What is Fertility Awareness?

What is FAM?

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The Fertility Awareness Method is a way to practice natural birth control (ie birth control without the use of hormonal contraception). It can be used to both prevent and achieve pregnancy.

There are several forms of fertility awareness. These include sympto-thermal (STM) methods, sympto-hormonal methods, cervical mucus-only methods, as well as using fertility or other hormonal monitors. The most effective of these methods is the sympto-thermal method. As a method of birth control, it is 99.6% effective with perfect use and 98.2% effective with typical use (see Sensiplan Study). This method rivals the birth control pill which has a 99% perfect use and a 91% typical use. The sympto-thermal method involves women observing their cervical mucus and taking their basal body temperature to determine when they are fertile, and when they are not. Cervical position and LH tests are optional extra signs in this method, but only basal body temperature and cervical mucus are required. By observing these two primary signs, women can avoid pregnancy without taking hormones or using barrier methods. Alternatively, women can use the method to know how to optimize their chances of pregnancy by knowing when their fertile window really is.

What do you teach?

The method of FAM that I am learning to teach is a the sympto-thermal method. I am becoming certified through the Natural Family Planning Teachers Association (NFPTA), a non-profit physically located in the UK. NFPTA was created in 1984 by Dr. John Kelly and Dr. Anna Flynn, two gynaecologists in the UK. They describe their method as one that “brings together all the strengths of the temperature method, which had been very well researched in 1950s and spread across Europe, USA and Canada, with the addition of the latest discoveries about the role of cervical mucus, as researched by Drs. Evelyn and John Billings of Australia.” The organization considers itself “truly an “international method'” (NFPTA).

Do I have to be married or in a relationship to use this method?

No, you do not. I will teach anyone regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or religion. I believe that charting can be valuable regardless of what life stage you are in. It is a vital tool women can use to understand their bodies. I will note that the efficacy of this rate comes from using abstinence in the fertile window. If you choose to use a back-up method of birth control such as condoms in the fertile window, it is important to remember that you may not reach the same efficacy rate (and that you should do your own research on your alternative method). You can also avoid pregnancy by using false abstinence (AKA sex without penis in a vagina) in the fertile window.