This is my honest take on training as a fertility awareness educator with FEMM. There are many other routes to become a FAM educator, depending on your preference in time commitment, price & type of method.

Back when I first learned fertility awareness, I was lucky enough to learn from an instructor. I remember the class vividly, It was a February morning in 2016, and about six of us were gathered in a conference room. I was taking part in a Serena class (a branch of symptothermal natural family planning), which was the only option I had to learn FAM locally. I had a vague idea about how fertility awareness could be used for birth control, but as the class started I slowly learned how little I knew about fertility awareness and about even more, about my body. As we worked through the class material that morning, I was simultaneously becoming more overwhelmed and more excited. The question that kept popping into my mind was why weren’t more women being taught this vital information about their bodies?

The basic practice of charting your menstrual cycle is one of the foundations of the fertility awareness method. Charting is a way in which you can begin to take note each day of your cycle, and it brings an awareness to your day of what energy the cycle day is bringing to YOUR day. It also helps you keep track of your fertility biomarkers, such as cervical mucus and basal body temperature, so you can identify your fertile window and use the method to track your fertile window, for effective hormone free birth control or to get conceive easily. For more on how the fertility awareness method works as an effective birth control alternative, visit this page.

"I'm on hormonal birth control and I'm interested in switching to FAM. When should I start?"You've done your research, read the books, talked to other people who use FAM, and you've made up your mind that you want to give it a shot. Maybe you are on hormonal birth control, have been in the past, or have never been on it. No matter the situation, a question that comes up often in my DM's and in Facebook groups that I am a part of, is when do I start charting? 

It can be really challenging to bring up FAM with other people because of the misconceptions that surround FAM as to whether it is an effective method of birth control. Misconceptions stem from lack of awareness, minimal medical professional education on the physiology of fertility, the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry, and a culture that shames women for their sexuality and menstruality. Phew!  

I think my wake - up call was taking stock of some of my other life choices when I wasn’t getting my period. I started paying attention to what I put in my body, and what I put ON my body felt equally as important. Changing habits happens in small shifts. My first shift was tossing my Nivea face cream and replacing it with a face oil that works just as well, even better. I then discovered a line of Makeup made in Manitoba and switched to an all-natural mascara. I continued making small changes until I had completely changed my skincare, hair, makeup products.

The fertility awareness method is an effective and natural form of birth control, but how exactly does it work? The biggest barrier to educating and informing women about FAM is that we aren’t raised knowing how our fertility and reproductive physiology works beyond knowing that we get a period. When we understand just exactly how we’re able to get pregnant, we can use that knowledge to avoid pregnancy as well.

Did you know that you can support your hormones through something you do already everyday?  This idea, which is sometimes called cycle-syncing, is matching what you eat with where you are in your cycle. The wonderful thing with cycle syncing is you don’t have to cut out foods, but you can add foods to support healthy hormones.

In  my blog post, Why I Switched to Non Toxic Products, I talked a little bit about my own journey with switching to natural personal care products, after taking it for granted most of my young life.  Some things were easier to switch over, like using bar soap instead of drugstore-brand body wash, and others were harder, like switching to non-toxic deodorant. Toothpaste was also one of those things that was hard to switch over. We tend to take what we're used to as the status quo, like having minty-fresh breath. This is why, when I started using non-toxic toothpaste, my mouth definitely had a reaction. But we accept what we're used to. Once I got used to a different taste and consistency of toothpaste in my mouth, I hardly noticed a difference. In fact, I really began to not like the almost burning-freshness of the standard Crest or Colgate. Another thing I noticed when I switched over was no more morning breath. This I attribute to the baking soda in the non-toxic version, as well as the absence of chemicals which disrupt the biome of your mouth. 

Why is it that teenage girls are often prescribed the pill to “fix” hormonal problems? During puberty, our periods are often not normal, which is completely normal! This is because the hormonal pathways are just starting to develop. On average, for teens 12 and under, it takes 5 years for hormones to balance to “normal” levels. The later the onset of menstruation, the longer it takes for regular cycles to settle in.(1) Teenagers might notice irregular cycles, anovulatory cycles, and symptoms of hormonal imbalance. But because we are in a culture of quick fixes, we would rather easily solve the problem then either deal with being uncomfortable for a little while, or solving the root cause of the issue. Both which take longer than the immediate “fix” of going on the pill.

In the last 12 months (at the time of writing this blog article), my day job has taken me all over the province and the country. I am really fortunate to see places in my province that not many people are able to see. As a natural homebody, I’ve become an expert at taking my home with me wherever I go. This also means taking FAM with me wherever I go. I’ve received many questions on how to continue on with FAM when travelling. There are many of posts about how to keep charting while you travel, but I wanted to give my own perspective on this. There is the practical side of continuing to chart with odd sleep patterns, temperature variable rooms, and time changes, and then there is the emotional side. Our emotions and life circumstances do play a part in our hormonal health. Keeping routines, even while you travel, can help with this aspect of hormone balance. In this post, I want to delve into both sides of travelling and using FAM In my experience, the logistics of charting and taking my temperature have not been an issue for using FAM. The thing that has wreaked havoc on my cycles is the stress, change in routine, change in food that comes with travel.

I have had the tempdrop for just over 3 months now, after months of debating of whether I should buy it, or whether it was just a frivolous purchase. I wanted to write this review for others who are in the same position, curious if the investment is worth it. I'm writing this review after 3 months of use, because It takes about 3 months for Tempdrop’s algorithm to fully learn your cycle.