by Corinna Wood
Samantha was dismayed at the options for birth control because of the side effects of the pill, the chemicals used with the diaphragm, the unreliability of the rhythm method and the yeast infections from using latex condoms. Jean and Greg were longing for a baby, yet having difficulty conceiving. The Fertility Awareness Method was just what they all were looking for.
The Fertility Awareness Method for Natural Birth Control or Pregnancy Achievement is a way for a woman to track her fertility day to day. She checks and charts her cervical fluid and basal body temperature to determine each day whether she is potentially fertile. Information about the fluctuations in cervical fluids and basal body temperatures at various phases of the menstrual cycle can be used to plan or prevent a pregnancy.
Myth: The Fertility Awareness Method for Natural Birth Control is the same as the rhythm method.
Fact: The Fertility Awareness Method is much more reliable for birth control than the rhythm method. The rhythm method uses a mathematical formula based on past cycles to predict future fertility. The Fertility Awareness Method determines days which are potentially fertile by the fertility signals in a current cycle. The success rate of the rhythm method is estimated around 50%. The Fertility Awareness Method, on the other hand, is 98% effective when followed precisely, according to Contraceptive Technology. In practice, various studies place the effectiveness rate of Fertility Awareness around 85%.¹ The effectiveness of Fertility Awareness depends on how diligently the couple follows the birth control rules and whether they choose to abstain or to use a barrier method of birth control during the woman's fertile phase.
Myth: A woman ovulates on day 14 of a 28 day cycle, so to prevent pregnancy, you simply need to avoid intercourse around that time.
Fact: There is a wide range of days that a woman may ovulate, even in a cycle that lasts 28 days. For example, ovulation could occur on the day 8 or day 20. And she does not know whether she will have a 28 day cycle until menstruation signals the end of the cycle. It is quite common for a woman to have unexpectedly short or long cycles, even if she is usually "like clockwork." During those short or long cycles, ovulation day can vary widely. In addition, when a woman is fertile, she produces cervical fluid which is designed to keep sperm alive until ovulation. Sperm can live in this fertile fluid for up to five days. That means that intercourse on Monday can lead to conception on Friday. For this reason, the Fertility Awareness Method includes careful observations of cervical fluid before ovulation.
Myth: A woman cannot get pregnant during her period.
Fact: While it is true that a woman does not ovulate during menstruation, she can begin producing fertile cervical fluid (masked by blood) during her period. This can keep sperm alive for up to five days, when ovulation may occur. Certain days of menstruation may be considered infertile with Fertility Awareness, which involves charting your cycles to acquire additional information, including, but not limited to, basal body temperature and length of cycles.
Myth: Couples who are infertile should use ovulation predictor kits to optimize the chances of conception.
Fact: Ovulation predictor kits let you know ovulation is occurring only if used on the very day of ovulation, and even then, the results are often misleading. Most kits (which cost around $30) contain only 5 to 9 days of tests, which is often not enough to cover the range of days ovulation could occur, especially for women with irregular cycles. Many couples who are having difficulty conceiving find Fertility Awareness an invaluable tool, with less hassle and less expense. By observing the cervical fluid, a couple can pinpoint the best days to make love to optimize their chances of conceiving. Charting body temperature can also help an infertile couple determine whether the woman is still fertile in a given cycle, whether her luteal phase is long enough for implantation, or whether she is ovulating at all.
Fertility Awareness is not for everyone. It requires a high level of commitment, discipline, and communication. Those women and couples who practice it find that the high level of personal responsibility enhances their lives by deepening relationships and increasing self-awareness.
Corinna Wood has opened the hearts of thousands to the wisdom of the plants and their own bodies. She is director of Red Moon Herbs, an herbal medicine company focusing women's health and fresh, local plants. Corinna's background includes a B.S. in biology and an extensive apprenticeship with Susun Weed. Corinna is certified as an Herbalist, a Fertility Awareness Teacher, and also in Permaculture Design. Corinna lives with her family at Earthaven Ecovillage in Black Mountain, NC. She can be reached at (828) 669-1310 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Corinna's Fertility Awareness workshops, visit www.redmoonherbs.com.
"I've struggled with my weight since I was a child. For the last seven years and, for the first time in my life, I have been successful in losing and keeping off over 60 pounds. I hit plateaus every now and again, but the slow and steady progression of weight loss has been the best solution for me. It's been a long process that involved a lot of changes in my eating habits, but I eventually found something that worked for me: acupuncture, Chinese herbs and Chinese nutritional therapy at Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs.
Earlier in this year, I decided to take another big step, and in June 2006 I quit smoking. I was nervous about the risk of weight gain and other withdrawal symptoms, but knew it was time, so I stopped cold turkey. It was not easy and I felt horrible. I was not a heavy smoker (I averaged 2 cigarettes a day) so was very surprised at how significant the physical effects were. I was tired, cranky, constipated and suffering from congestion, sometimes severe, that would worsen after almost every meal. To make matters worse, in August I had what I believed to be an allergic reaction to something I was ate. In addition to the congestion, my feet swelled so much I was unable to get them into my shoes. Making matters worse, I couldn't connect a specific food to the attacks, and the battery of allergy tests performed by my doctor all came back negative.
I was successfully treated for an inner ear problem with acupuncture years earlier so, having exhausted my options with traditional treatments and not wanting to resort to continued steroid use, I decided to try it again. I found the Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs on the internet and hit if off with its founder, Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac. on the phone when we first spoke. My first visit was on August 31, 2006. It included a very comprehensive exam and began treatment to rid my body of the remaining toxins from years of smoking and the water retention causing the congestion and swelling.
In addition to an acupuncture session and prescribing herbs, Juliette instructed me to write down everything I ate, which I did diligently for over three weeks. Juliette evaluated my dietary habits and suggested a few minor changes that were compounding my water retention problem. Since making those changes, I've lost weight, noticed a marked increase in my energy level and no longer suffer from congestion.
Before seeking treatment at Aiyana Acupuncture, I was unaware of Chinese medicine's approach to nutrition. Juliette educated me about the different energetic properties of food and the effects it can have on metabolism. I can honestly say that I've never felt better and now find it easier to manage my diet, giving me renewed confidence in my ability to keep off the weight I've lost."
- Fran M. Female, Age 39