There are any number of reasons why women switch from hormonal contraception to a Fertility Awareness-Based Method, but the whole “not putting synthetic hormones in my body” bit is often the most popular. By regularly ovulating, women protect their future bone and heart health, often find better intimacy, improve their gut health, lower their risk of depression, and gain important insight into their hormonal health. What’s not to love?
If you’re on the fence about switching to organic, natural methods of birth control, aka Natural Family Planning (NFP) or Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABM), consider the following factors.
Ovulation drives the production of women’s natural hormones.
Ovulating and menstruating are the processes that create the hormones necessary for women’s well being. Estrogen and Progesterone are critical in the childbearing years. Estrogen (the pre-ovulation hormone) proliferates the endometrium, increases blood flow, and forms bone mass while progesterone (the post-ovulation hormone) relaxes the endometrium, regulates blood flow, and maintains bone cells. Estrogen needs progesterone for the body to experience the full stimulate and to maintain your cycle. The only action that creates estrogen and progesterone is, you guessed it, ovulating.
The synthetic hormones in conventional hormonal contraception, such as Ethinylestradiol and Norethindrone, differ from Estrogen and Progesterone and don’t have the same effect on our bone and heart health. You are better off going natural with your hormones!
Natural hormones are part of what makes up a strong and healthy libido.
Many women on hormonal contraception report lower libido. If you remember my previous post on the topic, the 4 main things driving libido are estrogen, testosterone, Thyroid Hormone, and Cortisol. If you’re not ovulating, you’re not creating estrogen. Hormonal contraception lowers levels of androgen production (therefore lowering your testosterone) in the ovaries by increasing Sex Hormone Globulating Hormone (SHBG). SHBG binds testosterone, preventing it from being used efficiently. Not to mention that the synthetic hormones in contraception have been linked with clitoral / labial shrinkage and induced aging of the cervix. (In fact for every year spent on hormonal contraception, your cervix ages two years. Interestingly enough, pregnancy and breastfeeding “rejuvenate cervix skin cells.” I can’t guarantee the same for smile lines.)
Furthermore, while women who use FABMs experience natural hormonal production on a biological level, they also experience body awareness and are more likely to have open communication with their partners about intimacy preferences and comfort levels. Knowing your body = better intimacy.
Ovulation is linked to gut health.
We’ve all heard the buzz words “leaky” and “gut” paired together (sounds terrifying, right?). The intestinal tract carries a massive amount of receptors, including those that respond to estrogen and progesterone. Hormonal contraception has been linked with higher risk of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis. When the body is creating estrogen and progesterone naturally through the process of ovulation, these hormones keep your gut healthy by enabling full absorption of vitamins and nutrients, keeping bowels regular, and stimulating the hormone receptors that help keep the intestinal tract woven tightly together, preventing “leaks.”
Ovulation can stabilize your mood.
In a landmark study from Denmark published in 2017, use of hormonal contraception was strongly linked with depression. Not only can you avoid this risk by using a FABM, but you can experience natural hormonal balance by looking for appropriate levels of estrogen and progesterone in your cycle. (Yes a FABM chart can tell you this!) Did you know that progesterone, the hormone released after ovulation is a natural mood stabilizer? While it is responsible for maintaining reproductive tissue, it also maintains our moods!
And if you don’t have balance….
A FABM can give you a blueprint of your hormones in the instance of imbalance.
With the help of a certified fertility awareness educator, and in some instances an OBGYN/GP/NP as well, women can piece apart hormonal imbalance which can ultimately lead to any number of period woes—painful periods, heavy periods, irregular periods. Infertility. Frequent miscarriages. The list goes on.
If you’ve made the switch to buying organic veggies and filtering your water, it only makes sense to do the same with your birth control. We promise your gut, heart, and bones will thank you. You may even find yourself enjoying intimacy more. What are you waiting for?
Learn more about how to get started in fertility charting.