From doctors’ offices to health class to our own mothers, we’ve received a lot of misinformation about sex, birth control, and our bodies. One of the most frustrating pieces of misinformation that we’ve received is that there are no natural forms of birth control aside from condoms, the copper IUD, and not doing it. False. So freaking false.
For one, the copper IUD is not natural. Just because it doesn’t contain synthetic hormones does not mean that it’s natural. Copper coils and plastic t-shaped devices do not naturally occur in our bodies. They are foreign objects and our bodies know that, hence the often intense increase in menstrual cramps and bleeding.
And, for the same reasons, condoms aren’t natural either. They don’t naturally occur in our bodies or the environment. They are made using chemical processes, so the best we can do is source condoms that are made with body-safe ingredients.
Ugh, then there’s abstinence. Let’s be real, for most of us that’s not an option. Our bodies want us to have sex. It’s our biology. I guess you could say that having sex is one of the most natural things we as humans do. #giggity
There is, however, a really great option for those who want a truly natural birth control method and that’s fertility awareness methods.
For anyone who is new here, fertility awareness methods are cycle tracking methods of birth control that use your natural menstrual cycle and real-time fertility signs to safely and naturally prevent pregnancy. Here at Sauvage Wellness we use the sympto-thermal double check method of fertility awareness.
These methods gave me my body back after hormonal birth control left me a shell of the woman that I once was at just 23 years old (you can read about my story here). They are easy, effective, and so freaking misunderstood.
“Fertility awareness methods don’t work.”
“Those methods are great if you’re ready to get pregnant.”
“Those methods aren’t really birth control methods.”
These are all things that I’ve heard from doctors and as a certified fertility awareness educator and decade-long fertility awareness method user I can tell you with 100% confidence that this is all WRONG.
Today I wanted to take a minute to clear up the 5 biggest fertility awareness myths once and for all because you, girl, deserve to know the truth about your body, your birth control, and all the options that are available to you!
5 Biggest Fertility Awareness Myths
#1. When people talk about fertility awareness methods they’re talking about the rhythm method.
NO. Just no. OMG no.
This is the single biggest myth about fertility awareness methods and it is one that is very often perpetuated by the modern medical community.
Here’s the deal - Modern fertility awareness methods are NOT the rhythm method. Modern fertility awareness methods rely on real-time body symptoms like cervical fluid and basal body temperature to determine the fertile phase in each menstrual cycle. They are based on what’s happening in your body right now at this moment.
The rhythm method, on the other hand, is based on a predetermined calculation of when your fertile window will be in your current cycle based on when it was in your past cycles… and that’s an awful idea. You are not a robot. You will not ovulate at the same time every month. Heck, in a stressful month you might skip ovulation all-together. Common things like stress, illness, and new medications can throw off ovulation from cycle to cycle. That’s why it’s incredibly important to use real-time body symptoms to determine your fertile window NOT a calculation from your past cycles.
The rhythm method was developed in the past as a natural pregnancy prevention method before the research that led to the development of modern fertility awareness methods was available. It is an old, outdated, ineffective method and is rarely, if ever, taught by certified fertility awareness educators.
#2. There is such a thing as “the fertility awareness method.”
Nope. There are actually several different fertility awareness methods that include some combination of cervical fluid tracking, temperature tracking, and cervix tracking. The term “fertility awareness method” was popularized in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, MPH. This book teaches the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness, but there are other methods including…
Cervical Fluid Only Method (aka Billings Ovulation Method)
This method utilizes cervical fluid only to open and close the fertile window and is therefore a single-index fertility awareness method. Fun Fact - I used this method for the first 5 years of my fertility awareness journey! I love cervical fluid!
Temperature Only Method
This method utilizes basal body temperature only to determine the fertile window and is also a single-index fertility awareness method. The temperature only method requires the most days of abstinence or condom use.
This method utilizes cervical fluid, temperature, and optional cervix tracking to establish the fertile window. Despite all of the tracking signs used, this method is also a single-index method because it utilizes only one tracking sign to open the fertile window, namely cervical fluid. This is the method in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
Sympto-Thermal Double Check Method
This method utilizes all of the tracking signs of the sympto-thermal method PLUS a cycle length calculation to ensure that the fertile window is opened in time for the earliest potential of ovulation based on your personal cycle history. The addition of this calculation makes this method a double-index method and improves upon the efficacy of the sympto-thermal method. Fun Fact - This is the method that I personally use now and the one that I teach to all of my clients here at Sauvage Wellness!
#3. Fertility awareness methods are not as effective as hormonal birth control or the copper IUD.
Nope! The most comprehensive research study available on the sympto-thermal double check method proves that it is up to 99.6% effective with perfect use when learned from a trained fertility awareness educator (Frank-Herrmann et al 2007). That’s the same as the perfect use efficacy of the birth control pill!
Now, perfect use is not the greatest way to measure efficacy of birth control because it doesn’t take into account human error. For example, the typical use efficacy of the birth control pill is actually more like 91% when we factor in those times that users forget to take their pill or vomit (which, yes, can lower pill efficacy!).
Unfortunately for us, there isn’t a lot of money to be made in the world of fertility awareness because Big Pharma can’t sell you a pill or a t-shaped device for your uterus so there hasn’t been any well-funded studies on the typical use rates of fertility awareness methods. My hope is that we will have access to these types of studies soon. In the meantime, I can tell you that 100% of the women that I know who use fertility awareness methods and have learned from a trained instructor have not gotten pregnant unless they’ve wanted to!
#4. Fertility awareness methods are complicated.
This is the #1 concern of all of my incoming clients. “Brandy, it just all seems so complicated.” Want to guess what the #1 thing my clients say after working together for 3 cycles? “Brandy, I can’t believe how easy this is!”
If there’s one thing I want to shout from the rooftops it’s that fertility awareness methods are SO FREAKING EASY. Once you learn what to look for, what the rules are, and how to use the charts, it’s seriously so simple.
Your cervical fluid will be there, just sitting on your undies or TP. Your temperature will shift if you’re making healthy amounts of progesterone.
Your body is sending you the signs, all you have to do is look for them.
#5. Fertility awareness methods are time consuming.
Okay, this is the #2 concern of all of my incoming clients. And, they’re always surprised at how little time they spend tracking their cycles. It’s not this big, massive undertaking. It doesn’t disrupt your life. It takes about as long as brushing your teeth. Here’s how…
Wake up & take your temperature - 60 seconds
Go pee & & check cervical fluid - 60 seconds
Notice sensations of cervical fluid throughout the day - 60 seconds
Look for cervical fluid each time you use the bathroom throughout the day - 60 seconds
Record it all on your chart at the end of the day - 60 seconds
… That’s 5 minutes, y’all. That’s it.
Are you ready to learn more about fertility awareness methods and see if they’re right for you? If so, let’s chat!
Disclaimer: Brandy Oswald, Sauvage Wellness LLC, and her employees are not doctors, nurses, physicians, psychotherapists, or in anyway licensed medical practitioners and information presented here is to serve as an educational resource and not to be interpreted as: (1) medical advice; (2) a 100% effective birth control or pregnancy achievement options or (3) nutrition or health guidelines. By reading this you acknowledge that you understand that as a specialized form of consulting, fertility awareness education is not the same as professional or licensed therapy or medical advice and intervention; and recognize that it is your responsibility to seek such services from a licensed professional. Brandy Oswald is not a medical provider and cannot give medical advice. All information provided by Sauvage Wellness LLC and Brandy Oswald is of a general nature and is intended only for educational purposes to help with your personal health improvement goals and should not be relied on as medical advice. Always consult a physician with any health concerns and prior to changing your diet, lifestyle, supplements, birth control, fitness, or prescription medicine routine. Should you choose to use the information, yoga sequences, and meditations provided by Brandy Oswald it is of your own volition and you recognize that neither Brandy nor Sauvage Wellness LLC is not held liable for any intended or unintended outcomes. All viewers hereby WAIVE AND RELEASE Brandy Oswald and Sauvage Wellness LLC from any claim, demand, cause of action of any kind resulting from or related to my participation in classes, workshops, and all service offerings provided by Brandy and Sauvage Wellness. As a view you hereby acknowledge that you are fully responsible for any and all risks, injuries, or damages, known or unknown, which might occur as a result of your participation.