fertility awareness birth control: an update

wanted to do a follow up to my posts on using the Fertility Awareness Method for birth control, but I wanted to have at least a year under my belt.  I'm on my 13th cycle now, so I've been doing it for a little over a year.  I went off my birth control pills in mid December 2013 and started charting.  You can read my posts about how it works and why I decided to go off the pill, and I did a follow up a few months into using FAM.

I feel pretty confident using FAM for birth control now.  That being said, it does pay to be consistent at charting, which I slowly became worse and worse at over the course of the year.   The last couple months I've redoubled my efforts to chart fully every day because it really does make the whole picture much clearer and helps me feel so much more confident in using this method, rather than leaving it to guesswork, which is a pretty shoddy method of birth control, or having to be even more careful to make up for not knowing where exactly I am in my cycle.

Even though it's a bit more work and takes some forethought, I like knowing that my body is doing it's own thing, rather than being flooded with faux hormones, throwing off my natural biology.  I haven't had a single migraine since I stopped taking the pill.  I never had them before I went on and after I started taking it I would get one every one to two months and didn't make the connection for about two years.  I did have a ton of hair loss about 4 months after going off the pill, but it's growing back now.  I learned that a lot of women experience hair loss a few months after giving birth, and since the pill works by tricking your body into thinking it's pregnant so it doesn't ovulate, when you go off the pill, it sort of simulates the effect of giving birth, since you're no longer "faux-pregnant".

Having used this method for over a year now, I would say that FAM is definitely for the responsible lady who is at least slightly open to the idea of getting pregnant.  While I think that, when done right, it can be absolutely just as effective as the pill as a birth control method, unless you're completely abstinent during the fertile time, you are taking on a small risk (hey-yo broken condoms.  It happens, y'all).  Plus, I also feel like it's best used in a committed, respectful relationship.  It's nice to be able to not use any form of barrier protection during non-fertile times, but it's definitely important for you partner to understand the utmost importance of using reliable protection if you choose not to abstain during the fertile window (and even reliable protection can become unreliable, shoutout to broken condoms again).

Even if you do end up having a barrier method fail on you, there are options like Plan B.  We had just such a situation occur and I used Plan B, but it messed up my cycle like crazy, y'all.  I'd used it once in the past and it didn't do anything to my cycle, but this time I didn't have a period for 3 months.  It was a little concerning and I definitely took multiple pregnancy tests to make sure I wasn't pregnant.  It was a little bizarre for me, and definitely interesting to see how those faux hormones really can mess with your body's natural rhythms.  I'm curious to see if it has an effect on future cycles, or if I'm back to normal now.

One thing I'm super excited about is Kindara's Wink thermometer.  I've used the Kindara App since I started using the Fertility Awareness Method in 2013, and they're coming out with a thermometer that automatically syncs with the app when you take your Basal Body temperature in the morning.  SO awesome.  Anything that makes tracking your cycle easier is awesome in my book.  Now I just need some kind of device that chills out in my vagina and monitors my cervical position and fluid and syncs to my phone.  Come on scientists/techy people, you've made Birth Control IUD's, how hard could it be?  I'll get on that preorder list ASAP.  (If only as much money and research went towards natural FAM birth control methods as pills/IUDs/etc!)

I've said it before, but even if you don't want to use FAM as your birth control method, I still think it's an incredible way to learn more about your own body and cycle.  I was taught so little about my body's monthly cycle of hormones and the biology of my fertility in my high school health class (think Mean Girls), and it's truly truly amazing what my body does every month to make it possible to create life (even if right now I'd prefer if we put off the whole life-making business).

Dan and I do want to have kids, and using FAM, being more aware of my body, and being more open to the possibility of getting pregnant has really made me think about it and mentally prepare for it.  I'll be turning 29 this year and I know I'd like to get that show on the road in the next year or two (or three), and using FAM has made me think a lot about having kids (or not having them) in a way that I never did when I was on Birth Control.  I know a lot of women do get pregnant even when they are using BC pills (even women who take it religiously!), but for me it was kind of like "out of sight, out of mind" in a way.  Being aware of my fertility and using FAM has made me think about starting a family a lot more than I used to, though it might be just because I'm getting a little older now.  I haven't had any Baby Fever (still skeptical that it exists, you guys), but I'm older now than when my parents had me, their oldest child, which does make me think more about timelines and such.  I know there's never the perfect time to have kids, and it'll always be hard, but at least now I'm open to the idea and have actually thought about it more in depth, which I feel like is the first part of preparing for it.

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