Fertility awareness. The name itself conjures up all sorts of strange connotations. Many people hear fertility and immediately jump to people trying to get pregnant and assisted reproductive technologies. Others equate fertility awareness with the rhythm method or other outdated forms of natural birth control. In reality, fertility awareness is now the common name specifically for the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness, which can be quite a mouthful. This method combines at least two biologic markers in women (namely, temperature and cervical fluid) in order to determine her current state of fertility. It is based on scientific facts, described below, and you do not need a regular cycle to practice it. All you need is a natural curiosity about your body and a bit of desire to avoid or achieve pregnancy (though there are those that practice it solely for more knowledge about their hormones).
So what’s the real deal with the sympto-thermal method? Many times people use the terms “natural family planning” or “fertility awareness method” to denote ANY method that encompasses periodic abstinence or use of an alternate birth control method. I have even heard of people using the term fertility awareness as synonymous with withdrawal. This leads to most people believing that the method is ineffective, too hard to learn, difficult to practice, or only acceptable if no other method will work for you. These assumptions can be true for many of the methods that encompass periodic abstinence. None are true in regards to the sympto-thermal method.
In reality, the method is effective (99.6%, according to one of the latest studies), offers a birth control method that has no side effects or health ramifications, it connects you to your sexuality and to your partner in new ways, it helps you be more aware of your health as well as responsible for it, it is morally acceptable to many who disagree with conventional birth control methods, it can empower women in their reproductive health and decision making, as well as give them more understanding of and respect for their feminine nature, it is environmentally friendly without dumping hormones into waters or using disposable products, and it is extremely inexpensive. Another great benefit is that it can apply to a woman throughout her entire reproductive years, as she can use it to understand her hormones, avoid pregnancy, or consciously choose to conceive.
With all of these amazing extras why would anyone choose to not use this method? It requires time to learn (about 3 hours plus time for gaining experience that is best used practicing another form of birth control), it requires discipline to chart regularly, it requires consistent and correct use in order to be used effectively, it requires motivation and responsibility, and it doesn’t protect against STIs.
In my experience, most people shy away from the method because the amount of power and responsibility that they are given does not seem appropriate to them on a subconscious level. They are accustomed to doctors knowing best and do not think that their body contains the information they need to avoid or achieve pregnancy, nor that they could be capable of understanding such signals.
So, what’s the science behind the method? Why should you trust it? Here are some facts about fertility. Keep in mind the signals that we are checking are basal body temperature and cervical fluid.
Sperm need cervical fluid to survive, swim, and be effectively ?washed? and capable of fertilizing an egg. It can live in fertile cervical fluid for up to?5 days, but dies quickly in the natural acidic vaginal environment.
Cervical fluid builds up in response to estrogen, which is released by the developing sacs that hold the egg. This is happening in the days leading up to ovulation.
The egg can only live for 12-24 hours, and ovulation can only happen once in a cycle. If two eggs are released, the second comes within 24 hours of the first, after which ovulation is inhibited by high levels of progesterone.
Progesterone is released from the corpus luteum, which is what the sac that held the egg turns into after ovulation has taken place. This raises the body temperature,?dries cervical fluid, and inhibits a second ovulation.
The basis of the method is a combination of male and female fertility. This includes both how long sperm can survive and how long an egg can survive, as well as knowing the window that the egg was released due to cervical fluid build up and drying off coupled with a temperature increase.
The sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness is 1.) very unforgiving if practiced incorrectly and 2.) best learned through another person (there is so much variability from woman to woman and it’s hard to account for such variability in books and the learning curve is much slower). The method is easy to learn and simple to use, but can come with confusion at first that is best abated by a trained instructor. It is best to look for a fertility awareness educator to teach you. Since there are very few, most people’s best bet is an online course, which I am now offering via 180DegreeHealth’s Get Help Program. That being said, I would also recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility as an excellent book that explains the sympto-thermal method in depth. Do not attempt to use the method just through information that you glean online. Those who do generally are those that have unplanned pregnancies. For those wishing to get pregnant, you could certainly get enough info online to use the method, but might be served more fully by an instructor, who also will help you pinpoint any hormonal issues.
Even if you aren’t sure if you would like to use the method (particularly as birth control), you can gain enormous amounts learning about it, and will learn a lot about your body practicing it, even just for awareness. And what a great excuse to take your temperature every morning to watch it elevate if you are working towards a better metabolism, right?
You can learn more about the sympto-thermal method through Hannah’s 4-hour online class HERE. ?
Leik omg first
Almost first? :)
I certainly feel more connected with myself and more understanding of my moods, now that I track my cycle. When I was younger I couldn’t tell you when I was ovulating or what that even felt like, I was just weirded out by the differences in discharge and all the other physiological changes. I kind of can’t believe it’s not more common to do this. It’s also fun to see where your cycle lines up with the moon phases. If I lose track of things, I just look up to the sky. Ah, waning crescent, should be getting on period time.
It’s been amazingly awesome in my life. So much more body appreciation.
i’m so glad you are writing about this – i’ve been using the method successfully for 7+ years and periodically before that. It is really empowering and clarifying to be connected to your own body rhythms and it can actually give you a fair bit of information if you pay attention. I got particularly clear on how well it works when i shifted my focus from birth control to conception in December – one try baby! Apparently all that work on my metabolism has served something besides weight gain, hair growth and food freedom! In addition to clearly being surprisingly fertile, I also credit this method and and knowing my own fertility signs quite clearly – and, I must have been doing something right all along to not get pregnant for so many years. I continue to find it distressing and rather appalling that women are not taught how to track their own bodies and that most of us do not know some of the most basic details of our fertility cycle – I think this should be required health education and then women of all ages can decide if the effort is worth their time and energy.
I am hoping to volunteer my time to middle schools/early high schools to teach young girls about their bodies, not in a birth control context, but just giving them respect for being a woman and all of the awsomeness that contains.
Oh man, you should. I taught a sexual health class to a bunch of “at-risk” teenage girls and they didn’t even understand the connection at all between menstruation and reproduction. They hadn’t heard of the concept of ovulation, they just thought that once a month their bodies had to clean out all the “dirty stuff” inside them. I was aghast. It really sucks that female cycles are just this sort of “inconvenience” we have to deal with. Plug it up with a tampon, pop a Pamprin or better yet, take some pills to make it all go away. I think it’s great that we’ve moved beyond the idea that women’s cycles should hold us back, but now it’s time to not be held back while understanding ourselves, not repressing ourselves and being ignorant to the cycle that drives us.
Another thing is that before I understood my cycle, I’d be really freaked by the various changes I’d experience in a month. Why do my breasts hurt so much, why am I breaking out, why am I so damn tired, why am I so damn anxious, why am I so damn horny. I seemed like a hypochondriac because I was so alert to the signals my body was sending me and no one could explain to me what was causing them. When actually, the answers are quite simple! I’m a woman, baby!
anyone with a uterus should chart. it is a window into your health. like matt, i’ve tried many of the special diets out there. my chart would tell me right away when i was going off the map. for instance, i could show you just when ultra-low carb took away my cycle. one of the common ideas (back when i was learning fertility awareness) was that one kelp pill per day would bring up your temps up a bit and make them easier to read. that was true for me, and i could show you that too. i no longer take a kelp pill every day, but i do make sure to eat fish and kelp as a regular part of my diet several times a week.
i learned from a book, but i’m a book learner and that works for me. i thought the best one was “taking charge of your fertility”. see the associated website. tcoyf.com
for 10+ years our method was: naked-sex from post-ovulation to day 5, condoms from day 6 until post-ovulation. these rules are a bit more strict than most use, but it worked for us. we did, for a time, attempt to abstain during fertile time, but i DO NOT recommend that! very sad idea. (hey! women are super horny 3 days out of the month! lets abstain then!) (once again, the angels weep)
a year ago, we switched to withdrawal instead of condoms during fertile time.
we were very fertile together back when we wanted babies. even though we are getting older (49) i still cycle like a teen, and seem very fertile.
and no oops (so far!)
truly, there was no other method that i would have accepted, and i am so thankful for all the science that was done to come up with the rules that make this method work.
i only wish i had had the information earlier… and the guts to try withdrawal (rather than condoms) earlier on.
in fact, looking back… i almost wish i DID have a woops baby! i’m 50 and looking back at my life. my kids are the best thing i ever spent my time and energy on… really i feel that there is nothing to loose here, especially if you are happily committed to one another. but that is just me.
DO try this, so many reasons to try it…wonderful
I don’t LOVE saying this publicly*, but I use withdrawal during my fertile time. My hubs is a competent withdrawer and we’ve never had a scare. At this point in our lives we are almost at the point that we could be all happy and no “Fuck, what are we going to doooo” about a pregnancy, so a 96% effectiveness is cool with me. I love that practicing the sympto-thermal method gives us days we don’t have to w/d, though, it would really suck w/ding all the time, I think.
*The reason I don’t love saying it publicly is because I don’t want to PROMOTE it, since it’s not for everyone, some people can not use w/d correctly and even for those who can that would be more devastated by an oops than me it wouldn’t be a good choice.
Thanks Hannah, for promoting the more sensible idea that do-what-works-for-you! I agree, there are some guys that it just wouldn’t work for.
I also love the method and I lean to the more cautious side. I know full well what can result from using the “pull-out” method during fertile days. That is how my sister became pregnant. Her daughter is a blessing, don’t get me wrong, but my sister was definitely not too thrilled when she found out the news. Whatever works for you is fine. I just wouldn’t recommend it to someone who isn’t ready for babies just yet. I’d say it’s more like Russian Roulette, to be honest.
Other than that, I also love the method for the refeeding process. I’ve been able to track my progress as I’ve noticed a slow, but steady rise in body temperature and my luteal phase is getting stronger and longer (which is a sign that my progesterone levels are going up). I’m thinking that everything will be working fine once I’m ready for children.
I just wanted to add that for women with any kind of hormonal imbalance (PCOS especially, Hasimotos as well) this method is highly unreliable. While it can give you some valuable information in terms of what your cycle is doing, temps are normally erratic, CM does not follow a predicatable pattern and nor does ovulation (if it happens at all) so be forewarned.
In fact, the method CAN still be a reliable form of birth control even for those with irregular cycles, because you still have the same stuff going on phisiologically, but it often involves too much abstaining to be worth it for most (for instance, most with PCOS have very long cycles (which means an increase in the follicular phase) and a lot of cervical fluid during that time, which is indicative of more hormonal activity and a possibility of ovulation being closer. Even though your generally LESS fertile, you have more days of abstinance/barrier/alternate sex.
I totally agree, though, that it is the perfect tool for those with irregular hormones to figure out what is going on and be able to see how what they are doing is playing into their health.
I have totally irregular cycles due to longstanding PCOS that I’ve tried to deal with for many years. I have charted my cycles continually since 2002 with the Taking Charge of Your Fertility software. I take my vaginal temp every day and record it along with cervical mucus and position of the cervix. Even though my cycle length varies, it’s only the pre-ovulation phase that varies. Once ovulation occurs (for me it’s anywhere from day 17 to day 47), the post-ovulation phase has been consistently btwn 12-15 days (never varies). Once my temp drops, my period starts the next day. Easy breezy.
I used charting to get pregnant (and I wanted a boy, so we did the deed after my temp had risen after ovulation, and boom, I had a boy). We ended up just wanting just our one son, so I’ve successfully used charting instead of any birth control since we had him (nearly 8 years now). During the week before ovulation until my temp rise, we just don’t have sex (lack of health insurance, don’t want an oops!). Four days after my temp rise after ovulation, we’re good to go.
Charting as also given me the chance to know exactly what affects my cycles. Stressful times, etc. clearly show up in the length of my pre-ovulation phase.
That is awesome to hear that it is working so well for you. I know quite a few people with PCOS that chart, you are lucky if you only have cervical fluid for a week before ovulation! In that case, you actually would have more “safe” days that the average woman.
No, I have more than a week of cervical fluid per cycle, but I’ve been charting so long that I know if my temps don’t rise enough and stabilize that I didn’t ovulate. I have about a week of varying degrees of egghite-ish cervical fluid (the most fertile type of fluid) before I actually ovulate.
I don’t rely on cervical mucus alone; I go by the temps and cervix position. My temps will drop considerably if my body attempts to ovulate three or four times before I actually ovulate and my cervical fluid goes from eggwhite to creamy. After I actually ovulate, my cervical mucus is much drier than after the previous attempts. If I don’t consider it dry, then I haven’t ovulated yet.
After 11 years of charting, I’m pretty much an expert now!
I was just mentioning cervical fluid because that is what is (at least formally, though it sounds like you have found something else that works for you?) used to determine that ovulation is approaching, not temperature, which generally is only used to confirm ovulation after the fact.
So you have essentially made up your own rules that work for you after many years of use? I would love to see your charts to understand what you mean. I’m not positive if I understand what you have found about your cycle based on your description.
I will mention to other people who may be reading: In order to get the best effectiveness from the sympto-thermal method you do need to follow the regular rules, making up your own, though it may seem/be safe in your case (and people certainly do this), is not fully following the method and you can expect the effectiveness rate will drop. Similar to not using any other method correctly.
I just give this disclaimer because this method is so effective, but often touted as completely ineffective. One of the reasons is because I’ve often had people tell me they were trying to avoid pregnancy, while purposely having unprotected intercourse on days that they can conceieve, I like to make sure that people know that many people saying they are practicing the method and get pregnant are actually not for various reasons.
No, I haven’t made up my own “rules” here at all. I know when I’m ovulating based on the degree of eggwhite mucus and temp drop. If my cervical fluid doesn’t dry up completely, and my temps haven’t stayed up for three days in a row, then I know I haven’t ovulated. My body attempted to ovulate, but didn’t. My preovulation phase temps sometimes appears like a series of hills, with a distinct temp drop before ovulation occurs. Then it goes up and stays up, and my cervical fluid dries up. A few days before my period, the cervical fluid becomes more creamy and my cervix level drops. My temp drops the day before my period.
If anything, I’d say I follow the “rules” almost completely. I have 11 years of charting experience, a wanted pregnancy, and no surprise pregnancies because of charting.
I guess I am confused by your description. So you do abstain on all pre-ovulatory days that you have cervical fluid? From your first comment (first reply to me) it looked like you determined your pre-ovulatory fertility by temperature and not cervical fluid.
You are correct on both — I abstain when my temp drops before ovulation and know that I ovulated when my cervical fluid has become drier than usual. My temp needs at least three to four days of staying up before I feel comfortable not abstaining. There’s a solid week before I actually ovulate (usually after a few attempts) that I know it’s better to abstain.
Hmmm interesting. Well, I am glad it has worked for some women with PCOS! For me, all it told me is that my temps, CM, and hormones are completely erratic and I do know other women who observed the same. Even when I did manage to ovulate and get pregnant (from Clomid), my temps never did rise or indicate any changes. And yes, I was doing it right, lol.
i began charting with pcos, and never had any trouble with contracepting with pcos/charting and condoms. i could see the multiple tries my body would take. charting helped me work out my pcos, by showing me which lifestyle choices were helping.
My favorite part about charting :) our bodies are so freaking awesome and adaptable.
Love this article! I’ve been using FAM for about 8 years now. I was successful in conceiving my son using FAM and preventing additional pregnancies. Lately, I’ve been using to help me with interstitial cystitis flares which has not only kept me from losing my mind but also was very helpful in asking for specific treatments from my health practitioners. My hormones are off lately. Can’t tell if it’s from being sick or possibly perimenopause but I would have had some serious oops if I hadn’t been tracking. I’m hoping to be able to become qualified to teach FAM in my area. One last thing- After dealing with a lot of drs this past year for IC, I’ve encountered a HUGE lack of knowledge about hormones. Scary!
Oh yeah, very little knowledge there. It’s scary and baffling to me. Maybe because I am niave :)
There are two programs I know of that you can take to learn to teach FAM in a secular context. Both are online. You can msg. me if you want more info.
Billberry helped me tremendously with IC. I started with 3, 3x/day. It took about 12 weeks to stop completely. I took 2 a day for the next year. And after that went down to just 1. I haven’t had to take it for several years now. Btw, my IC was associated with PCOS, blood sugar control problems, and poor diet (especially diet sodas). I had my IC for 7 years.
Fertility related question. I’ve been eating diligently and my period (which had almost stopped) has gradually returned to a 28 day cycle where the flow has increased each month that I have been following the advice here. Last month I bled for 7 days with a solid flow, essentially the healthiest period I have had since I was a teenager, although my temperature was only 97.8. My temperature on the second day of my period this month is 98.2, which is actually the highest it has been at the low point of the month. But, my flow is extremely light this month, essentially a return to what it was prior to finding this site. I’m on the 4th day and I’m wondering if anyone has any ideas about what could be causing this.
Do you take your temperature daily? It will fluctuate throughout your cycle, being lower before ovulation and higher after. Temps during the period are often a little higher for most women.
Your cycles will probably take a while to get to where they are happy. What are you gauging as “healthy”? You don’t need 7 solid days of menses to be healthy. In fact, I would say for most women that would be heavy. Generally there is a few days of flow and a few days of spotting. It would be a great practice for you to learn how to chart your whole cycle. Getting in cervical fluid info could help you a lot, as well.
It sounds like you are doing well!
Thanks for responding Hannah. I cut back on taking my temperatures daily mostly because i felt like I was being obsessive, perhaps that is what I will need to do to keep a handle on my reproductive period. I don’t fully trust my partner with withdrawal and we are enjoying having unprotected sex perhaps a little too freely.
When I started following the advice here, my period had been light for at least 5 years and I had only cycled 4 times in the last year with just spotting. Testing showed that my uterus was shrunken. So I ate as much as I could bear for the first 3 months, gaining a whopping 25 lbs until I started cycling regularly (which was extremely painful the first few times). Since then the cycle has gotten heavier each month with a longer number of days to the flow, even though my temperatures are still on the low side. Recently I cut back on my fat intake as I am letting myself return to my natural eating habits, and I got a bump in temperature and have lost a few pounds, but of course this month my period is extremely light. Losing some of the extra weight is great, but my focus is on preparing my body for pregnancy so I don’t want to undo any of the progress I have made.
I would follow your intuition! When our bodies are changing a bunch (especially with weight changes) our hormones can go wacko, but I think things will level out for you, it sounds like you are making a bunch of changes. What is “extremely light” to you?
Light is only using underliner without any concern of leakage every day in the cycle. Last month I had a day where I needed to change my tampon every few hours, so this is a big difference.
This is a very well written article! I love the pic of the baby, funny!
I have been teaching the Creighton Model FertilityCare system for 7 years now. If you have irregular cycles or want a more one on one instruction, this might be the program for you. You can find a teacher at fertilitycare.org. I have taught over 100 couples and everyone becomes very confident in her signs of fertility after one cycle of charting. It is also good for those women who are nursing when temps can be unreliable.
And as for the commenter above that says don’t abstain, I say why not? If a couple isn’t ready for a baby then just don’t use that time of her cycle. As a women, when we need to do this, I feel so respected by my husband. He is respecting all of me, including my fertility.
Hmmm, I’m not sure if I’m that “commenter”, but I certainly don’t believe you shouldn’t abstain. I believe that everyone should have the choice to do what they believe is right for them. I like to let people know what all of their choices are and help them make an informed decision.
If I am preaching that everyone should abstain because it is “more effective” or I believed it was morally right, and then they can’t or don’t for some reason, then they would struggle with STM (or whichever method of fertility awareness they were choosing) and either leave it or have a baby that wasn’t intentionally brought in to their lives. I think that it is best to give everyone lots of information and lots of choice and let them decide what is best for them in their lives.
No, Hannah, I didn’t mean you.
But I also teach that way, giving the couples all the information. Based on scientific studies of our method, it is the most effective in avoiding pregnany to not use days of fertility for intercourse. Condoms tend to create confusion with mucus observations. But our method doesn’t use any other signs of fertility besides mucus observations. It was found to be more percise that way.
I think that CF is more important, and that at some times it is certainly not even beneficial to take your temperature, but I find it interesting to say that it is more precise. I have also studied with a Billings instructor who has said this and studied the Creigton system as well as Justisse (based of Creighton, they just adopted a non-religious context for teaching). Can you tell me what studies have been done or what research that supports CF only techniques being more precise? I’m not trying to put you on the spot or anything, genuine curiousity! From everything I have read with effectiveness studies, STM comes out as higest effectiveness. It makes sense that if you build up a strong base with cervical fluid observations and than add in another observation you would increase the effectiveness. In addition, there are studies that have recorded actual time of ovulation vs. pk day and temp shift and temp shift is closer to the time of ovulation. Of course, there is no reason to pinpoint ovulation so much as define your fertile window, which both methods can do without a doubt.
I also believe that CF tends to be better in those with better health. If people have excess estrogen/poor progesterone, they tend to have cervical fluid throughout their luteal phase (this was me when I first started charting! and I would never have had times that I could consider myself safe). Since so many people do not have good hormonal health it can be nice to know that ovulation has passed.
I do certainly agree that the emphasis needs to be on cervical fluid, partially because it becomes easier for most women to rely on temperture observations since it is objective and easily readable. I wrote an article about why cervical fluid is more important not too long ago, so you can see my views on it here: http://holistichormonalhealth.com/2013/04/30/the-importance-of-cervical-fluid/
I just got home from work where I have access to the textbook on Creighton. :( I only work one evening a week, so next week I can look into your question. Would you be able to get my email address through this website to send me a personal email so I can find out exactly what you would like to know?
I think that Dr. Hilgers found that temperature and cervical checks tended to create more confusion and weren’t as reliable of an indicator of predicting fertility (as in temperature tends to only confirm it).
As for my experience, with Creighton the perciseness would be from teaching a woman to check every time for CM in the same way as well as the way the Creighton system describes the mucus.
Yes, women with hormonal abnormalities will see their chart differentiate from the normal chart. The doctors that work with the Creighton system diagnosis and treat these abnormalities from a bioidentical standpoint. As a teacher, I can help a woman identify what her true time of fertility is in the midst of all the discharge pretty quickly.
Hi Erin, I don’t have your email as this isn’t my website, but if you click on my name it should take you to my website with my contact info.
BUT I think you answered my question.
Part one: I agree that temp can not predict fertility (haha, obviously), but I don’t agree that they inherently make the practice more confusing. I think that people can get confused only because they put more weight on temps or they want to see something that is picture perfect instead of seeing whatever it is they have.
Part two: I also teach women to check every time and describe it the same way (minus the fact that they have all of the numbers and letters as descriptors – I encourage women to find a language that works for them) in terms of what is peak and non-peak. Adding temp to that doesn’t make it less precise.
I want to buy that creighton text! So expensive, though. Though Dr. Hilgers rubs me the wrong way sometimes so I wonder if I would like it.
I’ve used FAM on and off for 10 years and firmly ON for 6.5 years. I also have PCOS*, Addisons’s disease and Hashimotos. Yet I’ve never had an oops. Furthermore, my cycles are a bit irregular (generally 32 days, but with stress can go to 35 and with travel across multiple time zones to the 40s), and FAM still works. My cycles used to be irregular all the time: 35-45 days, yet I never had any accidents.
BTW, my luteal phase has lengthened over the past six months, ever since my thyroid has become optimised. It used to be 12-14 days no matter what length my cycle was, whereas now it is 16 days. I hate it because it means my PMS lasts longer. I know it is probably a sign of improved health, but do you have any ideas as to why this has happened or what I could do to make it go back to 12 days?
* Some doctors now consider my PCOS to be cured. However, I feel that if I were to go back to a poor diet and stop taking my supplements and met, I would get ill again. Therefore, I consider it to be well controlled rather than cured.
16 days is in the good range and I wouldn’t try to get it back down to 12. I assume you are counting your luteal phase by temp shift?
Perhaps if you keep doing what you are doing for your hormonal health your PMS will get better, as well. Has your PMS gotten any better as your luteal phase has gotten longer? Most people believe that PMS has to do with low progesterone.
A couple other quick PMS suggestions:
-Stress! Do whatever it is you need to do to deal with whatever stressors come your way. Also, get your sleep.
-PMS often manifests because we are spending our time not “being ourselves” (in multiple ways) and during the luteal phase of our cycle we are a bit more ourself in that we hold back a little less, aren’t as interested in people pleasing, etc. When we are trying to make our “normal” lives work and we have this complete/partial disgust for it we end up having some of the moodier PMS symptoms.
Either of those ring true for you?
It was12-14 days. 13 really was the average. I count via the TCOYF charing programme. My PMS is the same as ever, except now it is longer. :( I’ ve been using progesterone cream for a few years, but while it eases breast pain and cravings, I still have other symptoms that don’t go away no matter how much cream I take. I did have have high oestrogen so took herbs to lower that and oestrogen is now good. Yet still I have PMS. My progesterone has been good for a few years and I do use the cream, but still PMS comes. I experimented this month to see if not taking the porgesterone would help, but it didn’t.
My symptoms are weight gain of 2-3 lbs (which I hate, given I used to have an ED) and tearfulness. I am definitely feistier too. I try to keep stress as low as possible via lifestyle factors. However with PMS, I find that it takes the problems I am normally optimistic about and turns me into a pessimistic person. My career is not the best, but I do constructive things for it and keep a positive attitude during the follicular phase. However during the luteal phase I worry about my finances and ruminate on how my career will never be fixed. It isn’t good.
I am considering trying vitex next, as it helped me when I had bad PCOS when I was younger.
I still want shorter luteal phases! :)
It sounds to me like a lot of your PMS is due to emotional factors more than anything. Are you stuck doing your job forever? Any way out?
I would try just doing good things for your endocrine system and not take the progesterone cream, as that could be helping the luteal phases stay longer (I’m not sure how long the effects would last so one month without might not have shown you how it would be).
Is there any chance you could go without weighing yourself however often you do? If you feel compelled to weigh yourself at all I would do it once a month on the same day of your cycle (earlier rather than later). Your uterus actually gains weight at the end of your cycle, a couple pounds, though it may seem terrible, is fine.
-Her Blood is Gold by Lara Owen
-Wild Genie by Alexandra Pope (I actually haven’t read this one yet, I’ve been holidng off on buying it due to price, but I have read other stuff by Pope and it’s great, so I assume this book is wonderful)
I really don’t know what to do about my career. I am self employed and love the independence of it, but the financial aspacts of it are not so good as I am only building a client base. I need to talk a lot to my partner about it, but we’ve been so busy lately there hasn’t been time. I guess I’ll eventually figure it all out. It’s hard.
I’ll check out the books. They look good!.
I have the same problem currently! It’s a hell of a ride.
i depend on 3 things, my fluids, my temperature and my Mittelschmerz.
i begin to take temps about the same time that my fluids start getting moister. the drop in temp that signifies the height of estrogen is obvious in my chart as well within a few days fluids peak and i will ovulate and feel the mittleschmerz. 2 days later my temps rise from 97.7 up to 98.2, and then continue to rise… 98.4, 98.7, 98.8. i see a bit of PMS starting on that first night of freedom! temps slowly fall and then are a bit uneven during the period.
i was the poster who said she hated abstaining during horny time. for obvious reasons. it is like saying you will never eat your favorite dessert… for life. i couldn’t live that way. i would much prefer to take my chances. as i said, what we did at those times was use condoms, particularly we liked lamb condoms. never had any trouble with them goofing up my fluid observations. now, as i said, we use withdrawal.
it is important to get a thermometer that works properly. i’m not really sure how you can know this when you are just starting out. i got lucky with my first purchase and bought a crappy one second time around.
Yeah abtinance is hard! Alt. sex is definitely good, too, though.
regarding the pcos thing… i do want to point out that i never bothered with trying to determine when fertile time started.
i always stopped free-time at day 5 (which for me is still during menses) and considered myself fertile until my chart proved i was post-ovulation.
this simplification made my life less stressful.
Btw, I just want to mention that we need to remember how long sperm can live in the vaginal tract. My Dad swears he could smell the difference on my mother. But, guess what? He swears she didn’t smell that good when they conceived me. Note: I’m here. I was the miracle baby they weren’t supposed to be able to conceive. So, bear that all in mind.
Up to five days in the presence of fertile cervical fluid, which is why the presence of cervical fluid is what determines fertility with this method. Smell is NOT how we determine fertility, though scent can change it is not a primary fertility sign and is not depended upon.
I would love for young women to know this! I only learned how to chart in my late 30s when I had just gotten married and we wanted children. It was a whole new world. And for me, it was very reliable, I knew just what to do when, and boom, boom, two babies. Yay!
Oh, charting those temps! Praying that they wouldn’t go down! They didn’t! Yay! Thanks for letting me relive that happy time!
:) Yes, everyone should really know. Whether they want to use it as birth control or to get pregnant or whatever. Life skill.
I had two unplanned pregnancies with FAM, but the second was definately my fault. Because of this my twin refuses to try it because she absolutely doesn’t want kids. I’m still using it, though, because no way am I going back to hormonal BC!! I wasted 6 years of my marriage on that crap.
I will say that FAM works a lot better when your metabolism is shot and you only have sex once or twice a month anyway. :-X