Birth control is a topic I became really passionate about, because I realized: A. we do not talk about it enough B. We do not talk about all the possibilities of birth control, especially natural ones. Birth control is a business (like most of the things nowadays) and it's important to understand that the pharmaceutical world has a lot of advantages ($!) in getting women to buy pills rather than making them independent and in tune with their bodies.
Ok. So for the little history - before I update you on the natural cycles app and how I use it and my experience with it - I've never used any hormonal birth controls. I've always been against it. I am also very afraid of all the side effects of them and bad stuff that can happen to you (handicaps, cancers, thrombosis, etc).
As far as I can remember, as soon as I got interested by birth controls (which is also when I started dating my boyfriend), I did some research.
Just so you know, I'm a researcher. I am a very thoughtful person who makes well-considered decisions. I always explore all the possibilities and opinions about pretty much any subject and weigh the pros and cons of each of them before making my own and taking a decision.
So I went to the "family planning" and asked a ton of questions. Then, I decide to have a copper IUD coil.
A copper IUD coil is a non hormonal coil that you have in your uterus for 3 to 5 years. Copper prevents sperm from surviving in the uterus and fertilizing the egg. Basically, they die. However, since it is a contraception without hormones, you have your periods in a natural way and everything else works more or less naturally (although there is a foreign body h24 in your uterus and the IUD seems to be quite inflammatory for the body. But this is another subject).
So, I got it (I pass you the details of the consultations, the pose, pain, cost and everything else. If you want more details about that, I can do an article about the copper IUD). For 3 years.
At first, everything was perfect. No particular problems, just heavier periods (more blood). But little by little, over the years, I notices I was more and more tired. I was loosing a lot of haire (actually my boyfriend was complaining about it xD).
So I decided to take a blood test to see if something was wrong. The results were clear: I was in a STRONG iron deficiency. Actually, let's go straight to the point: I was anemic! And I didn't like that at all. As a ferm believer of a whole foods plant-based diet as the best diet in the world, this result was really frustrating for me. I want to be the best example of this diet and I felt like I was failing hard (Yes, I am [too?] hard on myself).
Hold on, hold on. I see you all the haters and sceptics about a plant-based diet. Before you say anything, let me tell you it's not about my diet at all. Let me explain:
1) I've always struggled with my iron levels, even as a non-vegan.
2) My mom, who is vegan, used to struggle with hers, but not since she became plant-based.
3) One of my best friend, who does not eat a plant-based diet, also has huge problems with (non-heme et heme) iron absorption.
4) Women in general tend to have more difficulties with iron absorption due to their periods.
Just so you know, I've always had really heavy periods. But since I got the copper IUD, my periods were even heavier. Like HEAVY. Like Niagara falls. Like a tampon lasted max 30 minutes with me.
When I noticed that, it was also the time I had to remove it anyway. I had reached the expiration date of the IUD. But my question was: was I going to put another one?
Knowing that I plan to have children before the expiration of the second IUD, I told myself that it would be useless to put another one, if it is to remove it in one or two years.
And then, it is by doing further researches, that I came across Natural Cycles (via social networks, thanks to Youtube and Instagram).
A lot of people are confused about natural forms of birth control.
As the AMAZING "MoreSaltPlease" on one of her video on Youtube - in a Muckbang - (this channel is the best, seriously I have to plug that woman and her channel in here, 'cause she deserve it):
"When you try to figure your life out, when you try to figure out how to figure out your period when it’s out of whack and you also don’t want to pump yourself with artificial hormones, natural birth control could be really beneficial for you. I think it’s beneficial for everyone.
Because they are so many people/women out there who have no idea, they don’t know anything about their natural cycle, when they can get pregnant, when they can’t get pregnant, so they are scared out of their mind that everyday of their cycle they are gonna get pregnant so they double-up on birth control, they freak out, they stress themselves out for no reason, because they are not educated on how a women cycle works. And it’s really sad because we should be taught that in school and it’s not taught. The only think we are taught in sex-ed is « penis - vagina BOUM» and you can get pregnant and get STDs, good luck, Mazal Tov to you. So that is really disheartning.
So a natural way to track your menstrual cycle and to see when you are ovulating it by taking your temperature with a Basal thermometer (among other things you have to do).
Taking charge of your fertility by Toni Weschler is an amazing book if you want to learn how to do birth control naturally. It teaches you how to see when you are ovulating by just your body temperature.
When you are ovulating, your temperature goes up slightly. Over a course of 2-3 months, you can figure out your normal temperature when you are usually at and then you’ll notice, when your ovulating, that one time a month, for 2-3-4 days you’ll see that your temperature goes up. It does take a little more work, it’s not just popping a pill and hoping for the best. But it’s not that hard. When into your daily routine.
You take your temperature as soon as you wake up, before your pee, before you drink some water.
If you have thyroid issues, taking your temperature will help show you how slow or how fast your thyroid is.
Another way she talks about tracking your fertility is by the consistency of your cervical fluid.
If your hormones are out of whack, your period suck, you have the worst period cramps, you have hashimoto, endometriosis, PCOS, hypothyroidism read « Woman Code »: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source, by cycle syncing by Alisa Vitti.
I just want to raise awareness around hormonale issues and women because it breaks my heart to see all these women very disconnected to their bodies and understanding your reproductive system and yourself and have a healthy menstrual cycle and not go trough hell.
We don’t have to rely on doctors anymore to tell us what is going on, because half of the time doctors don’t give a fuck, they just prescribe you something and most of the time encourage you to go on hormonal birth controls, which blow my mind and most of the time say that taking hormones every day/month does not effect you in the long run, which is so not the case.
It just makes me sad that doctors are either ill-informed or turning a blind eye to all these shit that are happening and just want to make money or do not want to go against their practice. "
We finally get there. But, what is fertility awareness?
Fertility awareness is a collection of methods using your body’s natural functioning to determine the days of the month you are most likely to get pregnant. It is also called Natural Family Planning (NFP), and other variations include the Sympto-Thermal Method, the Ovulation Method, and the Billings Method.
It is a method of birth control that does not use any drugs or devices. It combines the calendar/rhythm method, the basal body temperature method, and the cervical mucus method. The fertility awareness method is used both as a means of preventing pregnancy and as a way to target the most fertile time for getting pregnant.
How Does Fertility Awareness Work?
The calendar, basal body temperature, and cervical mucus methods are combined to give you the awareness of when your body is most fertile. As you become familiar with your body’s ovulation and fertile window, it provides you the opportunity to abstain from sexual intercourse or use a barrier method during that time.
How Do You Use Fertility Awareness?
The first objective within fertility awareness is to become familiar with your menstrual cycle and to begin charting your fertility pattern. The average menstrual cycle is between 28 to 32 days.
Here is a glance at an average cycle to give you a gauge for examining your own cycle:
Day 1: The first day of your menstrual flow is the beginning of your cycle. Day 7: By day seven your egg is preparing to be fertilized by sperm. Days 11-21:(based on 28-day cycle) Hormones in your body cause the egg to be released from the ovary, which is known as ovulation. The egg travels through the fallopian tube towards the uterus and is only available to be fertilized for 12-24 hours during this window. If sperm penetrates the egg, the fertilized egg will attach to the lining of the uterus and begin to grow. If fertilization does not happen, the egg breaks apart. Day 28: If the egg is not fertilized, hormone levels drop around this day, causing the lining of the uterus to be shed, which is known as menstruation.
It is important to realize that the first part of the menstrual cycle (before ovulation) is different in every woman and can even change from month to month. The number of days before ovulation can typically range from 13 to 20 days. The last half of the cycle is usually more similar for every woman because there are about 12-16 days from the day of ovulation until the start of the next period.
If you are trying to avoid getting pregnant, you need to abstain from sexual intercourse or use a barrier form of birth control during your fertility window. If you are trying to get pregnant, this fertility window would be the targeted time for sexual intercourse.
A. The basal body temperature method
It helps identify a change in temperature that occurs after ovulation and remains elevated until your next period. By looking at charting from a few cycles, your temperatures can reveal a pattern from which ovulation can be anticipated. The steps below can help you as you begin to track your temperature and identify when you are ovulating.
Step 1: Take your temperature orally each morning before you get out of bed.
Step 2: Use a basal thermometer, which recognizes small changes in your temperature. Your body temperature will only rise between 0.4 and 1 degree Fahrenheit when you ovulate.
Step 3: Record you temperature every day on your fertility tracking calendar.
If you record it every day, you will see that prior to ovulation your temperature is rather consistent. As you approach ovulation, you may notice a slight decline, but it will be followed by a sharp increase after ovulation. The increase in temperature is the sign that ovulation has just occurred.
Because the increase happens after you have ovulated, this method is best used by those who have time to track and study their charts for a couple months, to ensure the best chances of conception. Illness, travel, and alcohol or drug-use can affect your temperature and make it difficult to establish an accurate reading. Lack of sleep can also affect temperature reading, so it is important to get at least 3 consecutive hours of sleep before taking your basal body temperature.
B. Cervical mucus method
The consistency of your cervical mucus changes during the menstrual cycle. In the average cycle, after a 5 day menstrual flow, there are about 3 to 4 dry days.
The mucus wetness increases daily, lasting approximately 9 days until the wettest day. Your mucus is easily recognized at this point. It should be slippery, clear, stretchy, and look like egg whites. It can be difficult to conceive without this “egg white” cervical mucus, but there are natural products that can help improve mucus production if that is a concern.
Ovulation generally occurs within 1-2 days of your peak day of stretchy mucus. In order to use the cervical mucus method to identify your ovulation follow the steps noted below:
Step 1: Collect the mucus from the vaginal opening with your fingers by wiping them from front to back.
Step 2:Record it daily on your fertility calendar by making note of the color (yellow, white, clear, or cloudy), the consistency (thick, sticky, or stretchy) and the feel (dry, sticky, lotiony, wet, slippery, or stretchy).
Step 3:Ovulation usually occurs within 1-2 days of when your mucus is clearest, slippery, and most stretchy, if not on the peak day itself.
How Effective Is Fertility Awareness?
When fertility awareness is used correctly and consistently, it may reach rates of effectiveness around 90%. The effectiveness depends on your diligence to track and record your fertility pattern and your commitment to abstain from sexual intercourse or use a barrier form of birth control during your fertility window.
What Are The Side Effects Or Health Risks Of Fertility Awareness?
There are no health risks or side effects associated with fertility awareness.
How Much Does Fertility Awareness Cost?
Fertility awareness is free to inexpensive. Free training sessions are usually available around your community through health centers, pregnancy services, or some churches.
Thermometers used to measure basal body temperatures cost between $10 and $15 and are available at local drugstores, grocery stores, or supercenters.
What About Fertility Awareness And Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s)?
Fertility awareness does NOT provide any protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
Are There Any Other Physical Signs Of Ovulation?
Your fertility window may be identified by paying attention to other functions of your body.
Secondary signs of ovulation may include:
Changes in the cervix (The cervix will become high, soft, and open.)
A slight one-sided pain in the area of an ovary
Keep in mind that these secondary symptoms should not be relied on exclusively if using FAM as birth control. Always make sure to back them up by checking the primary symptoms (cervical mucus and basal temperature).
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Fertility Awareness?
The Pros of Fertility Awareness include:
Effective when used correctly and consistently
No side effects
Inexpensive or free
No devices, drugs, prescriptions, or office visits
Does not contain estrogen, which may increase the risk of heart problems
Acceptable for couples who have religious concerns related to contraception
Effective for couples who are preventing or trying to get pregnant
The Cons of Fertility Awareness include:
Requires periods of abstinence or backup contraception for approximately 1/3 of the month
Requires consistent and accurate record keeping
More challenging for women with irregular cycles
SO, in conclusion
I HIGHLY suggest to use the method A + B, not only because your temperature can sometimes be affected by other things (like alcohol, jet lag, sleep) and it is always safer to check other signs to track your cycle like the B method.
After looking of all the different possibilities of tracking your temperature for ovulation chart, all the apps and all the that is what I found:
1) Natural Cycles
3) Lady comp
5) Daisy fertility tracker
So I choose to use Sympthothermy calendar to track my temperature as well as my cervical fluids (discharge) and my cervical position (High/Low) + the Natural cycles app, which I personally found the easier and simpler to use.
Sympto.org is a great website where you can also download the board on your phone and fill it whenever you want. For more information about it and how it works, check the official website, available in french and english (link here: https://sympto.org/home-main_fr.html).
And it works guys! How amazing is that?!
And I feel amazing, so powerful as a woman, so happy, so proud.
I finally can be 100% in tune with my body. I feel like I understand it even better than before, I can understand my hormones.
I also have even more energy than before due to not so heavy periods (Niagara Falls are gone) on a shorter period of time (4-5 days VS 3-4 days now), which I think it's helping me with my iron levels. I see it with my hair quality. My hair does fall almost never now and they are stronger and shinier.
So yeah, I think I covered everything I wanted in that post. Tell me if you have any questions or something you do not understand, any concerns etc.
I wish you an amazing day. Much love.