If you’ve heard of the Fertility Awareness Method you probably think of it only in terms of birth control or getting pregnant, but there are many other benefits to fertility awareness cycle charting that you probably have never even thought of. Fertility awareness involves learning to identify the short window of time when a woman is actually fertile. Unfortunately most women still believe that they are fertile every single day of their menstrual cycle, when in reality there is only a 5-7 day window each cycle when a woman is actually capable of getting pregnant.
So yes, this knowledge can be used to prevent pregnancy. As a birth control method, fertility awareness has been shown to have a 99.6% efficacy rate. And yes, this knowledge can help a couple to identify when to have sex to increase their chances of conception, but there are so many other ways that a woman can use this incredible knowledge about her body!
1. You’ll know when your period is coming
When you track your menstrual cycles something really interesting happens. After ovulation there is typically a 2 week period (a 12-14 day luteal phase) before your period starts, and it is about the same number of days every cycle. So after a few charts you’ll know how many days after you ovulate before your period comes. This means no more surprises!
2. No more “late periods”
When you chart your menstrual cycles you soon realize that there is no such thing as a “late period” only delayed ovulation. Any variation in the length of your menstrual cycle will happen before ovulation in the pre-ovulatory phase of the cycle. This can be a result of stress, illness, or even PCOS, but either way once you ovulate your period will come right on time about 12-14 days after ovulation in a healthy cycle.
3. You can tell if you’re pregnant pretty much right away
When you chart your cycles you can pinpoint when you ovulated, and since you know how many days before your period comes you’ll know that you have conceived when your period doesn’t show up. If you track your basal body temperatures you’ll know that you’re pregnant after you see 18 high temperatures following ovulation.
4. You know exactly when to do the deed if you want to get pregnant
When you chart your cycles you’ll know when you’re in your fertile window. Beyond that you’ll also know the difference between “peak” and “non-peak” mucus, meaning that you’ll know the exact days to have sex to optimize your chances of getting pregnant. Some women only have 1 or 2 days of peak mucus each menstrual cycle, and if you don’t know how to figure out your days of fertility you could miss the window month after month. When you chart your cycles you don’t have to guess when you’re fertile because you’ll know!
5. You won’t have to rely on ovulation predictor kits
Ok I get it. We all love technology, but figuring out what days you’re fertile is actually pretty simple. If you chart your cycles and you see cervical mucus that is the key thing to watch for. When you see cervical mucus you are fertile. Ideally you will have at least one day of clear, slippery, stretchy or wet lubricative mucus, and that is actually your body’s way of telling you you’re fertile! If you want to confirm when you ovulated your basal body temperature readings will confirm ovulation after the fact. Done and done! Oh, and it’s free.
6. You’ll actually have a sex drive
Did you know that hormonal contraceptives mess with your sex drive? As a woman, you need testosterone because it plays a key role in your natural sex drive and libido. Not only do hormonal contraceptives lower your testosterone levels due to the high levels of synthetic estrogen but they also increase Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). SHBG attaches to the rest of your free testosterone making it unavailable for you to utilize.
In English, the pill lowers your sex drive. That means when you are not taking hormonal contraceptives you get to enjoy the full benefits of your natural sex drive. You may think that this isn’t affecting you, but just ask yourself, how long have you been on the pill? How old were you when you went on it? Did you really ever experience your full sex drive before you started taking the hormones?
7. What if the condom breaks?
The thing about fertility awareness is that since there is only a short window in your cycle when you can actually get pregnant, if the condom breaks or if you have some other type of contraceptive malfunction, you have the ability to make an informed choice about what steps to take next. When you chart your cycles you know if you are in your fertile window or not, so you’ll know if you can get pregnant or not. I always wonder how many women take Plan B when there was no chance they could have been pregnant anyway? The other part of this is if you know that you are fertile on a certain day you have the opportunity to be incredibly intentional about how you use your contraception. For example, if you use condoms or a diaphragm during your fertile window you can be extra cautious if you are trying to avoid pregnancy.
8. You’ll be able to identify fertility issues sooner
The thing about fertility awareness charting is that you get to learn what a healthy menstrual cycle actually looks like. There are certain parameters of a healthy menstrual cycle that you will be watching for, and there are certain things that have to happen in your menstrual cycle for you to actually conceive and sustain a pregnancy. For example, if you have no cervical mucus ever you’ll know. Or if your post-ovulatory phase is only 6 days you’ll know. Both are examples of sub-fertility that really mess with your chances of getting pregnant. And both are things you would be blissfully unaware of if you weren’t charting your cycles.
9. You can make informed choices around pregnancy
Have you ever seen that show “I didn’t know I was pregnant”? Where women will feel cramping in the middle of the night, go to the bathroom and push a baby out having had no idea they were even pregnant? Well if you chart your menstrual cycles that is not something that will happen to you. Given that you would know so early on if you were pregnant you will have the ability to make informed decisions. Whether that means cutting out the alcohol or improving your diet, you could make these changes early on instead of finding out months later and feeling stressed about it your entire pregnancy.
10. Overall health
Although this is the last point it is arguably the most important. For some reason the media machine has convinced us that our menstrual cycles happen independently of our bodily functions. We have been told by our doctors that we can take hormones that shut down our ovaries and suppress our body’s natural production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and this will have no impact on our bodies or our health. Just take a moment to think about that. These days everyone is talking about ways to balance our hormones, minimize our exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, and improve our endocrine function. We run to the health store to buy supplements but then pop that contraceptive pill every day.
When you find a method of birth control that is non-hormonal you allow your endocrine system to function the was it is supposed to. Regular ovulation has been associated with improved breast health, bone health and heart health. So this is way bigger than fertility. Charting your cycles will alert you to any hormonal imbalances in your body because your menstrual cycle is a reflection of your overall health and fertility. That means that your chart can actually be used as diagnostic tool to identify health concerns and fertility issues. If something is off with you, it will show up in your charts!
Are you thinking about coming off the pill? In my new eBook I share 5 ways to make your transition from hormonal birth control to healthy menstrual cycles much easier, so make sure to get your free copy!
Now I want to hear from you! Do you use the fertility awareness method? If so, how have you benefited from it? Are you thinking about coming off hormonal contraceptives and using fertility awareness instead? Join the conversation below in the comments!