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Natural Contraception with the Fertility Awareness Method

Natural Contraception with the Fertility Awareness Method

Is birth control really as effective as our culture thinks it is? It is a valid question. After all, birth control methods are supposed to “control” fertility by preventing conception. Medical birth control aims to alter the normal function of the menstrual cycle, but can it truly “control” a woman’s fertility? Every method of contraception occasionally fails, some far more often than you probably realize – for example, the typical failure rate of the condom is about 17%, and for the Pill around 8%. Even permanent methods like tubal ligation and vasectomy may fail, sometimes.

Not only is birth control failure a concern, most birth control methods run the risk of serious health-related side effects and may carry the potential for toxicity, whether it is the Pill, progesterone-based contraceptives like Depo-Provera or IUDs (intrauterine devices). Some of the side effects are long-term and may be quite serious. For example, Depo-Provera has been shown to cause bone mineral density loss, sometimes after just one injection. Depo-Provera has also been linked to thromboembolic disease (blood clots) and breast cancer.1

Many women wishing to avoid hormonal contraceptives opt to use an IUD instead, feeling that they are a safe alternative, but these also carry serious risks such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and the risk of the IUD becoming embedded in the uterus or perforating the uterus.2

If medical contraception methods aren’t always reliable and carry many health risks, what can we do to prevent unwanted conception and protect our fertility health?

The answer is – The Fertility Awareness Method!

Using The Fertility Awareness Method for Natural Pregnancy Prevention

The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) offers a natural alternative to medical contraception methods that is both safe and very effective. Fertility Awareness Method teaches women how to develop a deep awareness of their fertility by observing their personal menstrual cycles, identifying their most fertile time, all while committing to building a respectful relationship with their body. Rather than suppress and ignore the menstrual cycle, the goal with FAM is to teach women how to recognize their hormonal signals in order to become experts on their fertility.

How The Fertility Awareness Method Works

Fertility Awareness Method - BBT Through FAM, a woman will learn how to chart certain signs and symptoms on a daily basis that will allow her to gauge whether or not she is fertile and if there is a risk of an unintended pregnancy. The primary signs charted are basal body temperature (taken first thing in the morning), changes in cervical fluid, as well as changes in the texture, height and softness of the cervix. Additional signs are generally charted as well, such as cramps, overall energy levels, libido, and any other symptoms that return cyclically.

Charting so much information might seem like a monumental task, but most women find it quickly becomes second nature. Thousands of women use FAM (or similar sympto-thermal methods of charting such as Natural Family Planning) successfully as a form of natural contraception.

Fertility Awareness Method is a unique form of contraception in that:

  • It has no risks or side effects
  • It uses no drugs or invasive devices or surgeries
  • It is completely reversible
  • It can also be used to achieve pregnancy
  • It can help gauge hormonal & gynecological health
  • It is free!
  • It is a secular method and can be used in accordance with the beliefs of all major religions
  • Last but not least, it is incredibly empowering!

Reading this you might be thinking, that sounds really nice, but does this method actually work?

Yes it does! Studies have shown that sympto-thermal methods of charting, such as FAM, are 99.6% effective at preventing pregnancy!3 That’s as effective as the Pill or an IUD! With charting, the power of whether or not you become pregnant rests in your hands, unlike other methods which rely on devices or drugs to do this for you.

It is important to note that Fertility Awareness Method is not the rhythm method (also called the calendar method). Many people dismiss all forms of charting because they have heard how ineffective the rhythm method is. The reason it doesn’t work is that it relies on past cycles to predict when you will be fertile this cycle. With FAM, there is no guessing involved! You chart your signals on a daily basis in order to be aware of your fertility status on any given day. FAM is a scientific method, while the rhythm method relies on guesswork.

When you learn to chart with the Fertility Awareness Method, you are taught a set of “rules” that allow you to know which days to avoid having unprotected intercourse should you wish to avoid becoming pregnant. This varies from one woman to another, but it is generally about 7-10 days out of your cycle. The reason for this is twofold. On one hand, a woman is only fertile a maximum of 24 hours after the egg is released from the ovary during ovulation, or potentially up to 48 hours if two or more eggs were released that cycle. The true range of fertility combines the viability of both the egg and the sperm. So, the reason a woman is considered fertile longer than 24 hours is because sperm can live up to 5 days inside the uterus and fallopian tubes. The average lifespan of the sperm is closer to 3 days, but 5 days is not unheard of. With FAM, there is a safety margin built in to ensure that there is absolutely no risk of conception.

If you do choose to have intercourse during the “fertile” days, you can simply use a barrier method such as a condom. However, avoiding intercourse entirely on those days is the safest choice to avoid pregnancy. Most women find that within a few months of integrating Fertility Awareness Method into their lives, they feel comfortable working around the “rules” of the method and feel confident in their ability to read their body’s signals. FAM does require dedication to learn and you have to be committed to charting daily, but the effort you put in will be repaid to you tenfold. This method will be as effective as you want it to be.

Additional Benefits
There are many added benefits to using Fertility Awareness Method. If you are in a committed relationship, using FAM allows you to make love without anything coming between you and your partner. When you know you are outside the fertile window, it allows you to let go of any worry about contraception and focus on the things that matter. Charting your cycles helps you develop a profound knowledge and appreciation of your body and cycles that will radically change how you think about your sexuality and your health. I cannot recommend it enough and I encourage you to find a teacher to learn from. Working with a teacher will give you the best chance of having all your questions answered, as well as provide assistance with analyzing your charts when you are first starting out.


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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