This is my honest take on training as a fertility awareness educator with FEMM. Just a note that there are many other routes to become a FAM educator, depending on your preference in time commitment, price & type of method. This post will focus on my experience with the FEMM teacher training in becoming a FAM instructor.
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?
I decided right then that I would become a FAM instructor.
I wanted to be able to teach FAM and integrate the knowledge I had gained about my body in my teaching. I wanted women to be able to use FAM as a tool that was more than just for avoiding or achieving pregnancy. And also, to develop their own unique relationship with their body and with the feminine. After a year and a half of charting my cycles and using the method for birth control, I began researching options on how to become a FAM instructor. I had just finished my undergraduate degree and felt like I had the brain space, and the time, to complete the coursework of becoming an instructor. I chose FEMM (and a lot of people do for this reason) because it was affordable, online, and would take me a year to complete. I wish I could wholeheartedly recommend a training that was both secular, affordable, and a reasonable length of time. Right now, I don’t know of any that exist.
I eventually settled on Fertility Education and Medical Management (FEMM) instructor training.
I loved that I would be able to complete the course in a reasonable amount of time, and still get the education around interpreting women’s charts to identify hormone imbalances. FEMM teacher training prepares you to teach a model of fertility awareness education that is hormone-health oriented. The course focuses on hormone health education, identifying hormone imbalance in charts, teaching people how to chart their fertility biomarkers, and using the method to avoid pregnancy. FEMM is one of the more affordable certification routes ($650 USD) that also takes a reasonable amount of time (the length of the coursework is 2 months, plus the time to complete practice teaching and the exam). Justisse & Grace of The Moon are incredibly in-depth programs, likened to a Masters-degree level of time and expertise.
I was able to do the course on my own pace. I began in September and completed my course work the next Spring, finally getting certified in June (10 months total). During that time I completed chart reviews and had many people reach out to me via FEMM, social media, and word of mouth. I’ve also been lucky to work with women who want to not only chart as birth control, but want to heal their cycles using the charting method.
i wish i knew
Some downsides of FEMM is that their recommendation for women with hormonal imbalance or menstrual cycle irregularities is to refer them to medical management. Medical management is FEMM trained doctors who are able to interpret charts. The problem with this, is that in Canada, there are very few FEMM trained medical professionals making referrals to medical management quite useless. There are so many women experiencing hormonal imbalance. The majority of folks who find my courses experience some kind of interruption in regular menstrual cycles. For that reason I have done my own education around hormone healing and include a module on hormone healing in my FAM course.
Another downside is that FEMM does not go as in depth as programs like Justisse and Grace of the Moon do - which is understandable. These programs are up to two years long. FEMM does give you all the tools you need to be an instructor and teach, while supplementing with your own information and education around holistic hormone healing.
The FEMM training is a sympto-hormonal method, meaning that they use LH testing strips and CM to confirm ovulation. Prior to taking the FEMM training, I was using the Symptothermal method for 2 years. I now use FEMM CM rules and BBT to teach fertility awareness. Had I not had the experience from taking a course in the sympto-thermal (CM & BBT) and charting for some time, I would not have felt confident teaching BBT rules. Because I had this experience and support from an instructor to quickly build up my confidence in the beginning, it supported my ability to teach it later on.
Recruit your practice clients early! As part of my training I was required to do practice teaching to 5 women. I would recommend putting a call-out to potential practice clients early. Your clients need to be not on hormonal birth control or breastfeeding, and willing to complete three charts each.
Supplement with your own teaching style and course materials. While I still use some of the FEMM teaching materials, the format of the course as well as the slides, videos, graphics and marketing materials are all my own. You can start curating a style of teaching, building your facilitation skills, as well as developing your teaching material early.
The other issue that should be mentioned, is that FEMM has received some flak for accepting funding from pro-life oriented funders. I have not looked super in depth, because I'm not familiar with the politics surrounding American non-profits and organizations such as these - but it does tell you about the leanings of FEMM.
Had I relied on my FEMM training alone to make me a well-rounded instructor, I would have been missing some key pieces. I gained so much from my training because I had a base knowledge of fertility awareness and the symptothermal method before I took it. I supplemented my FEMM learning with a ton of learning on the side, reading articles, books and listening to podcasts. I also supplemented my learning with a ton of business and marketing education, also in the form of books and podcasts. Becoming a FAM instructor is a wonderful learning experience, but after the training comes running a business, finding clients, charging $$, and everything else that comes with working for yourself. This was the biggest learning curve for me, and has also been the most rewarding part of being a FAM instructor. There are more people than ever before wanting to teach online (which is amazing, and I think it gives women entrepreneurs incredible, relatively new freedom). At the same time, this means that it can take commitment, patience and time to build your “wellness” business.
FEMM informs much of what I teach in my FAM courses, but it is not the only thing that I include in my training. I have added modules on hormone healing, eating with your cycle, sexuality, living with your cycle, using Basal Body Temperature and more. My teacher training helped me feel more confident in calling myself a FAM instructor, but it is not the only thing that informed my learning.