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Hello everyone! Welcome to the first, of many, segments on the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM): a practice I have and continue to use in my life. Through the FAM I was able to get pregnant after 5 months of trying blindly and unsuccessfully. FAM has also, now, allowed me to avoid pregnancy (without any types of medications, procedures or devices) after having my son. More importantly though, FAM helped educate me about my body, reproductive health and fertility. I am more in tune with my body and appreciate the dynamics of being a woman thanks to this method.
I am no doctor or even an expert on the Fertility Awareness Method. These segments will simply be informational and contain my own experience with FAM. If you are interested in choosing Fertility Awareness as a method of birth control, to track your menstrual cycles, or to try to conceive, I highly recommend reading about it in Toni Weschler’s book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
In today’s segment I would like to share the three primary fertility signs: waking temperature, cervical fluid, and cervical position. All of these behaviors can be used to give you information about your cycle and whether you are in an optimal window for getting pregnant (which is useful when you are actually trying to avoid pregnancy). Let me share a quick summary of each:
What: Your waking temperature, or basal body temperature, is your temperature measurement immediately after waking up (usually around 97 degrees Fahrenheit.
When: For an accurate representation, you take it your temperature before doing ANYTHING (literally, the very first thing you do) at the same time every day.
Why: Learn your body’s patterns so you can predict ovulation by charting your waking temperature and being on the lookout for a temperature shift.
How: Temperatures before ovulation will go up and down in a low range and temperatures after ovulation will go up and down in a high range.
What: Sometimes referred to as cervical mucus (CM). Cervical fluid is produced by the crypts of the cervix and changes throughout the menstrual cycle in response to the fluctuation of hormones.
When: Check your cervical fluid everyday.
Why: It is the best sign for telling you when you are the most fertile before ovulation.
How: You can observe your cervical fluid by checking your underwear or toilet paper after wiping. You can also just go with the good ol’ “finger test”.
Cervical fluid changes throughout your cycle and usually follows a pattern. Immediately following menstruation, you may notice you do not have any cervical fluid. Afterwards, you will experience sticky, creamy, and slippery (egg white) fluid (in that order). The pattern comes to an end when, again, you experience dryness followed by your menstruation. To help you understand what your cervical fluid looks like at each stage, I have detailed each below.
Sticky cervical fluid is the least fertile since it is very difficult for sperm to swim through it. Its thick, dry and tacky and very much resembles glue from a glue stick or rubber cement.
Lotion-like cervical fluid is non fertile as sperm cannot swim through it. This type of cervical fluid can range in color from white to a pale yellow.
Also known as “egg white cervical mucus”, this type of cervical fluid will be present during the peak of your fertile stage. It is the easiest fluid for sperm to swim through, making you highly fertile. It looks like egg whites, hence the nickname, and can stretch without breaking.
What: Your cervix is a narrow cylinder-shaped passage located at the lower end of the uterus which connects the vagina to the uterus. During your menstrual cycle, your cervix changes positions.
When: Check your cervix once a day, every day.
Why: After your period, your cervix will be low and feel firm. The cervix typically stays this way and only changes when ovulation is approaching. If your cervix feels like is has risen and is now soft, ovulation is right around the corner. Checking your cervical position will help you predict your most fertile time of the month.
How: You can feel for the position of your cervix by squatting and gently inserting your finger into your vagina (the cervix is at the top). You can try another method if you find this way too difficult. Just remember to check your cervix the same way each time. Also, make sure your hands are washed and your nails are trimmed!
More information: Visit the companion site to the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility here!
Weschler, Toni. Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health. New York, NY: Collins, 2006. Print.