Around age 18, I had a realization that unlike many of my girlfriends at the time, I was not convinced that I wanted to be a mom someday. It was a time in my life that I strongly associated with Athena, who is a goddess archetype for being independent, focusing on achievement, acquiring knowledge and being concerned with social issues. This in comparison to the archetypes of Aphrodite who is focused on love, Hera who is focused on marriage, or Demeter who was focused on bearing and raising children. Of course we can carry all or several of these desires at once and shift through them as we enter new phases, but looking back, I was all about independence!
So while my girlfriends were thinking they didn’t have to worry about their fertility until it was time to have a baby, I was thinking I didn’t ever have to worry about my fertility.
Because of that realization it was as if I had subconsciously written myself a permission slip to not care about my health. My thinking was if I was going to forego motherhood altogether or just skip over the pregnancy/delivery part and instead happily adopt a child, then I didn’t need to aim for healthy cycles. Right?
Fertility as a marker of health
Ignoring our cycle health means being blind to significant details that may be the key to explaining a variety of symptoms that impact daily life from weight issues to mood swings to acne to sex drive and fatigue (just to name a few). And, often enough, the underlying causes of these types of symptoms go back to an imbalance of hormones.
In our culture, not only do we not talk about fertility until it’s time to have babies, but we also don’t talk about hormonal imbalance until peri-menopause happens. This is changing as more and more women are jumping at the chance to learn more about their bodies and are becoming empowered to take charge of their cycle health!
Just like fertility isn’t only for having babies, hormonal balance isn’t only for menopause! Fertility and hormonal balance are actually amazing indicators of health no matter your age or phase of life. It is important to our individual health and wellness that we concern ourselves with these markers early on if for no other reason than to feel better-than-our-best every day, even phenomenal!
Am I thriving or just surviving?
Think back for a moment. Do you remember a time when you were younger and you could wake up feeling fully rested and eager to start the day? Or a time when you didn’t regularly feel like crap? Contrary to common belief, low energy, aches and pain do not have to be the accepted norm that happen just because you're getting older.
Or maybe you remember a time in your youth when your periods came without migraines and cramping? Regardless of the messages our culture sends us, PMS such as severe cramping, headaches, and severe mood swings do not have to be the norm either.
What if you could begin nourishing your fertility in regards to your cycles and your hormones and feel like a brand new person?
The really cool thing about the human body is that you can! And it all starts with tuning into you! My most preferred way to learn about your individual cycle health is charting your signs with the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).
Your fertility carries so much information to monitor and tweak your overall health. All we have to do is check in!
So what is fertility charting?
Observing your signs of fertility and the greater hormonal picture they paint throughout reproductive years gives you insider information that you can use to your advantage and begin to feel like you’re T H R I V I N G again.
Cervical fluid, Basal Body Temperature (BBT), and cervical position are the 3 primary signs of fertility that are scientifically proven to pinpoint when a female is in her fertile window and when she is not. I teach women all about how to track these fertility signs in my webinars, and once you learn it can take only as little time as brushing your teeth every day.
When you chart those daily pieces of information onto paper, what you get is report card after report card about your specific body! When several “report cards” are assessed together in sequence, then we have an overview of a woman’s ovulatory health, period health, luteal phase health, and follicular phase health all of which represent how part of one’s endocrine system and hormonal feedback loop might be working or, on the other hand, struggling to work.
Does charting work while taking The Pill?
This type of individual body data is gold. But major caveat here: you can not get accurate body data while using any type of hormonal birth control from the oral pill to the hormonal IUD.
Hormonal contraceptives are full of synthetic hormones that overtake your natural hormones and alter your natural fertility signs. Furthermore, while on The Pill, women appear to be getting periods every month (or every few months depending on which brand is being used), but these are called withdrawal bleedings and are not true menstruation. A true menstruation is a period of bleeding that follows 10-16 days after ovulation, but because the oral birth control pill overpowers natural hormones and essentially "turns off" ovulation, the last week of the month's oral pill is actually a placebo pill that causes withdrawal bleeding to mimic a period.
Bottom line: the medicated "cycles" we see while on The Pill are not our own and they work to prevent pregnancy every day of the cycle even though science has proven that typical ovulating women are only fertile, meaning capable of conceiving, for 1/3 of the cycle. The idea that we need take a medication on a daily basis is interesting because being a woman and being fertile for 7-12 days out of every cycle isn't a disease! Instead of letting synthetic hormones take over your body for birth control, you have the option to use your own natural hormones and the body literacy of FAM as a natural, safe, and effective way to avoid pregnancy without resorting to turning your natural cycles off.
Natural birth control that works
Fortunately, FAM is a form of natural birth control that is as effective as the Pill. A study done in 2007 found FAM to be 99.4%-99.6% effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly. (You can read all about how I switched to FAM as my birth control over 6 years ago and couldn't be happier here). Like all birth controls, FAM has its pros and cons. For any birth control, including FAM, I highly recommend understanding the Pros and Cons to determine which method is best for the phase of life that you are in. You can find a table of FAM Pros and Cons here and read about FAM effectiveness rates here.
Use fertility to assess your cycle health
After you have at least 3 fertility charts completed and review them with a certified FAM Teacher (like me), we can look for potential red flags. If your charts show any signs of imbalance or any signs to further rule out female health syndromes, then you can take that knowledge to your health practitioner right off the bat and have diagnostic testing done.
Plus, because nourishing fertility involves what you eat, how you exercise, your exposure to chemicals (and so much more) you can learn all about which foods and self care practices will support healthy cycles moving forward. Uncovering health issues and taking charge to address them sooner is always better than later!
Check out more details about how you can learn to fertility chart and take back control of your quality of life.