Until recently, I considered myself the poster child for great sexual decisions. I was responsible in my choices and a tireless advocate for my own pleasure and safety. So failing at the Fertility Awareness Method was a big shock for me, particularly when I realized I had failed at it not because it was difficult but because I did not properly follow the instructions.
Some background: My birth control method had always been condoms. I sincerely believed that until I was actively trying to get pregnant I would always wrap it up. This plan worked fine until I started dating K, a guy who made me feel things I didn’t have names for. Fucking him, I could feel my heart beating in places outside of my chest. It was that good. Make you slap your mama good. I was hypnotized by the dick: “dickmotized”. This is when my adventures in FAM began.
K was cooperative about condom use but also extremely well-hung. Something about how our bodies fit together, how long our marathon sessions went and how often I squirted, resulted in a bunch of ripped condoms. Neither of us could relax because we were preoccupied with the possibility of prophylactic malfunctions. We had “the talk” and weighed alternative means of birth control.
I didn’t want to get on the pill. Getting an IUD was complicated with my fibroids. Diaphragms seemed horribly outdated and a sure way to kill the spontaneity of our sex life. I consulted with my doctor, talked it over with my spirit and decided I was going to part ways with condoms and try FAM in tandem with pulling out. As a former condom advocate I had heard the jokes: “What do you call people who practice the pull-out method? Parents.” “What does FAM stand for? Frantic amateur mother.” But I had also seen the data—both had great success rates when practiced properly. I was certain I would be thoroughly impregnable.
My failure with FAM began with my taking the name way too literally. I monitored my menstrual periods and calculated when I was ovulating so I stayed aware of my fertility and minimized sexual activity during fertile periods. As far as I was concerned, it was simple math—on these days: we’re good to go, come inside me; on these other days: we’re not so good, come on my tits. Yet I was basically doing the absolute least.
It turns out there are a lot of steps involved in correctly practicing FAM. The most effective method is the symptothermal or combined method where you check your basal body temperature, cervical mucus, cervical positioning and monitor your hormones in addition to charting and calculating your fertile days. Just the Rhythm/Calendar Method (which was what I was doing) is far from sufficient because your periods are not always regular, your ovulation is not always in the middle of your cycle and your dude’s little swimmers can stay alive in your body for two days or more. Needless to say, K and I had an oopsie. It was a big eye-opener for me about the discipline and focus required to use natural birth control but this is no tale of woe, just one of caution. For FAM to work you can’t half-ass it. I would use it again, just do it better.
F.N. is a thirty something free-lance writer from Ghana. Currently, she is trying out a new life in Washington, DC