DO YOU FAM?! LEARN YOUR HORMONAL IMBALANCES. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR BODY.
WHAT IT IS:
FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) allows you to use your bodies’ clues to tell you where you are in your cycle. This method is entirely based on science and is not The Rhythm Method, which guesses when you will ovulate based on past patterns. The Rhythm Method is not backed by science.
HOW IT WORKS:
FAM takes the quality of your cervical fluid (which shows your fertile window) and your temperature (which indicates when you’ve ovulated) into account to help you conceive or prevent pregnancy. You can also track your cervix for added reassurance as to where in your cycle you are.
Following your period and leading up to ovulation, your body produces discharge that changes from sticky/scant to a more creamy consistency and then watery to finally a stretchy consistency like egg whites. This egg-white esque discharge indicates your peak fertility and can best protect sperm from the acidity of the vagina and help it swim up to the fallopian tubes, increasing your chance of pregnancy. You are also considered fertile if your fluid is in that watery stage. Post-ovulation, your fluid will become dry and sticky again (it is also possible for your fluid to be watery after ovulating, but it is not fertile fluid). Knowing the normal consistencies of your discharge also alerts you to when things aren’t quite right—like a yeast infection or BV.
Learn more about your Cervical Fluid and how to track it here!
Due to a rise in progesterone post ovulation, your temperature will rise once you have ovulated. By taking your temperature every morning at around the same time (and before doing anything else- even peeing!) you will notice this thermal shift which indicates ovulation has occurred.
Learn more about the Thermal Shift here.
According to the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists, when used correctly, FAM is 95-99% effective. With typical use, FAM is 76-88% effective.
WHY WE LOVE IT:
It puts you in total control of your body! It requires no synthetic hormones (which means no side effects), is free (after purchasing a thermometer, which costs $8) and doesn’t require a prescription. No matter who is in control of the government, this method is available.
Plus, it allows you to get familiar with your own unique body, cycle and patterns as well as detect potential imbalances and health concerns early on.
If you are trying to get pregnant, this is a great way to get a sense of your true fertile window, as most people don’t actually ovulate on Day 14! It can also help show you where hormone imbalances may lie so that you can bring this info with you to your team and they can help you get back in balance before needing to resort to Artificial Reproductive Technologies.
WORDS TO THE WISE:
- If you are using this as Birth Control, don’t solely rely on this method as birth control until you have a solid handle on how it works and your own bodies’ cycle. We recommend working with a FAM practitioner and always using a condom or cervical blocker (like a diaphragm) while you learn.
- Those with irregular cycles need to be especially diligent and should work with a FAM practitioner if you are opting for this method. Your practitioner (or acupuncturist) may even be able to help you get a more regular cycle!
- There is no "typical" cycle. So the whole ovulating on Day 14 thang is not accurate. Be aware of fertility monitors or trackers using this as a base. Each individual’s cycle is different, which is why it’s important to know your indicators to get a real sense of your fertile window. It is also possible to get pregnant while you are bleeding, if you have a short cycle and ovulate early- so really take the time to get to know your self!
- Period apps are a great way to log and track your temperature and cervical fluid, and help you learn your fertile window. But reminder- just taking your temperature is not enough info to go on. You must also track your cervical fluid! (And tracking the changes in your cervix can also be good reassurance).
- If you are coming off of any other form of birth control, breast or chest feeding, or entering menopause, special rules apply. Work with a FAM practitioner.
V. IMPORTANT READING:
Taking Control of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. She started it all.
WANT TO FIND A PRACTITIONER?
By: Jacqueline Gunning, CA