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Common Fertility Awareness Method Misconceptions | Fertility Charting

4 Common Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) Myths

April 23, 2021

4 Common Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) Myths
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 become pregnant.
As a fertility awareness educator I hear many many myths about fertility and fertility awareness methods in general. I wish that more people knew the truths about their fertility. You can use some of the points below 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. 

1. 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. While technically the rhythm method falls under the umbrella of fertility awareness, it's not an effective way to avoid pregnancy or recommended by FAM professionals.
The rhythm method was developed in the 1930s and falls under the category of Calendar Methods in FAM, but it's outdated and not recommended by FAM professionals. Why? It determines your fertility by guessing when ovulation takes place! It's based on the idea that you ovulate 14 days before your next period should start, which means we have to assume a cycle length as well (this was determined by looking at the previous 12 cycles).
While it may have been good knowledge for the time, we know much, much more about women's cycles now. Every woman - and every cycle - is unique. Rarely do women have textbook cycles (28 day cycles, with ovulation on day 14), and it's even more rare to have a textbook cycle every single cycle in your life. 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 all have the ability to impact the timing of ovulation. Calendar being used for the rhythm method

2. FAM is not effective

Most likely due to the misconception that FAM is 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 they studied 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. What I mean is there are things within our control we are able to 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 fertility awareness will be as effective as whatever method you use during your fertile window. This means that if you are using barriers (like condoms) during the time that you can potentially get pregnant, and a barrier fails, your method will be as effective as the barrier 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. 

3. You can’t use FAM with irregular cycles

We can experience irregular cycles for any number of reasons, and often if someone is consistently experiencing irregular cycles there is an underlying hormonal imbalance. Irregular cycles are caused by early or delayed ovulation. You can use FAM with irregular cycles because you 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 to avoid 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!

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

Couple dancing in kitchenFAM 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.

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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