Have you switched from the pill to Fertility Awareness Method?

Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
By: Nate GriggCC BY 2.0
I've been on the combined pill as contraception constantly for 12 years. It was a choice of convenience and availability back in the day, and I've just stuck with it after I met the man who became my husband last year. He's never really had to participate in any contraception decisions with me, because I'd made a default decision before I met him.

We are thinking that kids are definitely in the cards, but not just yet. My husband likes the pill because it is reliable, easy and he doesn't have to think about it. But I'm really sick and tired of the pill.

I've been reading up about fertility awareness methods (Toni Weschler has a great book on this topic) and am being drawn more and more toward this path, first for contraception but then maybe for baby making in the future. But I'm really scared to take the leap, and I'm not sure if our young professional lifestyle fits the method. I like to sleep in on weekends and drink alcohol in the evenings, both of these aspects of my life seem incompatible with Weschler's advice about taking your temperature.

I'm finding it really hard to work out these two kind-of conflicting aspects of my life: my desire to get off the pill and get to know my body, and our desire to wait before we have a baby. I was wondering how other Offbeat Families readers work out what contraception method is good for them and their partners, and I'd love to hear about your experiences with natural fertility awareness. — Cinnamon Girl

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  1. I have been using FAM for 2 years and so far no babies (yay!). I used the website Ova Ova for a year (super helpful) to get to know my body. At first I would set an alarm on the weekends, take my temp and then go back to bed. Eventually I really got the hang of knowing when I was ovulating. The only downside I found is sometimes you just aren't as certain as you are with the pill that you aren't at risk of being pregnant in a given month. I have had to take more than a few pregnancy tests which can be stressful. To me it's worth it to not be putting a bunch of hormones in my body all the time, but you should really think about how you will feel if you are a few days late and suddenly get super stressed.

    2 agree
    • My personal experience is that I'm less stressed about a "late" period than if I weren't charting my cycle. Sometimes because of stress or sickness ovulation can be delayed, and I can actually see that happening via my chart. The time from ovulation to menstruation is always the same, give or take a day, from month to month. So I have had 30+ day cycles where I know I just ovulated late and don't have anything to worry about. I can also see when I don't ovulate at all (a rare but possible occurrence) because my temperature doesn't rise. I had a GYN make me take a pregnancy test when I had a 40-day cycle even though I knew I could not be pregnant because my temperature was still low.

      4 agree
    • Dollar store pregnancy tests can provide great reassurance at low cost!

      Also want to chime in that you don't necessarily need to wake up to check your temperature, especially if you choose a thermometer that stores the last temp. I had no trouble falling right back to sleep.

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  2. I made the switch from oral contraceptives to Fertility Awareness. I felt like I was deciding between what contraceptive I hated the least, and that really doesn't work for my feelings around my body.

    From what I read and was taught, temperature is not very reliable and wasn't a big deal, so I didn't take it. I have very regular cycles that I have tracked for quite a while, so it was pretty comfortable for us. I reached out to a midwife that really helped us understand the best ways to navigate Fertility Awareness, and probably could not have done it without her help. She gave us a lot of options and helped us decide what was best in a bit more holistic way than other providers. I found quite a few midwives and birth centers offer these services. I will say that Fertility Awareness did require a lot more diligence and awareness than other methods, and was occasionally frustrating, but once I got into the swing of things I was much happier. I still had alcohol on the weekends and slept in. I just figured out timing and sequencing that worked for us (with the help of the aforementioned midwife).

    It is worthwhile noting that we were in a place where it was very okay if I got pregnant, though we wanted to wait until I secured a job. Had I not been in that mindset, I am pretty sure my feelings would have been quite different.

    3 agree
    • I don't think everyone can use this method if they are trying to NOT conceive. Too high of a risk. Condoms aren't even 100% effective!

      Personally, I think it takes the fun and spontaneity out of sexy time.

      5 agree
  3. My husband and I tried it (briefly). The trouble I encountered is that, by and large, it seems like FAM is largely successful for a particular kind of person and lifestyle – which if you fit into, its great. From what I understand, you're supposed to take your basal temp around the same time each day to ensure consistency. I don't know if varying the time can cause actual error, but it advises against it. I'd also recommend that before you start, confirm with your gyno that you do not have any potential issues that could alter results (PCOS, hormonal imbalance, etc). I had an undiagnosed mild thyroid condition that apparantly threw my periods off for quite a while. FAM wasn't a great option for me for that reason. I got the impression that FAM tends to assume a very minimally medicated, very middle of the road female body. And lots of women just don't fall within that scope.

    Might I make a gentle suggestion? I don't know your personal business or reasons for wanting to ditch the Pill, but if you're looking for something non-hormonal, have you looked at the copper IUD at all? It has none of the hormones of the Pill. I had a tough time getting it because the idea of something foreign inside me for that long was, well, off-putting. But it's generally safe (and doesn't weird me out any more than a menstrual cup or tampon). I'm not trying to turn you off of FAM in the least, but it does require a serious investment of time and energy and just might not jive with your lifestyle. I'd say before you start, make sure your doctor clears you for it. I was lucky that I didn't get pregnant, because I was assuming I had "normal for me" periods when in fact, I had a hormonal imbalance.

    4 agree
    • I heartily second this. A few years ago, I was tired of hormonal birth control. I researched FAM and began practicing it, but I realized that I wasn't comfortable with it's reliability. I was at a point where I definitely could not get pregnant, and I personally couldn't put that much faith in FAM. After more research I ended up getting the Paragard copper IUD. I had a great experience for five years. I just got it taken out so we can try for a baby (woo!!).

      3 agree
      • My doctor told me that FAM is awesome for a lot of women. However, he was VERY adamant about impressing on me that it is NOT that great of a method if you absolutely CANNOT handle a pregnancy right now. He explained that even with 100% perfect usage, there are variables – like stress, sickness, hormones, etc. If you would be okay with pregnancy if it did happen, FAM is awesome. But if you're dead-set against pregnancy, it's not the best choice out there.

        3 agree
    • I have PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) and used FAM to get pregnant to great success – we got pregnant our second cycle after trying. FAM is all about getting to know your body and your cycles, so I think it totally works for any of those things.

      Now that our son is born, I too am looking for ang

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      • Sorry, my comment posted before I was done.

        I am looking for a good birth control option as well. I did hormonal birth control for a couple of years and it gave me vulvodynia, so I'm never touching the stuff again. Between the vulvodynia and recovering from a tear in childbirth, condoms feel awful for me. I want to do FAM, but I have to wait until I start my cycle again. Now we're just hoping I can't and won't get pregnant yet, which I realize isn't the best plan.

    • Thanks for your advice, I hear what you say about FAM and the huge diversity of womens bodies making everyone different.

      A reason that I'm thinking of using natural fertility awareness is because the transition from using it as contraception to trying to conceive looks so seamless, with no trips to a doctor to get anything removed.

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      • Your point about the transition between trying not to and trying to is one I hadn't considered. Also I'm pretty sure that when you stop hormonal BC you should use condoms/barrier method for 2 months until the hormones get out of your system, so this would avoid that.

        Caveat: Your "transition time" could be a LOT shorter than you anticipate! (Some studies say FAM has a 25% failure rate with typical use)

        1 agrees
        • Medical advice recommends finishing the cycle of pills you're on to avoid irregular bleeding, and then its just fine to start trying to conceive. There's no need to wait a few cycles to 'clear your system' and the birth control won't continue to interfere with your contraception for a few cycles, which seems to be a common misconception. The hormones flush out of your system really quickly which is why you're in danger if you forget your pills 2 or 3 days in a row

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      • This was my thought process when I switched to FAM. I'd been on the pill for years, and it was starting to give me major mood swings, so I wanted to give it up. I took up FAM, not only as a method of contraception, but also as a way to better understand the way my body works.

        And also because I know that I would love to start trying for a baby in the future, and my history of charts and understanding the way my body works is a great tool in making conception seem easier.

        I'll be honest, even though I usually wake at around the same time, I sometimes sleep in. I just take it when I get up. I use Fertility Friend (who also have a mobile app, which is VERY convenient), and they change the colour of the dots on the chart if you take your temperature earlier or later than expected. But I find very little variation in temperature dependent on time (I stress this – for MY body), but the highlighted dots also help you identify at a glance if one temperature reading could be a little off. But after a while, you really do get to know your body and your cycle, and it makes me feel a lot more confident. And as Jessica said, makes it much easier to predict when your period is expected (one of the things I struggled with most when coming off the pill).

        Another thing I'll stress, is that when you come off the p ill, it can take MONTHS for your period to come back (it did for me, and many of my friends). So don't stress that you could be pregnant during this time, this is normal. (I'll admit, I took a least one pregnancy test during this time, just because I didn't realise how long it took to get back into a normal rhythm – another thing to consider if you think going off the pill can automatically make you fertile immediately. It's possible, but not necessarily the case). This was another reason I wanted to use FAM prior to trying to conceive, knowing that I could just switch to trying rather than trying not to immediately, whenever the decision was made.

        I've even had friends take up fertility charting when not sexually active as a way to accurately predict when their periods are due. They also find it very helpful.

        So yes, I do love and wholeheartedly support FAM, however, be aware that it is not foolproof, and really shouldn't be used as a primary method of contraception if you are in a position where you can't possibly handle a pregnancy right now. My position is that we're not trying right now, but if I did fall pregnant, that's fine too. So keep that in mind when making your final decision.

        4 agree
      • Yes. I used it to NOT get pregnant for two years, and then I used it to get pregnant and conceived on the second cycle.

        But my husband and I had decided using FAM for the two years prior to TTC was okay because it would not be devastating if we actually became pregnant.

        Now, once again, we are using FAM. We are using condoms in addition, because although it would not be devastating if I became pregnant, we haven't decided whether or not we'll have another child. The condoms reduce the chance of accidents.

        I feel much better when I'm not on drugs for birth control.

        3 agree
    • Not to get too picky, but technically you're supposed to take the pill at the same time everyday, too!

      I've used FAM to conceive my first child and we're planning on doing it for our second…not sure if I want to use it to PREVENT a child, though…that makes me less certain than having a backup of condoms πŸ™‚

      1 agrees
    • These are my concerns with FAM, as well. If I ever stop with the Pill, I'd probably switch to an IUD, withdrawal, condoms, a combination of withdrawal + diaphragm + spermicide…. FAM just does not appeal to me personally. I think a big part of it is that I know that usually women get an uptick in their sex drives when they are MOST fertile, so having to wait until I'm less fertile and don't even feel like it does not sound appealing to me.

      So far though the Pill works for me!

      2 agree
    • I <3 FAM all over the place, but I agree that it is not always appropriate as a birth control method, depending on your situation. I have PCOS, which means that my body is often "gearing up" for ovulation and then failing to actually ovulate. This means there are a lot of times that I am showing fertility signs (especially fertile-quality cervical fluid) and would therefore be in the "don't have intercourse right now" zone, even though I find out later that I wasn't actually fertile at that time. Like, WAY too many days for it to be practical, since I'd be avoiding intercourse so often. That said, if hormonal birth controls don't feel right to you (they didn't for me after several years on the Pill), you can still choose to use a barrier method or have non-intercourse-sex during times when you are potentially fertile.

      For those who are trying to conceive, FAM rocks. For those who think something might be "off" in their bodies but they aren't sure what, FAM rocks. It can really help you to pinpoint exactly what is going on in your cycle, which is very helpful for your doc in diagnosing any health issues and in timing intercourse to get pregnant. Plus, once you become familiar with your fertility signs, you know your body SO well! I love being able to go to my doctor and say, "I haven't ovulated in X days," or "I just ovulated a few days ago." When I got pregnant, a nurse tried to tell me I was 9 weeks along based on my last menstrual period. I looked her in the eye and said, "Nope, I'm just over 4 weeks!" It's awesome to have my own informed understanding of my body and not rely exclusively on health care professionals.

      Also, to address concerns about the reliability of FAM for birth control, I think it's worth pointing out that most of the stats regarding FAM's success rate are actually skewed to be lower than they should be because they include people who decided not to follow the principles of FAM (i.e. have intercourse when they knew they were likely fertile) as "user error" rather than "intentional choice to not use the method." This makes FAM look much less reliable than it is… Like if someone usually uses condoms most of the time, but they decide not to one time, and then get pregnant. We wouldn't blame the condom, but for some reason those instances tend to get rolled into the stats for FAM because it is harder to measure exactly whether someone was using it improperly by choice or by mistake. Once you have a solid understanding of how your cycle works, the lifespan of eggs/sperm, and the signs to look for… AND you have internalized the rules for charting and making decisions regarding intercourse, it would be VERY unlikely to have a pregnancy that was a total accident. It's more like, "Well, I cheated a bit on the rules because the risk of getting pregnant wasn't super high, and it turns out I got pregnant."

      All in all, FAM is a good deal of work to wrap your head around at first, but it is an incredible long-term solution to managing your fertility in a way that has no harmful effects on your body or the environment.

      6 agree
    • Just as an aside about the Copper IUD – I hated the pill and what it did to my moods and mental state, so I switched to the non hormonal copper IUD in September 2011. It worked great in the "not getting pregnant" department, but the side effects I had were a much longer (8ish days) and heavier period each month. Also, I was actively working out, lifting weights and eating a clean diet and I was completely unable to lose weight. In fact, I held on to more weight around my midsection and even put on about 10lbs in the year and a half I had it in. I had it removed in mid March, and since then have been able to drop about 7lbs, and two inches from my waist. Mind you, I haven't changed my diet or workout routine at all. So, this is something to consider about the IUD.

      1 agrees
  4. I had a similar situation that led to me getting off hormonal birth control and doing fertility awareness. I got on the pill around five years ago and bounced around through the various other forms – nuvaring, depo, back onto the pill, IUD, nuvaring again. And though at first the pill and the ring worked great, the shot made me bleed constantly (and they told me that it might have messed up my system for a while, though "probably" not permanently, which freaked me out). The IUD gave me an ovarian cyst, as well as horrid cystic acne (lovely) and when I got back on nuvaring, I got a cyst in my breast that I had to have aspirated. That was the last straw for me. I was sick of putting these chemicals in my system and not knowing for sure how my body would react and then seeing for sure how it did react … anyway, I started using OvaOva, which came recommended from Offbeat Families, and I've been "natural" for several months now.
    I found that overall, the question of taking my temperature at the same.time.every.day kind of averages out because like you, I like sleeping in on weekends and going out at night. But over time, you can see in the OvaOva graphs how that doesn't affect the software's ability to track your fertility. Cervical fluid is just as important as temperature – and when you go off the hormones and you're making the effort to become more aware of what your body is doing, you notice and make mental calculations throughout the month. I should also note: it is likely that your first month or two on the method will look very odd on paper as your body accustoms itself to the lack of hormones and settles back into your natural cycle. My temperatures were allllll over the place πŸ™‚
    Pulling out/condoms is crucial, obviously. So your husband has to be totally on board and supportive of this decision. We are not even close to ready to start our family (a couple years at least, please!), but for both of us, the long-term aspect of my fertility and reproductive health clinched the deal. We would rather be very careful now and risk getting pregnant sooner than we would like because my body is healthy and prepped for that than to stay on hormonal birth control and have health issues and have to worry about how those chemicals will affect my ability to get pregnant when it does come time.
    Hope my experience is useful in your decision making, and good luck with whatever you choose!
    ~isis
    p.s. and whoa, sorry for the novel!!

    1 agrees
  5. I stopped taking hormonal birth control (nuvaring) after having been on in continuously for years because my husband was halfway around the world for a few months and I was tired of it. Prior to then, I'd always been in the "yes, I want kids…. someday… maybe when I'm 50. And hopefully we'll adopt, because pregnancy sounds awful."

    Four days after stopping the nuvaring, I got hit with babycrack (http://offbeatfamilies.com/2011/01/babycrack) lot a ton of bricks. It was really bizarre how instant and visceral the reaction was, because I really was totally ambivalent about babies and pregancy beforehand, and I am definitely not anymore.

    I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but had I known about it, I probably would have stayed on bc until we were actually ready to have kids.

    6 agree
    • This happened to me too when I stopped- all of a sudden crazy hormones were telling me I wanted kids when I actually don't want them. At all.

      Back on the birth control pill it is, with the added benefit of drastically diminished babycrack!

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    • Going off depo has made me babycrazy. I feel totally alien to myself! I was always ambivalent about babies (happy auntie! Happy teacher! but always happy to give the baby back and sleep in). It was a sudden and intense NEEEEEEEDBABIES kind of feeling. Scary, even.

      It's mellowed out some, but I still have babies on my mind WAY more frequently than I would like. Babies are not an option at this point, so that makes it even worse.

      2 agree
  6. I used the Fertility-Awareness Method (well, the Billings method specifically) to get pregnant and it worked the first month after temping and charting and all the other methods of Natural Family Planning failed us for months before that. But the temping and charting helped me become aware enough that I could use FAM and feel confident in my ability to read my body.
    That being said, if you do go off of the pill, be aware that you may not feel the same for a bit. You might feel great, and that would be awesome, but I thought I was losing my mind (was on the pill for 8 years) after I stopped taking it. I had some crazy thoughts, urges and feelings (like Chris mentioned above, among others) run through my mind and body in the 6 months I was without the Pill and I got through them, but it was a bit rough for a while.
    Best wishes and good luck finding a method you are comfortable with.

    1 agrees
  7. We've been using this for our entire 9 year relationship. The only ever slip up was our fault, which is how we got our 6 year old, and our other child was planned via this method.

    I agree with others that you'll need to be extra careful around wonky cycle-disrupting times. My cycle gets thrown off after major illnesses, major stress, post-pregnancy, post-hormone-changing medicines, etc.

    To me, the big deciding factors come down to priorities. I'm the kind of relentless hippie for whom not being on a hormonal birth control or having any bodily insert is more important than not having a baby. If we had another child, it would probably be tough but also totally okay and even wonderful. If I was strongly against having another child, I might feel differently about it.

    2 agree
    • It's reassuring to hear that natural fertility awareness hasworked for you for so many years! I am quite concerned about wonky cycles throwing us off track. I have a job that gets stressful and I've read in Toni Weschler's book that this can delay ovulation, making it sometimes difficult to tell when the "safe" time is. This is a big factor why I'm a bit reluctant to start start using this method for contraception.

      What you say about priorities though is important. We're not against having a baby, but just maybe waiting a year. A big reason that attracts me to this method is that when we do decide we want a baby, that we will be well-equiped with the knowledge of when's the best time to conceive!

      1 agrees
  8. it didn't really work for me (not that it failed, just that i hated it for preventing pregnancy). i have irregular cycles so until i had confirmed ovulation, i pretty much had to treat the entire time between the end of my period and confirmed ovulation as a potentially fertile period…which, for me, is anywhere from one to about four weeks. treating it as a potential fertile period meant condoms for us, because we couldn't afford a mistake. and when it comes to contraceptives i hate the least, condoms are not one of them.

    however, i found it to be awesome when we were actually trying to conceive.

    1 agrees
  9. Yup. After 14 years on the pill, I couldn't get my prescription renewed for a few months, so I started FAM.

    I got pregnant two months in. Luckily, Husband & I were already considering kids for our very-near future, so it was just a shift in schedule instead of a catastrophe. But, y'know– these things can–and do!– happen.

    5 agree
  10. I used FAM as birth control for a few years, and found it to be pretty easy – especially once I got a phone app that helped track things. It was nice to get to know my body and to understand what was happening throughout the month. The temperature was tricky some mornings, but it's combined with cervical fluid, so even if I missed a temp reading, I still had a pretty good idea of where I was in my cycle.

    Of course, early December 2011 I missed a temp reading, thought I knew what was going on, and found out 2 days later that I had ovulated a few days earlier than usual. And now I have an amazingly awesome 8 month old kid. Like any other birth control method, FAM is not perfect. Now I have the Paraguard.

    6 agree
  11. I was on Ortho-Tricyclen-Lo for over four years when I conceived my daughter in 2010 (yes, it does happen!). After delivering her in 2011, I decided that hormonal birth control was not for me. I considered an IUD, but in the end chose Fertility Awareness Method. Because I was breastfeeding, I did not get my first postpartum period until 2012 (two years to the day after I got my positive pregnancy test). I have successfully avoided pregnancy and really enjoy the freedom of no pill. We are not really in a position to have another child right now. We did have one big "oops" with charting last month, and I decided to take Plan B as a back-up. I really like FAM but I know that it is not for everyone. I feel like I know my body so much better since using it, and I feel confident that I am much more in control of my pregnant/not pregnant state than I was while on the pill.

    1 agrees
  12. I used the FAM method for several years with complete success. Toni W's, "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" is a fab resource. I have used the computer software that came with the book to accurately chart my cycles for years. It works really great. The first several months you practice FAM you really do have to be on top of things & make sure you are charting really accurate information, but once you get the hang of it, you will understand your body so much more and if you sleep too late or drink to much one night, it won't throw off your whole chart. You'll know how to make sense of it.

    I found FAM to be a really empowering way to take charge of my own body. I took BCP's for years and had every horrible side effect you can imagine. I also suffered from from PCOS for years and taking BCP's seem to make my symptoms much worse (despite every typical doctor advising me otherwise). I personally always prefer to do things more naturally anyhow. After changing my diet, going off BCP's and really paying attention to what my body was doing through FAM, I was able to reverse all my PCOS symptoms and am now expecting our first child (something several doctors told me would possibly never happen).

    I slept with a BBT thermometer under my pillow so as soon as I would wake up it would be right there. My husband even learned to tune out the beeping after a while. For majority of the years I was practicing FAM it was with the intention of trying to AVOID getting pregnant. FAM really does work and is based on science. Once your temp climbs and you are in your fertile phase, you know that you are safe. Your BBT will back you up. I never once had a mistake, but I also took it very seriously.

    I will say, make sure to get a good quality BBT thermometer. Don't buy the ones they have at Target or CVS. They don't read accurately. I always ordered mine from either amazon.com or from a "trying to conceive" website (even though thats not what you want it for, you know those ones will work). They were never very expensive. I'd replace them every 6 months or make sure you have extra batteries on hand. If you start noticing really out of sorts, whacky results it could be your BBT thermometer is acting up.

    Good luck with trying it out if you decide to give FAM a shot. I know I wouldn't be comfortable using any other method.

    10 agree
    • I also have PCOS, and wanted to switch to FAM, but I am afraid because of the issues of irregular cycles and such. Was this an issue for you? Were there any unexpected issues because of the PCOS or was it really easy? I would really love to get more information from you before I take the leap πŸ™‚

      • Not the previous commenter, but I used FAM for about a year when I was trying to get pregnant and I have PCOS. I did feel like it was difficult and wouldn't be helpful for preventing pregnancy because my cervical mucous was really all over the place. It had a "fertile" consistency most of the month, but my temperatures said otherwise, so it was just really hard to tell when I was going to ovulate. My fingers are also super short so I could never feel my cervix no matter what contorted position I got into. Of course, you may not have that issue. Additionally, since I went six months without ovulating, it was really just sort of a wash. I did eventually get pregnant after a few rounds of fertility drugs and I felt like it helped with that just to let me know that they were working, but I personally wouldn't it trust it to prevent pregnancy unless you are able to get your PCOS under control to the point where you are having regular cycles.

        1 agrees
        • To be clear, I never had trouble actually tracking things, like taking temps, checking cervical fluid and keeping track of all that. I mean, looking at my temps, it was clear that I wasn't ovulating, but part of the benefits of FAM is being able to predict ovulation and for that to work you actually have to have a cycle, not just six+ plus months of nothing. Or else you're using condoms all the time (if you're preventing) because you can never tell when you're about to ovulate, especially if your cervical fluid is constantly fertile looking.

          1 agrees
      • I mention this in an earlier comment, but I've been diagnosed with PCOS for almost 14 years, and I got pregnant using FAM right away. I had no problem tracking my cycle. It can be scary, because women with PCOS are far more likely to miscarry. Me personally, I stopped taking the metformin when pregnant because that is what is recommended, and almost immediately started bleeding and was told there was a 50% chance I would lose the baby. After talking to a lot of doctors and doing a lot of research I went back on the metformin and the bleeding stopped. I then had an uneventful rest of my pregnancy, an uncomplicated home birth and a super healthy son. This is obviously just my experience.

  13. Have used FAM for 15 years to avoid pregnancy and its worked great. Have never been on any hormonal contraception so Im not sure how that would effect the first few weeks of transitioning in terms of temp readings.
    Im not great at taking my temp the same time every day but within a 3 hour window works, the important thing is to take it before you do anything else, like as soon as you wake up.
    In my experience once I was in the habit of charting I could see a clear shift in temp readings following ovulation.
    Im also pretty conservative and only have unprotected sex from 2 days after ovulation to day 1 of my cycle.
    Long haul travel will mess with your cycle and there for the temp readings so its not great for folks who travel long distance alot.

    3 agree
    • Yes. I think mentioning using other forms of protection along with fertility management is smart. I've only been doing it for 2 and half years, but when I know I'm in my week window of ovulation and we're feeling racy, we always use a condom. Like the poster above, I only go completely unprotected in the same way she does. I don't want to take any chances. Also, there are different phone apps, and I love mine.

      I was on the pill for ten years before this. I went off it and my body went a little wonky. My doctor told me I probably wouldn't be very fertile right away, but conceived my now two and a half year old 10 days after I went off the pill. So, if you decide to go this way, be ready for some wonkiness right at the beginning. However, I feel SO MUCH BETTER not being on the pill anymore. I love, love, love it.

      2 agree
      • I'm gonna echo what these ladies said. I was on BCP for a decade and hated the side effects. So I read TCOYF, which I loved, and tried FAM (upon Ariel's recommendation, no less!) for a year to get acquainted with my cycle, then used it to conceive, then used it as birth control, then to conceive our second child. At this point I've been using it for 8 years successfully. It helps that I have a pretty regular cycle and ovulation pains that tell me exactly when I ovulate (fun times!). My luteal phase is a reliable 13-14 days, so I have a pretty good idea of when I'm going to get my period. I haven't charted for years, and I use condoms from day 6 of my cycle (since I ovulate on day 14) until 5 days after I ovulate. Any time I'm in doubt about my cycle, we suck it up and use a condom.

        I'm a little embarrassed to admit that before I tried FAM I had much less information about how my reproductive system worked than I thought I did. At this point I'm pretty confident that I'll never use hormonal birth control again.

        1 agrees
  14. I started the pill when I was 16, took it for 3 years, then went to the patch, then went to the NuvaRing, then to the Depo, then back to pills, then the Mirena (terrible idea), which was removed in November 2010. I have been off hormonal BC for 32 cycles!!! It is AWESOME. I feel so much more aware of myself. It's so nice to allow my body to function normally for a change. Once you get started with FAM, it's almost a habit. Sure, there are mornings when I wake up late and forget to temp, but it's not the end of the world. By knowing the other signs (cervical fluid, position and general feeling), I'm able to make conscious choices about whether we need a condom that day. I sleep in on weekends, too! I just simply wake up and temp at 7, then fall back asleep. πŸ˜€ And after a night of boozing, I know it'll be higher than it should be, but as long as you're not mistaking that rise for ovulation (ie. you're aware you drank, and you note it on your chart) you're in business.

    One recommendation: get a digital thermometer that will store the temp until later. I temp in the morning and record in the evening so I can input all my other daily goings-on at the same time. It's helpful to keep a really brief journal (think a written, daily snapshot) to help you keep track of stuff. Like, if I had a really stressful couple of days at work, I note that so I'm aware my ovulation may be delayed due to stress. It gets easier the longer you do it. πŸ™‚ I love knowing what's going on–I can predict to the day (sometimes the hour) my period will start, and I can identify when I'm ovulating and on which side. It's revolutionary. DO EEEET!!!

    5 agree
    • Yes – definitely get a thermometer that stores the temp. That way on the weekends you can get a reading then fall back asleep immediately, instead of getting up to record things. Small thing, but it matters!

      5 agree
    • Thanks for your positive comment, it's really reassured me about uing FAM as contraception! I'd love to get to know my body more and FAM seems like a really good way to do this.

      1 agrees
  15. I hate, hate, HATE being on hormonal birth control. I don't eat meat partially due to the added hormones, and yet I add them to my own body? The pill also messes with my cycle in ways nature never has.

    After a year of the pill and 3 missed periods I had enough last March. I talked it over with my bf and switched to FAM using Ova Ova, actually after reading the ad-post on this site. Their site is very pretty and has a lot of good educational info and pictures.

    That said, Ova Ova customer service is terrible. I was charged the annual fee 3 times in a year. Each time I contacted them to remove the charge it took between 3 days and 3 weeks for them to get back to me. To the point that I had to threaten to contact the BBB of Nebraska (where they are located). I will not be using them anymore.

    Aside from that, I stopped using FAM and went back on the pill after about 6 mos. and a scare. I never got good at recognizing a change in my cervical fluid, it all looked the same to me. I did temp every day but I often forgot to record it and then forgot what it was by the time I went to log it. We stayed on condoms every time in addition to FAM because I was just not comfortable enough that I had gotten my reading right.

    I am job searching now so it is really not a good time. We are going to talk about me going off the pill and giving FAM a try again once I have a job and we get engaged.

    • I used Ova Ova as well, and the software never successfully identified ovulation or fertile/ infertile periods. It was a pretty place to chart my information, but if I hadn't read "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" it would have been useless. Also, the site seems to never have released an app or added a forum.

      I'm due next month (thank you Toni Weschler:) and if we decide to chart again I'll use the TCOYF software instead.

      It's helpful to hear everyone's experiences since hormonal birth control doesn't work for me, but so far am not confident enough with the Fertility Awareness Method to use it for prevention.

      1 agrees
  16. After 18 years on birth control pills, I went off them in favor of FAM and condoms. We weren't ready for kids yet, so my husband being on board with the change also using condoms sometimes was key for us. Since I was already charting, it was an easy transition to trying to conceive when we were ready.

  17. I've been using FAM to try to conceive in the past and we are currently using it even though we are trying to avoid and I would HIGHLY recommend it. That said, it is possible that when you first come off birth control your cycles might be irregular and you will find charting to be frustrating. During that time, I would also use a barrier method if it is imperative that you not conceive right now. (In fact, if it is *imperative* that you not conceive, I would always use two methods of birth control–I've just heard too many "oops" stories.)

    My own experience coming off of birth control has convinced me to not ever go back on. My cycles were very irregular for more than a year after having been on birth control for about 10 years. When I talk to my friends who say they are thinking about trying to conceive in the next year or two, I always suggest they consider getting off the pill and using a barrier method while learning FAM so that they can know what their own cycles are like long before they try to get pregnant and also give their hormones some time to regulate, if needed.

    I sleep late on weekends but I just have an alarm set on my phone. It goes off, I take my temp and then I fall back asleep. No biggie. The thermometer saves the temp so I can record it later when I get up. I also drink wine in the evenings and don't find that it has a big impact on my temperatures. I also have very restless sleep and sometimes don't get the solid block of sleep that is recommended, but I still see a very clear shift in my temps.

    I say "go for it" but consider a barrier until 1) you really get a handle on your cycles and/or 2) it is truly *imperative* that you not get pregnant right now.

    2 agree
    • Yes I have heard that a barrier method is important when you are just starting out and getting the hang of charting cycles, thanks for your advice on this.

      If we did get pregnant early on it certainly wouldn't be a big problem. The reason we are thinking next year will be the time to start trying is only because we'd have paid off a bit more of the mortgage by then and enjoyed being married just the two of us.

      1 agrees
  18. After reading this question when it submitted to us, I immediately got the Taking Charge of Your Fertility book and it changed my fucking life. I seriously cried while reading parts of it because it turns out… I know SHIT about SHIT with my lady parts.

    I just started charting this month and it seems to be working okay, even though I don't go to bed or wake at the same time every day, drink wine (almost) every night, AND have been traveling. I just saw the tell-tale spike in temperature today! I'm stoked to see how this goes.

    Now if only I could get that guy I married to get on board…

    1 agrees
    • I seriously wish everyone would read the book even if they're not considering FAM, just to get educated about their body. I cringe when I see stuff on the Internet like "keep in mind you ovulate around day 14!"

      1 agrees
      • yeah, seriously. I ovulate on day 25 of a 32 day cycle. Thanks to FAM I was able to have a kiddo! Otherwise we'd be banging duds together on day 14 πŸ™‚

        1 agrees
    • Yes! This! Until I read that book, I thought I had yeast infections all the time. While I didn't end up sticking with FAM for contraception, reading the book was so informative and empowering. And that knowledge is so helpful now that I'm actually starting to try to get pregnant.

      1 agrees
    • Hi Megan, I had the same reaction when I read the book a few weeks ago! I was so sad that I've spent so many years since I was a teenager totally not knowing anything about how my ladyparts operate. It really hit me that I'm missing out on knowing about such a huge part of me as a woman.

      2 agree
    • Agreed. I read this book last summer after hearing about it on obf and I also cried. Why this is not knowledge we pass on to our children when we talk about periods is beyond me, but I immediately went off birth control (we were "okay" with getting pregnant right away) and I really enjoy this method. With wine. πŸ™‚

  19. I had to stop taking the pill because it was impacting my personality (it made me crazy!) and eventually it made me really sick. My now husband and I used condoms until we were married, and then decided we would follow my cycles closely (I'm very regular) and just not have sex during my "fertile periods." Well, that lasted a grand total of ONE WEEK before I got pregnant! We are now expecting our first little one in July. Just wanted to give you a word of warning. We aren't upset or disappointed, but it was definitely a big shock!

    3 agree
    • For future reference or for others in the same boat, if birth control pills are making you crazy it may be worth trying a different kind of birth control pill.

      Regular birth control pills made me insanely anxious. About EVERYTHING. And sometimes about NOTHING. But I switched to a low dose birth control pill and I was fine. Or at least no more anxious than I am in my normal, unmedicated state:p

      I beleive that I have read that that progesterone only pills (or the shot) are more likely to cause mood problems than progesterone and estrogen pills, so women with a history of mood disorders are generally advised not to take those. (Though I have a friend who says the shot made her more emotionally stable because it evened out the mood swings caused be her cycle, so your millage my very).

      Depending on HOW crazy birth control pills make you, it may not be worth it, or even safe, to experiment with different pill formations, but it's useful to know that there are different kinds of birth control pills and they may not all affect you the same way.

      4 agree
      • I can't agree more. There is such a HUGE difference in the different types of hormonal birth control, and it's different for every woman! One pill makes one woman crazy, but another type may save her sanity. A different woman will love that same pill that made the first woman crazy. Some people get migraines from hormonal birth control, but for me they are the ONLY thing that prevents me from losing 3 days of work a month. We are so lucky we live in an age with so many options!

        This is a little off topic for this thread, but there's a lot of hating on hormonal birth control, so I just wanted to reiterate that it varies WIDELY from woman to woman and that you have to try it for yourself!

        I've been considering writing a post about the initial decision making process involved in deciding if hormonal birth control is for you. I always feel so unprepared when I am at the doctors office, so I did a lot of research first so I had time to think about different options and what was important to me and my lifestyle BEFORE I was in a paper gown.

        3 agree
        • Totally agree! I found that the patch (Ortho Evra) works awesome for my lifestyle. I definitely cannot handle a baby right now, and am far too busy and under too many different variables for FAM to be practical for me right now. I chose the patch over the pill because I know I won't be able to take a pill at the same time every day, but a patch once a week at the same time every week is doable. I'm pretty sure the Planned Parenthood website has a feature that suggests birth control methods based on questions you answer.

          1 agrees
  20. I made the jump from the pill to Fertility Awareness in November after almost a year of deliberation. I love it.

    It took two months after stopping the pill to get my period and every month since then my charts have made since despite my sleeping in and regular consumption of alcohol. My cycle is not varies in length each momth so I love that fertility awareness tells me exactly when my period will arrive. (12 days after ovulation for me) I've actually had fewer pregnancy scares than when I was on the pill.

    I set an alarm to take my temp. On weekends I just go back to sleep. My doctor was skeptical when I told her about temping. She said to pay attention to cervical mucus instead cause charting rarely makes sense. The app Fertility Friend has been really helpful deciphering my temps.

    We use withdrawal method and don't really avoid when we're supposed to, so I'm pretty much failing at following the rules. I just love actually bring aware of my body. I'm not ready to give up withdrawal yet though.

    In sum, glad I got off the pill. Love fertility awareness.

  21. When I was 20 (I am now 27), I was part of a study that monitored my fertility with one of those fancy fertility monitors and sticks and such. I got to know my body pretty well.

    After getting engaged (and then married), partner and I used effectively a modified FAM (we used condoms before – I was not too keen on the hormones in my body) using the cervical changes and time of the month. I learned from that previous study that my body is like clockwork. It worked for probably about five years.

    …Or it was like clockwork until I quit veganism and graduate school and found myself almost immediately pregnant. (Three months from quitting veganism and immediately after quitting graduate school). My daughter's due to be born next month.

    A lot of my comfort with using FAM was that having a kid was something I am OK with – I am married to the man who in my gut and heart I know would be the best father for my children I could ever ask for, and having children was something I wanted. My preference was not to have an "oops", but I went with it because "oops" wasn't going to mean the end of the world. And I'm pro-choice.

    In any case, I'm due next month. I was not temping, it was a hormone measure, but I figured I'd share my failure as a caution.

    • That's why this method scares me- I have too many uncertainties and crazy changes in my life. I'm just afraid it will through everything off.

      Maybe it could work for someone more stable.

      It sounds like everything worked out since you really did want kiddies in the first place! Life never goes as planned, right?

      1 agrees
  22. My husband and I swiched to this method after getting married, for birth control. We have a 2 year old son that was conceived when I was not supposed to be ovulating. I'm sure it works for many people, but know your risks, percentages, and know what your back up plan is in case, that way you don't get blindsided.

    5 agree
  23. We have used FAM for over 3 years, and love love love it. I feel much more confident using this method than putting my trust in a product to work 100% of the time for the rest of my life. Some things to consider regarding the temperature-taking: 1) If you miss taking a temperature or two, it's not as big of a deal as missing a pill or two. About the only time you really need careful temperature charting is right around ovulation. Some people don't even take their temperature except in Phase 2, but I find it easier to keep in the habit by doing it every day. And 2) cervical fluid is the more reliable of the two indicators, so as you get in the habit of noticing your cervical fluid (which will come back once you go off the pill), you can use the temperature as more of a back-up signal.

    I've written about FAM (also known as Natural Family Planning in Catholic circles) quite a bit on my blog if you want to check it out — I'm pro-finding what works for you, unlike a lot of NFP promoters — and you're welcome to get in touch if you have in-depth questions about it, as I love talking about it. This goes for anyone interested!

    1 agrees
    • I would just like to say it makes me very happy to see a Catholic on here more open minded. I was raised as one and the culture is still a part of me, but I have pulled away because of not liking the whole love thy name but try to change those sinners type of mentality.

      Just thank you for being a cool Catholic. It's nice to be reminded of the ones who aren't the judgmental minority.

      3 agree
  24. I'm currently using a combination of both FAM and the pill. We're taking the pill because we can't have kids just yet and practicing FAM so we can get the hang of it. Quite possibly we'll switch to FAM exclusively when my scrip runs out later this year, once we're in a better place to have an unplanned child. I set my alarm for 4 am, take my temp with a digital thermometer, record it in an app in my phone, and then (if I don't have to pee) go right back to sleep until whenver. I get an accurate reading everyday and then I get more sleep. Took me a few days to get used to going back to sleep when I started (before I got married) and then it took my husband a little getting used to it as well once we got married, though he usually sleeps right through it now. I keep him informed of what's going on and he's a total champ about taking extra precaution (condoms) during the fertile period. Working well for us so far!

    • You may already be aware of this, but most pills (maybe all) work by preventing ovulation and making your body think it's already pregnant. So you are unlikely to see your body going through the regular fertility phases that FAM tracks, unless possibly you happen to have a breakthrough ovulation that month. But it's still great to get in the habit of taking your temperature, etc., if you're planning to switch to using FAM.

      2 agree
      • Right, and since I tracked for a few months before starting the pill, I've been aware of some of the differences. There is still a brief temperature spike right around the time there should be, so whether I'm actually ovulating or not, it definitely gets us in the habit of being aware of it. I also meant to mention that it's at 4AM that I take the pill, so I don't forget to that at a regular time everyday either.

  25. I used Implanon for more than 10 years, problem free, until I started to get problems. Hair loss, to be exact, coming out in great handfuls. I'm a bit of a data fiend so I decided to try FAM as a backup to a barrier method, figuring we'd abstain during my fertile period. Also, we want to start a family in the next few years, so I was partially motivated by the desire to make sure I was fertile.

    Fast forward 8 months and I am deeply ambivalent about FAM. I do like that i know more about my uterus and menstrual cycle, but do I feel more 'in tune' with my body? Goodness no. My cycles are all. Over. The. Place. Every month I take to my FAM forum of choice panicked and pleading to know what it all means. My cervical mucous in no way aligned with my temps. FAM works if your body has read the textbooks, and mine hasn't. It makes me feel like a failure, and the worst thing is there's nothing I can do about it.

    I had some bloodwork done and it looks like I have a prolactinoma which might make it hard to conceive on my own. So I'm glad my charts helped me find that, but it's a bittersweet result. I very much miss my carefree Implanon days.

    2 agree
    • Everyone's body is different! For some people it is much easier than others. For some people being "irregular" is "regular."

      You are not a failure, it's just not right for you!

      4 agree
  26. So I'm pretty in tune with my body and have an extremely regular cycle. But I know FAM would not work as contraception for me at all. I usually know when I ovulate, partly because I become extraordinarily horny right at ovulation. Hello Biology! Avoiding sex during the time when I want it most would not work out well for me or my marriage.

    5 agree
    • Ditto! That's why your BC of choice has to complement your lifestyle.

      For me, I can tell when I'm ovulating because it is the ONE day when I want children out of the whole month. And the sex is always best right then, even though we're actively NOT trying for kiddos.

      3 agree
    • MC I am glad you brought up the horny factor. I am recently married (Oct 2012) and was on Nuvaring for 7-8 years. I had my annual appointment right after our wedding and had not at that point decided to TTC. So my Dr. warned me to 'be ready because it could happen quickly.' if we chose to stop taking BC and start trying. (I guess some folks have less issues with irregularity with Nuvaring because of the super low dose of hormones that it has).

      I had read about FAM and natural methods in preparation for TTC and when DH and I decided a few short months after getting hitched that we were going to 'not prevent' pregnancy, I started paying attention to my body closly without temping. I didn't want to go crazy charting. I have this impression that I will become so obsessed with the details (super detail oriented person here) that I would be consumed by it and loose the 'happy/fun' while TTC.

      Prior to BC I was a super regular kind of menstration gal and assumed my body would adjust back to that. The first month off, I totally thought I was pregnant. I mean full blown pregnancy symptons. I had heard it was common to feel that way while your body adjusts to the lack of hormones. I was 6 days late and not preganant. The second month I started to feel more normal and HAD THE BEST SEX OF MY LIFE. I was so happy to have my libido back. (A serious consideration of mine for not going on hormonal BC after baby). I paid attention to cervical mucus the most. I didn't temp. And could not for the life of me find my cervix position (still not sure if it was because I couldn't or because I was already pregnant when I was trying). As I have alluded to, I got pregnant that second month.

      Based on how far I am and how they track preganacy timing, I am pretty sure I ovulated around the 'average' time women do. I remember that weekend very well. I was NON-STOP horny. So my biggest concern with FAM and other natural methods is how the heck do DH and I resolve my actual desire to have sex with preventing another preganancy in the future?? I should note that we are absolutely THRILLED with our little on on the way and we are prefectly fine with the timing etc. I just don't know if I want more than one child or not.

      So back to the conundrum of dealing with desire and preventing pregnancy at the same time. Condoms did not work for us (sex would hurt too much for me with them).

      I wish you luck with your decision and hope that it works out well for you. I also want to hear from some of the ladies about the desire factor that they seem to leave out when discussing FAM etc. thanks!!

      1 agrees
    • We don't abstain during peak fertility days; there is lots of stuff we do instead of ejaculating inside me when I'm fertile. There's the old "pull out" method, which tends to work well, especially if you orgasm before your partner finishes. Studies have shown that women who orgasm before their partners ejaculate have lower chances of getting pregnant (tho, I offer the caveat that this science may be outdated – I learned it about 20 years ago when initially studying female fertility). Blow jobs are usually never turned down and my husband is usually pretty happy to hear the, uh, backdoor's been unlocked. πŸ˜‰ Haha! Of course, condoms are also useful during the couple days you may feel unable to help yourself.

      3 agree
      • Advice I have heard is similar to yours here. There are other ways of having sex, and there's always barrier methods like condoms and diaphrams.

    • Part of great sex for me is complete inhibition- letting go of everything. I think the sex would suffer drastically if I was worried about husband pulling out or if I had charted correctly or if I was stressed out about something that altered my cycle, or if i mistook cervical mucus for arousal vaginal secretions, or if my husband had super sperm, or, or, or, or, or……etc.

      So no FAM for me until I use it to conceive!

      3 agree
  27. I tried charting for awhile, but I just couldn't handle it. I have ADD, but I do not medicate unless there is something big I need to concentrate for, because I am not a big fan of taking amphetamines. It was so hard to try and force myself to check with any sort of consistency. I also sleep like a rock, so waking up just to check my temperature was a 45 minute ordeal with multiple alarms. I didn't have many problems with the pill, once we found the right one, and they seemed to actually help me regulate mood swings and such.
    That said, I think you should try FAM with a backup, because you will never know if it is your thing unless you do.

    • That is a fantastic idea! No harm in using condoms for 6 months until you really get the hang of how to do FAM accurately and correctly.

      However, I guess you can't ever REALLY know if you're doing it right. There's no control group here.

      3 agree
  28. I have a question – if you are using FAM do you also have to use condoms? I never even thought about that.

    • I am not crazy into charting, but I can easily check the cervical fluid stuff as I produce enough that I will get it when wiping. I have an app that charts my cycle. A few days before the app says I will start to hit fertile days (which it shows 2 days before to the day after ovulation) it becomes mandatory condoms. I require hubby to wear them until the fluid fades out which is usually 3 days afterwards so a little more than a week.

      And tracking helped me not panic when his pull out sucked a week before my period because I knew we were safe otherwise I would have ran for plan b for peace of mind. We are however in a state that if an oops does happen it will be welcomed, but another year wait would just put us in so much better of a financial place.

    • http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/fertility-awareness-4217.htm

      If you are one of those women with a clockwork cycle and you stick to your temp/charting/mucus thing with 100% accuracy 100% of the time and your partner is 100% committed to it as you are, you might not need a barrier method on your safe days to prevent pregnancy. I would start a diaper fund just in case, though.

      And since condoms are not 100% effective, you aren't even guaranteed to not get pregnant.

      (I think FAM can work for some people, but it would be a shame for someone who REALLY REALLY REALLY doesn't want kids/CAN'T have them to get pregnant because they thought that this method was completely safe. So thus all the disclaimers.)

      3 agree
    • We did. Any BC method that requires abstention when I'm most interested and most likely to enjoy it was a non-starter for me. Condoms are fine for me – my husband preferred the peace of mind during that time rather than pulling out.

      2 agree
  29. We did something very close to what the poster is talking about – I got my IUD out about a year before we thought we wanted to actually "try" for kids, and charted to get a better sense of what my body would do without birth control (which I'd been on for about 10 years in various forms at that point). I found it really reassuring to know that I was ovulating, that things were pretty normal, etc. Because I had never been off birth control as an adult, and was acutely aware that I might not get pregnant right away, and wanted some more information about the whole thing.

    That worked great for many months, until the perfect storm of crazy travel (our month-long honeymoon in Japan) and thyroid problems (I'm hypothyroid and it turned out my dosage needed adjustment) made my cycles irregular right as my thermometer broke when we were out of town. So in the end I got pregnant about six months before we really intended. But we were conscious of being sloppy and taking risks, and could have easily just used more condoms during irregular cycles if we'd felt like getting pregnant at that point was a big no. As it was it just meant we had to move out of our awesome artist warehouse/intentional-community-with-laser-cutter a bit sooner than planned. (This was us: http://offbeatfamilies.com/2012/02/living-with-house-mates-and-pregnant)

    Anyway, I think it's a great option as long as you're clear on what you're really okay with and you and your partner are on the same page. For us it ultimately worked out to be a slow ride from relaxed to sloppy to negligent, which we're really happy with. But it could have been much less good if we hadn't been in that place emotionally. Good luck!

    1 agrees
  30. I stopped taking bc pills in '06. I used condoms most of the time until after my littlest fella was born. I started FAM (based on Wechsler's book) in '07 when my active fertility returned and have had a flawless, easy experience preventing pregnancy.

    If you have a fairly normal period all you really have to do is not have sex when you see clear watery secretions in the morning. Easy peasy! I also track my periods using an app on my ipod and that gives me a really accurate window, highlighted on a calendar, for which are my most fertile days and they coincide with my clear, watery secretion days.

    I tried tracking my cycles properly with Toni's chart and a thermometer but eventually decided not to bother.

    Honestly, I don't understand why they don't teach Wechsler's book in Grade 9 women's health classes! I'm a doula and thought I was pretty smart but even I was blown away by how little I understood about my own fertility.

    We find it's no bother to follow this method: there is little tracking, just a bit of self-awareness and then about 4 days in your second cycle week where you have to use a condom, give a bj, go in the back door or pull out. Ha! Lots of options!

    1 agrees
  31. I think that in addition to knowing YOUR female body, you also need to know the relevant MALE body. Sperm are not all the same. Your partner could have super sperm that stick around in the womb for longer than 6 days, and this could make your "collective fertile period" longer. It's not just about the ladies!

    5 agree
  32. Because hormonal BC makes me crazy, despite being on it for the better part of 10 years (and I've tried a lot of different types of pill to see if any make me less crazy, plus the nuvaring), *and* I may or may not have PCOS or a thyroid condition (and just found a doctor who is listening to me about the symptoms I've had for at least 8 years) I made the decision in Jan to go off the ring and not try any more pills.

    When I say 'I', however, I mean my partner and I had a series of discussions about consequences and alternatives. He agreed that going off it and trying to see what my own baseline is (in terms of mental health and physical health) and seeing just how irregular I am or not without the hormones is in my best interest, particularly if my issues might cause problems TTC later. We also agreed that while now wouldn't be awesome to have a kid, it wouldn't be unawesome (we could always be in better financial shape. Then again, the 'perfect' time might always be in the future, you know?).

    I've learned a few things about my body in the intervening months, although haven't gone full blown with charting (we've been using barriers/pulling out). I think I'm going to start charting though, just because data makes me happy, and it will help with explaining issues to my doctor. Also, I'm not pregnant, so it seems to be working… then again, there's a possibility that getting pregnant could be difficult for me, so take that with a grain of salt.

  33. I began charting my cycles about 5 years before I met my husband, after having read the book, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. I was lucky in that my cycles were almost always 27 days and that I ovulated on my 14th day. I did not take my temperature but was very aware of my cervical mucus and did not have intercourse the 5 days leading up to when I was suppose to ovulate. I used condoms with my male partners during those 5 years. I took Plan B twice, when I was cutting the whole "5 days rule" too close and did not have any pregnancy scares.

    Flash-forward to meeting my husband. We became serious very quickly and dived right into the pre-engaged stage very early into our relationship. With that development, we stopped using condoms, while still using Fertility Awareness. Our daughter was conceived on our 6 month anniversary which was 5 WHOLE DAYS before I ovulated. So, I highly recommend that if you are truly trying to avoid getting pregnant MAKE SURE you follow the guide-line of abstaining from intercourse for those 5 days.

    I am currently 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant with our second daughter. We had gotten to the point of "it wouldn't be a diaster if I got pregnant again," when we conceived this baby. My cycle had returned to normal after weaning and I was charting again. I miscalculated and we ended up having intercourse 4 days before I ovulated. I took a Queen Anne's Lace Tincture several times after we had sex. But, I didn't take Plan B. Obviously, we conceived.

    I remembering reading in a book about Tantric Sex how intention is VERY important in conception. BOTH partners need to make sure they are on the same page in regards to conception. So, after sex sending out the intention of "no babies, please…we'll not ready." Honestly, with my first daughter, part of me was ready to have a baby.

    I think Fertility Awareness is a really empowering experience that makes you much more in tune with your body. BUT, I would not use it as your only method of Birth Control, if you are very, very serious about NOT having a baby.

    I love the fact that I am 100% confident in knowing when the date of my Last Period was and that I know the exact dates when both my girls were conceived. On a side note, this also helped in me being able to name our second baby. Because I had read about the Shettles Method of conception and knew we had sex 4 days before I ovulated, I entered a bet with my husband. If we had a boy, he got to name him and if we had a girl, I got to name her. I won. πŸ™‚

    Once this one is born, I will be swapping out my reliance on Fertility Awareness with a copper IUD. Very excited about 10 years of use! I will continue to chart and abstain for the 5 days before I ovulate because this Mama is DONE.

    Best of luck!

    • I remembering reading in a book about Tantric Sex how intention is VERY important in conception. BOTH partners need to make sure they are on the same page in regards to conception. So, after sex sending out the intention of "no babies, please… we're not ready."

      I'd urge you to rethink what you're saying here, which seems to amount to a strange twist on Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_and_pregnancy_controversies_in_United_States_elections,_2012#Todd_Akin:_.22legitimate_rape.22

      4 agree
      • Yeah, while I'm all for being intentional about conception, babies get conceived under all kinds of conditions… including IVF, when neither parent is present at all.

        3 agree
      • Thank you…you bring up an excellent point, I hadn't even considered. You are right, it does sound too close to Todd Akin's comment and is very insensitive to those who who are dealing with fertility issues. Scratch that I said that…I apologize for being insensitive.

        1 agrees
    • Your partner will be happy to know that he has super sperm! Planned parenthood says that sperm can survive for up to 6 days, so his swimmers clearly lasts that long!

  34. I was on the pill for several years, and heard that you should get off the pill at least 6 months before trying to conceive. I looked into the awareness method as well, but the temperature part never worked for me. I didn't ever notice a spike before fertility like they said I would. Instead, I marked every day that I had my period, and from that I could figure out how long my cycles were. I had abnormal cycles, but because I was so diligent in marking my calendar every morning, I was able to find my fertile spots every month. I also marked every day that my husband and I had sex, so that I could calculate when I had conceived. We are now expecting our first child in July, and I was able to gain more awareness about my body because I was so closely watching my monthly cycles. Good luck!

  35. We've mostly used FAM (specifically, the Billings method, with condoms when I'm fertile) and we LOVE it because hormonal BCs just don't agree with me. I'm not keen on a non-hormonal IUD because of my medical history. I also have wonky cycles, anything from 28 days to 8 weeks is normal for me, and it still works for contraception.

    All of our kids were planned, but even with using the Billings Method to help with conception, we still took some time to conceive.

  36. I've been using FAM for about two years with condoms whenever we're uncertain. I was on the pill for about five years on and off, and hated it. Yeah, my cycle was predictable, but I felt weird about it. I still had cramps. My acne never went away, and I had this weird hormone in my body. When my last relationship ended I was thrilled to just go off of it forever.
    Now I'm married and we both HATE condoms, but hate hormonal birth control and the idea of a copper thingy inside me even more, so FAM it is. Whether you use it as your form of birth control or not I would recommend it to every menstruater out there. I've gotten to know so much more about myself and my body's rhythms.
    I use a neat-o little app for android called "ovuview." There are all kinds of free apps available so choose whatever tickles your fancy. This way if I'm out on the town and notice my cervical fluid is particularly creamy I don't have to remember until I get home to record it. I can also record intercourse (with or without protection), sex drive, mood, headaches, meds and other factors.
    I used to take my temp every single morning at 6am and then fall right back asleep. It was beautiful. Lately my sleep patterns have been more irregular, but since I tracked really well for over a year I've learned how to read my signs in a lazier way. I try to take it at the same time every few days at least and pay very close attention to cervical fluid build-up. As long as you're not taking any allergy meds or other drugs that interfere with cervical fluid, this is really the most useful sign.
    The only thing that really sucks about FAM, for us, is that of course my sex drive is the highest around the time when I'm the most fertile. What a draaag, especially for someone with a fairly low sex drive to begin with. Blarg.

  37. Thank you so much everyone for sharing your experiences with me here. You've given me lots to think about and some great tips and advice. I was really excited when I saw my question up on Offbeat Families today! I'm going out to buy me a thermometer!

    2 agree
  38. I use a mucus-only method of FAM/NFP — the Creighton Method in my case, since it works better for me than Billings — and it's been a good fit for me over the last 5-6 years. Not only is my sleep schedule too irregular for temping to work well, but I'm also sick often enough that my temp can be wonky from that. But my mucus is nice and predictable and easy to interpret, so that method works for me. I also have friends who use the Marquette method using the clear blue easy fertility monitor — I've thought about that, but the test strips aren't cheap.

    1 agrees
  39. I've been using FAM for the past 4 months or so, and I loove it! As mentioned by others, I feel empowered and connected to my body in new ways, which is pretty dang sweet. I also really love the charting/list-taking aspects of FAM because a) it makes me feel in control in the midst of grad school, not an easy feat and b) another project for which I can use highlighters!
    We are also using condoms as a back up because my partner is not yet sure whether he is ready to take the full FAM leap. That is another benefit of FAM- we have been able to communicate more clearly and openly about what we are comfortable, and each take responsibility for our reproductive choices, instead of the burden falling solely on me.

    One other side note- I've seen a few comments on this thread about Plan B and just wanted to share some info I recently learned– Plan B (and most Emergency Contraceptives) are only effective if used prior to ovulation. Once the ole egg leaves the nest (ie ovary) and is fertilized, it will not generally prevent implantation. This was something that was pretty mind-blowing to me, especially as I was pretty much unaware of when I ovulated pre-FAM. Another reason to use barriers while getting accustomed to your cycles!!
    Here's a link to more information: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/02/22/172595689/morning-after-pills-dont-cause-abortion-studies-say

  40. I used FAM to avoid pregnancy for 10 years, and loved it — even though I don't get up at the same time every day, and drink alcohol, etc. For the first 6 months or so, you have to be really on top of checking your temperature and mucus every day, but once you become aware of what's going on with your body, the signs of ovulation are really obvious. I got lazy, and started checking mucus and temperature only every few days until around the time I was expecting to ovulate, and even then I was fine. (Not that I'm recommending that — but if you're using temperature, mucus, and awareness of your cycle patterns, it's a pretty robust method). Then I was ready to get pregnant, used FAM for that too, and got pregnant on the first try! (I'm typing this as I'm nursing my 6 month old!)

    The one thing I would say is that if you're using that method, you do actually have to follow it pretty strictly at first until you really know how your body works. A friend of mine told me she tried it and it didn't work (and she ended up pregnant when she didn't want to be). I asked her if she had been taking her temperature every day, and she said no, she was just noticing if she felt warm! It really bugs me that this sort of thing gets included as part of the supposed high failure rate of FAM, because really she wasn't using FAM at all! Used properly, it has a failure rate of about 2%.

    3 agree
    • I just don't understand the premise. Sperm can live inside a woman for 3-6 days. And your temp changes only 1-2 days before you ovulate? 6 > 2

      And how do you know that all the people that it works for don't just have low fertility? Some people get pregnant on the first try, and others can take years.

      1 agrees
      • In answer to your two questions:

        1) The ability of sperm to survive inside a woman varies by where she is in her cycle. When she is closer to ovulation, she had cervical mucus that is more "fertile" — which means that it provides a good survival environment for sperm, and has properties which help the sperm travel in the right direction. In earlier and later parts of the cycle, without the cervical mucus, the vaginal environment is considerably more hostile to sperm, and they do not live long at all. Part of most FAM/NFP methods involve checking your cervical mucus daily (or many times a day, in my method), so that you know whether or not you're currently providing an environment where sperm would be likely to survive until ovulation.

        2) The answer to this is that it's the same as it is for all clinical treatment research for every topic, they do randomized controlled trials. If 50% of the study is randomly allocated to use a FAM method, and 50% is randomly allocated to do something else (in some studies this control is comparing FAM to birth control pills, in others it is being compared to no birth control at all), then the random assignment means that the results aren't just from one group having more infertile partners than others — that would be equally distributed across groups.

        • While informative, your comments didn't really answer my questions. If you can only tell that you are about to ovulate 1-2 days beforehand, and you had sex before that, the sperm could already be there is the comfy mucus lounge waiting to to their thing when the egg arrives. It sounds like your method is better than the temperature method because it is a direct measure of if the cervical mucus, but 3-6 days of sperm party is still longer than 1-2 days of warning before ovulation.

          I understand the clinical trial aspect also, although I have not read the primary literature concerning FAM v. other methods. I am more referring to the comments like "we used FAM as contraceptive for 2 years before we decided to get pregnant." It takes some couples 2 years to conceive naturally. So how do they know if it was FAM that worked or if they took a long time to get pregnant anyway so it didn't matter if they actually did FAM or not?

          Basically, I think there are lots of variables that influence why FAM works for some couples and not others at the biological level (how thick your mucus is, how persistant his sperm is, etc) even with 100% compliance to your charting, etc.

          My point is that there is no way to test yourself for these variables before you start FAM, so you should be 75% ok with having a kid as soon as you start it. But, hey, that's why we double up with the pill AND condoms because it's not time for us (yet) and we want to be as close to 100% as possible.

          • Hmmm, maybe I wasn't communicating clearly enough, I'll try again.

            1) The sperm can only survive for any length of time in the vagina when there is fertile cervical mucus and a favorable vaginal pH. Both of those things only happen during the "fertile" phase of your cycle, what many methods of FAM/NFP refer to as "phase 2". So if you have sex before that time, the sperm don't survive, and it's not an issue.

            2) When you are in phase 2, your body is producing fertile cervical mucus, which you can detect. Some women will have a full week of fertile cervical mucus before ovulation, some women will have only a few days, but either way you can detect the mucus and know that you should take the appropriate measures. So if I see fertile cervical mucus, I know that having sex then could conceivably get me pregnant, regardless of how far away ovulation actually is.

            3) As a result, women who use my particular method of fertile cervical mucus are advised to take the appropriate measures starting from the first day of fertile mucus, and all the way until 3 days after the mucus dries up. Again, for some women this ends up being a 6-day period, and for some women it ends up being considerably longer.

            4) Anecdotal "evidence" about contraception is equally an issue for every other kind of contraception. If someone has used the birth control pill and condoms for two years without conceiving, you don't know if their success is because of the contraception or because of infertility.

            5) This is why randomized controlled trials are so valuable. In the randomized trials I consider well done, FAM/NFP tends to perform better than condoms alone and slightly worse than birth control bills — so around 94% successful. Some NFP/FAM methods appear to be more effective than others, probably in part because people have an easier time complying with some, and in part because some detect the early signs of phase 2 better than others. When someone using NFP/FAM correctly becomes pregnant, it is most often because they had intercourse just as their body was moving from phase 1 to phase 2 — and so fertile cervical mucus was being produced, but none had come out yet.

            6) People who are being super conservative about their use of NFP/FAM (i.e., really really not wanting to be pregnant) will often do one of the two following things:

            * Treat phase 1, or all of phase 1 after day 2, as equally risky as phase 2. Basically, this means that they only have phase 3 as open, which can be hard because most women are less aroused during phase 3.

            * Use barrier methods (like condoms) during phase 1 and phase 3, and abstain entirely during phase 2. Statistically, this ends up being more effective than either NFP/FAM alone or condoms alone, and is expected to be at least as effective as birth control pills and possibly somewhat more so.

            On the other hand, some people who use FAM will use no protection during phase 1 and phase 3, and use condoms during phase 2. Statistically, this ends up being less effective than the stats you see for condoms alone (because after all, some people in those studies were never having sex during their fertile times at all, just by chance), and is probably around 80%, even lower if you take into account sloppy usage.

            1 agrees
      • Part of using FAM for birth-control is abstaining from sex or using another method of birth-control (condom/withdrawal) from start of menstruation until 48 hours after ovulation.

  41. I have not considered it, and I won't any time soon. The inconvenience, and the risk involved, and just how much I do NOT want to have a child at the moment means my partner and I are definitely not going to use it. I was on the pill for 5 years, but decided to get a Mirena IUD to hopefully stop my periods and reduce my painful cramps and heavy periods. I would only use that sort of method if I was okay with having a baby – and in my mind, the use of contraceptives means that I am not okay with having a baby. The use of artificial hormones and chemicals are not something that I'm frightened of, or against at all, so that probably plays into it. Some people are more into being "all natural" and I imagine that would influence their choices.

    1 agrees
    • I agree. I really wish people wouldn't flat out demonize artificial hormones for birth control. Sure, I don't want to eat artificial hormones in my food, but using artificial hormones as a medication are a completely different story. Some people really need them, and it can change their lives. Also, they don't work for everyone, so you don't know until you try, and they can take a couple months to stabilize your symptoms. The great thing about OffBeat blogs is that we can discuss different options that might work for different people.

      4 agree
      • I definitely agree about artificial hormones being all bad – they're great! Almost all the women I know use them happily and successfully.

        1 agrees
    • Of course each person should choose the contraception method that works best for them, but I'm surprised at how dismissive you are of non-hormonal methods, especially since I know people who have gotten pregnant while on the pill and with an IUD. Basically, if you're having any kind of P-in-V sex you have to deal with the risk of getting pregnant.

      I've used FAM (with condom backup) for 7 years successfully and with little fuss. I didn't choose FAM for frivolous reasons because I'm "into being 'all natural,'" but because I used BCP for a decade and was fed up with the serious side effects–mine were weight gain and extremely low libido. To each her own, right?

      1 agrees
      • Or his own! Or their own! Not everyone who uses birth control methods identifies as a woman or as a man.

        2 agree
      • Yeah, each to their own – I was just saying that, compared to a lot of these posts where people don't want to put artificial hormones into their bodies, I have no issue with it whatsoever. I know I'm at risk for getting pregnant, but the chances are very low, and I'd much rather have as little room for personal error as possible. I also hate using condoms, so I wouldn't want to do that method.

  42. I am so saving my rant on guys' contraception laziness. ^^

    Fertility awareness methods are a great way to improve family planning. I tried different pills, but all ended up warping my mood and turning me int an everyday version of my usual PMS monster. Since I am allergic to latex… well, here we are, six years of relationship and no kids yet. ^^

    • Since I use FAM my husband is much more knowledgeable, aware, and involved in the intricacies of my cycle and our birth-control. πŸ˜‰

      1 agrees
  43. I used FAM for 2 yrs – both as birth control & then to get pregnant. It's easy & well worth the switch.

  44. just remember charting doesn`t work for everyone. It never worked for me, despite religiously taking my temp at the same hour, and carefully tracking with fertilityfriend.com. My doctor confirmed it doesn`t work for everyone. Plus I found it added a level of stress to family planning.

    My husband and I just used condoms for years with no issues. When we were ready for a family, I tried charting again – nope, didn`t work. I just used ovulation predictor kits. Using your last period date minus 14 days (well, 12 for me) is also a good indicator of when you ovulate in your cycle.

  45. I'll add my two cents too, though you've already had plenty of similar responses.

    I've used FAM for about 2.5 years to successfully prevent pregnancy. I haven't actually temped for the last 9 months or so because I was away from my partner (and not having sex) for a month and just got out of the habit. I'd always found temping a bit annoying anyways and found that my erratic sleep patterns/alcohol/bed-partner-vs-no-bed-partner affected my temp so much that it often muddied the waters more than helped. Now, I pretty much exclusively chart mucus as well as cervical position when I fancy it. During my fertile days, my partner and I use the pull-out method. We are fairly conservative with estimating when my fertile days are though (often giving it an 8-10 day window or so) – for reference, my cycles range from 27 to 37 days – i.e. I'm not particularly regular.

    Reading up on FAM and starting using it was such a great decision for me. It's made a huge difference to how I feel about my body and the awareness it's given me (and, importantly, my partner!) about my cycle has been beneficial in so many ways. I highly recommend it. It's true that it doesn't have perfect statistics, but no birth control does. What you can always consider are ways of lowering the chances – giving yourself a longer window when you are fertile (from 'first sight of fluid' rather than 'first sign of wetness' to '5 days post-high-temp' rather than '3 days post-high-temp'), and doubling up (barrier + pull-out, for example) during your fertile days.

    If it's relevant, I was on hormonal birth control for about 6 months several years ago and just didn't enjoy it – though I could never quite put my finger on why. For a few years after that I relied exclusively on condoms as I had multiple partners, but FAM has been my method of choice in recent years (minus a few months of condom usage before everyone got tested when another partner joined my current relationship).

  46. I tried FAM for 9 months after getting off 2 years of the pill. Sadly for us however, it didn't work out. We ended up getting pregnant and miscarried. Although I'm fine with what happened (we don't want kids), that's not something I'd personally do myself again. Now I have the ParaGuard IUD. However for people who want kids and aren't against the idea of a surprise..I say go for it. It does make you feel empowered and does help you feel more in control of your body and help you get to know your own body better. I read Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It's a really good book.

  47. What Miki said above that made so much sense I just copied and pasted it:

    "1) The sperm can only survive for any length of time in the vagina when there is fertile cervical mucus and a favorable vaginal pH. Both of those things only happen during the "fertile" phase of your cycle, what many methods of FAM/NFP refer to as "phase 2". So if you have sex before that time, the sperm don't survive, and it's not an issue.

    2) When you are in phase 2, your body is producing fertile cervical mucus, which you can detect. Some women will have a full week of fertile cervical mucus before ovulation, some women will have only a few days, but either way you can detect the mucus and know that you should take the appropriate measures. So if I see fertile cervical mucus, I know that having sex then could conceivably get me pregnant, regardless of how far away ovulation actually is.

    3) As a result, women who use my particular method of fertile cervical mucus are advised to take the appropriate measures starting from the first day of fertile mucus, and all the way until 3 days after the mucus dries up. Again, for some women this ends up being a 6-day period, and for some women it ends up being considerably longer.
    …….
    some detect the early signs of phase 2 better than others. When someone using NFP/FAM correctly becomes pregnant, it is most often because they had intercourse just as their body was moving from phase 1 to phase 2 β€” and so fertile cervical mucus was being produced, but none had come out yet." (THIS CLARIFIED MY POINT, THANK YOU! You can't be sure if YOUR body will always let you know in time, so if you REALLY don't want pregnancy, I would not experiment with this or would always use condoms during this time. You don't have a control group uterus to help you figure out if your body will always let you know in time. -Jane)

    "6) People who are being super conservative about their use of NFP/FAM (i.e., really really not wanting to be pregnant) will often do one of the two following things:

    * Treat phase 1, or all of phase 1 after day 2, as equally risky as phase 2. Basically, this means that they only have phase 3 as open, which can be hard because most women are less aroused during phase 3." (THIS IS WHAT I WAS TRYING TO SAY THAT YOU SAID MUCH BETTER! -Jane)

    "* Use barrier methods (like condoms) during phase 1 and phase 3, and abstain entirely during phase 2. Statistically, this ends up being more effective than either NFP/FAM alone or condoms alone.

    On the other hand, some people who use FAM will use no protection during phase 1 and phase 3, and use condoms during phase 2. Statistically, this ends up being less effective than the stats you see for condoms alone (because after all, some people in those studies were never having sex during their fertile times at all, just by chance), and is probably around 80%, even lower if you take into account sloppy usage. " (Makes sense to me too!-J)

    (I don't know how to do the tricky cut and paste thing to make it look like the original poster, so I wanted to give credit to Miki for the information posted above. I think it helped explain some of the questions I had about the transition from phase 1 to phase 2 very well. It accounts for how this method can fail, but also what you need to do to make sure it is as effective as possible! Thank you!)

  48. No advice, but I'm in the same boat and loving reading the responses! I've been on the pill for about four years now, and lately I've just been feeling like it's affecting my body/brain in ways I'm not liking. Neither my husband or I are really fans of condoms, though, and we're not quite ready for a baby yet… so I've been feeling like I'm stuck with the pill until we change our minds. I'm still kind of scared of the idea of going off the pill, but I've been considering it more and more… and reading suggestions is really helpful!

    1 agrees
  49. I used the FAM for 1.5 years after briefly trying the pill (which made me depressed and dislike sex, and Needed To Go). I wasn't crazy with trying other hormones to wait and see what would happen, so FAM it was!

    The first six months or so, I was very good at taking my temperatures, but more important than that for me was being aware of other signs of ovulation – vaginal mucous, sexual arousal, etc. After that, I'd chart my temps occasionally, but mostly my mucous, period, and intercourse on a free app on my phone.

    Then… I got pregnant in January. Which was really because I had been lazy, and had let the the battery on my basal thermometer die. We got in the mood, and I had the thought of, "I might be ovulating right now", but still didn't go for the condom.

    THAT SAID, we'll go back to this once the baby is born in the fall. If you can find a way to adapt this to your lifestyle, I think it's worth it.

  50. I am originally from the UK and was on the pill at 17 after a mistake pregnancy (my boyfriend at the time and & I decided to have the pregnancy terminated). When I moved to Canada at 22 the low-hormone contraceptive pill I was on did not exist here, though there was a similar one, so I started using that. It was fine, for 4 months, then I started to get intermittent bleeding and eventually periods that lasted 2 weeks. I got put on a much stronger contraceptive and started to feel slightly unhinged. They tried me on Alesse, similar feelings of losing control made me reconsider my options.
    I had heard of this natural contraceptive called Persona, sold in Europe, and on my next trip home I bought it and loads of boxes of test sticks. It is like a fertility monitor, but designed for contraception – NOT a fertility monitor used as a contraceptive device. Basically it is pre-programmed with however many thousands of women's menstrual cycles. You set it up on the first day of your period, and every day you press a button, which either gives you a green light (sex is a go!) or a red light (don't have sex – they advise not even with a condom, but well…), or a yellow light (urinate on a stick and put it in the machine. This measures your hormone levels on those days and either gives you a red or green light).
    The first month you get the yellow light 16 times. After that each month you have 8 yellow lights. After about 3-4 months of using the machine, you get less red days.
    I used Persona for over 9 years with absolutely no problems. Then I became complacent. The red and green days were always the same, so I stopped checking it as diligently every day. I thought I knew my cycle really well (I did). But sometimes things change, or you get forgetful.
    This is how I know the exact day my partner and I unwittingly conceived. The day I didn't look at the monitor as I was sure it was day 6 – ALWAYS green. That night I checked the monitor. It was not day 6. And the light was red. "Meh" I told myself. This thing is built to have some room for manoeuvre, so to speak.
    2 years and 11 months later, my son is weaned and I am planning on using Persona again. But properly this time. I am so used to letting my cycle be itself (plus the pill makes me feel like a nut-job, completely out of control of my emotions and liable to flare up into spates of uncontrolled anger and crying), I have super-heavy periods already so the thought of them being even stronger on the coil is highly disturbing (how many pairs of panties would I need to wear, or spare clothes to carry around with me on those first few days).

    I don't know if a similar device exists in North America. I have always told my GPs about it; whose reactions range from looking at me like I am an idiot, along with comments about it being a fertility monitor, to genuine interest. But I believe had I not been so complacent, my son would not be here today. So I am glad I was! It was just a big life adjustment!

  51. We successfully used FAM for 6 years, and I found that it made my husband MUCH more involved in birth control responsibility. He's the one who took my temperature every morning and then charted my temps and cycle into an Excel spreadsheet.

    Also, for the first few years we used this: http://www.bc-lc.com/buy-pearly because it has an alarm, stores your temp, and gives you a color based on your cycle (green = have fun!, yellow = probably not today, red = not unless you for sure want a baby in 9 months). My husband would wake up to the alarm at 5am, wake me up to take my temp, and then chart everything later since it remembered 3 days (I think?) of temperatures. We set the alarm early because it enabled us to go back to sleep easily on the weekends (we found a later alarm would wake us up for the day.) We also traveled a lot in those 6 years, and charted the whole time we were in Egypt or Peru or Greece without any problems.

    We conceived our 15 month-old daughter the same month we decided to stop charting. It's not a good method for everyone, but it worked very well for us.

  52. Using fertility awareness + pullout did not work for us. My partner got the abortion, as we discussed before ever having sex, and later I decided to get a vasectomy. We're still happily together and now she doesn't have to be on the pill.

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