The New York Times just Published a Fertility Awareness-Positive Article
Fertility Awareness-Based Methods, also known as modern methods of natural family planning (NFP), are often discredited or misrepresented in the media (or, more likely, ignored completely). So it was welcome news recently when the New York Times Parenting Blog published a personal essay that discussed fertility awareness methods in a positive and humorous way. In the essay, “Why Fertility Awareness Is My Birth Control of Choice” reaffirms some of the positives that Natural Womanhood has been writing about and promoting for years.
The author, Rachel Mans McKenny a writer and humorist, has used Fertility Awareness-Based Methods as a natural form of family planning for three children and four pregnancies. She says that each one was planned and wanted.
McKenny, like many others, has had great success with fertility awareness methods, however, as she says, “almost every time I tell medical professionals that my husband and I use fertility awareness methods for birth control, they reply with skepticism: ‘The rhythm method?'” ‘Yes, I count my cycle days on an abacus and mark them on a stone tablet,’ I want to say, but don’t because I’m a classy lady.”
There is a key difference between the rhythm method and modern, research-proven Fertility Awareness-Based Methods, as Mckenny points out. “The rhythm method pretends women run like clocks, while fertility awareness means paying attention to the sometimes unpredictable signs and symptoms that come along with hormonal changes,” she writes.
Despite all this, McKenny says that her use of FABMs makes many assume her political, social, or religious leanings, but assumptions about the background of the common user of FABMs should not stand in the way of doctors becoming better informed about FABMs.
McKenny shares that she tried a few methods before landing on the Marquette Method (although she still utilizes some of the information she learned from being trained in the Billings Method). Further, McKenny’s experience affirms something we have been writing about at Natural Womanhood for years: fertility awareness is good for couples. “Sex being forbidden for a few days a month makes me look forward even more to the times when we can get intimate. Plus, fertility awareness makes us talk about our sex life regularly and openly, which after 10 years in a relationship is a godsend.”
While when used perfectly, fertility awareness methods are between 95.2 and 99.6%, effective at preventing pregnancy depending on the method, they can fail with imperfect use, but then again as McKenny points out, so can hormonal birth control and barrier methods. “Fertility awareness taught me that I should trust myself,” she writes, “even when it scares me. I know my body.”
McKenny’s article may not say anything new as far as the science and effectiveness of FABM, but it’s exciting to see this information published in a mainstream publication. It also serves as a reminder to women using Fertility Awareness-Based Methods and natural family planning that they aren’t alone in their journeys and that there are others out there who understand the ups and downs, the misunderstandings and misconceptions, and the long-term benefits to their health and relationships. One hopes McKenny’s article will also spark the curiosity of women looking for side-effect free alternatives to hormonal birth control and begin them on a journey toward greater health and agency in their reproductive lives.