The world of fertility awareness charting doesn’t have to be confusing. In today’s blog post, I’m answering the fertility awareness questions you submitted on Tempdrop’s Instagram and Facebook! Find Part 1 of this series here.
By Nathalie Daudet
What are the benefits of charting?
The benefits of fertility charting are vast and many! Here are just a handful:
- Monitor your health throughout your entire reproductive life, avoiding major reproductive and health issues down the road.
- Improve communication in your relationships, having your partner on board means that they have a better understanding your body.
- Avoid pregnancy without harmful side effects.
- Live in line with your cycle and find ease and flow, rather than fight against it.
- Easeful conception by knowing when you ovulate.
- Feel empowered to make informed choices about your health, equipping you with the right questions to ask in the doctors’ office.
I’m about to go off hormonal birth control, how careful do I need to be in the first months as I adapt to FAM?
Congratulations! You are about to enter the exciting world of fertility charting. As you come off hormonal birth control, your cycles may return right away or it may take time for things to regulate. The length of time varies based on how long you were on hormonal birth control and what your cycles were like before you went off.
Because there is no way of knowing for sure when your cycles will return and what they will look like, it’s important to not take any risks after you come off if you are strictly trying to avoid pregnancy.
Have a conversation with your partner prior to coming off to decide what alternative method you would like to use while you learn FAM. Remember as you learn FAM, your birth control will be as effective as whatever alternative method you use. These are things like condoms, diaphragms, perfect withdrawal or alternative sex.
How much can stress impact your cycle?
The short answer: quite a bit! Stress can most notably delay ovulation, causing a lengthening of your pre-ovulatory phase. This in turn lengthens your entire cycle. Stress can also impact egg production causing a weak temperature shift or shortened luteal phase. You may also notice increased PMS or period pain in a stressful cycle.
Biologically, your body needs to feel safe in order to ovulate. If your environment isn’t safe in any way, for example, you are experiencing stress, this will manifest in your cycles.
Support hormones and a healthy cycle by reducing stress, sleeping well and eating nourishing foods. If you experience multiple anovulatory cycles you may want to have your hormones tested by a women's health practitioner.
What are some good resources to learn how to understand my chart?
There are two main symptothermal fertility awareness resources: Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler and the Sensiplan Manual from ReplyObgyn. Tempdrop also has a guide to fertility awareness written by fertility awareness educators. If you are still struggling to feel confident or understand your charts even after reading one of the above books, I highly recommend working with an instructor.
How do I learn to trust fertility awareness for birth control?
Trusting FAM for birth control may feel counterintuitive at first because we grow up being told that we can get pregnant at any time. Educate yourself with the facts: we can only get pregnant when there are an egg and sperm present. The egg can only live for 12-24 hours and sperm can live for about 5 days in cervical mucus. This leaves us a very limited time frame we can actually get pregnant. Begin by charting three ovulatory cycles, and ideally get your chart reviewed by an instructor. This will help build your confidence in the method. Then, your trust will build incrementally each cycle until you feel that, yes, you can trust FAM for birth control!
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.