Have you ever heard of the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)? It is a sympto-thermal method of charting your menstrual cycles that allows you to know when you are fertile. It can be used as an effective method of natural contraception, or as an aid in getting pregnant because it allows you to identify the best days for conception.
There are 3 primary fertility signs that are charted on a daily basis in this method:
- basal body temperature / BBT (temperature taken first thing in the morning before getting up)
- cervical fluid (mucous)
- changes in the cervix (texture, height, and opening)
Additional symptoms that are charted include, but are not limited to: cramps, sex drive, emotional state, sleep patterns, and energy levels. I generally tell women to chart anything they might feel is relevant, especially if it is something they experience every cycle.
FAM helps you gather this information in a comprehensive manner and suddenly, patterns emerge. These patterns help you understand what is going on inside your body. The patterns on the charts help you to decipher the information your body is sharing with you. Some signs you may be ignoring or completely unaware of until you have charted for several cycles.
You can glean an incredible amount of information about your hormonal and gynecological health, which develops what I like to call womb wisdom – a deep connection and understanding of your womb! This self-knowledge can benefit all cycling women, but it is especially helpful for women who are experiencing problems with their cycles and would like to find answers.
I highly recommend using charting as a diagnostic tool for women who:
- Have unexplained irregular cycles
- Get severe menstrual and/or ovulatory cramps
- Have PMS or PMDD
- Have very heavy or long bleeding times
- Are struggling with infertility and/or repeat miscarriages
Enhance Self-Awareness Through Fertility Charting
Women are complex, layered beings. We can be quite sensitive, intuitive, and emotional – these are gifts, not curses! Sometimes we sense something isn’t right, but we can’t quite put our finger on it. All too often we ignore those gut feelings. Through the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), you will learn to listen to these feelings, becoming more attuned to what may be causing disharmony in the body. It may be emotional, spiritual, or even physical. It is a gift to be able to use self-awareness to help regain a sense in balance in your life!
I have heard some women share that they always felt something was wrong with their cycles, things just didn’t feel right. Fertility charting helped them to discovered how perfectly their bodies were working month after month, which shifted their whole attitude about their menstrual cycles. Learning to understand and appreciate their cycles was all the healing that needed to happen.
The greater understanding of what is going on within our bodies will help us to see what our bodies need. Too often we look to others for answers about our health concerns when so many of the answers can be found within us. I am not implying that we may never need outside help, first though, let’s start by connecting to our womb wisdom with Fertility Awareness Method.
3 Important Benefits of Fertility Awareness Method:
- It allows us an opportunity to know what questions to ask a healthcare provider. In turn, this helps us to make informed decisions about our treatments.
- It can help guide our decision regarding which kind of healer to work with, based on our actual needs.
- It can help us to feel empowered about our fertility and well-being, which is vital to maintain health and promote healing within our bodies.
What Does a Healthy Cycle Look Like?
Before looking for things that may be wrong on your charts, you need to know what a healthy chart looks like. It is important to understand that most women do not have textbook charts every cycle, and that cycles do tend to differ from one month to the next. That is perfectly normal. Using FAM to chart is a great way to get to know your cycles really well, and be able to gauge what variations may be normal for you.
There are certain specific things you can expect to see cycle after cycle during the follicular phase (the phase of the cycle leading up to ovulation), and others during the luteal phase (the phase between ovulation and menstruation). Here is a brief outline of what you would expect to see on the chart of a woman’s healthy cycle:
- Menstruation lasts between 3 to 7 days with bright red blood flow that is clot-free
- No noticeable cervical fluid for several days following the end of bleeding
- Cervical fluid builds up from a “tacky” or creamy texture to fertile slippery and stretchy fluid at ovulation, then transitions back to dryer fluid after ovulation
- Lower BBT before ovulation, and higher BBT afterwards (at least two tenths of a degree higher)
- A clear thermal shift that confirms ovulation and takes less than 3 days
- BBT stays elevated throughout the luteal phase
I hope you will join me in part 2 of this series where I will be discussing how certain information and patterns on menstrual charts can alert us to the possibility of certain health conditions and hormonal issues.