By now you’ve probably realised I’m all about natural forms of birth control and ditching the pill because of all the side effects and nutrient depletions that it causes in the body. But how do you avoid pregnancy naturally? 🤷🏽♀️ The answer is FAM, or the “Fertility Awareness Method.” I’ve been using this method for over 2 years at the time of writing this and not only is up to 98% effective at preventing pregnancy, but it really helps you get in touch with your body so you know exactly when your fertile window is! Not everyone realises that a woman cannot get pregnant on EVERY day of her cycle, but she is actually only fertile for 2 days! So they pump themselves with hormones to get around only 2 days a cycle when a woman is fertile. There has got to be a better way!
Not everyone realises that a woman cannot get pregnant on EVERY day of her cycle, but she is actually only fertile for 2 days!
The problem with hormonal birth control
I could talk about the problems with the pill all day long, but I’ll keep it brief. The two main issues are below:
It causes nutrient depletions - Studies have shown that the pill depletes folic acid, vitamins B2, B6, B12, vitamin C and E and the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc.
It stops your body’s own hormone production - The pill works primarily by suppressing ovulation. And it is the event of ovulation in a woman’s cycle each month that results in the secretion of the all-important hormone; progesterone. Without ovulation, you don’t get progesterone secretion. Natural progesterone boosts energy, soothes mood and restores sleep, nourishing hair and clears skin, lightens periods, builds bone and muscle and is protective against cancer! If you’re on the birth control pill, you get none of these benefits. “But isn’t progesterone found in the pill?” you may ask 🤷🏽♀️ Not at all. The “progesterone” found in the pill is actually known as a “progestin” (such as drospirenone and medroxyprogesterone). These chemicals are supposed to resemble progesterone in the body but actually more closely resembles testosterone, leading to a whole host of hormonal issues and imbalances in women.
What is FAM?
If I haven’t convinced you that the birth control pill is not good for you, check out Lara Briden’s book, “The Period Repair” manual. So what now? How do you avoid pregnancy without all the hormones? The Fertility Awareness Method works by identifying precisely when your fertile window is in your cycle, so you can either abstain from sex during this period or use other barrier methods such as condoms. FAM is a scientific method that helps you identify ovulation through three key signs: basal body temperature, cervical fluid and cervix changes. For example, you will experience a surge in basal temperature when you ovulate, which can be identified by graphing your temperature like below:
Tip - if you're not trying to avoid pregnancy but trying to conceive, using this method to identify your fertile window and pin-point ovulation increases your chance of conceiving!
How to do the FAM effectively
Taking the pill each day at the time requires discipline. The FAM requires the same level of discipline. For example, your temperature has to be taken around the same time each day (after waking in the morning) and other key fertility signs have to be tracked religiously. Below are my tips and resources for learning and implementing the FAM effectively!
Read “Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health” by Toni Weshcler. In this book, the FAM method is described in detail, whether you’re trying to avoid or trying to conceive!
Read “The Period Repair Manual” by Lara Briden. In this book, Lara describes all the birth control options with the benefits and downsides of each. She advocates for women understanding their own bodies intimately. She also outlines a whole host of common period problems and ways to overcome them!
I use both the apps below to track my cycle and identify my fertile window:
Natural Cycles - Natural Cycles is the only FDA cleared birth control app. It uses basal body temperature to identify when ovulation has occurred and is 98% effective with perfect use.
Kindara - Unfortunately, Natural Cycles does not use cervical fluid and cervix changes as part of its algorithm for detecting impending ovulation, but Kindara does track these key signs! The more fertility signs you track, the more accurate and effective the FAM is.
Find a fertility awareness coach
If you’re still unsure about using the FAM, you can find a find a fertility awareness method educator or coach who can guide you and train you in the method! You can find an instructor by clicking this link.
It can be daunting going against the norm and choosing natural methods of birth control over hormonal methods, but many women are now choosing the FAM over hormonal methods. It is empowering and better for your health! Whilst many people have touted the benefits of the hormonal contraceptive pill in liberating women, it has not come without its side effects and trade-offs. Women deserve better than this! Side-effects and nutrient depletions certainly do not empower or liberate women in my opinion.
Briden, L. (2016). 7 Superpowers of Progesterone. Retrieved from: https://www.larabriden.com/superpowers-benefits-progesterone/
Kindara. (2020). Using the Fertility Awareness Method to Get Pregnant or Avoid Pregnancy Naturally. Retrieved from: https://www.kindara.com/science/kindara
Natural Cycles (2020). Natural Cycles. Retrieved from: https://www.naturalcycles.com/
Palmery, M., Saraceno, A., Vaiarelli, A., & Carlomagno, G. (2013). Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. European review for medical and pharmacological sciences, 17(13), 1804–1813.