Have you switched from the pill to Fertility Awareness Method?

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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

Comments on Have you switched from the pill to Fertility Awareness Method?

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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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