It’s been five cycles since I stopped using hormonal birth control. For me, it has been a huge relief not having to take a pill that was affecting my health. It has been five cycles where I’ve learned about my body and was able to notice how my body has reacted positively to switching to a natural birth control method. But before I start talking about the fertility awareness method, I’d like to recommend to all of the ladies out there to include in their personal library the book “Taking Charge of your Fertility” (20th anniversary edition) by Toni Weschler. To be honest, it took me a while to read it all. In fact, I keep going back to it every once in a while -- whenever I need to clarify certain things in regards of my menstrual cycle. This book is life changing for all women out there who have read it; it provides so much information about the female body that, once you read it, you will be amazed to finally understand of all the confusion you’ve ever had about your body and menstrual cycle symptoms. F.A.M Knowledge
It was not an easy decision to stop taking hormonal birth control pills, as my husband and I are not trying to conceive any time soon. We stuck with this method until I had a health scare, which was the turning point for me to decide to stop taking them (you can read about it on this link). Before completely going off the pill, I had to do some research to find out the different non-hormonal birth control methods out there that would work for us. There are plenty of non-hormonal birth control methods besides the usual male or female condom and there are so many support groups with tons of information. At first, I was a little skeptical with all the information I read about the different methods. I mean, who wouldn’t?! All my life I was told by different gynecologist that the best method to avoid pregnancy besides abstinence was birth control pills; therefore, to find all these various methods out there that were non-hormonal was a huge surprise. In the meantime of researching for the different methods, I read “Taking Charge of your Fertility” (hereby referred to as TCOYF) and was mind blown when I learned that females can detect when they are fertile or not through various ways.
A very brief way to explain F.A.M is: by observing and noticing certain symptoms, one of them is by taking your temperature every morning right after waking up from at least 3 or more hours of sleep with a basal base thermometer, you can estimate your ovulation while charting the information. Obviously there are more ways to estimate ovulation. In the book, it explains that women would have to check for cervical mucus and cervix position every day. These three symptoms are not easy to figure out by yourself and I advise to have some sort of F.A.M course to understand it completely or do a lot of reading about it, if you are willing to use this method only. Once you learn all the different ways to predict your ovulation it will be easier for you to understand which phase you are in during your menstrual cycle. Menstrual Cycle phases
Once I read TCOYF, I was fascinated by how much I had learned about my body. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this book changed my life. I was able to understand the different phases which women go through every single cycle. Also there are so many myths I discovered. For example, women do not ovulate at the same time or that we all have 28 days cycle. Whenever I feel a certain symptom I write it down to understand in which cycle phase I am in. There are four phases of the menstrual cycle and their symptoms:
Phase #1: Mostly known as your menstrual cycle phase, it’s usually 3-7 days. In this phase your hormones drop to the lowest levels and the uterine lining breaks, energy is usually low, so during this phase is best to rest and eat lots of food rich in iron and zinc.
Phase #2: This is the follicular phase, which lasts 7-10 days. Hormones slowly start to increase, creativity and energy are at the highest point, so use this time to change any exercise routine, also eat lots of food that provide hormone production and healthy ovulation. Some great food sources for hormone productions are avocado, spinach and broccoli. Also women might notice non-fertile cervical fluid, which is usually white creamy or yellow tacky.
Phase #3: The ovulatory phase lasts from 3-5 days, in this phase your ovaries release an egg and uterine lining begins to thicken as estrogen rises. If you want to conceive a child this is the moment to start trying, as this is the time in which you are most fertile. You might notice cervical fluid which is usually slippery, clear, egg white consistency, also stretchy a few days before or during ovulation.
Phase #4: The lutheal phase; this phase lasts from 10-14 days, this happens when estrogen, progesterone and testosterone rise to their highest levels and drops right before your menstrual cycle begins. It is common to notice certain PMS symptoms as the uterine lining continues to thicken before shedding. As your hormones are changing and may increase cravings for energy-rich foods, it’s best to eat leafy greens, black beans, bananas and legumes. This last phase might have you a bit sleepier than normal, so rest whenever it is possible.
Once I learned the difference phases of the menstrual cycle, I was able to notice the different symptoms, therefore it made it easier for me to understand which days I was most fertile and which days I wasn’t. Also detecting my symptoms and knowing which phase I am in has helped me figure out which food my body needs as I am aware what vitamins and minerals I am lacking. Daysy Fertility Monitor
I read TCOYF and I still didn't feel completely comfortable on the first cycle to detect my fertile window with my temperature, therefore I researched all the different natural birth control methods out there and we discovered Daysy Fertility Tracker. Daysy is based off of the fertility awareness method, it tracks and records your temperature to pinpoint ovulation and lets you know whether you are fertile or infertile in each cycle. Every morning after I wake up from a restful sleep, I take my temperature with Daysy and wait for it to give me one light from the three lights that it has. A red light is to let you know when you are fertile, a yellow light is to let you know that the monitor is analyzing your information and a green light is to let you know when you are infertile. It can also let you know whether you are pregnant by lighting up the three lights at the same time. It provides an app called DaysyView, where you can sync your monitor to your phone. It lets you know your temperature, write notes in it, allows you to see a cycle forecast, enter information about sexual encounters and you can also share the information with your partner with the DaysyView Partner app. Daysy Fertility Tracker has a 99.3% accuracy and it took three cycles for my Daysy to analyze my information for it to give me trustworthy “lights”. If you are unsure about certain information, you can always contact their customer service at any time and they will respond to you as soon as possible. In my case, I’d say they have an outstanding customer support team. I’ve contacted them in different occasions and they have written back to me almost within an hour or two from receiving my message. For now, I’m in love with my Daysy. It was a little bit of a problem at the beginning to wake up every day at the same time to take my temperature and to interpret my cycle patterns, but once I got used to that it was so easy for me to understand the temperature diagram and to notice which menstrual cycle phase was I in. It’s been five cycles since I learned about the fertility awareness method. Five cycles where whenever someone asks me about how I’m protecting myself from conceiving I answer back that we use Fertility Awareness Method and how a little gadget called Daysy Fertility Tracker has helped me interpret my temperatures. One thing I always tell the women around me besides recommending them to read the "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" book is that they should always find what fits best for them and their lifestyles. I do believe that women should have the right to know that FAM is one of the many options for avoiding pregnancy, as this is a not a rhythm method. This fertility awareness method empowers women out there as it is a natural way to interpret ovulation and helps them recognize their body symptoms. To be honest, getting off the hormonal birth control pills was one of the best things that has happened to me. I believe it has brought me so many health benefits. For example, I no longer suffer from anxiety attacks, mood swings or depression.
Learning about FAM has not only made me feel more confident about my body, but it has also made me feel this freedom in which I no longer have to depend on an alarm to take a pill, I only have to take my temperature every morning after a restful sleep. It has introduced me to so many great women out there who are supporters of FAM and who revolved their lives, and even careers, around this method. If you are planning to ditch the hormonal birth control pills or feel like they are harming your health in some sort of way, I suggest to do some research to find out which natural birth control suits you, join a support group that helps you figure out any doubts you have and talk to your doctor. This decision requires to learn a lot of information, but, at the end of the day, this decision is made by you, as it is your cycle, your body, and your choice!
*This blog post was not sponsored by TCOYF or Daysy Fertility Tracker.
**If you're interested in the Daysy Fertility Tracker as your new fertility method, check out this link.