Summer of 2010- first year dating! We took a weekend trip to Yosemite National Park and went on a beautiful hike called Clouds Rest.
First off, what is fertility awareness?
In essence, it’s a woman understanding on any given day what her body is telling her and if she’s fertile or not. She tracks her 3 main fertility signs: cervical fluid, basal body temperature and cervical position. Some women track all three signs, while others track 1 or 2.
It only sounds complicated because we haven’t been encouraged to learn about our bodies or participate in our own reproductive health. It’s not complicated, but it does take self-study and dedication. And if you can learn to cook, drive, read, or post a fun instagram story, it’s safe to say you can learn Fertility Awareness. Very easy to catch on within 3 cycles and you’ll be a pro within a year!
Women use fertility awareness for natural contraception, conception, or to be in tune with themselves and their bodies.
Using the symptothermal method of fertility awareness, where you track all 3 fertility signs is a highly effective (up to 99.4 with correct use) way for women (and their partners!) to practice natural birth control. That’s right! Women do not have to be subjected to synthetic hormones or copper, plastic or rings inserted into their pelvic regions. If you want to learn more, consider:
- Self educating with books like:
- Taking charge of your fertility by Toni Weschler
- Garden of Fertility by Katie Singer
- The Fifth Vital Sign by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack
- Connect with a certified fertility awareness educator to help you begin to chart and interpret your chart
- Begin tracking your menstrual cycle and fertility signs with my Menstrual Calendar Journal (highly recommend paper-charting especially while you’re learning a fertility awareness based method! Study after study shows that your ability to learn, memorize, and synthesize data is higher when writing than typing. Once you’re confident, then an app is ok. And even then, I’d turn off the predictor mode so an app isn’t telling you whether you’re fertile or not. Until the day comes when an app can detect what type of cervical fluid you have, I wouldn't trust an app to tell me if I was fertile or not. )
- Share about fertility awareness methods with your doctor through this website: FACTS, an informational website for doctors, by doctors wanting to inform their peers of hormone free birth control options.
4 reasons fertility awareness can improve romantic relationships:
1. He'll have more respect for your body
2. You'll have the framework and language to communicate with each other effectively and many fights will be avoided. Trust me on this one!
Once you track your cycle, you’ll be able to communicate to your partner what’s going on and they’ll have more compassion or understanding. And it can actually be kind of fun / funny for him to finally get the inside scoop of what’s really going on with your body, your mood, your energy levels, libido, etc.
I taught my boyfriend (now husband) about each of the 4 phases of the menstrual cycle- what's going on physically, mentally and emotionally-- and how each phase can be likened to seasons. Actual period days are like winter, pre-ovulatory days are like spring, ovulatory phase is like summer, and PMS days are like fall.
Instead of him saying, “Is it that time of the month… why are you acting like this..?” etc. and us getting into fights, he now teases me in a light hearted way instead. “You’re in your fall phase right now, ok I see what’s going on. Are you going to be howling at the moon soon?" After 4 years, my husband sees the new moon coming and he knows I'll be way more sensitive, etc. He knows that my hormones have suddenly shifted and I'm likely feeling more withdrawn. He tends to treat me extra sweet or give me more space. My husband is a jokester, and for me that works. But for others, this may piss you off even more! Find the language that works for you and your partner.
It’s all about communication!
3. You may feel less resentful
I can only speak from my own personal experience, but being the one who had to carry the responsibility and the myriad of negative physical and mental health consequences, caused me to get resentful. There I was, switching from birth control to birth control, never satisfied, and my boyfriend didn't have to do a thing, besides enjoy himself! Not to mention, a woman is only fertile for approximately 6 days per cycle, while a man is fertile every second of every day.
If you are in a partnered relationship and you let them know, “I’m going to be learning about my body through fertility awareness,” then it also becomes your partners responsibility to be involved in both of your reproductive health and sexual choices. You’ll feel less resentful (if you ever did), both partners will take equal responsibility, and it’s an amazing way to get closer and establish trust between one another.
4. Libido and happiness
"Where there is a wound in the psyche and bodies of women, there is a corresponding wound at the same site in culture itself, and finally in Nature herself. In a true holistic psychology all worlds are understood as interdependent, not as separate entities... Although a woman may not be able to stop the dissection of culture and lands overnight, she can stop doing so to her own body... A woman can not make the culture more aware by saying 'Change.' But she can change her own attitude about herself, thereby causing devaluing projections to glance off. She does this by taking back her body. By not forsaking the joy of her natural body... This dynamic acceptance and self-esteem are what begin to change attitudes in the culture."~ Excerpt from Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph. D.
I'm ending with this beautiful excerpt from Women Who Run With the Wolves because I think it's great food for thought.
Do you think that a woman who is mechanically or hormonally suppressing her fertility then becomes susceptible to disrespect? I do think that we can't control mother nature without there being harmful side effects, just like we can't control a woman's fertility without there being harmful side effects to her as well.
If you think this sounds antifeminist, listen tho this episode on the Fertility Friday podcast by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack: Is Questioning The Pill Anti Feminist? She and her guest speak beautifully on this subject.
I'd love to hear from you! Have have you found that fertility awareness has improved your relationship? Or do you have any reservations about fertility awareness? Comment below! And please share this with a girlfriend who might find this interesting.
Fall of 2017 - our wedding day in Yosemite National Park.
Treloar, Alan E., et al.“Variation Of The Human Menstrual Cycle Through Reproductive Life.” International Journal of Fertility | 2, no. | Pt 2 (1967): 99
“Joyous Body: The Wild Flesh.” Women Who Run with Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Women Archetype, by Éstes Clarissa Pinkola., Ballantine Books, 1995, p. 204