The fertility awareness method (FAM) is also called the sympto-thermal method. Extremely well-outlined in Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility, it involves charting your body’s cyclical changes in cervical fluid as well as body temperature which reflect your body’s hormonal changes.
All women – those seeking to avoid/achieve pregnancy or those not sexually active – are encouraged to practice FAM to better understand their body.
Your body temperature is the thermal part of the name. The other part is the symptoms – what your cervical fluid is like. During different parts of your cycle, your cervix will produce different consistencies of fluid (you’ve probably noticed this in your underwear). Right before and during ovulation, your body produces silky smooth, stretchy fluid that is almost the consistency of egg whites before they’re beaten. God’s design amazes me: He created women to have best-for-swimming-sperm cervical fluid just before and during ovulation.
In regards to avoiding or achieving pregnancy, since sperm can be viable up to 72 hours after ejaculation, it is imperative to know where you are in your cycle. Tracking your cervical fluid and body temperature does just that. After doing this for a few cycles, you get to know approximately when you ovulate so you can either abstain from sex that day as a well as a few days on either end or use a condom if you really wanted to have sex but weren’t ready for a baby.
FAM is cheap because you just have to buy the thermometer. It’s extremely reliable if you do it right: you have to take your temperature at the same time every morning right when you get up. It needs to be the first thing you do before you even get out of bed because you are measuring your basal (resting) body temperature.
If you’re sick, traveling, in a time of stress, etc, ovulation will be pushed back. Another part of God’s grand design – if you’re not in a situation to bring a child into this world, your body postpones releasing an egg.
For pregnancy prevention, it is just as effective as the most effective chemical birth control (98%) when done correctly and diligently. FAM requires a bit more discipline than taking a pill but has no side effects. There is also no waiting to try for a pregnancy with FAM – when you want to try, have unprotected sex near ovulation.
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