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Common Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) Misconceptions

The fertility awareness based method is an umbrella term for a wide range of fertility charting methods that allow you to track when you are able to conceive, and to use that information to avoid pregnancy or get pregnant.
As a fertility awareness educator I hear many many myths about fertility and the fertility awareness method in general. I wish that more people knew the truths about their fertility, you can use some of these points when talking about fertility awareness with those who may be skeptical or who don’t know a lot about FAM! Well, let's dive in: here are some of the top myths I hear around fertility awareness based methods. 
fertility charting

Misconception 1: FAM is not effective

Most likely due to a misconception that FAM is the same as the rhythm method, FAM gets a bad rap. Many people think that FAM just simply doesn’t work. And this is far from the truth! A study done in 2007* found the symptothermal method of fertility awareness to be 99.6% effective at preventing pregnancy, which is up there with other forms of conventional contraception. With FAM we are in control of effectiveness, meaning there are things within our control that we can do to make FAM more effective, like working with an instructor and waiting three ovulatory cycles before you start using the method for birth control. It’s also important to note that fertility awareness will be as effective as whatever method you use during your fertile window. That means that if you are using condoms during the time that you can potentially get pregnant, and a condom fails, your method will be as effective as condoms can be. Some people choose to double-up on methods during their fertile window, such as combining diaphragms and/or condoms and/or withdrawal, or exploring alternative forms of sex during this time! The sky's the limit. 

Misconception 2: You can’t use FAM with irregular cycles

We can experience irregular cycles for any number of reasons, and usually, if someone is experiencing irregular cycles there is an underlying hormonal imbalance. Irregular cycles are caused by early or delayed ovulation. We can use FAM with irregular cycles because we can still identify when ovulation is occurring, even if the length of the cycle varies. This might mean you need to use a different set of rules for avoiding pregnancy, and I highly recommend working with an instructor if this is the case! However, by tracking your cycles when experiencing irregularity, you can identify the root cause of what might be going on. You can take your charts to a healthcare provider much more informed about the nature of your irregular cycles, and get answers much faster. I call this being the advocate of your own health!

Misconception 3: FAM is the same as the rhythm method

If there was one myth I could magically change, it would be this one! The rhythm method and FAM are just not the same, and yet there seems to be a persistent connection between the two. The rhythm method determines your fertility by guessing when ovulation takes place, usually based on the idea that all women ovulate on day 14 and have 28 day cycles. This just isn’t the case. Every woman and every cycle is unique, and rarely do women have textbook cycles. Additionally, nobody can predict when ovulation will take place. No algorithm, no app, not even you can predict when it’s going to happen. Things like stress, travel, food and lifestyle can all impact the timing of ovulation. 

Misconception 4: You can’t have spontaneous intercourse when you’re using FAM

FAM works as birth control by helping you avoid unprotected sex during the time where pregnancy is possible. This means that there are times in the cycle where you can have unprotected sex with no risk of conception. It also means that being in tune and communicating with your partner as to what your risk level is each day is incredibly important. Many people worry that this will eliminate any spontaneity. FAM increases communication and benefits your relationship with your partner, and it is actually essential for ensuring effectiveness. What it means is that during your fertile window you can expand your notion of what sex is - that it can be intercourse with barrier methods or withdrawal, or it can be a completely different kind of sex. Sex is so much more than intercourse, and the fertile window can be a wonderful opportunity to be creative and playful in your sex life.

Are there any other FAM misconceptions you’ve heard of? Let us know in the comments!
*2007 Symptothermal Study :  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17314078
If you'd like to learn more about FABM, including how to chart your cycle, identify your fertility window, and be your own ovulation calendar, download Tempdrop's free Introduction to Fertility Awareness, a beautifully-designed guide written by seven certified educators (including Nathalie!).

Nathalie Daudet at Fertility Awareness Project

Nathalie Daudet is a social worker and FEMM instructor based in Winnipeg, Canada. She discovered fertility awareness after searching high and low for a non-hormonal method of birth control. After learning the magic of fertility awareness and the gift of body literacy, she decided to pursue formal fertility awareness training and share the knowledge of fertility awareness with women looking for a natural birth control option. Fertility Awareness Project is the hub for Nathalie’s FEMM classes in both group and individual formats, online and in person in Winnipeg. If you love this post and would like to thank Nathalie, shop Tempdrop with Nathalie's unique referral link

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