Tag Archives: natural birth control

How To Build A FAM Village Of Support: The Roses Of Fertility Awareness


Ladies, last month I told ya’ll about a not-so-great run in with a nurse-practitioner when I told her I was using FAM. By the way she was talking, this woman was basically asking me, “Have you bought your maternity jeans yet?” Uh. No.

Can a sista’ get some support here?

So, I want to take a couple of minutes and share with y’all positive reactions I’ve gotten from people that I’ve shared my FAM-life with. It’s about the support and the community you build…you know what I’m sayin’?

We all need a little support, right? Especially when we do something that’s different from what the people around us are doing, like eating fresh vegetables in the Mayonnaise and Fried Foods World of the South (a battle I fight everyday living in rural North Carolina) or being the first one in your family or community to go to college, get divorced, or breastfeed. When we make empowered choices in our lives, it’s nice to have a little back up or network of social support, right?! Some people call this “building your village.”

Here’s how I’ve built my FAM village of support:

FAM Village #1 – Friends who have supported my seemingly crazy choices before. Last summer I stealthily bought “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” after I had had quite enough of the Pill. After a few months of hard work, I needed some friends (outside of my partner) to give me some love for going down this seemingly singular path of birth control. The first friends I went to were either the ones that I had seen make empowered healthy decisions themselves or ones with whom had supported me before when I went against the grain to do something I believed in (like hyphenating my last name and deciding to become a midwife). Sure enough, when I told these friends about my journey from the Pill to FAM, none of these women batted an eyelash. I even found out that a couple of them were experimenting with FAM themselves!


FAM Village #2 – Colleagues who support women. I study and work in the public health world, which is focused (for good reason) on what prevents diseases and supports the health of populations. When it comes to birth control, this is usually best done by providing condoms, IUDs, and hormonal contraception to women free of cost. So, I was a little worried that my colleagues would think that I had jumped ship on the whole public health thing. And, some did. As I (carefully) shared what I was trying out, some people raised their eyebrows in skepticism. That’s to be expected, right? I did, however, find a lot of women who saw women as individual with the capacity to make the best decisions for themselves. These colleagues were (not surprisingly) the most supportive.


FAM Village #3 – The internet. Oh, the interwebs. You can anything, including supportive communities for FAM. I’ve gotten emails from other women who have been trying out FAM, who study it, and who write about it. Although I can’t just grab a drink with these women whenever I want, connecting with them via the internet has been cool to see what others are doing and why they are doing it. I can also send them messages to tell them what a kick-ass job they are doing preventing their pregnancies and knowing their bodies. Here are some fun blogs to check out.



How To Talk To Your Provider About FAM: The Roses Of Fertility Awareness

As a FAM-er, a public health student, and a birth-care provider (doula), I know there are about one million and one reasons it’s important to have a good relationship and open communication with your health care provider. Being open and honest means you get the best, individualized care possible, so you can live long and prosper, right?

Well, I went for my well-woman check-up a few months ago (Side note: Ladies, this is preventative care visit is free through Obamacare! Don’t miss out!), I told my provider, who was a nurse-practitioner at a birth center, that I was using the Fertility Awareness Method for my contraception. This is how that conversation went down.

Provider: I see that you’re sexually active. What do you use for contraception?

Me: Oh, I use the Fertility Awareness Method. You know, where you take your basal temperature and check out your cervical fluid and chart when you’re ovulating.

Provider: (Raises eyebrows) And how long have you been doing this?

Me: (Shifts uncomfortably) The better part of a year.

[The Provider continues the interview. But 5 minutes later….]

Provider: Does your insurance cover maternity care?

Me: Uhhh…I think so? Don’t all the new plans have to?

Provider: And while you’re here, you should tour the birth center part of our practice.

Me: (Shifts uncomfortably) Umm…I’m a doula, so I’ve attended births here before. I promise, I know my way around.

Provider: Well, you should have your partner come sometime for a tour.

Me: (Squirming to leave) You know, I don’t think that’s necessary. We’re not planning on having a baby any time soon…

Do you see how that communication broke down? See what assumptions she made about FAM and its effectiveness? After that experience, I thought I’d share some tips with y’all to make sure you avoid such an awkward encounter.

1)    Pick a provider you trust. This is probably the most important item on this list. No matter how much you try to be honest and foster good communication, if you don’t pick a provider you trust, you’ll always wonder if she has your best interests in mind and will be less likely to listen to what she says. Finding someone that you get along with and have a similar philosophy on health is worth shopping around for. Ask your friends and family members – I’ve found this way more effective than just Googling “women’s primary care.” While I’ll probably continue to go to the birth center for my care, I’m definitely going to ask to see someone else.

2)    Be honest. For the sake of your health, it’s always important to just lay it all out there for your provider. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Been having some itchy since your last exciting encounter? Tell her! Started taking some Chinese herbs for your period cramps? Tell her! Providers tend to give stock recommendations to patients, so the more you can be honest and share about your health, the more individualized and effective your care will be.

3)    Come with your facts straight. When it comes to FAM, some providers will be skeptical. However, when used correctly FAM is about as effective as the pill, and a growing number of women are using it. Your provider should be in the know! Print out the latest evidence, and be sure you can explain how it works. You don’t have to know everything, but you do have know why you’re doing what you’re doing!

4)    Be Open Minded. Doctors, nurse-practitioners, and midwives are highly-trained healthcare providers. While you are the absolute expert on yourself, they can help you apply that self-knowledge so you can be your healthiest and most empowered you! After you’ve chosen a provider that you trust, be open to what they have to say. This might make them more open to what you say. Healthcare is supposed to be a team effort, after all.

5) Stand up for yourself. Really awesome providers love clients and patients that stand up for themselves. I went to a birth a few weeks ago where a mom refused an intervention in spite of her midwife’s recommendations. This mom had all the information she needed to make an informed decision, and she stood up for herself! She ended up having a super healthy and empowered birth experience! This is just as important in your regular primary care. Write down your questions, do your research, and go to your provider prepared to have collaborative discussion on how to achieve your optimal health. FAM is all about YOU know knowing your body, so share that knowledge with your provider!

Surfing The Crimson Wave: The Roses Of Fertility Awareness

If you tell your friend you use the Fertility Awareness Method, chances are you’ll get a response akin to, “…Oh. And you say you don’t want kids right now?” A lot of people don’t understand how empowering FAM can be and how it actually works. On top of all that, chance are they’re missing out on something pretty great: sex during your period, or, surfing the crimson wave.

Lots of people love surfing this wave, but FAMers particularly appreciate it because it’s one of the weeks when we’re less likely to get pregnant. Now, in general, it’s possible, although rare, to get pregnant on your period, but as we take our temperature and keep track of our cervical fluid, we can know when we’ve ovulating. After you ovulate you have between 12 and 14 days until your period. If you notice your temperature hasn’t dropped after your “peak” day, don’t have sex without wrapping it up. Otherwise, indulge!

The benefits of surfing that crimson wave are plentiful. Will you feel like having sex on your period? Sometimes that general get-out-of-my-face feeling the crimson wave brings on may make you think you’d never feel like you’d never want to have period sex. However, hormones during your period may actually INCREASE your libido. Girl, it’s time to get your groove on!

Lots of us ladies experience emotional swings around our period, and, of course, lots of women get crampy, but sex on your period can ironically help with that. Sex, like lots of exercise, can lessen the pain of menstrual cramps. All that good blood flow during sex has the ability to help with headaches and lessen your cramps. And, of course, Lord knows the magical powers of sex to help with tension and stress!

5 Things FAM Users Say To Their Partners: The Roses Of Fertility Awareness

As 2013 comes to an end, SuzyKnew brings you more on what to expect when using the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) or natural birth control:

1. “What was my temperature?” While this may be something you ask your partner when you suspect a fever, a FAM-er asks this question everyday. Temperature is the most well known sign of ovulation (when an egg drops), and if the temperature shifts up, watch out! You could get pregnant. The reason we ask our PARTNERS is because in FAM, our partners can share the responsibility of tracking our fertility. One of the main ways they do this is by taking our temperature for us while we’re still nestled in bed.

2.  “Does this look like lotion or cement?” Another sign that you may be close to ovulating can be found your panties. By looking at the consistency of your cervical fluid, or the liquid stuff you see in your underwear (it’s the equivalent of semen for women, minus the sperm). At the beginning of your cycle after you finish your period, your cervical fluid may be kind of sticky and dry, like cement. Later in your cycle you may notice your fluid to feel and look more like lotion – this means you’re close to ovulation! Use the condom!

3. “I can’t today. I feel too wet.” While I imagine that a statement like this could bring a grown man to tears, it’s something we FAM-ers may say at least once a month! When we’re close to ovulating, our fluid changes from lotion-y to slippery and wet feeling (our bodies try to help the little swimmers out). This wet feeling is different from the one you feel when you’re turned on. This one stays even when you’re mad at him!

4. “I’m on my period! Let’s do it.” While many women (and men) can be grossed out having period sex (or, as I saw it called in a book, “Surfing the Crimson Wave”), it’s actually a great time to do have all the unbarrier-ed sex and not worry about pregnancy! According to Toni, you are safe to have sex the first 5 days of your cycle if you had a temperature shift about 2 weeks prior. What does that mean? Bust out the shower sex.

5. “I’ll join you in shower after I check out my cervix!” The last sign of where you are in your cycle is checking out the position of your cervix. Never felt your cervix, you say? Let the lovely people at the Beautiful Cervix Project help you get started. When your cervix is hard, low, and closed you’re less likely to get pregnant than when it’s higher, softer, and slightly open. This sign, is hardly ever used on it’s own for birth control, but rather just helps you confirm what you’re seeing with your temperature and fluid. I always check mine right before I jump in the shower. I’m naked then anyway, right?

Learn To Trust Your Cervical Fluid! The Roses Of Fertility Awareness

It’s all good and fine to go on about learning to love my body and empowering myself to learn about my reproductive health, but how’s a woman to actually go about tracking her fertility? Remember that the goal is to NOT get pregnant?

To be honest, learning the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is a work in progress. And, I’m still progressing. I’ve been off hormonal birth control for about four months, and I’m still using condoms every time. I’m learning to trust my body.

There are three ways of tracking your fertility: taking your basal body temperature, (your body temperature when you first wake up) looking at changes in your cervical fluid (think cum, but for the lady-folk), and the position and texture of your cervix. So, I’ve gotten real intimate real fast with my body.

Now, I’m going to break down the first sign (tracking your temperature) as best as I understand, but let me just say that if you’re actually considering trying out these shenanigans, you should read this book, and go to this website. These people know way more than I do.

The first way of tracking your body’s cycle is taking your temperature first thing in the morning. I mean, like, first thing. Like, you can’t get out of bed before you do this because you’ll mess it up. The great thing about this sign is that it’s really easy for your partner to be involved. My husband helps out by sticking the thermometer into my mouth at the first sound of the alarm (Okay, maybe after one snooze…). I lay there half asleep while he does all the work. Loving it so far, dear reader? Thought so. I downloaded this form to help me keep track of it all.  I started with only this sign because feeling up my cervix seemed intimidating.

Let me just say that those that said that it takes 21 days to form a habit are liars. Maybe if the habit was drinking wine or watching The Bachelor. It took me two months to get into the swing of tracking my temperature! It’s pretty interesting though; your temperature is relatively low (about 97ish degrees) during the first phase of your cycle, and then it shifts up a few degrees after you ovulate, or release an egg. When this happens, USE THE CONDOM! Control the births!

Now that I have the hang of it, it’s pretty great. Using the chart helps me see how long my cycles are. My first charted cycle was 36 days from the first day of one period to the first day of the next (long, but still normal, ladies!)! I would have had a complete pregnancy scare/heart attack had I not seen the shift in my body temperature! How empowering is that?

I’m at the point now where I’m loving feeling the changes in my cervix (look forward to that next post, y’all). I’m loving not putting hormones in my body, I love involving my partner, and slowly but surely, I’m learning to love my body.