With the spread of COVID-19 around the globe, countless couples are facing new decisions they never expected: how are we going to adjust to the new normal of working from home, or of having less income to go around? For many, there’s also a family-planning question: What options do I have for birth control? What do I do if my current form of birth control runs out before I can make it back to the clinic or pharmacy?
Given the concerns about supply chain disruptions as more countries and their populations are increasingly impacted by the disease, women are being encouraged to stock up on three months’ worth of their birth control of choice. At the same time, doctors’ appointments may be delayed and less accessible when medical providers and resources are scarce and diverted toward the pressing matters of the virus.
If you are considering changing your birth control method, are tired of your method’s side effects, or if you have an implant whose contraceptive qualities will run out, now might be a great time to consider switching to a Fertility Awareness-Based Method (FABM) of family planning. Often called natural family planning (NFP), modern methods of fertility awareness charting equip women to know when they are fertile and infertile with great precision. They don’t require a doctor’s visit and share similar effectiveness rates at preventing pregnancy as pharmaceutical forms of birth control.
If you’re one of these couples, read on. Below we’ll share some reasons why a pandemic might actually be a great time to learn a fertility awareness method; and next, we’ll walk you through some of the great online resources available now that can walk you through making the transition to fertility awareness today.
Please keep in mind, if you have a complication with a method of pharmaceutical birth control, or a question about how to safely stop using a contraceptive you’ve been prescribed, contact your doctor, or a fertility awareness-educated doctor. Nothing in this article should be construed as offering medical advice.
Why Switch to Fertility Awareness Now?
Wouldn’t it be great if there was an effective form of family planning that never ran out, expired, or required a visit to a clinic or pharmacy? There already is.
Thanks to distance learning options offered by certified FABM instructors across the spectrum of methods, most methods of natural family planning can be learned from the comfort (and safety) of your own home.
Fertility awareness has mental health benefits and promotes self-care
This pandemic is an especially important time for all of us to be taking our mental health very seriously. Stress and isolation can do a number on anyone—let alone those with predispositions toward depression and other mental health issues. Birth control is notoriously mood-wrecking for many women, so if you have a suspicion that your birth control might already be negatively affecting your mental health, now might be a really good time to reevaluate your family planning options.
Covid-19 quarantine measures give us an opportunity to grow closer with our families—after all, they may be the only people with whom we have in-person contact for a while. Fertility awareness methods have been shown to help couples grow close to each other, especially through improved communication and understanding. If you and your spouse are cooped up together—and especially if your workload is lighter at the moment—now might be the perfect time to learn something new together. Why not make it fertility awareness?
When learning natural family planning, don’t go it alone
Fertility awareness-based methods are every bit as effective as the most popular contraceptive options available on the market, but they do come with a learning curve. Not only that, but they require paying attention to one’s body, and mindfulness about fertility observations and charting so as to make these new activities a habit. Learning from a trained instructor is a must; they will be able to help you develop these good habits, as they teach you the science behind the method and guide you through the method’s practical details. Your instructor can also help you navigate (and find solutions to) any issues that come up as you learn and use the method.
Partner engagement and buy-in is also essential to making a FABM live up to its full effectiveness potential. Decisions about when to engage in, or abstain from, intercourse must be made by the couple together, with the woman’s current state of fertility in mind. Many women who switch from conventional contraception (where most—if not all—of the burden of family planning falls upon the woman) appreciate the collaborative decision-making that is a hallmark of FABMs.
Your partner should also help when researching your FABM options and deciding which method to use. The Sympto-Thermal Method, Marquette Method, Creighton Method, Billings Method, and FEMM Method are some of the most-effective, most popular fertility-awareness options available. While they each vary slightly in which fertility markers they observe, they are all based in the same science of a couples’ combined fertility. If you need help figuring out where to begin, try taking this short quiz.
Online and Distance Learning Resources
Pre-pandemic, you may not have had the time to attend an in-person NFP class—which is why there’s perhaps never been a better time to take advantage of all of the online and distance learning options many methods have available. Check out the links below to find an instructor for each of the given methods.
The Couple to Couple League offers both live online classes and online self-paced options for couples who wish to learn the Sympto-Thermal Method (which utilizes cervical mucus observations, basal body temperature, and option cervix self-checks).
The Marquette Method (which utilizes a ClearBlue Fertility Monitor to detect hormone levels in the urine) has instructors all over the country who are willing to offer one-on-one online and/or distance instruction.
The Creighton Method (which utilizes cervical mucus observations) has countrywide instructors who offer private, one-on-one counseling for women and couples interested in learning the method.
The Billings Method (which utilizes cervical mucus observations) also offers couples online and distance learning from trained, private instructors.
The Femm Method (which utilizes cervical mucus observations and LH test strips) also offers online classes.
Navigating the Transition
We know that the transition from contraception to fertility awareness can be a little daunting—and even tricky. Here are some resources and advice that Natural Womanhood has for making the transition successful: