I just finished rereading the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, and I can’t sing its praises enough. The book explains a woman’s monthly ovulation and menstrual cycle and shows how to chart and interpret your body’s signs that signal if you are fertile or infertile. Whether you want to avoid or encourage pregnancy (or just learn more about your awesome body), that is great information to have at your disposal. (Check out Planned Parenthood’s write up of this method here.)
Now, you’ll need to consult the book and/or a Fertility Awareness Method class for the full scoop; that’s beyond the scope of this blog. I’ll just say that all you really need to do is take your waking temperature every morning and then check what type of cervical fluid you’re producing or not producing throughout the day. (Optionally, you can check your cervical position to corroborate the other two signs.) It is NOT about looking at a calendar or some stupid beads to guess if you’re fertile or not. It is NOT the “Rhythm Method.”
Analyzing these signs will allow you to predict if you are likely to ovulate soon or if you have already ovulated, and you can use that info to help you prevent or cause a pregnancy. You chart this information and use it as you see fit. If signs point to fertility and you don’t want to get pregnant, you can have non-pregnancy-inducing sexy fun, take a break from sexy fun, or make sure to use a barrier
during sexy fun. If you want to get pregnant, you can make sure you are optimizing your baby-making efforts.
This is information every woman should know! Even if you don’t have sex with men, it’s cool to know what your reproductive system is doing down there. Even if you are on hormonal birth control that stops you from cycling naturally, I still recommend you read this book, just to expand your knowledge of your body. The author also wrote a book for teens called Cycle Savvy that I want to read. I think that having clear, detailed, debunking information about my reproductive system would have been great during my own adolescence. I will give it a read soon and let you know what I think.
I think that this kind of knowledge really is empowering. Sure, the Catholic Church might encourage people to use a kind of fertility awareness they call “Natural Family Planning” since they think birth control is a sin and all, so I know that the whole idea of fertility awareness bit might put some of my Radigans on edge, but don’t fret. First of all, the book isn’t an anti-birth control diatribe; Weschler is a cool woman who knows her stuff, not a religious fanatic. Plus, knowing what’s going on in your body each month is a good thing, and you can use that information however you want to!
Caveat: Safe (or safer) sex rules still apply, of course. Protect yourself from STDs by using condoms. This method is best for monogamous couples with no STDs. This method isn’t perfect; people still get pregnant on it sometimes. Check out a comparison different types of birth control here.