You may or may not be familiar with my story of starting to use the fertility awareness method. It was a mixture of excitement, amazement, scared-shitlessness, and a lot of appreciation.
It all started when I heard about it from a friend (an online friend, actually) and just kind of thought “that’s cool and something I’d like to look into at some point.”
This was before I even had thought about a long-term method of birth control, so I just kind of filed it away in the back of my mind thinking it might come in handy some day.
Of course, that someday came when I was like “screw condoms, I need a better birth control method now.”
At that point in my life I was also leaning towards never wanting to have a child, so I was not looking to mess around with my birth control method.
Because I based a lot of what I wanted on efficacy (and, because it’s me, safety), I basically chose the two most effective non-hormonal birth control options and decided I would use them both. I booked an appointment to get an IUD and requested a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility from the library.
So at the same time I am reading this big fat fertility book, I (finally) talk my doctor into giving me an IUD (this was before it was en-vogue to use IUDs and it was quite a struggle to get them to acquiesce).
I was pretty ecstatic about both. I loved having the protection of the IUD but did note that my pain and bleeding of my periods was markedly more obnoxious. I figured that I just need to put up with it, though, since I didn’t want to get pregnant.
I also started charting my cycles at the same time, which I was pretty excited and scared about at the same time. Something about the thought of taking my temperature every morning sounded super hard and almost insurmountable.
But I pressed on… Until the 16th day of my cycle when I went away for a couple of days, at which time I conveniently “forgot” to bring my thermometer. When I got back I wasn’t even thinking about charting my cycles anymore. I figured the IUD was good enough and that was that. I at least learned the method, right?
Fast forward almost 2 years and I was pretty peeved at my IUD. I was doing everything I could for my health and had these nagging concerns about my period, my abdomen, and painful intercourse. Not only that, but I had an increasing paranoia about getting pregnant and it being ectopic (meaning it implants in your fallopian tube instead of uterine lining where it’s supposed to) and then having to get my fallopian tube removed.
Slowly, over the course of a couple of weeks, I thought about getting the IUD out and came to terms with using fertility awareness “for real” this time.
Though by that time I had started to warm up to the idea of having a baby (actually, baby fever might be a better word for it), it wasn’t a good time to get pregnant at all, so I still wanted to be super careful. While I was hesitant to give up an extremely effective form of birth control, at the same time I knew a few things.
- Fertility awareness is also ridiculously effective, I just had to use it correctly,
- I was sick of putting up with BS just because I didn’t want to deal with birth control,
- I actually would feel MORE confident and comfortable having control over (and knowledge of) what is going on than just trusting a device I didn’t know much about.
It was pretty much decided. I was going to rid my uterus of the IUD and start charting my cycles again.
But there was a *slight* problem. At this point I hadn’t read Taking Charge of Your Fertility in two years and obviously needed a refresher, but I was so confident I’d be fine that I started charting the same cycle I got the IUD out.
But I had stumbling block (or a few). One was that I realized I never really learned much about my cervical fluid and Taking Charge of Your Fertility didn’t really describe a cycle anything like what I saw with my own. Another was that my husband didn’t actually trust the method yet since he knew almost nothing about it. And yet another? I still had questions! I was confused! Why in the world didn’t I have these perfect textbook cycles that started with one kind of cervical fluid, ended with another, had perfect temperature rises, and never had ambiguous cervical fluid?
But that was where my search began, because despite living in one of the United States biggest cities (San Diego, at the time) I could not find anyone (certified or uncertified) that taught fertility awareness who could answer my questions.
Surely, there must be online courses, I thought.
Big. Fat. Nope.
The only thing I could find was a course taught by the couple to couple league (a Catholic organization), which I was a little worried would be more focused on the religious aspects of using the method than the intricacies of using it.
So there I was, on one hand being obsessed with what I now knew about my cycles and really thankful that I was getting so much information about my body (I actually didn’t ovulate during my second cycle tracking. That is still, to date, the only cycle I have not ovulated), but on the other still wondering what was really going on and searching desperately for someone to help me. I knew I loved the method and wanted to stick with it, but was frustrated at the lack of support and lack of information.
… To be continued