If you missed part one of sharing my journey of non-hormonal birth control, make sure you check out that post - it gives some insight into why I chose to ditch "The Pill" and pursue birth control options that better fit my lifestyle and longterm heath goals.


In this followup, I'll cover the non-hormonal form of BC I decided upon as well as a very helpful technological device that makes things easy to track and better learn how my body works.


After talking to my health practitioner and reading/researching lots of information for about 3 years, I decided that the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) was the best decision for me. Whether you are TTC (trying to conceive) or TTA (trying to avoid) it's important your partner is 100% on board - I'm very thankful my husband has been and is also supportive of me sharing this so I'm excited that this will encourage someone else who has been debating this decision.


Resources & Where to Start

I highly, highly, highly encourage you to purchase and read "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler. It is the HG of Fertility Awareness Method and teaches you everything you need to know not just about FAM, but your body, understanding your cycle, dealing with infertility, how it can help with conditions like PCOS and endometriosis - it is full of knowledge, stories, and statistics.


In addition, I found this podcast really helpful - it dives into what FAM is, how to practice it, and the success rates!


So, what is Fertility Awareness Method?

I'm going to keep this short because I'm not a professional and I really think you would get the best advice from TCOYF or a Fertility Awareness Method educator.


Since this is my personal experience, I'll share the key components and how I practice FAM.


I think it's really important to start with what FAM is NOT - it is not the Rhythm Method. The Rhythm Method is practiced with the thought that every woman ovulates on Day 14 of their cycle. In reality, less than 10% of women actually ovulate on Day 14 - which leaves a lot of room for error. Ovulation can affected by a lot of things - stress, sickness, certain conditions, etc - it can come early or late in a cycle. FAM teaches you how to learn when YOUR body ovulates and thus giving you the power to try and conceive or prevent pregnancy. With perfect use, it can be 98% effective.


The Fertility Awareness method relies on a woman's Basal Body Temperature (BBT), cervical fluid, and cervix position. By understanding these 3 things, you can implement FAM with success.


If you choose to have sex during your fertile days, the percentage of success is reliant upon your choice of barrier method.


Women are only fertile for about 6 days each month. Ovulation occurs 1 of those days and the other days are how long viable sperm can live in your body. If you are TTC, this is the time frame you would have unprotected sex - while if you're trying to avoid, you would either abstain or use a barrier method to prevent pregnancy.


Putting FAM into Practice

In TCOYF, you learn how to chart your cycle manually. However, I have chosen to use the Daysy Fertility Tracker. It is more pricey than just using a BBT thermometer and graph paper, but I really wanted the additional support. "The Daysy fertility tracking computer uses the Fertility Tracker Method (FTM) to calculate your fertile days and predict your ovulation. This means, Daysy takes your basal body temperature and menstruation data, and calculates for you when you are fertile and when you are not.

Daysy draws on the science of different models of fertility awareness to provide highly accurate calculations of your fertility status each day - fertile or not fertile. The self-learning algorithm does all of the necessary calculation work for you to come to these conclusions."


How Does Daysy Work?

Each morning, before I do anything (get out of bed, sit up, pee, talk - anything that's active and can mess with my resting temperature), I roll over and take my temperature with my Daysy which takes about 60-90 seconds. With Daysy, you don't have to temp at the same time every morning BUT I try to keep this pretty consistent because the more consistent I am, the more consistent my chart is and less room for outlying numbers. If I'm fertile, she gives me a red light and if I'm infertile, she gives me a green light. The yellow light is during learning phases of your cycle (especially in those first couple cycles where Daysy is learning your individual cycle habits)


My data is kept in my Daysy so all I have to do is sync her to my phone and the Daysy app. In the app, I can add additional details like CF, intercourse, notes, etc. It takes a couple of cycles for Daysy to understand your individual cycle and begin to predict your fertile (Red), infertile (Green), or learning phase (Yellow) days. She will predict ovulation but this is where those FAM rules come in to play - I can pinpoint ovulation day with my BBT and CF and sometimes that different than what's predicted. That's why it's important to really learn the method so the power is 100% in your hands.



This is my personal chart off my Daysy and helps you see what I'm talking about. You will see the red dipping temps - this is before ovulation. Where the black circle is shows a temperature shift, indicating ovulation has taken place (which I was able to confirm with the additional FAM practices) My temperatures stayed high and I got my green lights. Pretty cool, huh?





I have found my experience with Daysy to be absolutely amazing and helpful. I'm also part of a support group online where women can ask questions, share charts, etc. It's a very welcoming, engaging community and purchasing the Daysy was 10000% worth it.


In conclusion

Our bodies are SO amazing. Something that was mentioned on the podcast I recommended earlier was that this method is not for everyone - and that's cool. Women who do practice FAM or want to generally feel "led" to do it - because it does take some more time and effort, but if you are wanting to not have to be on hormonal BC or you just want another option - it's really an amazing tool. It's given me a bigger appreciation for my body and how amazing God created it to be. I love feeling in control and knowing my body - I've learned to give her a little more grace and love because she is working really hard for me.


Thanks for reading along!

xoxo,

patty lauren

Before we get started, I think it's important to say this is not an experience to bash the pill - I'm thankful for the access I had to it and it's something that I believe every woman should be given the choice to have and for what method she wants to use. This is simply my choice, experience and another perspective.


I started thinking about getting off hormonal birth control 3 years ago, at least. I’m an Enneagram 5 so I basically have spent most of that time researching and reading, thinking about the pros and cons, discussing it with people I trust, and making sure my husband would be 100% on board. As a woman, we know that are options for BC are pretty limited and the responsibility usually falls solely on us. Alternative methods that are as successful as the pill are not talked about very much and when they are, it's often negative. However, my gut and my body needed more than that so I kept reading and researching and talking and here we are.


Why Did I Decide to "Ditch the Pill"?

My primary reason for getting off hormonal birth control was optimal overall health. Since understanding more about my autoimmune condition and the effects “the pill” has on our brain and our gut (which basically controls everything), I knew I wanted to make the change sooner rather than later. I was approaching 36 years old and kept feeling the pull to get closer in tune with my body and ditch the excessive estrogen in the pill. I had started having debilitating hormonal migraines a few years into taking the pill. Although I was able to treat them with acupuncture, they would come back with a vengeance if I missed an appointment. I had immensely sore breasts every month. The bloating was constant - at least two full weeks out of every month I felt bogged down and puffy. All of these are signals of estrogen dominance.



When one of my best friends was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 30s with no history and the topic of long term birth control came up, I began to think about the decision even more. Additionally, I had recently found out I had an autoimmune condition, H. Pylori, and some other strange things that just felt off. I knew for my own long term health, it was the best decision for me and my body to get off the hormonal birth control.

How Did I Finally Decide?

I talked to two of my healthcare providers before I stopped taking the pill. My ND had told me a year ago it would be “great” to get off the pill especially with the health issues I was having but, that was a personal decision and she supported me either way. I talked to my practitioner at my yearly OB/GYN appointment and was surprised at her reaction. She was totally for it! I felt very listened to and supported. It wasn't something she pushed on me since I brought it up, but she was very encouraging in my decision to get off of it. I didn’t know it, but I was on one of the highest dose estrogen pills available (remember those estrogen dominate signs I talked about earlier?) We talked about several options, including the copper IUD. Ultimately, I decided to pursue a particular, non-hormonal birth control option (I'll be diving into this in the next post) - she gave me some additional info and I felt so validated and that I could be successful in making the change. My husband and I had already been talking about the change for years so he was 110% supportive.

What Did I Do in Preparation?

I read and did my own research. Two books that have been so helpful are “Beyond the Pill” by Dr. Jolene Brighten and “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler. Both of these books lay everything out from side effects to how your body really works to alternative birth control methods and involving your partner.


In addition to reading/researching, I started taking a tincture called Flow Balance. One of the ingredients, Chaste Berry, is one my practitioner had mentioned was a good support for the transition and I cleared the use of the tincture with my ND. Always check with your provider before starting or adding something into your routine.

I had already been gluten free for almost a year, but I buckled down extra hard on this meaning I cut out the occasional craft beer/pasta night and cut out dairy as well (well, minus my Starbucks). I will probably get to a point where I'm comfortable doing some of these things again but I want to give my hormones and body the best chance to heal and be well for life. I also began seed cycling.


While I already eat well, I began eating certain foods during certain phases in my cycle to help alleviate insane post-hormonal BC side effects and give my liver an opportunity to purge the extra chemicals. It can take 3-6 months for your body to completely purge itself of the hormones and chemicals in the pill. It's been so enlightening to get super in tune with what's happening in my body each day - I've gotten to the point where my exercises are based on where I am in my cycle and I try to lighten my outside obligations during certain weeks as well. I've learned even more how hard my body is working for me and it's okay - it's NEEDED - for her to rest. Just like with my belief that fitness is a total life transformation and lifestyle - so is this.


Lastly, I changed more of the products I was using like makeup/face wash. I’d already switched to a more natural skincare line (Drunk Elephant) but I also invested in purchasing products from The Honest Beauty Co and I LOVE them. Plus, their price point can’t be beat. I still have my eyeshadow palettes and lipsticks but products I use more often - mascara, CC cream, blush... I switched all of them. Doesn't mean I won't use a beauty fave that's not "natural", but it'll be a lot less. I'm not perfect but just doing the best I can. We also use a lot of natural products in our home so this felt like the next step for me.

After I Stopped the Pill

Your first "period" off the pill is a birth control period - the same one you get a couple days after the last pill in your pack. This is not a true period. The waiting was rough. Would it ever come back? How long would it take? Would I be doubled over in pain? I had no idea. It took 36 days and it was the best period I've had in recent memory. Of course I was tired (normal) but I had minimal cramping and side effects. The breast tenderness was on a 1 on a scale when before it had been a 10. My hormonal migraine never came - just a light headache (that didn't need Advil) the day before. I dropped 3lbs that never seemed to come off from fluid retention from the pill. My mind felt more clear, I felt like myself... totally. Since that first period, my cycles have, thankfully, been within a normal range.


I tried to set myself up for the best success in my control to come off the pill without totally jarring my body. Of course I was nervous - not only was I stopping birth control but I was unsure of what to expect in the aftermath. After doing this for almost 4 months, I can say I have never felt this good, aside from dropping 40+lbs 6 years ago.


In my next share, I’ll delve into what birth control method I am using and why I think it is SO COOL! Our bodies are amazing, my friend.


xoxo,

patty lauren



I have been wanting to try cryotherapy for awhile now and when my friends over at CryoStretch gave me the opportunity to come check out their Knoxville location, I jumped at the chance. CryoStretch doesn't just offer Cryotherapy, but several other services! I wanted to share a brief overview of all of them as there's a little bit of something for everyone.


Cryotherapy can have many benefits for most healthy individuals, especially if they are active! Adding in Cryotherapy to your fitness and wellness routine can help reduce inflammation and swelling, help speed up recovery for sore muscles, and even help aid in better sleep.


I'll admit I was a little nervous getting into the CryoStretch Cryotherapy chamber, but Madison, one of the CryoStretch team members, had explained everything beforehand and made me feel so comfortable!


I was able to change in a private room and put on a big, fluffy robe, socks, slippers, and gloves. After changing, Madison helped me into the chamber and made sure I was comfortable (they put risers into the machine so you can stand see out) before starting the session. I removed the robe, but kept my socks and gloves on. Clients can keep shorts/sports bra on or go au natural - their choice!



My session was 2 minutes and I rotated every 30ish seconds to make sure the cold was evenly being distributed on my body. Honestly, it felt SO invigorating! The team gave me a few pointers at the beginning of my visit and they reminded me a lot of it can be mental (just like I tell my clients - the mental battle can be the hardest!) so I tried to remember to slow down my thoughts and take deep breaths. I didn't start feeling prickly cold chills until the last 30 seconds of my session. Once I stepped out and put my robe back on, I immediately started to warm back up.


In addition to full body Cryotherapy, CryoStretch offers localized cryo treatment which means they use a small, handled laser that treats smaller areas like elbows, knees, shoulders, etc. It's a great treatment for tennis elbow!


CryoSkin Facial

CryoStretch also has a very unique services that adds the benefits of a facial with the icy treatment of cryotherapy in their CryoSkin Facial! I love that you can truly get a full body experience in one spot.


NormaTec

Another recovery service CryoStretch offers is NormaTec PULSE Recovery. The benefits of this compression rehab is helping muscles recover faster from strenuous workouts, reduce swelling, increase circulation, and even aid in minimizing soreness. The team told me clients often feel very relaxed during a NormaTec treatment and it's a great way to sneak in a nap + recovery!


Now, to the Stretch part! CryoStretch is home to full service physical therapy. They offer assisted stretching sessions which can help clients achieve greater range of motion, less pain, and achieve the most out of their active lifestyle. With additional services like dry-needling, cupping, and rock taping, CryoStretch has options to help each client feel their best.


For FITSTYLE readers, CryoStretch is offering a limited offer of 3 recovery services (Cryotherapy, NormaTec, Assisted Stretching, etc) for only $35...a value of $105! Talk about an amazing deal. This offer is only valid until November 1st, 2020 so call (865) 766-2796 or email Info@cryostretchusa.com today to book your appointments! Tell them FitStyle Knox sent you!


xoxo,

patty lauren




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