There are many methods that are called Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABM) and there isn’t just one method that is called Fertility Awareness.
You can see the different categories and how we differentiate between them in this diagram.
What they all have in common is that they somewhat rely on natural cycles, without any intervention. When we say Fertility Awareness Method (which is not to be confused with the Rhythm Method) we mean that we are checking the bodily biomarkers that are telling us whether we are fertile or not.
The category on the left, the calculation methods, are all the methods that are trying to predict when ovulation occurs based on algorithms or cycle length. They are not very effective though. In the second category are methods that are based on body signs which are: cervical fluid (or cervical mucus), basal body temperature and cervix position.
After our period, when estrogen rises, our cervix starts to produce cervical fluid. This substance is the beginning of our fertile phase and tells us in real-time that we are fertile now and it is time for us to adjust our behaviour according to our goals. Basal body temperature is a biomarker that tells us in retrospect that we have ovulated. After ovulation, when the dominant hormone is progesterone, we will experience an increase in our temp for the rest of our cycle. The cervix, which is an optional biomarker, gives us some additional information and can help us if there are some signs that were unclear for some reason.
Some methods, like the Billings, in which I am also qualified, only use cervical mucus appearance and sensation. Here you might also find the temperature only method which is very effective but you are basically left with very few days where you can have unprotected sex.
The methods that are based on a daily check of these 3 body signs are called SYMPTOTHERMAL SINGLE CHECK.
The next category is combined methods using something external like OPK, calculation or a device and checking all or part of the biomarkers.
The method that I am teaching is called SYMPTOTHERMAL DOUBLE CHECK and the difference is that we are also taking your past her-story cycles into consideration. This method has been studied and found very effective in avoiding pregnancy.
This method has been studied and was found to have a 99.6-99.4% efficiency rate in perfect use and 98.2% in typical use.
The Fertility Awareness Method can be very useful during a transitioning time such as breastfeeding, coming off the pill and pre-menopause. By understanding how a female body works, the menstrual cycle and the endocrine system, one gets to become so empowered and excited about their body.
Once we gain the skill sets to practice Fertility Awareness, we can listen more closely to our emotions during the different phases of our cycles. By understanding which phase we are in at any given stage of our cycle, we gain a valuable perspective on why our emotions are a certain way. We can learn to connect with ourselves on the deepest levels and in turn, we can take control of our actions or re-arrange our schedule according to our unique needs during each phase.
Those who experience menstrual cycles are only ever offered medical interventions that most often have far-reaching effects on our bodies. Fertility Awareness is a hormone-free, no side effects method of contraception or conception, with the added benefit of being able to help us identify potential problems with our menstrual health, as well as allowing us to involve our partners in this process.
We live in a culture that has moved away from our cyclic nature. We live in a culture that tells us how we should behave, how we should look and feel, what to wear, what’s right and wrong, and many times it is far from our nature, far from what is true to ourselves and our body. We are taught not to pay attention to our sexuality, to our menstrual cycle and even that we do not need our periods. We are encouraged to shut our reproductive system off until we want to have babies.
Not only is this untrue because we do need our menstrual cycle but it is horribly objectifying our body. Shutting our reproductive system off might cause us so much damage and if there are any underlying problems, it just postpones the time when we need to deal with them by masking them.