Given all the other things you’re told should know and learn, understanding your own reproductive system may sound interesting, but is it really that important?
Here are a few situations where you may consider it vital.
1. You are trying to get pregnant and it doesn’t seem to be working
Since the man’s sperm only lives about five days and the woman’s egg only lives 12-24 hours, it is critical to know when ovulation is happening so that intercourse can be timed for successful fertilization of the egg. A study of 346 German women using fertility awareness to time their intercourse showed that 38% got pregnant after one cycle, 68% after three cycles, 81% after six cycles and 92% after 12 cycles. How does it compare to your experience?
Even if you have irregular cycles, fertility awareness allows you to always know when you’re about to ovulate and when you actually do. Fertility awareness can also help find the sometimes-amazingly-simple root cause of infertility and get the treatment you need.
2. You have a health condition that prevents you from using hormonal birth control
Even if you are told the pill is generally safe for women, there are a number of contraindications. The Journal of American Pharmacists Association[i] reports the absolute contraindications listed on the package inserts of combined oral contraceptives, and then those from the World Health Organization. Such conditions include: history of blood clot, cerebrovascular or coronary heart disease, women who have or may have breast cancer, liver cancer, or endometrial cancer, some forms of diabetes, women who are in the first six months of breastfeeding, women who are over 35 and smoke, women who have elevated blood pressure (160/100). If you are among these women or have concerns because of family history, fertility awareness gives you a safe and effective option to prevent pregnancy.
3. You don’t want to get pregnant, but you are concerned about putting chemicals in your body
Most women who try to avoid pregnancy believe that the only effective option is to use hormonal contraceptives, even when in other areas of their life, they’re very concerned about chemicals and synthetic hormones in their foods and in their environment. Hormones in contraceptives are not friendly to the body and while they are mostly effective in blocking ovulation, they negatively impact the women’s body. Fertility awareness eliminates that risk and allows women to live a consistently natural life. And they’re just as effective as most oral contraceptives.
4. Your reproductive system shows signs of disorder
Many women suffer from cramps, irregular bleeding or irregular cycles. A surprisingly large percentage of women experience conditions such as PMS or PMDD, cysts or PCOS, or endometriosis. Contraceptives will not cure these diseases. On the other hand, learning about your fertility opens the door for an accurate diagnosis and the possible prescription of a treatment that addresses the root cause of the problem.
5. You would like to be able to plan your life better and understand how your cycle influences it
For young women not in a relationship, it is useful to understand where you are in your cycle. With training you can avoid being surprised by the natural phases and events of your cycle, and on the other hand be empowered to report when something is abnormal. You can also understand the changes you may experience in mood or energy at certain times, and possibly better plan your life. For a woman in a relationship, it helps her partner understand her better.
Savings for your wallet and your health
In the long run, it is as costly to your wallet as to your health to use contraceptives. Not so with fertility awareness methods (FAM). Learning a method takes some effort and time, but the benefits are clear: high effectiveness in avoiding or achieving pregnancy, no health risk or side effects, and no cost beyond the training.
So, with a few hours of training and a new habit about as complicated as brushing your teeth every day, and you’re set for a life of health, self-knowledge, and control of your family planning. Not to mention that over 70% couple who use these methods report that they have improved their relationship.
Maybe you know someone who can benefit from learning about this. Share this article. You never know how you can change someone’s life.
[i] Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 2001 Oral Contraceptives: An Update on Health Benefits and Risks. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/421497_7 This link will lead you to a login but you can get to it by a google search of “absolute contraindications to birth control pills.” Then open the window to Table 4 for the entire list of conditions.