About 65 percent of women in the United States of childbearing age use some type of contraception, and more than 99 percent of all women will use a form of contraception at some point in their lives. (12)
Birth control is a deeply personal and controversial subject. Contraceptives are considered one of the greatest advances in women's rights and modern history, but women are often not satisfied with their birth control method. Between 50 and 75 percent of women switch or stop using oral contraceptives due to side effects. Nearly a third of women used five or more types of artificial birth control. (3)
I am in several mom’s groups online, and every day, it seems that the woman is asking which contraceptive she should use next, because her current is causing side effects, such as:
- Constant bleeding
- Spotting on and off
- Mood swings
- Low sex drive
And this list does not even cover the more serious side effects associated with birth control.
What are fertility awareness based birth control methods (FABMs)? Learn and learn how to use FABM to track your fertility. #healthylifestyle # wellness
Health Risks from Artificial Birth Control
Let's take a quick look at the hormones involved in the female cycle. At the beginning of the cycle during menstruation, a low level of luteinizing hormone (LH) and estrogen signals the pituitary gland to produce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH begins to mature from 15 to 20 follicles containing eggs, and estrogen rises. An increased estrogen level stops the production of FSH and signals the pituitary gland to release LH, as a result of which one egg is secreted from the follicle. Once the egg is released during ovulation, it is viable for 12-24 hours. A torn follicle secretes progesterone and estrogen to continue to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized during ovulation, the levels of estrogen and progesterone fall, which ultimately leads to the return of menstruation.
Hormonal contraceptives come in many forms – pills, patches, rings, intrauterine devices (IUDs) or injections – and they disrupt the woman’s natural cycle. Combined contraceptives contain both synthetic estrogen and synthetic progesterone, while others, such as mini-tablets, contain only synthetic progesterone. All of them strive to maintain a constant level of hormones, which suppresses ovulation and creates an unfavorable environment for the survival of sperm. But hormonal contraceptives have been associated with a wide range of health problems, including but not limited to:
- Blood clots (4, 5, 6)
- Depression (7, 8, 9, 10)
- Osteoporosis (mainly associated with Depo-Provera injection) (11)
- Change in intestinal, vaginal and oral flora (12, 13, 14, 15, 16)
- Autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and lupus (17, 18)
- Depletion of nutrients, including folic acid, magnesium, selenium, zinc and vitamins B2, B6, B12, C and E (19, 20, 21, 22)
- Gallstone disease and gallbladder disease (23, 24)
- Breast cancer (mainly for combination options) and skin cancer (25)
In rare cases, IUDs, both hormonal and copper, translocate and even perforate the uterus. (26, 27) In the case of copper IUDs, copper toxicity and chronic inflammation are noted. (28)
If you had side effects, artificial hormones, devices, and implants, there are other options! In fact, between 40 and 60 percent of women surveyed said they would like to learn more about FABM from their healthcare providers. (29) FABMs are evidence-based effective birth control methods that work from a woman’s natural cycles to determine her fertile and infertile days based on observations such as basal body temperature (BBT), cervical mucus, and / or hormone levels.
Myths about fertility-based birth control methods
Before I talk about what is connected with FABM, I want to destroy some common myths about them.
Myth # 1: FABM – The Rhythm Method
Rhythm methods, or calendar methods, were used several generations ago … and they were terribly ineffective. Rhythm methods evaluated a fertile window based on a woman's typical cycle length only, They kind of worked for women who had clockwork cycles, but even someone with a clockwork cycle may have an unexpectedly short or long cycle due to early or late ovulation, and then all bets are canceled.
In addition, the rhythm method suggested that the woman’s luteal phase, the time between ovulation and the next period, was 14 days. However, the normal length of the luteal phase can vary from 10 to 16 days among women, which further discredits the calculation of the calendar method. Modern methods not rhythm method. Can we finally put a nail in the coffin on this?
Myth # 2: FABMs are not effective at preventing pregnancy
I'm not going to lie: FABMs usually take more work than taking pills every day. But effective indicators to prevent pregnancy can be very high – in some studies, they exceeded 98 percent. (30, 31, 32, 33) However, keep in mind that your effectiveness will be highest only if you follow all the rules of your method and, ideally, if you work with an instructor.
Myth # 3: You cannot use FABM if you have irregular cycles.
People who make this requirement usually Still think about the rhythm method. FABMs are designed to read your body’s fertility signals either directly (by measuring hormone metabolites in the urine) or indirectly (by monitoring symptoms such as cervical mucus and BBT). When the cycle length changes, the observations on the chart change, and the fertility window also shifts.
Myth # 4: FABM is expensive to learn and use.
Prices vary, but they are not all expensive. Some methods are free or nearly free, while others require ongoing training and / or purchase of supplies, such as a monitor, test strip, or basal body thermometer.
How FABM Works
Choices such as family size and distance between children are deeply personal. I do not pretend to be an expert on natural contraceptive options and I am not an instructor in any method. But I consider myself a supporter of these methods and try to provide women with accurate information about them and resources for more information.
Unlike men who are fertile every single day, a woman is technically fertile for only about six days per cycle, give or take. It is infertile at the beginning of its cycle, when estrogen and LH are low. It becomes fertile as the first estrogen, and then LH rises on the days before ovulation, including it, and then it returns to infertility when progesterone rises and LH and estrogen begin to decline.
When an egg is released during ovulation, it remains for only 12-24 hours, awaiting fertilization with sperm. When the conditions are correct, sperm can live for several days (in rare cases, up to a week) in fertile cervical mucus, which leads to ovulation. The goal of FABM is to identify this fertile window and, if you are trying to avoid pregnancy, refrain from sex during this period of time. (Some methods recommend barrier methods during fertility, but if you go this route, you will return to the effectiveness of any barrier method you choose.)
Four Fertile and Barren Signs
FABMs require observation and / or measurement of one or more of the following four features in order to track fertile and non-fertile days.
BBT increases by about half a degree Fahrenheit in response to a surge in progesterone that occurs after ovulation. (34) BBT should be recorded every morning at approximately the same time after waking up with a basal body thermometer. As a rule, three or four days after the temperature rises, ovulation is confirmed and the period of infertility returns. If you are tech savvy, check out Tempdrop, a wearable device that records your temperature while you sleep.
Not all fertility reporting methods require BBT. Sleep disturbance, shift work and waking at night – all this can affect the accuracy of BBT. Some women may even ovulate without a clear increase in BBT. (35)
2. Cervical mucus
Fertile cervical mucus observed by women reflects an increase in estrogen and fertility. Fertile mucus, as a rule, has properties similar to egg white, it is slippery, transparent and elastic and allows sperm to move through the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg. It takes a little practice to distinguish fertile from non-fertile mucus, but the World Health Organization has reported that more than 93 percent of women can easily distinguish between fertile and non-fertile mucus when they are taught what to look for. (36)
3. The position of the cervix
In infertile periods, the cervix usually sits low, tight and closed. A tall, open, and soft cervix indicates possible fertility. Although cervical position is included in some FABMs, it is commonly used as a sign of secondary fertility for others.
4. Urine metabolites
Thanks to modern technology, women today can measure hormone levels at home. The Clearblue Fertility Monitor was designed to help couples determine their most fertile days to increase the likelihood of conception, but some FABMs currently use the monitor and various algorithms to avoid pregnancy. The monitor measures LH and estrogen levels in the first morning urine.
Three Ways to Use FABM
The number of modern fertility reporting methods may surprise you! Some methods may suit your lifestyle better than others. If you are interested in learning FABM, I recommend that you study the various methods below, speak with the women who use them, and then even interview a few instructors before deciding which method to use.
While there are over 100 fertility tracking apps available on the market, don't be fooled – the app is not a method! Applications may be tools used in conjunction with FABM, but they are not standalone methods.
1. Symptothermic methods
Symptothermic methods track BBT, mucus, and sometimes LH through urine test strips and cervical position. Popular book Take responsibility for your fertility teaches this method, as do SymptoPro and FEMM organizations. When I started using FABM almost 10 years ago, I first studied sympothermic methods through the Pair-to-Pair League.
2. Methods only for mucus
These methods track only the mucus of the woman’s cervix to determine the days of fertility and infertility. I have been using Creighton for the past five years, and I like how objective and structured the terminology is to describe the characteristics of mucus. Billings' ovulation method also tracks mucus, but it is more individual, and users also discover the sensations experienced throughout the day. The TwoDay method is an even simpler method for mucus only.
3. Methods of analysis of urine metabolites
The Marquette model and the Boston cross-validation method use the Clearblue birth monitor to monitor estrogen and LH levels. Some of the methods may also include mucus and / or BBT along with a urinalysis to determine the days of fertility and infertility.
Your fertility is not a disease
Fertility awareness offers many benefits. FABM can be used to prevent or achieve pregnancy without the need for surgery, synthetic hormones or copper devices. Knowing more of your body's abundance and natural cycles expands your possibilities. In some cases, awareness of fertility can help identify hormonal imbalances and other problems, such as endometriosis, infertility, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Our ancestors considered fertility a sign of good health, and we must do this too. FABM views fertility as a sign of health that needs to be maintained, and not as a “disease” that needs to be treated.
Our ancestors of hunter-gatherers have left us a healthy lifestyle plan. They ate nutritious foods, coped with stress, got enough exercise, enjoyed and practiced healthy sleep habits – and they were thin, fit and surprisingly free from chronic diseases. Generic health based on the idea that by correcting the mismatch between our lifestyle and our biology, we can also live a healthier life and prevent or even reverse chronic diseases.
Healthcare trainers trained through the ADAPT Medical Trainer Training Program acquire the skills needed to act as agents of change for their clients and achieve career success. Our one-year virtual course also includes studying the health of ancestors and how diet and lifestyle choices affect different health conditions, as well as functional health, a healthcare model that focuses on treating the root cause of the disease rather than managing symptoms. Find out if your career is an ADAPT Certified Functional Health Trainer.