Tag Archives: FAM

Reactions People Have When You Tell Them You Use The Fertility Awareness Method – By Holly Grigg-Spall

When you discover the Fertility Awareness Method it can feel like a revelation – you want to tell everyone about how you’re only fertile a few days per cycle and how ovulation and menstruation are connected and how your hormones work! Once you realize what you weren’t told in sex ed class, you want to tell everyone else the news too. Because it’s shocking and baffling that you weren’t told all about your cycle and wondered ‘when do girls ovulate’? No one bothered to bring it up, and you just know your family, friends, work colleagues and Twitter feed are gonna want to know this too, and they’re gonna be just as angry-happy as you (angry they weren’t told, happy they now know)!

But, some people don’t react like you expect to this information, to hearing all about the Fertility Awareness Method. In fact some people seem to just want to rain on your parade. Others get angry, but in the wrong way, because they think what you’re telling them is nonsense or nuts. Some people get super defensive, clam up, and want to change the topic pretty quickly – although not before making some dismissive remarks. It can be hard to handle and make you feel isolated.

So, what are the most common reactions you get when you tell people you use the Fertility Awareness Method (and how might you respond)?

Reaction: I know a joke about that – what do you call people who use the Rhythm Method? Parents! Ha.

Response: First of all, it’s not the Rhythm Method, which is just about counting days from your period and making a whole lot of assumptions about your body and cycle. Secondly, it’s actually very effective when used properly whether you’re manually charting or if you’re using technological support devices like a fertility monitor. It’s as effective as the Pill, even. If someone were to become a parent using FAM it would be because they planned it that way, not because the Fertility Awareness Method itself does not work. It can be used to plan a pregnancy, if you choose, but the inverse of that is that in can be used to avoid pregnancy too.

Reaction: What’s wrong with the birth control pill? I’ve been using it for years.

Response: Personally I experienced a lot of side effects from the Pill. It made me anxious/depressed/tired/gain weight/lose too much weight/feel detached/hate sex/have a blood clot/get sick all the time (delete as appropriate). I wasn’t comfortable with continuing to put synthetic hormones in my body to block my own cycle. It might be the right choice for you, but you should do your research first because it’s possible your IBS/UTI/chronic fatigue/depression/anxiety/poor immunity/acne/allergy (delete as appropriate) is a side effect of the Pill you’re currently taking. I feel way better now I’m not taking it anymore.

Reaction: So, I’m guessing you don’t mind if you get pregnant and you’re just gonna see what happens?

Response: (Assuming you don’t want to get pregnant using the Fertility Awareness Method) Actually I really don’t want to get pregnant. It’s not the right time in my life for that to happen whatsoever. However I understand now that I can not get pregnant and not have to put up with side effects from my birth control method. I can do both! I have chosen an effective hormone-free method of preventing pregnancy. Although preventing unwanted pregnancy is very important to me, my reproductive and overall physical and mental health is also important to me. I also don’t think it ought to be my responsibility alone to stop myself getting pregnant. It’s my partner’s responsibility too.

Reaction: Ewwww. TMI.

Response: I’m sorry you feel that way. I kind of think we ought to be more open about what’s going on with our bodies.

In fact, it was other women’s stories that got me to choose to come off the Pill and helped me find the Fertility Awareness Method. I think if we’re going to break the menstrual taboo we have to talk more about our cycles, ovulation, menstruation, the lot. It’s important. Not only because so many women have health problems that go untreated because we won’t talk about this, it’s also that it’s not shameful or wrong. Men get to talk about their bodies all the time! I also reckon you, like me, have questions about stuff that you wish you could ask someone, and I want you to know you can ask me.

Reaction: I have really bad cramps/irregular periods/heavy bleeding/horrible PMS (delete as appropriate) so I just can’t come off the Pill. I hate my birth control, but I hate my cycle more.

Response: I’m so sorry you used to have to deal with that and that you have side effects now. The thing is, though, the Pill is not actually treating your period and cycle issues. It’s just putting a band aid over them. It’s not getting down to the root cause of why that’s happening. That means when you do come off the Pill, the problems could come back and maybe even be worse because of the impact of the synthetic hormones. You could really benefit from coming off, seeing how your cycle is, and then seeking treatment that fixes the problem completely. That way you’ll also know you’re set up if you want to have children in the future. I had some issues with my period too, but I’m getting them sorted with changes to my diet and supplements.

Reaction: Oh yeah. I know about this. I use my free period tracker app to do the same thing!

Response: It’s great that you have started getting interested in your cycle! But most free period tracker apps are so not reliable or accurate. Many of them are like a digitized version of the Rhythm Method, where they assume you have a 28 day-ish cycle and that you will ovulate on the 14th day-ish, like women are robots or something. This means they can make you freak about a “late” period that isn’t late at all and wrongly suggest you are fertile at a particular time or not fertile at a particular time. I find that scary and worrying. Personally, I have learned all about the signs you must track to practice the Fertility Awareness Method, which includes tracking my basal body temperature every day. I use Daysy to do this, which is a certified medical device that learns your unique fertility cycle.

For advice on how to talk to your partner about the Fertility Awareness Method go here.

Holly Grigg-Spall is a fertility awareness and body literacy advocate and educator, a Daysy enthusiast, and excited to help more women come off the birth control pill and find a natural, effective alternative. holly.grigg-spall@valley-electronics.com

5 Reasons To Use The Fertility Awareness Method When You’re Single – By Holly Grigg-Spall

Practicing FAM has benefits for all women, regardless of your relationship status

When we talk about practicing the Fertility Awareness Method to avoid pregnancy, we usually talk about it in terms of committed relationships. This is understandable, because we all know that condoms are necessary in any casual or early stages relationship to avoid contracting an STD. But equating FAM with committed relationships is rooted in the assumption that it’s not an effective method for avoiding pregnancy. It’s also rooted in the assumption that practicing FAM involves no other methods of contraception. Both these assumptions are wrong and have arisen out of misinformation.

The Fertility Awareness Method used within a committed relationship has all kinds of benefits – including increased communication, heightened intimacy, sharing the burden of preventing pregnancy, and being able to go condom-free for most of the month. However, there are also benefits to practicing FAM when you’re single, dating, or in a non-monogamous relationship. Even if your primary method of contraception is condoms or a hormone-free IUD, you can still practice Fertility Awareness and gain from the knowledge.

Some might wonder, why go to all the bother of tracking your fertile signs if you’re single? With technology like Daysy it’s no longer a hassle to practice FAM and the process can be easily accomodated into any woman’s life, from a college student to a mom of three. Practicing FAM is not limited to certain lifestyles or certain kinds of women.


5 benefits of practicing FAM when you’re single

1. If you’re single and dating knowing your fertile window can provide an additional level of caution for avoiding pregnancy. Using condoms and FAM is essentially doubling up on your contraceptive methods, it means you can plan to only have sex (with a condom) when you’re not fertile, making the experience more enjoyable and stress-free, or you can choose to have sex when you’re fertile and use additional natural spermicide for added protection. It also means that if the condom breaks, you’ll know if it’s necessary to use an emergency contraceptive or if it’s not necessary – thereby avoiding the side effects.

2. Hormonal shifts have an impact on how you feel about sex, relationships, and your attraction to others. Being aware of if and when you’re fertile and when you’re not can provide insight into why your Tinder habits change throughout the month. When you’re fertile you tend to have a higher sex drive and might find yourself attracted to different kinds of men. You could see a significant shift between your interaction with potential partners around ovulation in comparison to the week before your period. Knowing this information can add another layer to your dating game – helping you to keep on top of what’s infatuation, simply lust, and those relationships that could become more.

3. When you’re single and not practicing FAM, a late period can cause a whole lot of stress. You think you must be pregnant and can spend days unable to focus on anything else. When you do practice FAM your charts tell you when to expect your period or if it might be late this cycle. Plus, because you know when you’re fertile, if you have a condom mishap you will be well aware from the timing whether there’s any chance that could have led to pregnancy. So instead of waiting anxiously each cycle for a sign of your period arriving, you can just relax and feel confident and in control.

4. Practicing FAM and using condoms (even better condoms and a natural spermicide) is a highly effective way of keeping you safe from unplanned pregnancy. Many single women feel pressured by their partners or by their doctor, or both, to be on hormonal birth control. Yet hormonal birth control can lower your libido, make sex less enjoyable, and skew who you’re attracted to – and that’s just a few of the side effects. Because you don’t ovulate on the pill or most other hormonal birth control methods, you don’t get to experience that heightened sense of attractiveness and attraction to others that comes with the ovulatory phase. The cautionary tales about women who’ve met someone when on the pill and come off later, only to find they’re no longer attracted to that someone, are more than cautionary tales and actually find foundation in research studies.

5. Experiencing a menstrual cycle, unmedicated by hormonal birth control, has many benefits for your health. Tracking your cycle can reveal any issues with your fertility and overall health early on. The information you get from your fertility signs and charts, can help your healthcare provider to diagnose a thyroid problem, infertility issue, endometriosis, PCOS or even provide indicators of food allergies. Early diagnosis can be crucial for getting effective treatment, especially for reproductive health issues. Your charts can even reveal the impact of stress on your body and prompt you to take action. Even if you’re using a hormone-free IUD as your primary method of avoiding pregnancy, you can still enjoy this important benefit of practicing FAM.

Holly Grigg-Spall – Marketing Consultant and Blog Editor

When she came off the birth control pill after 10 years in 2009, Holly decided to write a blog about the experience. That blog became a series of articles, and then book, “Sweetening the Pill,” which then inspired a feature documentary, currently in production and executive produced by Ricki Lake.

How To Prevent Acne After Going Off The Pill – Dr. Lara Briden

Dear Menstruation Mechanic, Dr. Lara Briden:

When coming off of birth control, are there any recommendations you could give as far as supplements that can help with skin? I had cystic acne before getting on the pill and I want to maintain decent skin during this detox process. I know that hormonal birth control depletes lots of essential nutrients so I want to do the best to balance that out.”



Dear Cindy,

You’re smart to think about your skin before you actually stop hormonal birth control. Acne is the most common symptom of Pill-withdrawal, and it can get pretty bad–even for women who never had a skin problem before!

What Causes Post-Pill Acne?

Hormonal birth control works for skin because it suppresses skin oils (sebum) to “childhood levels”. That’s a bit frightening when you think about it, because adults are supposed to have a lot more sebum than children. Your skin reacts to this abnormal situation by up-regulating its sebum production, and unfortunately, that upregulation persists even once the Pill is stopped. The result is post-Pill overproduction of sebum, and post-Pill acne (see diagram below).


Post-pill acne is essentially a withdrawal from birth control’s strong sebum-suppressing drugs: ethinylestradiol, cyproterone, and drospirenone. It’s also affected by a natural surge in androgens (male hormones) that occurs when going off hormonal birth control.

Post-Pill acne usually peaks about 3-9 months off the Pill, which is just about when many women give up, and go back on hormonal birth control.

So, what can you do about it?

How To Prevent and Treat Post-Pill Acne

For best results, start treatment at least two months before you come off the Pill. That way, your skin will be less reactive, and better able to withdraw from the drugs.

  • Avoid cow’s dairy. Dairy causes acne. That’s what the research tells us, and that’s what I’ve seen in clinic again and again for nearly two decades. Dairy-free diet is usually the most important treatment.
  • Avoid concentrated fructose (sugar). Sugar causes acne because itspikes a hormone called IGF-1. Concentrated fructose includes all desserts, honey, fruit juice, and dried fruit. Whole fresh fruit is usually okay in moderation.
  • Consider supplementing zinc. Zinc reduces keratin production, so it keeps pores open. It also kills bacteria, and reduces testosterone. And as you point out Cindy, zinc is one of the nutrients depleted by hormonal birth control!
  • Consider supplementing DIM (diindolymethane). DIM is a phytonutrient from broccoli. It works for skin because it block androgens (male hormones) at the skin receptors.

Even with the best treatment, some post-Pill acne is usually unavoidable. Take heart and remember: It will worsen for a few months, but then it should start to improve. Continue the treatment until your skin is better, and then you shouldn’t need the supplements anymore.

Please see my book “Period Repair Manual” for more treatment ideas and the Daysy Blog.


Dr. Lara Briden is a naturopathic doctor. She currently practices at Sensible-Alternative Hormone Clinic in Sydney, Australia. She is also the author of the popular troubleshooting guide, “Period Repair Manual.”

For Daysy, Dr. Briden is “The Menstruation Mechanic,” answering your questions on everything to do with your menstrual cycle. For more on her work go to LaraBriden.com.  In today’s post, Dr. Briden tackles the topic of stopping the acne some women can experience after going off the birth control pill.

Talking To Your Doctor About The Fertility Awareness Method For Preventing Pregnancy (How doctors react, and how you could respond) By Holly Grigg-Spall

Once you decide to come off the birth control pill or get your IUD removed, once you’ve done your research into alternatives for preventing pregnancy, and once you’ve discovered the Fertility Awareness Method, then at some point you’ll probably have to have a conversation with your OB-GYN.

At first, if you have an IUD you’ll be asking for its removal; if you’re on the Pill or another hormonal birth control method you’ll be turning down the next prescription. At that point your doctor might want to know why you no longer want to use that method of contraception. They also might want to know what you plan on doing to prevent pregnancy in the future. Many of the women who’ve been there already report back that this can be a tricky conversation to have, made more so if you are dealing with side effects and don’t feel like your best self at the time.

Of course, there are doctors that know to support their patients’ decisions, especially well-researched decisions, and they will be open, curious, compassionate, and may even know a lot already about the Fertility Awareness Method. However, there are also doctors who – mostly due to lack of education in medical school about contraception beyond just the hormonal methods – who will have a different reaction. It’s possible you might experience some pushback over hormone-free birth control and cycle charting. Your doctor might prefer to persuade you to give another hormonal method a try – like the implant, shot, or ring – or to give the method you’re already using just a few more months.

Yet, when you have made the decision to practice the Fertility Awareness Method, it’s usually because you’re done with hormonal birth control and the side effects or you haven’t enjoyed the IUD and you’re absolutelyready to make the change. You know this is right for you.

So, what are some of the questions or concerns you might expect to hear from your doctor and how might you respond? We take a look at some of the ways this conversation can go.

Reaction: Do you want to try another, different, more effective method first? Like the implant/shot/ring/IUD? It has less side effects/lower hormone levels/a different formulation (delete as applicable).

Response: No. I’m done with hormonal birth control. Synthetic hormones are synthetic hormones and I’ve had enough experience with them now to know I don’t like what they do or how they make me feel. I know that another kind of pill or device might be different, but in the end they all have side effects of some kind and I’m tired of putting myself through this. Now that I know I don’t have to, that I can instead use the Fertility Awareness Method, which is definitely, completely side effect free – I honestly feel liberated from having to give anything else hormonal or invasive a try, and playing Russian Roulette with my health.

Or: The IUD isn’t working for me. Even though it’s low hormone/hormone free, I still experienced side effects. I thought this was going to finally be the solution for preventing pregnancy for me and it’s not. I’m sure it’s great for some of your patients, but it’s not something I’m comfortable with continuing.

Please support me in this decision, knowing that I’m serious, and that I need and appreciate your support.

Reaction: I’m confused, are you hoping to get pregnant sometime soon though?

Response: No, like I said, I’m not ready for a baby yet, and won’t be for some time. Fertility Awareness Based Methods can be as effective as the Pill for preventing pregnancy as long as you monitor the fertility signs – such as basal body temperature, cervical fluid, cervix position. I know that generally in mainstream medicine  you only talk about cycle charting when a woman is trying to get pregnant, and even then it’s often Rhythm Method-based (like saying all women will ovulate on the 14th day of a 28 day cycle). However, when you track fertility signs daily you can use this information to better achieve AND avoid pregnancy – you can pinpoint your most fertile day and know when you’re not fertile and cannot get pregnant. The principles are the same. When I’m in my fertile window I plan to either abstain from PIV sex, or use a barrier method like a condom/diaphragm/cervical cap. The Fertility Awareness Based Method I’ve chosen is the Daysy fertility computer, which is 99.3% accurate- it relies on the fertility sign of basal body temperature.

Reaction: I’m doubtful that you’ll find it easy to abstain from sex half the month and I’m concerned that the barrier methods you mentioned are not effective enough.

Response: I may decide to abstain from PIV sex (the kind that makes babies) for my fertile window – which is actually about 9 days for me right now, so less than half a month. However, there are a lot of other ways a couple can be sexually intimate without getting evem close to the possibility of pregnancy. I’m kind of looking forward to making this more a part of my sex life! I know that if I use a condom plus a spermicide like Contragel that I’m well protected, with an effectiveness of 95%. In addition, if something were to go wrong with my barrier method, like a break or slip, then I would know I’d need to react quickly to make sure pregnancy doesn’t occur. I’ll be making an informed, educated decision about what to do next.

Reaction: You know that when you come off your hormonal birth control you may find the reason you went on will come back i.e. your acne/heavy periods/cramps/bloating?

Response: I imagine some of those issues might return, at first, as the hormonal birth control did not work as a treatment (despite what I was told) and was actually only a band-aid to cover up my symptoms. However, there are many positive things about experiencing a cycle that I’m looking forward to, including being free of side effects, but also having my sex drive back; feeling more connected to the world and my partner; feeling more energized; my creativity, my changing/shifting emotions and abilities during each phase;  a stronger sense of touch, smell, taste; and experiencing the full spectrum of my hormonal cycle. Not to mention the longterm benefits of ovulating regularly – for my bone, heart and breast health.  One of the benefits of using the Daysy fertility computer is that I can share my charts with you via email. These charts can help a doctor diagnose certain health issues like thyroid problems more quickly and effectively than blood tests alone. I’d be happy to share my charts with you, if you might be interested. I also know now that there are ways to treat the root cause of problems like cramps and heavy bleeding and I plan on taking steps to change my diet, lifestyle and use supplements, as needed. I know I’m going to feel better than I do now with these side effects.

Reaction: It sounds like a lot of work, do you have the time to do what is needed to follow the Fertility Awareness Method? I’m worried you won’t be able to be consistent in doing this.

Response: I know I’m super busy all the time. I have a packed work schedule. But I took the time to research all the Fertility Awareness Based Methods out there. I decided that charting my signs with a regular basal body thermometer may take more time and effort than I am able to give right now. That’s why I chose the Daysy fertility computer. It takes 30 seconds a day for me to take my basal body temperature and get my fertility status for the day. It does all the analysis and interpretation for me. So, whereas charting manually and learning the rules of, say, the Sympto-Thermal Method of Fertility Awareness might be great for some women, I know it’s not the right choice for me. Just like there are lots of different hormonal birth control options on the menu; there are actually lots of different Fertility Awareness Based Methods on the other, hormone-free menu! Because I’m used to hormonal birth control/the IUD, I feel good using a medically certified device that gives me the confidence to learn more about my body and practice natural birth control.

To read “Reactions people have when you tell them you use the Fertility Awareness Method” click here.


by Holly Grigg-Spall, Marketing Consultant and Blog Editor

When she came off the birth control pill after 10 years in 2009, Holly decided to write a blog about the experience. That blog became a series of articles, and then book, “Sweetening the Pill,” which then inspired a feature documentary, currently in production and executive produced by Ricki Lake. She is a fertility awareness and body literacy advocate and educator, a Daysy enthusiast, and excited to help more women come off the birth control pill and find a natural, effective alternative.


The Problem With Period Trackers – Holly Grigg-Spall

Period-tracker apps are becoming ever more popular. While they have many benefits, worryingly more women are attempting to use these, usually free, apps to make decisions about contraception or to plan a pregnancy. Period-tracker apps will tell you when to expect your period, but they also often tell you which days they assume you are fertile, which day you could be ovulating, and even when they assume you are not fertile. Unfortunately this information is all generated within the app solely from the only information provided – your period start and end date.

This means period-tracker apps are essentially a digitized rhythm method or calendar method.

The rhythm method or calendar method assumes all women have the same cycle – that their cycle is usually the same length every month (approximately 28 days) and that they always ovulate at the mid-point of that cycle (around day 14). Period-tracker apps make the same assumptions for every woman who enters their period data. Within the first cycle the app will tell you when to expect your period and when to expect ovulation with no previous data recorded. As you enter more period data for your following cycles, the app will continue to assume you have a steady, unchanging cycle. The app may sometimes be right in its calculations, but it’s far more likely to be wrong the longer you use it. Although some women have very regular, consistent cycles and ovulation dates, many more do not. Period-tracker apps treat women like we are all the same and as though we are robot-like in our cycle experience.

African American woman sending a text message on a mobile phone – Black people

As such, period-tracker apps can be very misleading – they can make you think your period is “late,” they can make you think you can have sex without a condom and not get pregnant, they can make you miss the days you need to be having sex if you do want to get pregnant. Unfortunately, many women don’t know this and trust these apps to handle everything for them, even believing these apps to be an effective birth control replacement. Period-tracker apps are just that, a way to track your period and provide approximate predictions for your next period.

How Daysy is different 

In contrast, Daysy is an intelligent computer that actually learns your unique cycle. She has a stored database of over a million clinically-studied cycles that are used for statistical analysis. Daysy has an integrated sensor that allows you to take your temperature every morning and she uses this data to understand your cycle. Using this data and your period data too, Daysy calculates and displays your fertility status for the day with a red, green or yellow light (red: fertile, green: non-fertile, yellow: learning phase/caution). Daysy takes your personal data and measures it against the data she has stored in her “brain” – allowing her to make smart analytical decisions about your cycle.

Daysy works by measuring, recording and analyzing your basal body temperature. This is the temperature of your body at rest – or your temperature when you wake up for the day. There are two predominate hormones involved in the fertility cycle, estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is dominant during the pre-ovulatory phase (follicular phase) of your cycle, the time from the start of your menstruation until just before ovulation. Immediately after ovulation, during the luteal phase, production of the hormone progesterone increases and remains at an elevated level until just before the next menstruation. Progesterone causes the basal body temperature to shift by approximately 0.2 degrees Celsius. Daysy uses a complex algorithm to determine the change in average temperature values between pre-ovulation and post-ovulation. When the change is recognized, your Daysy knows that your ovulation has occurred and that you are no longer fertile.

Initially, when you first start using Daysy she determines your fertile window based on the statistical data she has in her computer database. Statistically speaking, women can ovulate as early as day 11 of their cycle, so Daysy begins her “red” (fertile) days around day 6 or 7 depending on the length of your menstruation. The red days will continue until Daysy has been able to confirm you have ovulated. In the beginning, Daysy is very cautious and it could take up to 5 or 6 days for Daysy to be certain that the temperature shift was in fact due to ovulation and not some other factor (i.e. the time you took your temperature, a fever, alcohol consumption the night prior…).

Over the course of the first few cycles, as Daysy learns your unique fertility cycle, she will slowly and cautiously reduce the number of red days she gives you. Daysy will begin to pinpoint your ovulation and start your fertile window (the red days) to 5 days before your earliest ovulation. The fertile phase will then continue until ovulation has been confirmed. So if you are a woman who generally ovulates around day 15-17 of your cycle, you will see that Daysy slowly moves the start of your red days back to day 10. Daysy always starts your fertile window 5 days before your earliest ovulation in the past 20 cycles. This accounts for the length of time that sperm can survive inside the female body (up to 120 hours) and protects those with irregular cycles. Daysy will monitor your temperature data and use her proprietary algorithm to compare the average temperature prior to ovulation compared to the average temperature after ovulation to determine when ovulation actually occurred.

This is why Daysy goes through a learning phase and gives most users a high number of red days for the first several cycles. The fact that Daysy can actually look back at your previous cycles and use her complex algorithms to fully learn your unique fertility patterns is what sets her apart.

Generally, we say that the Daysy has a learning phase of three to four cycles. This does not mean, however, that you will not get any “green” lights during that time. Daysy will start out very conservatively and base your fertile window primarily on statistical data. Over the course of your next several cycles, Daysy will begin to weigh your data more heavily against the statistical data and slowly narrow down and give less red days as it is able to pinpoint your individual fertile window. Most women will end up with 9 or fewer red days per cycle.

This is why Daysy has a medically-certified accuracy rating of 99.3% for planning or preventing pregnancy. Daysy is a stand-alone device, but if you want to use an app because that’s what you are used to, you can download DaysyView. Then simply attach Daysy to your phone with the supplied cord and your data will come up on the app. There you can visually see your charts over each tracked cycle and monitor the timing of your coming period, your fertile window, and your ovulation day and know that it is information you can trust and rely upon.

By Holly Grigg-Spall

Marketing Consultant and Blog Editor

When she came off the birth control pill after 10 years in 2009, Holly decided to write a blog about the experience. That blog became a series of articles, and then book, “Sweetening the Pill,” which then inspired a feature documentary, currently in production and executive produced by Ricki Lake. She is a fertility awareness and body literacy advocate and educator, a Daysy enthusiast, and excited to help more women come off the birth control pill and find a natural, effective alternative.


How To Work With Your Hormones: An Interview With Yoga Goddes Zahra Haji By Holly Grigg-Spall

Zahra Haji is the director and founder of Yoga Goddess and creator of the Moon Goddess meditation and yoga program for female fertility. She recently launched the #NotPsychoPeriod campaign to draw attention to women’s cyclical nature and deconstruct myths around PMS and “hormonal” moods.

What do you see as the #1 misconception women have about their hormone cycles?

I think the number 1 misconception is our hormones are our nemesis – or like a wild animal that needs to be tamed. Instead of realizing the power in our cyclical nature and the gifts the four phases of our cycle brings most women are fighting like mad to stay ‘on’ by over exercising or drinking more coffee and essentially forcing the body to skip over the natural rest and restore phase of our cycles. If a woman actually goes with the flow of her hormones she can be natural power house without burning herself out because she’s working with her hormones (and her cycle) not against it!

Women who are trying to get pregnant hear more these days about the importance of diet for boosting fertility, but you focus on other aspects of lifestyle that are perhaps lesser known. What advice might you give a woman who feels she’s eating all the right things and being healthy per recommendations, and yet still cannot conceive?

This is such an important question because eating all the right foods, taking all the right supplements and essentially trying to get it all ‘right’ is very much the masculine or yang way of problem-solving and working harder. What a woman trying to conceive needs more than anything is to shift out of doing more and trying harder into a place of softening, allowing and receiving – this is the feminine, yin energy that opens a woman’s energy to co-creating with life. There needs to be a balance between the energy of ‘doing’ and ‘being’. The good news is most women are already masters in the masculine but what they need is to surrender into the feminine which is where life is born from. Making this transition is in my experience how a woman who has been struggling with infertility can open to the miracle of pregnancy.

Once a woman knows how to use her cycle knowledge to prevent or achieve pregnancy, what else might she be interested in gaining from this new awareness?

So much! A woman’s cycle holds the key to ancient feminine wisdom that is her birthright. Without this information being a woman can feel confusing, painful and downright crazy-making. By working with your cycle you can excel at work, improve your relationships, heal your body and reconnect with the Divine Feminine. Literally your cycle is a guide map of success in practically every aspect of your life. For instance, when you realize that every month right after your period you have a surge of mental and physical energy you can use that time to catch up on work that requires focused attention or get ahead on a project that slowed down when you were in the rest and restore phase of your cycle (the luteal and menstrual phase). Because estrogen peaks during or right after menstruation if you’re working with your cycle you’ll know this is your most productive time to get things done. It’s also the worst time to tackle relationship issues because you’re most out of touch with your emotions and will likely come across as cold and uncaring. But if you wait until ovulation you’ll be much more in touch with your heart.


How can an additional awareness of nature and the moon cycles help women to enjoy their own hormone cycles and perhaps, better utilize Fertility Awareness?


The moon is my favourite symbol of fertility because just like a woman’s hormones the moon waxes and wanes from darkness to light. The full moon is a perfect symbol for how we feel during our ovulation phase. When we’re flowing with our hormones, ovulation is meant to be a time when we’re shining bright. Our sexuality and sensuality are at their peak making us more attractive (to ourselves and others!). We feel more social and outgoing and we enjoy connecting with friends, family and of course with our partners. Conversely, just like the dark moon when a woman’s hormones wane her energy begins to darken. It’s a temporary but natural slowing down, like the winter months that draw us inwards into a place of quiet reflection. It’s normal to feel less social and yearn alone time. In terms of fertility, when a woman gives herself permission to flow with her cycle energy ovulation can be a time of exciting experimentation (if trying to avoid pregnancy) or a time to really connect to the love she feels for her partner (if trying to conceive). And rather than feel like a failure or like an inconvenience, menstruation is the perfect time to let go of limiting beliefs and plant the seeds for what a woman wants to co-create with life. Like the Winter menstruation offers us the time and space to slow down, retreat and create anew.

Is there a part of yoga practice that directly connects with the female cyclical nature or is this connection your own creation? 

Yes and yes! Kundalini yoga calls on the energy of Mata Shakti – the Great Mother Energy and awakens it in the practitioner. I have included both Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga in the practice plus guided visualizations for each phase of the menstrual cycle to connect women with their 4 ‘goddess energies’, moon cycle charting and more. When a woman follows the Moon Goddess Yoga & Meditation program she is creating a container where she can surrender to the feminine and return home to herself. Women tell me that’s the biggest gift they get from the Moon Goddess practice. They also get the fringe benefits of healing infertility, painful and missing periods, pms, fibroids, cysts, and a host of other hormonal issues.


In a recent blog post you discuss the real statistics of fertility and getting pregnant in your 30s. What is the most important takeaway from this post would you say? What’s should a woman in her late 30s do to ensure she can get pregnant if and when she wants?


The most important takeaway is know the truth about your fertility. It’s not so much your age that’s going to dictate your fertility it’s the state of your hormones. If you are caring for your hormonal health by working with your cycle, avoiding endocrine disrupting chemicals like the birth control pill, pesticides and preservatives in beauty care products etc. you can preserve your fertility well into your 40’s. But if you are burning yourself out by over exercising, not getting enough sleep, eating without proper nourishment, over exposing yourself to chemical products and being in a constant state of overdrive then you will burn out your fertility too. I just turned 40 and I have the hormne levels of a woman in her late 20’s. Proper rest for your mind and body are essential for your fertility. If you don’t know how to relax and let go then try a practice like Moon Goddess that will guide you inwards. The answers aren’t out there somewhere, they’re truly inside you. It sounds trite unless you know how to tune in and listen. That’s what I want every women to know how to do. Connect and listen to her body, her cycle and her hormones. They have so much nourishment to offer you if you only know how to work with them not against them.

Holly Grigg-Spall

Holly Grigg-Spall

Marketing Consultant and Blog Editor

When she came off the birth control pill after 10 years in 2009, Holly decided to write a blog about the experience. That blog became a series of articles, and then book, “Sweetening the Pill,” which then inspired a feature documentary, currently in production and executive produced by Ricki Lake. She is a fertility awareness and body literacy advocate and educator, a Daysy enthusiast, and excited to help more women come off the birth control pill and find a natural, effective alternative.



Learn About Your Menstrual Cycle: The Fifth Vital Sign

How much do you know about menstrual health? What are the benefits of charting your menstrual cycle? What feminine hygiene products are the healthiest and are you using a birth control method best for you?

Kelsey and Emily are a nurse and doula traveling around the country giving free classes on menstrual health.  They are helping people understand that the menstrual cycle is the fifth vital sign after body temperature, blood pressure, pulse and breathing that helps you monitor your health.  SuzyKnew! is sponsoring their free class which will be held in the Holton Resource Center, 401 North Driver Street, Durham, NC 27703 March 14 6:30- 8:30 pm.

See The Fifth Vital Sign video clip below or click here. See The Fifth Vital Sign Class Facebook page to find a class near you.


The 5 Best Reasons To Go Off Hormonal Birth Control

The 5 best reasons to go off hormonal birth control:

1) You’ll enjoy sex more! It’s pretty much guaranteed that hormonal birth control has thrown cold water on your sex life in some way, at some point. Whether it’s made you less interested in sex, reduced your sexy dreams, given you less lubrication, pelvic pain or a harder time getting orgasms. Taking a pill to prevent you from getting pregnant, that then stops you wanting to even do the thing that might get you pregnant anyway is one of life’s cruelest jokes on women. We think not having to worry about getting pregnant will be the most amazing aphrodisiac (it makes sense!), but these synthetic hormones have the effect of removing the libido peaks all women would otherwise get with their non-medicated cycle. For many women, coming off the Pill is a revelation, because all of a sudden they really want sex, like physically want it, in this strong way they may not have felt since they were a teenager.

2) You’ll improve your relationship. Our body’s own hormones impact how we react to other people and how they respond to us. Many studies have shown that using the Pill causes men to behave differently around women and skews how women feel about men. Some experts even recommend women try coming off the Pill before marrying their long-term partner, just to check that they’re actually attracted to him. If you’re single, you might find not using the Pill helps you tune in better to your intuition when it comes to seeking out a date. If you’re in a relationship, coming off might cure any doubts you have. Not feeling solely responsible for preventing pregnancy is also really important for some women – sharing that part of a relationship can open you both up to more communication and intimacy.

3) You’ll experience all the feelings. Although the Pill can help some women avoid the perils of PMS (that said, there are better ways…), many women decide to come off the Pill because they feel it has caused them, conversely, to experience mood swings, depression or anxiety. The effect of hormonal birth control on your mood might be obvious to you now, or you might be questioning how it makes you feel after a decade or more of using it. For others, these methods of contraception cause a “blah” or dulled-down feeling that means they find it hard to get excited or feel really happy or enjoy life to the fullest. Everyone’s different. Going Pill-free can bring in a whole range of feelings and mood changes – some women have said it’s like coming out from under a cloud or from behind a veil. Colors are brighter, tastes better, and smells sweeter, a bit like when Dorothy switches from black-and-white Kansas to technicolor Oz! But without the weird little wizard man.

4) You’ll up your fitness game. This is a little-known fact unless you hang out with professional athletes – hormonal birth control actually prevents you from gaining muscle effectively. Some athletes have also noticed that the Pill makes them retain water weight through bloating. This all links back to testosterone – the Pill pretty much wipes out women’s testosterone levels which you need for energy, sex drive, and for building your strength and fitness. So, choosing non-hormonal birth control might actually help with your goal to tackle a triathlon this year or just to lose those 10 extra pounds. At the very least, it might make it less of a drag to get to the gym a couple of times a week.

5) You’ll stop worrying about scary headlines. Unfortunately, some methods of hormonal birth control cannot be categorized as safe. We’re seeing more and more in the media about the blood clot risks associated with the Pill and other hormonal methods like the NuvaRing and that’s because new brands with new formulations have been shown to have a significantly higher risk than the hormonal birth control methods of the past. You may have even already swapped your method because you read an article or your doctor mentioned the issue. As we get older our bodies change, we gain weight, we might be more sedentary – and as such our personal set of risks change. If the headlines have made you uneasy and you don’t feel like you should be at risk of death just because you want to avoid pregnancy (especially when there are so many other options out there for you), then coming off hormonal birth control can be a big sigh of relief.

Written by on Dec. 16, 2015

You’re reading The Daysy Planet. The most accurate, all-natural, fertility management solution for planning or preventing pregnancy. 99.3% accurate. Advanced tech with proven pedigree. Hormone-free, elegant, easy. Meet Daysy.

photo courtesy of Daysy.me

Meet Sustain Condoms On The Daysy Blog

Meika Hollender is the co-founder of Sustain, a company that produces natural, sustainable, non-toxic condoms and lubricants. They give 10% of their profits to women’s health initiatives, too. We caught up with Meika to discover more about making condoms for the health conscious.

How did you get into the condom business?

My dad, Jeffrey Hollender, had an idea for a sustainable condom about ten years ago and never pursued it because he was running Seventh Generation. A little over two years later, I was in business school and Jeffrey was starting to write the business plan for what became Sustain. He came to me for advice on the plan, and when doing so, I became more and more interested in it. Soon after, I started reading more about the statistics around reproductive health, how low condom usage rates are among my peers, and just the general need and lack of access that so many women in the US have to reproductive health services. I really became passionate about how I could create a product that would educate and inspire women. We started with condoms, and now we’ve created a brand. In the last few months we have launched organic personal lubricants and all-natural post-play wipes. I’m really proud of what we have accomplished in such a short period of time.

You describe Sustain as more than a business, it’s a movement – can you explain a bit more?

We’re doing something bigger than just making all natural and sustainable sexual wellness products. Yes, we are selling sexual health products, but more importantly we are trying to empower women to take control of their sexual health. We are creating a brand and starting a conversation around safe sex, sexual health and female empowerment. By having these larger conversations, and ultimately starting a movement, we are engaging people in a way that other sexual wellness brands are not.

Daysy is from a father-daughter business and so is Sustain, what’s it like working with your dad on making condoms? What’s the funniest moment you’ve experienced together?

Starting a sexual wellness products brand with my dad is really not as awkward as most people assume. It’s actually been amazing. It has been inspiring, it has been trying, it has been a lot of growth for both of us. For me, he is my dad, my boss, and my business partner. There are a lot of different relationships and dynamics but the amazing thing about working together is that we are coming at the business from two different perspectives. I’m our target market, I have grown up in the digital era, and I know how brands communicate today. He has this wealth of knowledge around sustainability, supply chain, operations, corporate responsibility, and is just a really successful business man. He knows what he’s doing and I think our combined insights and outlooks have really benefited us so far.

But of course, I can’t deny that there have been some awkward and funny moments. For example, we once did an interview at the Museum of Sex and the writer decided to ask us her questions in front of a giant projector screen where they were playing a video of a girl giving a blowjob on repeat. We must have been standing there for 30 minutes but it seemed like a lifetime. I’d say that was one of the funnier moments…

What’s different about Sustain condoms in comparison to regular brands?

We are passionate about creating products that are healthier and safer for people using them and better for the planet. Sustain is the only sustainable, non-toxic, Fair Trade certified condom sold in the U.S. We are also one of only two brands that contain no detectable levels of a chemical called nitrosamine. Nitrosamines are classified as a carcinogen and exist in tons of other products (food, personal care, etc.). We’re not saying in any way shape or form that other condoms are dangerous, we just believe that consumers have a right to know what’s in their products and we’re committed to making the best condoms, and now lubricants and wipes, that we can.

What do you personally do for contraception? How has that changed over the years?

Coincidentally, I’ve actually only ever used condoms! I’ve never been on hormonal birth control. Single or in serious relationships I always have ever only used condoms and I don’t see that changing in the near future.

Why do you think condom use has been declining overall?

Based on the research I’ve read, it isn’t declining but it’s certainly not increasing at an acceptable rate. As you probably know, only 21% of single sexually active young women use condoms regularly which is a very daunting reality. I also just read, that only 31% of people use protection every single time they have sex. These statistics highlight a very serious and real issue of the state of the sexual health in this country. Condom use has definitely gone down among some demographics as they had more access to more long form methods of birth control and there hasn’t been enough education around the importance of using dual methods of birth control unless you are in a monogamous relationship and have both been tested.

How has working in this business changed your perspective on 1) sex 2) relationships 3) contraception?

Regarding all three of these issues, I did not realize how sexually repressed and patriarchal this country is until I started Sustain. In the first year of selling condoms in many ways felt like I was selling drugs. Condoms are treated as an off limits and taboo product which is a byproduct of our country’s attitude towards sex and in turn safe sex.

More specifically to sex – My perspective on safe sex has definitely changed. When I became sexually active I always put safety first. It wasn’t really until starting Sustain that I realized that how irresponsible and unsafe most of my peers are when it comes to practicing safe sex. I also think starting Sustain has enabled me in a way to talk more openly about sex with friends and my boyfriend.

To learn more about Meika and Sustain please visit Sustainnatural.com

You’re reading The Daysy Planet. The most accurate, all-natural, fertility management solution for planning or preventing pregnancy. 99.3% accurate. Advanced tech with proven pedigree. Hormone-free, elegant, easy. Meet Daysy.

Click here for the original blog here!


Photo courtesy of sustainnatural.com.

Is FAM Really Effective? Natural Womanhood Founder Discusses The Controversy

Which birth control method is the best? Depends on what you’re looking for and what works for you and your body.  Over the last couple of years, SuzyKnew! has brought you articles on Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM) – also called natural birth control, including the column The Roses Of Fertility Awareness.

But, how effective is this method? Whose opinion should you trust?

Below George Midegon, Founder of Natural Womanhood writes about the issue of FAM effectiveness in his blog “Who tells the truth about the effectiveness of fertility awareness methods.”


Who tells the truth about the effectiveness of fertility awareness methods?

posted on December 15, 2014 by Gerard Migeon, Founder & CEO Gerard Migeon

It’s been interesting to see articles popping up more and more frequently with accounts of the problems with contraceptives, from Vanity Fair making public the scandal of the Nuvaring to Cosmopolitan discussing how the Pill affects women’s libido. At the same time, the mainstream media is attempting to correct all these “misperceptions” about contraceptives and doing its best to rehabilitate them with their audience. One of their strategies is to set up Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs) as a straw man by acknowledging it but subtly or not so subtly discounting its effectiveness, a tried and true marketing strategy.

Meet William Sacs and Kati Bicknell, the two young entrepreneurs who founded the company behind the fertility tracking app Kindara. Since its launch in mid-2012 it has been downloaded in 134 countries and has helped over 25,000 women conceive, and certainly many more than that avoid pregnancy. Will and Kati are more than excellent business people. They’re passionate evangelists about Fertility Awareness; they get how it can change the world. In her bio, Kati writes: “Kindara was born out of my love for humanity, and frustration with conventional birth control methods.”

Kindara founders Will Sacs and Kati Bicknell on The Doctors show

A couple weeks ago they were guests on the popular CBS show “The Doctors.” You would think it was a good step toward more transparency and honesty about Fertility Awareness. You’re wrong. It turned out more like a public chastising and questioning. As Kati was explaining how they had been using a Fertility Awareness Method and successfully avoiding pregnancy for five years, Dr. Jennifer Ashton quickly felt the need to say:

“As an ob-gyn I have to jump in there,” the doctor interjects. “You are in a monogamous, committed relationship, but what I tell couples who are not using either a barrier or a hormonal form of contraception is the stats are clear on this. Within a year 85% of couples will have a pregnancy, so the fact you haven’t had one is great for you, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have one in the future.”

Jennifer Ashton MD

Essentially, her message was: using FAM is just like using nothing at all to avoid pregnancy, showing either obvious ignorance or ill will toward the change.

Before the interview, a short video introduction to the show makes some false statements, stating that “FAM focuses on daily cervix touching,” which can even ” cause infections,” and that FAM are “controversial self-exams” and have a 25% failure rate.

That’s not the only place where you’ll see this sort of manipulation of the facts. If you Google “effectiveness of fertility awareness method,” you’re likely to see the websites of Planned Parenthood and Bedsider show up on the top of the list. So let’s look at what they have to say.

Both list fertility awareness as a legitimate method among other methods, which is huge progress, one would think. Planned Parenthood does a fairly good job at explaining the science behind the methods. Bedsider is less specific, but still lists the types of methods available. So far so good.  Or is it?

In reality, they both find ways to discourage anyone who is really serious about postponing a pregnancy. Planned Parenthood writes: “Do not depend on tracking your fertility if you have irregular periods.”  This will surely stop a large number of women seeing as how regular periods in this stressed out world are rather rare. But it’s false information: modern techniques of FAM allow women who have irregular periods to know just as accurately as those with regular periods when they’re ovulating. It’s not a guessing game, because the bio-signs don’t lie.

Bedsider, an unabashed promoter of contraceptives, more directly writes, “Failure rates are kinda high if not used correctly—so if getting pregnant would be disastrous for you, choose another method.” Pretty direct turn off I would imagine. When they compare it with other methods for effectiveness, they claim that “fertility awareness methods aren’t among the most effective—even when practiced perfectly,” and rank them on par with the condom, and much lower than the Pill.

If you are among those who are not sure about using FAM for family planning, I imagine that these reports are a big turn off. But they’re not the truth. In reality, FAM methods have been used and tested over the past thirty years with thousands and women and thousands of cycles, using legitimate scientific research methodologies. They are proven very effective.

When I speak about effectiveness, I like to refer to an article that was published in the Osteopathic Journal of Medicine, a peer reviewed medical journal, in May 2013. The authors, two medical doctors and two PhDs, reviewed all the studies available since 1980 on a number of FAMs. They first used a technique adopted by medical journals to “assess the quality of individual studies and overall strength of a body of evidence.” They eliminated a number of the studies and retained the ones that passed the test.

Collectively, these studies reflect use of FAMs by 8,200 women in over 107,000 cycles. Overall they report that when used correctly, FAM’s effectiveness is greater than 95%. With typical use, effectiveness is still higher than 86%. However, some methods are much more effective than others, according to this article. The Sympto-Thermal Method achieves a record 99.4% effectiveness for correct use and 98% for typical use. Due to differences in study interpretation, Creighton only shows a correct use measure, which is a 99.5% effectiveness. Marquette is at 98% and 86%. Billings is 97% and 78-90% in typical use. In comparison, the Pill’s correct use is 99.7% and typical use is 92%. Condoms are 98% and 85%.

There is no question that these methods present a learning curve. It may take a few weeks for women to be 100% confident with their ability to accurately read the signs of fertility. But once they do, these methods always beat the Pill. The question is no longer whether the method works or not, it’s whether you can have intercourse or should wait. And when in doubt, when the couple is resolutely determined to avoid pregnancy, a non-physical way to make love always works!

The media and promoters of contraceptives should stop treating women like idiots. They can only postpone the truth of Fertility Awareness from reaching the public; they can’t stop the movement that’s already started and spreading like wild fire online.

We can rest on these facts and share the good news about Fertility Awareness with confidence.

Be well,

Gerard Migeon

 For more on natural womanhood see https://www.naturalwomanhood.org.