What is FAM?
Learning to work with your body, rather than against it is the foundation of the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). Our bodies have been giving us messages about our overall health through cycle biomarkers, which we learn to read and then chart with FAM. It is a daily practice of noticing and charting what has always been there, we just never knew what it was for or how to interpret it!
"fertility isn't just about making babies - it's about your health." -holly griggs spall
How does it work?
Fertility awareness is the practice of charting your hormonal biomarkers to identify your fertile time. Biomarkers are signs that your body is giving you to let you know that you are fertile, and the possibility of pregnancy is there. Women can only get pregnant 6-7 days per cycle. This takes into account the 24-48 hours that the egg lives for, and 5 days that the sperm can stay alive. The 2 main signs are basal body temperature and cervical fluid. A woman will char these signs, briefly each day, and either avoid unprotected sex if your goal is to not get pregnant or to optimize sex in order to increase chances of getting pregnant.
Menstruation is a visible sign of where we are in our cycle. Day one of menstruation marks day one of the cycle. During menstruation our hormone levels are low and the cervix produces none or very little cervcal fluid. As an egg is recruited to start maturing, our estrogen levels slowly rise. As estrogen levels rise, it stimulates the cervix to produce cervical fluid with a quality that helps keep potential sperm alive. Around ovulation, or the time that the egg is released, estrogen rises to peak levels and the egg is launched out of the ovary. Following ovulation, the hormone progesterone becomes the dominant hormone, which raises our basal body temperature. This is how we can retrospectively identify when we ovulated by taking our basal body temperature daily. Progesterone levels fall prior to menstruation and our cycle begins again.
Charting your cycle involves knowing exactly where you are in your menstrual cycle each day. It means that you gain insight into which hormones are more dominant depending on where you are in your cycle. As menstruators, we are cyclical beings. We can reclaim what it means to cycle and live in tune with our natural rhythms, rather than against them. Charting brings a quality of ease and flow into everything we do.
Now, maybe you’re thinking, this all sounds great! But how do I get started? I always recommend starting by charting your cycles and beginning to pay attention to the phases of your cycles. I also highly recommend working with an instructor if you plan to use FAM for birth control.
Fertility awareness has been shown to be as effective as other methods of birth control to avoid pregnancy. What’s more, it is a natural and cost-effective method of birth control. Through charting her own unique biomarkers, a woman can identify her fertile time and either use a non-hormonal method or abstain during that time.
Just as fertility awareness is used to avoid pregnancy, it can be effective in achieving pregnancy as well. By identifying the fertile time and charting ovulation, a woman can gain vital information through FAM if she is trying to get pregnant.
Chart for Health
You don’t need to be thinking about babies to use fertility awareness! Learning FAM can be an empowering and informative for all women, no matter the stage in life. By learning about your own cycle and what is going on each month, you gain vital information on your health and well-being and steps to find root causes of what might be going on.
What method do you teach?
I am certified in the FEMM method, which is based out of the States. I love FEMM because it really teaches the importance of understanding and properly charting cervical mucous, which is so crucial when charting your fertile time. Check out the FEMM website for more information. Why hire an instructor? Click here for a blog post I wrote about it!
What will I learn?
Classes will help you understand the role of hormones and how they impact not only your reproductive cycles but your overall health as well. You will learn to interpret your charts to find the root causes of health issues or concerns. You will learn how to use the fertility awareness method to avoid pregnancy (or get pregnant, depending on your own goals), and how to live with your cycle rather than against it.
Is FAM the Rhythm Method?
No! The rhythm method “guesses” when you might ovulate based on when you last had your period, and the assumption that all menstruators have a 28 day cycle – which we know is not true. FAM is a scientifically-based observational practice that is based on your own fertility signs, no matter how long or short your cycles are.
Does FAM work for irregular cycles?
Many people can use FAM successfully with irregular cycles, with the help of an instructor. Charting your cycle with FAM means you identify your OWN fertile window and ovulation, not based off any algorithm or guessing. This means that you can be confident in confirming ovulation because you are in charge of knowing where you are in your cycle.