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Fertility education and awareness is more than just birth control.

A way to prevent or achieve pregnancy, no hormones, no sketchy side affects, no dependence upon god head of the pharmaceutical industry.

When I only have a sentence to explain what this thing I teach is, I usually emphasize natural family planning, or hormone free birth control, because honestly, it catches your attention, doesn't it? A desire to prevent or achieve pregnancy naturally is usually what brings women to fertility awareness. When you are just beginning your journey into fertility awareness and cycle charting, you honestly have no idea the depth of what you're getting into, if you allow yourself to go there.

A deep relationship with your body, understanding of the cyclical hormonal happenings, super power feminine manifestation capacities, a deep love of your body and fertility rather than fear pregnancy, and getting to the root cause of pesky symptoms that you've been told were normal all your life, to name a few of the unexpected benefits that come with cycle charting.

Charting your cycle is coming into relationship with your body, your reproductive anatomy and your cycle in a profound way.

I am currently in the midst of my FEMM training, which stands for Fertility Education and Medical Management. The goal of FEMM is to teach women to chart their cycle, recognize their biomarkers of cycle events, understand what a normal and healthy cycle looks like so that they can spot any imbalances, and ultimately, take charge of their reproductive health, seeking out the support of competent doctors when needed, from a base of power and bodily awareness. The natural family planning is just one aspect and kind of a secondary or even tertiary focus after gauging hormonal health.

Fertility awareness method is practiced by charting your biomarkers everyday; your cervical mucus quality, bleed quality, basal body temperature and cervical position (as additional symptoms to check in with, but not primary symptoms). It consists of a few minutes a day to write down what's going on for you, and paying attention every time you wipe when you go to the bathroom. It takes only a few minutes total, and when put into practice, will change your life.

It works as birth control because your body presents biomarkers (cervical mucus) when you enter your fertile window. Because you know you are in your fertile window, you will either abstain from intercourse on those days, or use other methods of contraception. It takes a few cycles to really understand your cycle pattern, but after a few cycles when you can recognize your fertile pattern, you can prevent or achieve pregnancy. And that's it. Simple, right?

Because you become attuned with your cycle and what your "normal" looks like, you will know as soon as something has thrown you off. Say you decide to try a new way of eating, or have a particularly stressful week. Your cycle will reflect how your body is responding to those changes.

When you work with a Fertility Awareness Method instructor, you will learn what is normal and healthy and what is not. If you have, for example, been having extremely painful periods for your whole life and it has been written off as normal, through observing your biomarkers you will be able to observe what hormonal activity is happening or not happening, and you will be able to detect a deeper underlying issue like PCOS, endometriosis, thyroid hyper or hypo function, and hormonal imbalances. Just symptoms of your bleed are not enough. To really determine how healthy your cycle is, you must be tracking your fertile biomarkers to see you have sufficient hormone levels.

In this way, an underlying health condition can not be denied if it is there. There is no more being gas-lit by your doctor when you begin charting your cycle. In this way it demands higher quality of care from your provider. It requires that providers are adept at understanding what a healthy ovulation and menstrual cycle looks like, rather than just prescribing hormonal contraceptives to "regulate" your symptoms, which in the end will probably make them worse because it is just a cover up of the real problem.

Yet another benefit of cycle charting; you can interact with your care provider from a space of being informed and aware of what happens in your body, making you the expert of your own body rather than them. This removes the paternalistic, hierarchical relationship between you and your provider. It also forces you to find a care provider who listens to you. It is a quick filter of what kind of doctor you want to be working with or don't want to be working with, how they respond when you come in informed and aware of what's going on with your body.

When you are in this kind of relationship with your ovulation cycle, you have an energetic super power. Aligning with your menstrual cycle allows you to access altered states of consciousness that bring great clarity to your vision for life, when you allow yourself to rest. Awareness of when ovulation occurs allows you to use the high energy of the hormones associated with that time to bring your vision to life. Charting your cycle can also include charting your energy patterns around different time so the cycle, a kind of biohacking, allowing you to be most productive and aligned with your life in your body.

Preventing pregnancy is an added bonus when you consider all of the truly life changing benefits being in close conscious relationship with your cycle has to offer.

Come for the birth control, stay for the profound spiritual connection to your reproductive processes, and powerful female embodiment.

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