The fertility awareness method really gets a bad rap. Ask about it on an online forum or social media platform, and without fail you’ll get a few hesitant or skeptic claims, or even a “FAM is how I got pregnant with my last child!”
There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and most of it comes from the same agenda. The truth is, the more we learn and talk about it, the fertility awareness method (FAM) looks like a pretty incredible option for women, whether they’re avoiding pregnancy or trying to get pregnant. It’s also the most powerful form of birth control there is, not just in a literal but in a more metaphorical sense, because it mandates that we discover how our individual bodies function and what they can tell us about our fertility.
What’s Empowering about the Fertility Awareness Method?
Fertility awareness doesn’t rely on artificial hormones, nor does it rely on prescriptions or an arm or uterine implant. What it does rely on is discipline, responsibility, and the desire to learn.
FAM is inherently empowering because, essentially, the only thing you’re relying on is...yourself. Learning to chart your cycle, learning about basal body temperature and the signs of cervical fluid — heck, even learning about your cycle in general - is the best chance we as women have of fulfilling our reproductive goals, whatever they may be or whatever they look like according to our cycle.
Fertility awareness gives us permission to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us.
Do you remember being in middle school and getting The Talk? There might have been a condom demonstration, or a quick five-second discussion of sex or abstinence. You probably didn’t hear about your cycle, how it dictates everything from your mood to your metabolism, and how it even controls your adult life, not to mention how you contain the next generation of women inside you right now. Just as we as adults know there isn’t anything shameful or embarrassing about sex, there definitely shouldn’t be anything shameful or embarrassing around our cycles, yet we’ve probably spent the majority of our lives feeling that way and for no good reason.
Fertility awareness is rejecting that stigma because it’s all about reclaiming the information and learning what we were never given. We might have been given an anatomical drawing or a lecture on protection, but were we told about monitoring the different signs of cervical mucus, or the number of eggs we have? Probably not. Fertility awareness gives us the permission we never had to pay attention to what our incredibly fine-tuned bodies are trying to tell us, and what’s more, enables us to listen all the better.
It’s Not All about Contraception
Birth control is usually viewed as a zero-sum game: it’s for preventing pregnancy, and that’s it. But birth control is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fertility, which is normally excluded from conversations about contraception.
The great thing about FAM is that it works both ways, whether you’re trying to avoid (TTA) or trying to conceive (TTC). In fact, it makes the transition from TTA to TTC all the more clarified. There’s no guessing game about whether or not your hormones are in the optimal range; with FAM, you’re already encouraged to be aware of what’s working and what isn’t within your cycle.
FAM works whether you’re trying to avoid pregnancy or trying to conceive.
A study published in 2018 found that when practiced correctly (through monitoring cervical mucus and basal body temperature specifically), FAM was found to have a 99.6% rate of effectiveness. But it doesn’t end there. Couples who used FAM when trying to conceive were 81% more likely to conceive within six menstrual cycles.
To that point, there’s the added benefit of including your partner in your birth control method. There’s no taking a pill or having an IUD, thereby having them removed from the conversation entirely (after all, they might be the reason you’re searching for a birth control method in the first place). FAM empowers couples to tackle fertility, contraception, and intimacy together, which can only benefit those who might struggle with communicating their needs and wants — whether it’s in their sex life or wanting a family in the future.
Reclaiming Your Health and Your Body
What does the word empowerment even mean? We hear it often enough, maybe so much that we’re desensitized to what it actually means. And by today’s cultural standards, there’s a lot that seems to be “empowering”: no-strings-attached sex, pornography, and other forms of relishing in unhealthy self-indulgences and entitlement.
But empowerment is a process, not a moment that happens in a vacuum or once in a lifetime. It’s a process of reclamation and of self-actualization. Self-actualization, interestingly enough, is often recognized as being the highest level of psychological development at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, wherein all of our needs — be they physical, mental, or emotional — are seamlessly met.
FAM fulfills our emotional needs by connecting us with the natural progression of our cycles.
Fertility awareness encourages self-actualization and the fulfillment of all our needs. It fulfills our mental state by providing us with clarity. It fulfills our emotional needs by connecting us with the natural progression of our cycles. It fulfills our physical needs by not only grounding us to our bodies, but also by helping us appreciate what our bodies do for us monthly and on a day-to-day basis. It’s safe to say our commonplace, everyday birth control methods don’t do all of these things.
We give a lot of ourselves to other things and other people on a daily basis, so much so that it can be exhausting. Our jobs, our families, our partners, and our commitments all demand time, energy, and attention away from ourselves. But fertility awareness allows us to reconnect with ourselves, with the incredible systems and functions that make us women and which make us unique as females.
Being one with our bodies doesn’t have to look like glamorous commercials filled with celebrities touting the convenience and supposed efficacy of artificial hormones.
Even if you consider yourself or your cycle irregular, messed up, or even broken, fertility awareness works for every body and every reproductive system. Whether your cycle is predictable or normal down to the day, or whether you haven’t had a period or ovulated in months, FAM will give you insights into your cycle that other methods can’t.
FAM also gives us the tools we need to interpret the signs our bodies naturally produce. FAM enables us to embrace our cycles, whatever they may look like, and to learn to enjoy and appreciate the functions that only we have as women. There’s no ad campaign, no shadiness involved, no BS, no harsh side effects, no compromise. Not having to rely on any of those influences but solely on ourselves is what empowerment should look like to us.
Readers make the world go round. Make your voice heard in the official Evie reader survey.