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  • Writer's pictureBrandy Oswald

The Natural Nonhormonal Birth Control Method that I’ve Used for Over 10 Years

Updated: 23 hours ago

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Picture this - You’re 33 years old. You’ve been off of any form of hormonal birth control for 11 years. No pills. No IUDs. AND, you haven’t had to compromise and get a copper IUD, use irritating contraceptive gels, try to find a diaphragm like it’s 1985, or use condoms every single time. You feel 100% confident using a natural, non hormonal birth control method.

That is my real-life, true story.

I’m Brandy Oswald, fertility awareness educator and founder of Sauvage Wellness, and I’ve been preventing pregnancy with a natural nonhormonal birth control method for over a decade with nothing more than a thermometer, a paper cycle tracking chart, and daily observations of cervical fluid.

I’ve never had an unplanned pregnancy.

I don’t take the morning after pill.

I have sex whenever I want.

I only use about 3 condoms a month.

I don’t even always use the pull out method.

So, how do I do it?

I do it using the symptothermal double check method of fertility awareness.

I know, that sounds like a mouthful, but all that it means is that I use a specific cycle tracking method of natural birth control that utilizes morning temperature and daily cervical fluid tracking to prevent pregnancy naturally.

Before we dive into what exactly fertility awareness methods are and the inside scoop on the specific method that I use, let’s talk about why I quit hormonal birth control in the first place.

woman who uses non hormonal birth control method
Why I chose to switch to natural nonhormonal birth control method

Like many of us, I was put on hormonal birth control by my doctor as soon as I became sexually active. This was before IUDs were popular in the US, so I was put on the birth control pill. I was given zero education on how the pill worked or the potential impacts it could have on my body. Within weeks of starting the pill I had my first ever yeast infection. Within a few months I had my first ever anxiety attack and began having debilitating gut health issues. Over the next 3 years on the pill I had 40+ yeast infections, daily anxiety attacks, and raging digestive issues. After being told over and over again by doctors that my symptoms could not be caused by the pill I decided that I just couldn’t take it anymore and ditched the pill just to see what would happen. Within a few months the yeast infections disappeared, the anxiety subsided, and my gut started to feel so much better.

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn until much later after becoming a fertility awareness educator and menstrual cycle expert that the hormonal birth control pill impacts so much more than just our menstrual cycles. In fact, many hormonal birth control methods change the way our brains work. How? Because many hormonal birth control methods suppress ovulation, a process that starts in our brains. If we turn off ovulation, then we’re turning off specific hormones and communication pathways in our brains. This has repercussions beyond just the menstrual cycle and our fertility.

fertility awareness method cycle tracking chart
Why I chose fertility awareness methods

You might be asking yourself why the heck I chose cycle tracking as my natural nonhormonal birth control method when more popular non hormonal birth control options exist like the copper IUD and contraceptive gels. Well, here’s the deal, I wanted a NATURAL birth control method, not just a non hormonal method.

While the copper IUD and contraceptive gels are not hormonal birth control methods, they are not natural. Copper coils do not naturally exist in the uterus or cervix and chemical, man-made gels do not naturally exist in the vagina. These are foreign objects and substances that are introduced to the body, which means they come with their own potential side effects. I wanted a truly natural birth control method. I wanted zero birth control side effects.

That’s where fertility awareness methods came in. They are 100% natural cycle tracking methods of birth control that work by observing our naturally occurring fertility signs and symptoms - signs and symptoms that tell us about where we are in our menstrual cycles and whether or not we can get pregnant on any given day.

There are a variety of fertility awareness methods to choose from. Here’s why I chose the symptothermal double check method.

symptothermal method fertility awareness method cycle tracking chart
What is the symptothermal double check method?

The symptothermal double check method of fertility awareness requires users to track BOTH daily cervical fluid secretions and daily morning temperature giving it an efficacy rating that is up to 99.6% effective when used as directed and learned from a trained educator. That’s the same as the birth control pill! It’s also higher than (as far as I’ve seen) any other fertility awareness method that uses only cervical fluid, only temperature, hormonal test strips, or only past cycles data. The research study from which we source this statistic is the Petra Frank-Herrmann study. You can read it here. It is the most robust study on the symptothermal method at the time of writing this article.

So, it was a no-brainer!

But, how does the symptothermal double check method work?

The #1 concern I hear from prospective new clients is that they’re worried that the natural birth control method is going to be complicated and time consuming, which they almost all report couldn’t be further from the truth after getting started. It takes about 5 minutes a day to use the method and we only keep track of TWO things - cervical fluid and basal body temperature.

Cervical fluid is simply what you see and feel in your undies and on toilet paper when going to the bathroom and moving throughout your day. Depending on what that fluid looks like it tells us whether we’re about to ovulate, nearing our periods, or somewhere in between. Rising estrogen levels as the body gears up for ovulation leads to the creation of very specific and noticeable changes in cervical fluid, what we call “fertile-type” fluids. Because cervical fluid can tell us when our bodies are gearing up for ovulation we can use that information to avoid unprotected intercourse on those fertile days leading up to ovulation.

Basal body temperature, on the other hand, tells us that we have ovulated AFTER it has happened. This is because our waking morning temperature rises slightly after ovulation as a result of rising progesterone levels made following ovulation itself. A sustained rise in temperature tells us we’re making progesterone and are past the ovulatory, and therefore fertile, phase of the cycle.

We use the appearance of fertile cervical fluid sensations to open the fertile window. We use the decline of fertile cervical fluid and a sustained rise in temperature to close the fertile window. Easy, peasy.

fertile window birth control pregnancy
Wait, what’s the fertile window?

The fertile window is the window of time one can get pregnant in any given menstrual cycle - and, spoiler alert, it’s not all the time. In any given menstrual cycle we can get pregnant from intercourse on about 6 to 7 days. That’s it. Oh, and they’re all in a row. It’s not the wild west free-for-all we were led to believe. We cannot get pregnant any time we have sex.

The fertile window is this specific length because sperm can live inside the menstruating human’s body for up to 5 or 6 days in optimal fertile cervical fluid. That means it can wait around after sex for up to 6 days in hopes of being there lingering when ovulation occurs. The egg once released during ovulation, however, is only viable for conception for 12 to 24 hours. Rarely we may release two eggs per cycle. They are always within the same fertile window and, in fact, within the same 24 to 48 hour span of time. This is the case with fraternal twins. This means that 5 to 6 day lifespan of sperm, plus a 24 hour lifespan of the egg, gives us a 6 to 7 day window during which pregnancy can take place. Before or after that window it is biologically impossible to get pregnant. (Source: Wilcox et al, 1995, Timing of Sexual Intercourse in Relation to Ovulation: Effects on the Probability of Conception. The New England Journal of Medicine, 333:1517-1521

How does the symptothermal double check method know exactly when the fertile window is?

There are 4 specific rules that must be applied when using the symptothermal double check method to open and close the fertile window - two rules to open and two rules to close. The rules to open the fertile window are based on real-time cervical fluid observances and cycle length. The rules to close the fertile window are based on real-time cervical fluid observances and daily temperature tracking. I teach my clients how to use all four of these rules in my Cycle Wisdom Course.

cycle tracking irregular cycles pcos
But, what if I have irregular cycles?

Contrary to popular belief, the symptothermal double check method can also work for folks with irregular cycles. How? Because even with an irregular cycle there will still be the same fertile window scenario, it just occurs less frequently. For example, folks with regular cycles ovulate once per month and, therefore, have one fertile window and one period per month. Folks with irregular cycles, however, ovulate once every few months or even more irregularly which means they will have a fertile window and period only as often as they ovulate. BUT, the signs, symptoms, and rules are the same. Look for fertile changes in cervical fluid, keep an eye out for a sustained temperature rise, and apply all four rules to open and close the fertile window.

Okay, I NEED to learn more about this!

You’re not alone! That’s why I created this *Free* 5 Day Cycle Tracking Mini-Course. If you choose to join me, over the next 5 days I’ll teach you…

  • Exactly how hormonal birth control changes your brain and the surprising ways the pill, patch, shot, ring, and IUDs impact our bodies

  • Why cycle tracking apps, rings, the Apple watch, and even devices like Natural Cycles are not effective natural birth control options

  • How to get started cycle tracking the right way using cervical fluid and basal body temperature

  • How to use the cycle tracking as natural birth control and to, wait for it, have better periods

Join me in the *FREE* 5 Day Cycle Tracking Mini-Course below!

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