Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Fertility Awareness

This whole getting pregnant thing is a slippery slope. I started out saying, "If it happens, it happens" and now I'm charting my daily temps and sticking my finger up my hooha testing for fluids....

Let me 'splain.

I started out this whole thing of going off the pill and getting on the vitamin by charting my cycles. I use MyMonthlyCycles.com, and it's very useful. I just input my period each month, and it helps me keep track, especially now that I am off the pill that kept my cycle to a predictable 28 days. It also calculates when I am likely to ovulate, based on previous cycles, and assuming that I ovulate 14 days before the end of the cycle. Sounds a bit complicated, but it isn't really.

Then, as you know, Karen gave me the ovulation tests, which I couldn't resist. So, when there was a purple bunny on the web site calendar (yes, that's the sign for ovulation...seriously), I thought I'd try out this new bit of science I'd acquired. Nothing. I took the tests for 7 days and came back negative every time. Hm.... The next month, I tried again, only one day this time. Still negative. Now I only have one test left, and I don't want to waste it!

So that got me to thinking that I might not be in the normal group of people who ovulate 14 days before their cycle ends. At the same time, some friends of mine were mentioning cervical fluid (oh, the conversations of the pregnant-to-be...), which I was sure I'd never noticed before. I started wondering if I even ovulated at all. I realized that the ovulation tests might have pointed to a potential problem that I needed to investigate further.

So, to set my mind at ease (or get the facts I needed to present to a doctor, if things turned up abnormal), I decided to try the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). I borrowed Taking Back Your Fertility by Toni Weschler from a friend. It's a pretty hefty book, but quite a quick read. I would recommend it to those trying to conceive and those trying NOT to. It's also good for women trying to keep track of their cycles while breastfeeding or as they approach menopause.

Basically, the magic of the method is that our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made. Women's cycles--even the most erratic--become quite predictable when charted daily. Based on my temperature every morning and cervical fluid throughout the day, I will know when I am fertile, when I am not, when I will start my period, and even when I'm pregnant.

It's pretty cool, really. I feel kind of like a scientist taking daily measurements to look for patterns and signs of abnormality. Which is exactly what I'm doing!

So, without even meaning to, the casual way in which I wanted to go about getting pregnant has gone by the wayside. As I've read the FAM book, I've realized that I probably don't have a health problem; I just haven't been aware of when my body is doing what. I'm looking forward to learning what kind of cycle I have, not what the average woman has.

A note on Taking Charge of Your Fertility:
I've already mentioned this, but I want you to know I mean it. I would really recommend this book and method. The book is written in plain English and I read most of it in about three days. It presents a complicated concept very simply and clearly, so that I feel confident that I can do it.

Regarding FAM:
A woman is only fertile a few days out of the month. Why take a pill every day to prevent something that can happen only a fraction of that time? When I got off the Pill, I was surprised at how much those hormones had affected me. I had no idea, and had I known, I would not have started them in the first place.

When I first heard about FAM, all I really "heard" was the first paragraph of this blog: I would have to wake up at the same time every morning to take my temp, and I would have to touch something that in every other circumstance I had avoided. People who did that must be desperate! But, while people may come to this method in desperation, those who use FAM are more in control of their fertility than most people. If you start out using FAM, you can use it to prevent conception, and then--when you're ready--you'll have all the knowledge you need to have a great chance at getting pregnant. I'm glad I found out about this method before I got to the desperation stage, and I want you to know about it before then, too.

This method, both for prevention and conception, is cheap (free), natural, and helps a woman become more aware of the amazing gift God gave her.

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