The Pill, IUDs, the Patch, Oh My: A WonderMom Turns to the Fertility Awareness Method

Choosing a form of birth control is harder than getting your hands on a Hatchimal in December of 2016.

There are a zillion different forms, from IUD’s to the Pill, which is affectionately referred to in my circle of friends as “Ole Reliable.”

There are a zillion different forms, from IUD’s to the Pill, which is affectionately referred to in my circle of friends as “Ole Reliable.”

Unfortunately for me, hormonal birth control turns me into an absolute mess. I’m anxious, out of balance, sick, emotional, starving and miserable. It messes with my body on a level that I can’t tolerate.

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I hate it, but I hate being pregnant even more. I throw up constantly the entire time. Of course I love the end result, but actual pregnancy is for the birds.

I was so sick throughout my second pregnancy that I have (self-diagnosed) PTSD. Okay, it’s not that bad…but I really don’t want to be pregnant. At least not right now.

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You’re probably wondering why I don’t consider a permanent method of birth control. Well, the answer is simply this: I’m only 89% sure that I’m done having kids. That’s not a high enough percentage for me to be comfortable with permanent measures.

I’m only 89% sure that I’m done having kids.

I’ve heard way too many stories about vasectomies spontaneously reversing that I would require a barrier method during sex to put my paranoid mind at ease; which makes for an irrelevant vasectomy.

So what’s a girl to do?

I have three words for you: Fertility Awareness Method.

In a world where our access to birth control is constantly threatened by those who have no business messing with it, and yet women are given full sole responsibility over the matter once it’s a zygote, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

What if I told you that by using the Fertility Awareness Method, you would be taking birth control into your own hands without unnecessary hormones? You will get to know your own body and your cycle like the back of your hand.

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What if I told you that by using the Fertility Awareness Method, you would be taking birth control into your own hands without unnecessary hormones?

Never again will you question whether or not you’re pregnant, and you can finally throw out The Rhythm Method, because it’s archaic and it doesn’t work. It’s based on the premise that your cycle is the same every month, and that could not be farther from the truth.

When using The Rhythm Method, you’re putting yourself on a 28 day cycle with the assumption that you’ll ovulate 12-14 days after your period starts. It doesn’t always work that way.

Your cycle can vary every month. Anything from 21 to 35 days from the first day of your period to the next is considered normal. Life factors like exercise, stress and the food we eat can make it change on a monthly basis.

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When you use FAM, you’ll chart your cycle every single day by taking your basal body temperature and observing your cervical fluid. You’ll also learn how to check the position of your cervix if you’re not satisfied with the results of the other two options.

Let me break it down.

Your basal body temperature is your lowest body temperature attained during rest. When you chart with FAM, you’ll take your temperature every morning before you get out of bed. I set my alarm for 5 am, take my temperature, note it on my phone and then go back to sleep. Chart it later!

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When you chart your BBT regularly, you’ll notice a rise in temperature during ovulation. The rise will be slight, but it will be there. You’ll start to see it as the months go by and you continue to keep track.

When you chart your BBT regularly, you’ll notice a rise in temperature during ovulation.

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Next, you’ll check your cervical fluid. Cervical fluid is another name for cervical mucus or my favorite, vaginal discharge. I believe the phrase “cervical fluid” was coined to alleviate the stress words like “mucus” and “discharge” seem to inflict on a primarily male based society.

Read closely, because this gem of information is the key to knowing whether or not you’re ovulating.

All of us have cervical fluid, but the amount is different for every woman. Some of you will have the evidence on your toilet paper, while others might have to go in and get it.

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On that note, I love you all, but I am not going to give detailed instructions on how to collect your cervical fluid. I am just a messenger here.

Typically, cervical fluid will have four different consistencies.

  • Raw egg white/watery
  • Creamy
  • Sticky
  • Dry

If you’re trying to prevent pregnancy, and you have raw egg white or creamy cervical fluid, close up shop. I don’t care if it’s only 9 days since the start of your last period.

Sperm requires a hospitable, semen-like environment in which to thrive. You’re literally a sperm bed and breakfast. Run away.

You’re literally a sperm bed and breakfast. Run away.

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Finally, you’ll learn to check the position of your cervix. Honestly, it’s not as scary or difficult as it sounds, and you only have to use this if you’re unsure of the results of your cervical fluid check.

Anyway, the basic rules for cervix investigation are as follows:

  • High, soft and open = Ovulating
  • Low, firm and closed = Not ovulating

It’s recommended (by professionals and myself), that you chart your cycle for at least four months before you start using it as your only form of birth control. Use a barrier method alongside FAM until you become confident and familiar with your cycle.

You will gain the confidence in yourself much faster than you think. This month, my trusty ovulation app (which is based on The Rhythm Method) sent me a notification that I was ovulating just like it does every month. The difference is this time, I knew I wasn’t.

By tracking my BBT and CF, I was able to determine that I had ovulated two days earlier and was no longer fertile. That feeling of being in the know is incredible, and brings peace of mind to those using FAM for birth control or as an aid in achieving pregnancy.

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Keep that barrier backup handy until you’re confident enough to move forward. Read all you can about it. Believe me when I say, if hormonal birth control turns you into a complete nutcase, you are not alone.

Believe me when I say, if hormonal birth control turns you into a complete nutcase, you are not alone.

I’m living proof, however, that you can move past it. You can absolutely take control of your body and your reproductive health naturally…and there are many outlets available that will help you do it.

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This post doesn’t cover half of what the Fertility Awareness Method consists of (including the rule of thumb for sperm living in the body for five days, dependent on your cervical fluid). There are a lot of tips, tricks, tweaks and cycle observations that you need to become familiar with before you start using it. For example, did you know that ovulation can begin but then change course if you’re stressed out? I didn’t either. Your body can literally be like “Nope, keep the egg for now, she’s way too stressed. Try again in a few days.”

In order to execute FAM perfectly (someone has to teach your how to check your cervix and collect your cervical mucus), I insist that you speak with a fertility specialist. Your OB-GYN may or may not have one on staff, but they aren’t hard to locate.

Once I knew I didn’t want anything to do with traditional birth control, I took to the internet. Women far and wide were raving about the Fertility Awareness Method. I called my doctor, set up an appointment with the in-house specialist, and soaked in everything I could from her about it.

She recommended that I pick up a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. This book changed the way I look at my body, and taught me how to listen to what it’s telling me. I use it as a constant reference.

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At the very least, you’ll become more familiar with your body and your cycle. You’ll recognize the second that anything is amiss, which is essential for catching any potential reproductive issues early on.

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When I started my journey with the Fertility Awareness Method, I was grasping at a last option for birth control that wasn’t permanent. I was sick of feeling like preventing an unwanted pregnancy was harder on my body than actual pregnancy. I was tired of stopping my body from doing exactly what it’s supposed to do every single month.

I was sick of feeling like preventing an unwanted pregnancy was harder on my body than actual pregnancy.

After a phone call from my pharmacist telling me to remove my Nuva Ring immediately due to a recall, I’d had enough.

I called my doctor, told them my laundry list of issues and concerns, and set an appointment for that week. After that, my life changed. Well, the birth control part of it anyway.

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As soon as I charted my first day, I felt like I finally had control over something I was originally taught that I had no control over. Which is kind of crazy, because it’s my body.

I hope that resonates for all of you who are trying to get pregnant, as well. You have more control than you might think. It’s like anything: it takes lots of practice and about five minutes a day to perfect, but FAM can be an option.

No matter what your goal with utilizing FAM might be, I hope those who choose to use it have great success. This method of birth control might not be as easy as tossing back one pill a day, but it sure is empowering to say the least.

Best of luck mamas!★

*This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog writer and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. You should check with your physician for specific medical advice and before beginning any type of family planning.

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Chelsie Dautrich is a full time freelancer/online shopper and work at home mom. She lives in Upstate New York with her two girls, one husband and one rescue dog. Likes: Coffee, shopping, the written word, horses and really long walks without her phone. Dislikes: Making dinner, lines and reduced fat Oreos.

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