogen
– Little fertile mucus – PCOS or thyroid issue
– Post ov phase less than 9 days – low progesterone, increased risk of miscarriage
– Premenstrual spotting – progesterone deficiency or thyroid issue
– Light mensruation – insufficient hormone levels in previous cycle.
To increase changes of pregnancy and fertility:
– Reduce toxins
– Eat fresh foods – minimise processed foods
– Start tracking cycle and changes
– Reduce/quit smoking, drugs, caffeine
– Avoid intense exercise
– Avoid toxins, lead, pesticides, paint, perfumes
A few Insta accounts that have more info:
– Taking Charge of your Fertility – Toni Weschler
– Fifth Vital Sign – Lisa Hendrickson-Jack
– Countdown – Shanna H Swan
– This is your brain on birth control – Sarah E Hill
If you have any questions, reply to this email or send me a message on social media!
Love and Light,