Fertility Awareness Method, FAM
Okay, so the two lovely ladies wrote two lovely articles preceding this one about what to expect coming off of the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) and what other alternatives there are for birth control other than OCP and condoms (wow, run on sentences are real). Well, one of the other alternatives mentioned was the fertility awareness method, or FAM, for all of you trendy people and I am here to expand on it.
The Fertility Awareness Method requires the woman to track her cycle through one or multiple different measurements. This helps to anticipate when she is ovulating which can be used to either avoid or try getting pregnant.
The menstrual cycle is typically 28 to 32 days long which means it is 28-32 days from the first day of your period (Day 1) to the day before your next period (Day 28-32). Again, typically, ovulation (when the egg is released and the woman is most fertile) occurs around Day 14 (about a week after your period). The time around this is the time where sexual intercourse should be avoided if pregnancy isn’t desired. It is recommended to avoid unprotected sex 5 days prior to as well as two days after ovulation.
With FAM, you track three components for a few months (at least 3 months with regular cycles before relying on this method):
BBT (basal body temperature): Using a 2 decimal place thermometer, taking your temperature AS SOON as you wake up (no tossing and turning) and record it on a chart. Over the span of a month, your BBT may drop slightly before ovulation, but there will be a noticeable spike the days after ovulation.
Cervical mucous: During a woman’s most fertile time (ovulation), cervical mucous will become clear and stringy. These are days to avoid if you do not want to conceive. Click here for more on tracking.
Period: Track the days which you are menstruating.
For optimal accuracy, track all of this on a calendar OR in the apps below!
It can help you avoid OR get pregnant; if you are planning to get pregnant in the next few months/years, this brings you in touch with your body’s cycle and unlike other forms of contraception, it affects fertility in a positive way!
There are no side effects such as mood, cramping or heavier menses as there can be with OCP or IUDs (intra-uterine devices).
No real cost: it is 10-12$ for a thermometer.
Not everybody’s cycle is regular. Some women’s periods are not reliable which can make this method more difficult and less reliable.
Your cycle must be tracked meticulously on a daily basis; without strict adherence to it, 24/100 couples get pregnant using FAM.
There is still around 1 week of having to use another mode of contraception such as a condom or abstinence for maximum effectiveness.
Apps to Help Track
Clue (Helpful visual display but cervical fluid is not taken into account)
Kindara (free, but can add on $130 thermometer that links up to app via Bluetooth)
Glow (the ultimate tracking combining temperature, cervical mucous, sex and period)
This article does not intend to give direct advice to avoid or try getting pregnant, nor does it protect against STIs. See your local naturopath for more information about what would be best for you and your partner.