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  • Writer's pictureDr. Melissa Thompson, PT, DPT, MTC, PCES, FAMM

Using the Fertility Awareness Method for Birth Control

The Fertility Awareness Method or FAM is a method of looking at your natural cycle that holds high scientific evidence. Dr. Melissa Thompson is trained as a FAMM Certified Practitioner through Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, author of The Fifth Vital Sign.


With this method, you learn to observe three main body signs daily:


  • Cervical mucous

  • Basal body temperature

  • Cervix position



Then, we take this information and check to confirm that ovulation occurred and how healthy the ovarian function was that cycle.


It's actually more standardized and more accurate than an ovulation predictor test alone (LH strip that you pee on). Especially if you have irregular cycles where you can get multiple LH surges in one cycle without actually ovulating, leading to false results with that test.


👏🏻My clients have been able to identify underlying patterns in their Fertility Awareness Chart that revealed the root cause of their fertility or irregular cycle issue.




But What About the Apps?


You may be thinking that you already use an app that tells you when you ovulate after plugging in your period days.


However, this is the exact opposite of the scientific Fertility Awareness. What the app is doing is putting your days into an equation and using its best guess to predict when you ovulate.


There is no tracking or confirming ovulation with the true body signs.


I have seen a lot of pregnancies occur this way when folks used the app predictors as birth control!


A True Holistic Approach to Reproductive Health


Tracking your body signs and learning to identify your fertile window is the stuff our teachers never taught us in sex education class.


This method does not require taking any pills, hormones, or implants.


You can also decide to use it for birth control and then the next month use it for conception and have no transition period since you won’t be coming off any hormonal pills. Your cycle is already regulated.


The Nerdy Stuff


Charting your body signs is a reflection of your ovarian function.


After you finish menstruating, the follicles begin to get stimulated by the hormone Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH).


Once FSH rises, one follicle is chosen to be the dominant follicle that cycle.


The dominant follicle then begins to put out Estrogen at the ovarian level.


As estrogen rises, it causes the cervix to open and cervical mucous flows out.


You know that creamy or egg white discharge you may have seen? That is a discharge only produced because the follicle is getting prepared, and estrogen is rising.


It is now at this time that sperm can be shuttled up through the cervix by the cervical mucous and carried to the fallopian tube. There it can stay alive up to 5 days while waiting on the egg to be released during ovulation.


If sperm is there waiting in the fallopian tube, fertilization can happen. This happens after estrogen rises high enough to trigger your Luteinizing Hormone surge or LH surge. This is what your pee stick is usually measuring.


The egg will be released, and ovulation SHOULD occur 24-36 hours after the LH surge.


Then, the hormones shift, and progesterone is released, which is the predominant hormone in this phase.


Progesterone dries up the cervical mucous and causes a thermogenic shift in the body, which is reflected in the basal body temperature measurements. You’ll see that your temperatures shifted after ovulation due to this effect.


From there, progesterone remains the star for about 2 weeks until you either get your period or you are pregnant.


Is It Really That Easy?


Yes!


I highly recommend working with a trained Fertility Awareness Practitioner to learn how to use the charting notations and interpret it correctly. It typically takes about 3 months to learn the entire charting and become independent.


Once you are comfortable, this is a skill you can take with you for your entire reproductive years, and you can even monitor it for changes to your overall health.




Dr. Melissa Thompson, PT, DPT, MTC, PCES, FAMM

Owner at Flow Physical Therapy and Wellness and Louisiana Pelvic Health

Pelvic Health Physical Therapist

Fertility Awareness Practitioner

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