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Cluing into the natural rhythms God set in a women's body in order to monitor fertility might seem like an anomaly, but the truth is, the benefits of these methods are so outstanding their popularity has shoot up in recent year. But of course, starting on this liberating path is going to generate a lot of questions! Here at Ethical Family Planning we get questions from lots of different people; some of the most common we have answered here. If you have any other topics you think we should cover here, we'd be happy to hear from you. Just pop us a line on our contact page!

How Does A Woman’s Cycle Influence Fertility?

You probably already know that at different parts of your cycle you are either fertile or not fertile. During menstruation, you obviously cannot conceive. However you probably don't realize that on average, most women are only fertile for one day per cycle. Thats right — one day!

This means that the egg that was released during ovulation is 'alive' and capable of becoming a baby for 24 hours. Sperm on the other hand, have a much longer lifespan. They can live inside of a woman for up to five days after intercourse. So although the egg is only alive for one day, sperm can hang out inside your body for up to five days waiting for the egg to be released, making your 'fertility window' last longer then the one day the egg's life span.

How Can I use The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) In Order To Help Me Conceive?

Essentially, fertility awareness comes down to using knowledge about your unique cycle in order to make fertility-based decisions. When you are looking to get pregnant, knowing exactly when you ovulate and are therefore highly fertile allows you to plan your intimacy and can greatly increase your chances of conception.

When using FAM you will be charting your basal body temperature (BBT) each morning. A subtle change in your BBT signifies ovulation. Charting the length of your cycle and the day of ovulation, you are able to create a pattern that displays when you’re likely to become fertile in the coming months, and plan some date nights with you husband accordingly.

This graphic displays a typical BBT profile over a cycle.

How Can FAM Be Used As A Form of Contraception?

To avoid pregnancy, you use the same knowledge of when your highly fertile days to mark your highly fertile ‘risk days and your non-fertile ‘safe days.’ The 'risk days' signify when intercourse has the highest chance of resulting in pregnancy. On your ‘risk days’, you and your partner decide whether to use an alternative form of contraception or abstain from sex altogether.

What Can Cervical Mucus Observations Tell Me About My Fertility?

The cervical mucus you excrete is directly related to your level of fertility. It is like a secret code that your body is sending you throughout the month, you just have to learn to decipher it. To learn to monitor your fertility this way, check out our page on cervical mucus to get the basics, and then seek instruction from a family planning consultant, as it can be a bit confusing at first.

How Can Fertility Be Detected With LH Hormone Testing?

A rise in LH hormone always occurs just before ovulation, so noticing this rise in LH is a sure sign that ovulation is about to occur. Simple urine test sticks, which can be purchased from any pharmacy, will alert you to this rise. Additionally, contraceptive monitors such as Persona are specifically designed to observe your hormone levels.

This graphic displays the relationship between LH detection and the BBT profile during a typical cycle

What Is The Sympto-Thermal Method?

The Sympto-Thermal Method of fertility awareness combines observations of basal body temperature (BBT), cervical mucus, and sometimes cervical positioning. You are tuning into the symptoms your body is relaying and tracking your temperature, hence the name "Sympto-Thermal". A rise in BBT, stretchy cervical mucus, and a soft, open, high cervix signify fertility.

In order to use this method of tracking your ovulation, all you need is a thermometer, some downloadable charts, and simple training from an experienced practitioner. Or, for an even easier experience, check out Cyclotest, the only fertility monitor currently available in Europe that allows you to use this method virtually effortlessly.

How Do I Use Contraceptive Monitors for Fertility Awareness?

The corner stone of fertility awareness is knowing exactly when you ovulate. Each women is unique, and it takes some effort to understand your particular cycle.

Contraceptive monitors, also known as fertility monitors, remove the burden of charting and interpreting results to give you simple, easy to understand information — hassle free. Different monitors work differently, but they will all display the information you need to make your fertility decisions clearly and in an easy to understand manner. All with just the click of a few buttons.

When using the monitors as a form of contraception, you will clearly see your highly fertile 'risk days' and you and your partner can decide to either use reversible contraception or abstain from sex during that time. On the other hand, if you’re ready to conceive, your fertile days would become your ‘optimum days’ when intercourse would have the highest chance of resulting in pregnancy.

Why Aren’t Contraceptive Monitors Recommended More By Doctors?

We know that using contraceptive monitors are an extremely reliable and low cost method of birth control. So why aren't they recommended by more doctors?

The NHS policy is to promote the use of The Pill. In a socialist country that pays a large bill for every unwanted pregnancy, the easiest and cheapest method to promote to the public is use of The Pill. Because contraceptive monitors take some amount of commitment and user discipline, marketing these to the unwilling masses could create a high failure rate.

For yourself and your partner, in a steady relationship, it is not difficult to remember to take your temperature every morning and be aware of the 'risk days'. However, a more casual user cannot be relied upon to keep up the regiment. The Pill allows doctors to say to their patients "take it every single day, and never miss a day." And because the hormones become a habit, the scope of failure is limited.

For the NHS, it is all about the budget. They want the least risk of failures, and when numbers are crunched including the cost to the NHS of the pill and the reduced social cost of unwanted pregnancies, the figures point towards The Pill. As always, it is important that you educate yourself, along with your doctor, on what you are putting into your body, and not just go off the information put out by the NHS geared towards the general public.

And that's not to say that all doctors don’t understand or promote fertility awareness methods. Their basic medical training confirms that these methods are extremely reliable and more heathy for a woman's body. We feel that with better awareness and training more doctors would proactively recommend fertility awareness methods. We are in the process of building partnerships with organizations who train doctors on a wider range of contraception methods .

What Is The Best Contraceptive Monitor To Help Me With Fertility Awareness?

Each monitor has diffrent components that will ease the process of NFP or FAM. We suggest takeing a look at Cyclostest 2 Plus. It enables you to input multiple indicators to easily use the Sympto-Thermal method and achieve 99% contraceptive reliability.

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