Using a Fertility Awareness-Based Method (FABM) during an infectious disease outbreak has its advantages. The CDC is recommending that users of hormonal contraception, particularly the Pill, patch, or ring, stock up now on a three month’s supply to limit trips out, or to the pharmacy or clinic during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
For fertility awareness users, there’s less to worry about. Because the most basic form of charting (charting at the minimum cervical fluid, which all observation-based methods require) uses no instruments, pharmaceuticals, or technology, FABM users can continue charting as if nothing has changed.
Still, seemingly, everything has changed. And almost overnight.
Kids are home from school. For those that can, businesses are working remotely. Restaurants and bars have either shut their doors or considerably limited their services. We are living through history right now. And it takes a nationwide community effort to limit transmission, lessen healthcare system burdens, and protect the vulnerable in our populations.
For many people in the FABM world, community is a big part of the experience, and we may be missing that for a while. Still, there are ways we can prioritize calm and wellness during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Stay in touch with your FABM instructor digitally
For many, our day-to-day lives have been abruptly halted by this outbreak. In the midst of all of this, for FABM users, it’s important to keep up with your charting habits, think critically about your family planning intentions, and if you need care from your instructor or medical practitioner, utilize telehealth. Many practitioners are more than happy to offer this option. If you are in the middle of learning a Fertility Awareness Based Method, it’s worth continuing with your classes (preferably online). Don’t drop the ball out of panic.
Keep up with your charting
Talk to your partner about family planning. We’re not saying everyone needs to avoid pregnancy, but if you’re not currently pregnant, weigh the risks and benefits. If you have had high-risk pregnancies in the past, and needed hospitalization, is that a risk you would be willing to take right now? If you have non-emergency related doctor visits, consider either doing them virtually or rescheduling them all together.
Alter your charting if need be
Some methods like Marquette and FEMM use tests and/or instruments. If you run out and can’t access more of what you need to chart certain biomarkers, ask your instructor about altering your method. All observation-based methods use cervical fluid as a biomarker, and the only thing you need for that is toilet paper. (So maybe make sure you have enough of that?)
Don’t let the news hurt your health
Many people are encouraging general wellness in addition to practicing safe social distancing. This includes getting outside (in non-crowded spaces), getting lots of sleep, drinking lots of water, and most importantly, not panicking. Do all of us a favor, and take breaks from the news cycle and from social media. If you are glued to a screen all day and tuning in to the anxiety of the 24-hour COVID-19 pandemic news cycle, that’s going to have an effect on your immune system. That’s right, emotional stress increases your chance of contracting illness—of any kind. We are under enough stress with the sudden change of pace of life.
Make a routine, but don’t overdo it
If kids are home from school, implement activities, and understand there will be a major shift in the next few weeks–maybe even months–in how we operate. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. None of us are mastering this with intricate homemade crafts while keeping up with other demands of life. Just do your best and go easy on yourself. Remember, this pandemic won’t last for forever (we hope), so it’s worth doing what you can now to keep everyone healthier in the long run. If you can include exercise, sunshine, and laughter into those routines, even better. We thrive in community, so consider calling a friend, checking in, and asking to do a “virtual hangout.” Yes, even virtual socialization can help boost our morale and immune systems at this moment.
Consider that the dramatic changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic might be asking us to reconsider our home and family life. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? If you have a yard, or are able to take non-crowded walks in your neighborhood, what can you discover? What flowers are blooming? What types of trees do you have? I discovered I have two red maples right outside my living-room window that are budding right now. While Netflix and Hulu can keep us amused for hours, what other activities can we come up with? Card games? Board games? Any kitchen activities? While many public libraries are closed, did you know that if you have a library card, you can access E-books at no cost on Overdrive? This could be an opportunity to shift the idea of how we spend time.
We will get through this together, my friend! For the time being, our only job is to stay healthy–mentally, physically, and emotionally. We are grateful for the age of the internet where we can share information, visit virtually, and order food delivery. Be well and remember: don’t panic. Just practice safe precautions.