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.
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!