Not many people know about the fertility awareness method of birth control.
But I’m out to inform people and change that, because fertility awareness is awesome and absolutely a method that’s worth considering!
Being aware of your fertility and taking charge of your reproductive health puts the control -and your health- back in your own hands.
Knowing what women have gone through to manage their reproductive health, I think that if more women knew about this option, they’d jump at the chance to switch!
Read on to find out why you should consider this alternative method of birth control.
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Here are my top reasons for considering the fertility awareness method (also called FAM) for your birth control!
(And if you’re looking for how to actually use this birth control method to track your fertility, check out this post on how to use the fertility awareness method for effective natural birth control).
The fertility awareness method means no side effects
The fertility awareness method is completely, 100%, all-natural.
This means that, unlike other forms of birth control, there aren’t any scary side effects to deal with or worry about!
Side effects of conventional (hormonal) birth control methods such as the pill, shot, or patch include:
- Weight gain
- Imbalanced hormones
- High blood pressure
- Blood clots
- Heart attack
- Liver tumors
- Death in rare cases
Even using a non-hormonal IUD (the copper Paraguard), I experienced a bunch of side effects. My period was much heavier and longer than normal, and sometimes it was almost too much for even my menstrual cup to handle!
Related: How to use a menstrual cup for a pain-free, zero waste period
I also had a slight hormonal imbalance (I could tell from the watery flow) and my doctor noticed a zinc deficiency. Zinc and copper are inversely related, so because I had an IUD putting copper into my system, that could have caused my imbalanced levels.
After getting my IUD removed, my cycle quickly returned to normal, my hormones began balancing, and my body didn’t need as much zinc.
Having said that, I think I got pretty lucky. For other people, IUDs have caused much more serious problems (including traveling through the body and harming internal organs) and these awful side effects happen more often than you’d think!
There isn’t any form of birth control (which includes introducing a foreign object and/or chemicals into your body) that isn’t without risk.
Side effects for the fertility awareness method? Zero.
You only need birth control for a small part of your cycle
The fertility awareness method is a fantastic option for your birth control because you’re only fertile for about 7-8 days out of the month anyway.
Why worry about birth control (with potentially harmful side effects) at any other time?
Instead of having to remember something like a pill every day or a shot every month (which I know I would inevitably forget and then spend way too much time stressing about it), you only need to know what day of your cycle it is.
Our bodies give us signals that we’re fertile, and we can use these signals to understand our bodies and use an alternative method of birth control during those 7-8 days.
That’s the fertility awareness method in a nutshell.
Pretty easy, right?
Once you’ve tracked your cycle for a few months, you hardly need to track anything, just stay in touch with your body and be aware of when your fertile days are coming up!
During fertile days, you can use alternate methods like condoms (I recommend natural condoms) or just avoid penetrative sex- there are plenty of other ways to have fun!
It helps you know your body better
I think this is one of the coolest perks of FAM birth control.
Just like using a menstrual cup, tracking your cycle helps you understand your body and the amazing changes it goes through in a month.
Related: How I made my period zero waste (and painless!)
A menstrual cup will help you learn about your cycle, and can warn you of things like hormonal changes and how heavy your flow is.
Tracking your fertility tells you even more about your cycle!
This is awesome because, as women, we experience a lot of fluctuation throughout the month, including going through times when we have more energy, feel sexier, gain some weight, have better memory, and more.
Tracking your cycle means you’ll be in sync with these changes and know exactly when they’re happening.
For more information, you can read this BBC post on how the menstrual cycle changes women’s brains every month.
Tracking your fertility will get you in tune with your body and help you appreciate it in a much deeper way than you ever have before!
It helps you bond with your partner
This natural birth control method is fantastic because, in my experience, it can create a deeper bond in your partnership.
This is because your partner needs to be aware of your cycle to help you stick to this method, which helps him get more in tune with you and your hormones, which then means he’ll understand you better- something we’re all hoping for, right?
FAM also requires a lot of trust and a bit of self-sacrifice.
Since both partners need to agree to be a little more careful at certain times of the month, both of you will get the chance to put aside in-the-moment desires to think about each other and the long-term consequences of actions.
I also think that this method makes sex seem more special and meaningful, bringing more awareness and appreciation to the act itself, although that might not be the experience of every couple.
The fertility awareness method is free! (Mostly)
The perks don’t end yet- besides being free of unwanted side-effects and good for you, this method is also very inexpensive!
All you really need is a reliable basal thermometer (I use this one) and a way to keep track of your symptoms and temperatures. I just use plain old graph paper!
There are also some great apps out there that will automatically record your results, like this one, which comes with a thermometer and draws your fertility chart automatically via Bluetooth.
Check out this post for more on the nitty-gritty of how to successfully use the fertility awareness method.
It helps you track fertility for easy conception
When you decide it’s time to try for a family, the fertility awareness method makes it easy.
This is because you’ll already know, from your charting, when your most fertile times are, and you won’t have to start figuring it out as soon as you decide to start trying for a baby!
It takes all the guesswork out of getting pregnant.
FAM birth control is also the easiest method of birth control to stop using– you don’t have to visit the gyno or do anything extra!
This is hugely different from other methods, such as the IUD… which could actually be more expensive to remove than to insert (crazy right? Happened to me!) or the pill, which sometimes takes a long time to get your fertility back on track and can make conception difficult for a while (not to mention plenty of other unwanted side effects).
It’s way easier with natural birth control.
After only a few months of charting your fertility, you’ll know exactly what days of the month you should have sex in order to maximize your chances of conceiving.
It can also help you understand why you might be struggling with conception.
For example, if you track your cycle and find that your luteal phase (the time between ovulation and the start of your next period) is much shorter than it should be, that could be a factor that makes it difficult to conceive.
More on that in my post about how to conceive using the fertility awareness method.
It’s great for most people
As you can see, the fertility awareness method has some awesome benefits and there are some great reasons to try it.
But it’s not for everyone!
In fact, there are a few types of women who would do best to not use FAM birth control.
Read on for a few tips to help you decide whether or not this birth control method is the right one for you.
Who the fertility awareness method is best for
This natural method of birth control is great if you’re in an understanding, committed partnership.
If you don’t have a consistent partner who can agree with this method it will be much more difficult to stick to the patterns that you have to follow to make this an accurate form of birth control.
You should also use a different method if you or your partner have an STD, because obviously this method offers no protection against STDs, just an awareness of when you’re fertile.
This method is also better for women who have a cycle that’s monthly and fairly consistent.
If your period varies more than a week or so each cycle, it will be harder to track when you’re actually fertile. Don’t try this method if your periods are extremely irregular!
Instead, you might want to try working with a naturopathic doctor or someone who can help you get your hormones back on track.
And overall, if you are completely sure that you aren’t ready to have children, you should either abstain or look into different birth control options.
This method is an effective form of birth control when used correctly, but it is possible to accidentally have unprotected sex during fertile times of the month and end up pregnant.
This might be less likely if you use something like the Paraguard IUD (although pregnancies still happen with any birth control method- abstinence is the only method that’s 100% accurate).
If you think you won’t be able to track consistently enough, or that you’ll get carried away and forget to use alternate birth control methods during your fertile times, it might be better to go with something like an IUD.
So, to recap, here a checklist for women who should consider the fertility awareness method for their birth control:
- In a committed partnership
- No STDs (or willing to use other methods of protection along with fertility tracking)
- Consistent, monthly period
- Willing to track fertility information daily
If you don’t fit all of these guidelines, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use the fertility awareness method, but I don’t think I would recommend it.
And if you do meet the above criteria, I really think you should consider this method! Try it out. The freedom from hormonal and unnatural birth control is so worth it.
Check out this post for more on how the fertility awareness method actually works and how to start using it for birth control.
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