Guest blog post by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, founder of FertilityFriday.com
I spoke on Lisa’s Fertility Friday podcast recently & you can listen to the interview at this link: FFP 019 | Fix Your Period | Amenorrhea, Dysmenorrhea and The Pill | Nicole Jardim
If you’re not familiar with how the Fertility Awareness Method works, it involves tracking your 3 primary fertile signs: cervical mucus, basal body temperature, and cervical position, and learning how to identify which days in your cycle you are actually fertile.
Contrary to everything you were taught in your junior high school sex ed class, women are only able to conceive on about 5-6 days during each menstrual cycle.
Yes you heard right, you aren’t actually fertile every single day of your cycle, and yes there is only a specific window of time during each cycle that you can actually get pregnant. The fertility awareness method allows you to identify the days when you are actually fertile.
If you are trying to avoid pregnancy, and you don’t have unprotected sex on the only days you could possibly get pregnant then your chances of getting pregnant basically plummet to nil. That is why when the fertility awareness method is used correctly for birth control it is 99.4% effective in preventing pregnancy.
So here are the top 4 benefits of using the Fertility Awareness Method for birth control.
1. You can ditch hormonal birth control for good
This one might be pretty obvious, but learning how to use the fertility awareness method for birth control allows you to have a reliable and effective method of contraception that does not require you to subject your body to a daily onslaught of synthetic endocrine disrupting hormones.
Considering that the actual purpose of hormonal birth control methods is to render you temporarily infertile by disrupting the normal functioning of your endocrine system, if you’re looking to improve the health of your menstrual cycles it only makes sense to allow your body to detox from all of those lovely synthetic chemicals and begin moving towards a balanced and healthy menstrual cycle. However, this can’t actually happen if you’re still on the hormones.
Naturally if you’re not ready to get pregnant today, having a reliable and effective method of birth control is an essential consideration before coming off the pill. As mentioned above, when used correctly the fertility awareness method has been shown to be 99.4% effective, making it a formidable alternative to hormonal contraceptives. 
There is a learning curve involved in learning fertility awareness that takes at least 3 months or 3 full ovulatory cycles to allow yourself enough time to figure out how to correctly identify your fertile window. With that being said, once you have learned how to accurately chart your menstrual cycles using the Fertility Awareness Method you will have a free and natural method of birth control at your fingertips for the rest of your life.
2. Your menstrual cycle can actually be used as a diagnostic tool
Did you know that there are a growing number of medical professionals who view the menstrual cycle as the 5th vital sign? What is a vital sign? Well a vital sign is a measure of the body’s basic functions that serve to assess a person’s general physical health and give clues to possible diseases or disorders . The menstrual cycle falls into this category. Any disruptions or irregularities in your menstrual cycle can serve as early indications of various health and fertility related issues.
I would argue that one of the biggest myths that the pharmaceutical industry wants us all to believe is that as women, our fertility operates separately from all of our other bodily functions. This belief makes it possible for women to take synthetic chemicals each day that effectively shut down our ovaries without thinking that it could have an impact on the zillion other bodily functions that are happening in our body at any given moment.
It just so happens that when women start using the Fertility Awareness Method for birth control they often end up getting way more than they bargained for. You might have signed up for hormone free birth control, but you end up getting a tool that allows you to measure your overall health and fertility, as well as your progress if you are making specific changes in your diet and lifestyle to improve your fertility.
When you are charting your cycles using the Fertility Awareness Method your menstrual cycle serves as a real time feedback system that provides you with more data about your health and fertility than you would ever have imagined.
When you learn the normal and healthy parameters of the menstrual cycle and you start to track your cycles you will begin to see that any hormonal imbalances or fertility issues will show up right there in your charts.
The first step in correcting hormonal imbalances and improving the health of your menstrual cycles is identifying what is wrong in the first place. The Fertility Awareness Method allows you to do that. Some examples of fertility related issues that can be identified through fertility awareness charting include: a short luteal phase (also called luteal phase defect), limited cervical mucus production, recurrent low grade yeast infections, thyroid imbalances, and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) among other health and fertility-related concerns. There have even been cases of women who were able to identify cervical cancer in the early stages after observing abnormal changes in their cervical mucus.
A true menstrual period does not happen in isolation. The main event is ovulation, and menstruation is the response to it. What this means is that in order to fix your period and achieve a healthy menstrual cycle you can’t only look at your period. The Fertility Awareness Method allows you to monitor all of the phases of your menstrual cycle. It is truly amazing how much information about your fertility and your overall health you can gather from your menstrual cycle.
3. You’ll be able to predict when your period is coming
One of the awesome side benefits of using the Fertility Awareness Method is that you can predict when you’ll get your period. Although you can’t predict ovulation, once you have identified your ovulation date by using a combination of cervical mucus tracking and basal body temperature observations you will be able to pinpoint the day your period will start. No more surprises!
Even though the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle can vary from cycle to cycle, the variation occurs during the period of time before ovulation (the pre-ovulatory or folicular phase of the menstrual cycle). Once ovulation takes place menstruation typically begins about 12-14 days afterwards in a healthy cycle.
How does it work? During ovulation an egg (oocyte) bursts from your ovary. Once this happens the corpus luteum or yellow body forms on your ovary and begins producing progesterone. This prepares your body for pregnancy by preparing the uterine lining for implantation. Unless the egg is fertilized, the corpus luteum disintegrates about 12-14 days after ovulation, and once the corpus luteum is reabsorbed into the ovary and stops producing progesterone your uterine lining begins to shed.
Once you’ve charted a few full cycles you’ll get a sense of how many days your post-ovulatory or luteal phase usually lasts, and presto! You’ll never have to wonder when your period is coming or play any more guessing games because you’ll always know when to expect your period as long as you keep charting your cycles!
4. You will finally understand what the heck is going on with your body!
Women may initially be drawn to this method after having a negative experience with hormonal contraceptives and are looking for a more holistic method of birth control without all of the side effects. Some women find fertility awareness when they are trying to conceive and trying to figure out how to optimize their chances. But the thing is when you start using the fertility awareness method you end up getting much more than a reliable birth control method.
Tracking your menstrual cycles and learning to interpret the signs of your fertility deepens the relationship that you have with your body. You start to realize that your moods and emotions are often intertwined with the phases of your menstrual cycle. You may find that you feel more withdrawn and less social at certain times in your cycle, or that you tend to be more irritable during other phases of your cycle. You may find that you have more energy and tend to be more creative at certain points in your cycle. And all of this information can help you to understand yourself better.
Charting your cycles is arguably an important life skill that every woman should have the opportunity to learn. After all it is your body, and you should at least be given the opportunity to understand how it works. Charting your cycles allows you to finally have the opportunity to understand how your fertility works. Our bodies are truly amazing, and understanding the complexities of our menstrual cycles and how this hormonal process is intertwined with our overall health and fertility is a gift that most women never have the opportunity to experience.
Charting your cycles gives you a real time visual representation of your overall health and fertility. For example, many women will report that after a night or two of partying or a few days of crappy eating they will notice a change in the quality of their cervical mucus.
Charting your cycles allows you to see for the first time how your body is affected by dietary changes, exercise, travel, sleep and stress. For women embarking on a journey to fix their periods, heal their menstrual cycles, and restore their fertility naturally, learning the fertility awareness method can only help you. Even if you choose not to rely on it for birth control there are so many untold positive effects of charting that you may want to look into it!
Lisa is the founder of FertilityFriday.com a blog intended to raise awareness about Fertility Awareness and improve women’s knowledge and confidence about natural methods of contraception. She is also the founder of the FertilityFriday Podcast – a weekly radio show where she conducts in depth interviews with professionals working in the field of fertility awareness as well as professionals who specialize in helping women to restore their fertility primarily through natural or holistic methods of care.
Lisa has been charting her own menstrual cycles using the Fertility Awareness Method for the past 12 years. She was trained as a Justisse Body Literacy Advocate through Justisse Healthworks for Women, an organization that teaches the Fertility Awareness Method to women, and offers professional training for women to become Fertility Awareness Instructors. Lisa is passionate about helping women to learn about their fertility and understand their natural cycles.
Okay girl, now it’s your turn!
1. Have you considered getting off hormonal birth control and trying a more natural approach? Or have you made the leap already and love/hate it? I wanna know!
2. Be a Menstruation Maven and spread the good word on this important topic by sharing this article on social media/email. Buttons are below 🙂