Well, here we are, the post that I promised would someday be written, yet, the post that I continued to talk myself out of– for, you know, obvious factors– such as talking about my sex life on the internet, all while not knowing who sits on the other side of this screen, lol. So, here we are. Over the weekend when I said on my Instagram stories that this post would be published this week a girlfriend of mine messaged me and said “I am so glad that you are actually going to follow through and do this, I know that there are so many girls and women out there would need to hear your truth, and your experience.” So, here I am. Welcome to the future of the internet, friends– we have arrived.
Before I begin, I want to say this: for the sake of the content of this blog post and the privacy of my husband and I, I am going to keep this as scientific as possible– yet, at the same time, somehow, find a way to sprinkle in my honest truths. Not really sure how this is going to work, but my plan is to just type and let the words speak for themselves. Another fact that I want to note, as I always attempt to do when talking about anything that isn’t opinion based, is that I am not a professional sex advisor, a doctor, or anybody who really can deem themselves someone certified to talk about this– but, who I am is a married woman who very much loves her husband that has been using this method for six months now, that just so happens to have a website where she shares information. So, let’s get this thing going.
Let me just be honest with you and tell you that the feedback that I got back from my Why I Chose To Remove My Copper IUD post confirmed a thought that I had, but wasn’t sure if it was factual– not very many women are truly satisfied with the method of birth control that they are currently using. I still get messages daily about that specific post. Again, I am truly realizing more and more that through our vulnerability we grow. Not only ourselves, but, the entire population of women as a whole. So, to those of you that read my content and relate, yet, judge the fact that I am a Mom that has a website, just know, that sometimes I don’t want to be so brutally honest about some of the things that I bare my soul about… but, I know that it’s greater than me, and I believe that vulnerability and living a life of “me too” is what will change our world… so, that’s my “why.”
If you read the post about my IUD, you know that I had a terrible reaction. I chose to have it inserted after Lennon was born at my six week check up and to be so honest, I wanted it to work, I wanted to LOVE it. I truly thought that I was making the best decision– I knew that I had adverse reactions to fake hormones, aka, the pill, because I was on that all through college and it led me to be 1) insane a few weeks of the month 2) to lose hair and 3) to feel bloated all the time. So, I knew that the pill, or anything with hormones for that matter wasn’t going to be a good option for me and neither was a third Allen baby as quickly as the second happened. Luca and Leni are 19 months apart. I got my first period after Luca’s birth when I was 9 month PP, December to be exact, and then we conceived Lennon that 10th month. I know that I am incredibly fertile, and I also know the importance of a healthy sex life… so, needless to say, I had to explore my options. I had the copper IUD inserted in December and by mid February a lot of weirdness started happening, so, I chose to have it removed early April. As I do when I have questions about really anything, I turned to my IG stories and I asked “what do you do for birth control methods?” My inbox flooded. As expected, there were FAR more women out there who had beautiful experiences with the pill, IUD, the shot, etc– and for you, if you fall into that category, I am so truly happy. But, as we know, that isn’t me. So, the few women that messaged me asking “have you ever considered natural family planning?” and IF YOU ARE A MAN YOU SHOULD PROBABLY STOP READING HERE BECA– USE WE ARE ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT MUCUS AND OTHER MOIST THINGS– BYE!! “have you ever heard of the cervical mucus method?” To which I am sure you could imagine my mind being like “Ummmmmmm, what– theres a real thing called the cervical mucus method?? Could we not come up with a name a little less, well, REAL, as that?? lol, but for real. SO, there began my research. I’ll never forget how blown my mind was when I started typing these things into google. Not going to lie, I remember learning about how our temperatures change surrounding our ovulation when we were first learning about our bodies in middle school… but, what I want to know is this– why has nobody talked to us about the specifics of our bodies since then? When I say “nobody” just know that I am not referring to our mothers, sisters, friends, etc— I want to know why classes aren’t required in college, why our OB’s aren’t telling us about THESE methods of controlling pregnancy as often as we are told about all of the other (money making, oops) methods. Again, the only person that we can blame for not being educated is ourself. Women, we have to realize that we are the only ones who can take the best care of us. At the end of the day, please do your research about any and all things that have to do with your body. As amazing as doctors are (believe me, I have a great respect for our medical field, I wanted to be a doctor for a large part of my life) they are individuals themselves, they don’t know YOUR body, or my body and sometimes, they mess up– and that’s okay, but that’s why it’s so important to have your own back, to research and ask questions, to have an opinion and to choose better. We are the future. We literally carry the life of every single individual that walks this earth and if nobody has told you lately, or ever, you have a choice over what you are told about your body and how to use it.
So, back to natural family planning (aka, natural birth control) and cervical mucus. I am going to refer to natural family planning as NFP moving forward. So, how does NFP work? What is the effectiveness? Let’s chat. NFP works by recording and noticing the different natural signs or fertility indicators each day of your menstrual cycle. The main indicators are: body temperature, cervical mucus and the length of your monthly cycle. Changes in these indicators can help you to identify your fertile time. Let me stop for a minute to tell you some truth– when I first started learning about this I was honestly skeptical about if I would ever be able to notice these things/truly become THIS in tune with my body– and here I am six months later and I can legit most months feel the exact moment that my egg is released. Not kidding.
So, here is where it gets tricky and here is where this whole thing can very easily go wrong if you aren’t diligent– the fertile window lasts for around 8-9 days in most women. This is because once an egg is released, it can live up to 24 hours and occasionally, more than one egg is released at a time… you catch where this is going? AND, to make it even more difficult, sperm can live inside of a woman’s body for up to 7 days… meaning, if you were to have sex even seven days before your ovulation, you could still technically, get pregnant. This is the downfall of this entire method. If you are truly trying to not get pregnant, there will be a 8-9 day period in the middle of your cycle where you cannot have unprotected sex. If you are married, and you don’t use condoms because both you and your spouse have been tested for STI’s, this gets tricky. If you are a young woman who isn’t tied down and you’re more in the phase of life where you are having multiple partners/haven’t both been tested= using condoms, then this doesn’t affect you quite* as much. When FAM is practiced perfectly, it has a 99% success rate. But, perfection is hard when our bodies want what they want, when they want it.
Taking your temperature: I take my temp as soon as I get up in the morning. This has been a little tricky since some nights I am still waking to feed Leni, but regardless, as soon as my day begins, I take my temp. I use a product called Natural Cycles (i’ll link all the things that I am referencing at the end of this post). Natural Cycles is a thermometer that is linked to an app. I take my temp daily, input the numbers, the app works some magic and then based upon my temp will alert me with either a Green (safe to have sex) day, or a Red (abstain from sex) day. The fertile time ends when you’ve recorded temps for three days in a row, which are higher than ALL the previous six days. The difference in temp will be about 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the beginning of using this product I got FAR more red days than I get now, and that is normal and is due to the app getting to know my body and my typical temperature deviations surrounding ovulation. Also, by now, I kind of know without taking my temp, when I am highly fertile, based upon the other indicators. I don’t choose to not take my temperature though, but, it is important to notice other bodily changes because temperature alone can be less accurate due to factors such as; taking it earlier or later than normal, being sick, drinking too much the night before, taking aspirin, etc.
So, this leads us to the most evident way to determine your ovulation: cervical mucus, which, I am going to refer to as CM moving forward. The amount of estrogen and progesterone varies throughout the menstrual cycle and this alters the amount and type of CM you experience. Let’s get real: the days following your period you may notice a few days where your vagina feels dry, and when you wipe there isn’t any CM. But, as the estrogen rises, our bodies start to prepare for ovulation and the CM begins to change. At first the CM will feel moist (guys, I told you to stop reading a while ago), sticky, and typically will appear white/creamy in color– this is the beginning of that fertile window I mentioned above. Just before ovulation the CM becomes clearer, wetter, stretchier and slippery– which is typically described as “raw egg white” in consistency (sorry, if you’re an avid egg white eater– that’s just the best way to describe it). When you experience this egg white CM, you are in the most fertile phase of your cycle. The CM changes to this consistency to help the sperm travel to the egg– like legit, your body is trying to make a baby. So, if you are wanting to conceive, now is the money time and if you aren’t trying, now is definitely time to avoid. Typically, after ovulation, the CM will return to being thicker and sticky (not easy for sperm to move because the egg has already passed through and the fertile time has passed). It’s important to note that the amount and quality of CM will vary from woman to woman and sometimes cycle to cycle– but, do yourself a favor and just simply pay attention this next month, your mind will be blown by your body.
I typically combine these two NFP and CM methods monthly. The fertile time starts at the first time of ANY cervical secretions and ends after the third high temp recording and all three of the high temp days occur after the last day of having “egg white” CM (which is your peak day). To be 100% transparent, when I am experiencing the EWCM, we don’t have sex– mostly because I am not ready for another baby– but, the days surrounding those 3-4 days, we are “careful” (figure that out for yourself, lol).
Determining how long your cycle lasts: knowing the length of your menstrual cycle can help work out your fertile time– but, this on it’s own isn’t effective enough because our cycle length can change month to month based upon stress, sleep, travel, change in diet, etc. Your cycle begins the first day of your period and ends the day before your next period begins. The avg cycle is 28 days, but many women have longer or shorter cycles. Regardless of the length of your cycle, ovulation will usually happen 10- 16 days before the start of the next period.
Products Available: there are TONS of BBT thermometers available, the biggest thing is that you need one that shows your temp to .02 degrees. So, if you have a thermometer laying around that tells you 98.4 for example, that isn’t good enough, you need one that will show you 98.4_ because the change in temp is that slight. I use Natural Cycles and I really love it. It costs $6.60 a month, or $79.99 yearly– what I love best is that it tells you without having to do any charting/thinking for yourself whether its a Red/Green day. There are also free apps out there that track your cycle based upon how many days your cycle lasts and sends you alerts to warn you about entering fertile periods, etc– but, as I mentioned above, solely relying on the number of days in a cycle isn’t enough– so, please get yourself a thermometer if you’re considering this method. There are also a number of thermometers available on Amazon, I ordered a few of them before trying out Natural Cycles and they worked great and were less expensive. I also read an absolutely phenomenal book that I believe ALL women need to own, regardless of where you are at in life when it comes to planning for a family or avoiding pregnancy, its called Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I honestly find myself referencing this book more often than not. It is so well written and it is “with the times”– I couldn’t recommend it more. The surest way to be 100% sure about a fertile vs. non fertile day is to use an ovulation kit/test strips. There are a lot of brands out there. Sometimes I will use a test strip to confirm ovulation/high fertility and to double check that my temperature didn’t deviate due to stress, lack of sleep, or sickness, but I only do this if we don’t feel like being responsible and listening to the apps advice of “avoid sex today.”
So, to summarize, I take my temperature daily using my Natural Cycles thermometer and app, and based off of what the app determines due to my temperature trends, I then am able to know if it is a low risk day (Green) or a high risk day (Red). From there, it is obviously up to me to practice self control and this is where it gets tricky– using this method requires a lot of diligence, self control and communication between you and your partner. It’s hard because ovulation is the time when your body is most in the mood for sex and unless you choose to use condoms, you have to abstain. I am sure people are thinking “does the pull out method work?” honestly, there is still sperm released throughout sex, not just when a man finishes– so, thats a risk that you have to decide if you are willing to take. As for me, at this point in my life, I am really not ready to be pregnant again (I want to travel this off season and eat and drink whatever my heart desires, and I want to wear cute clothes and not be sick) and I surely have my hands full with the two beautiful children that we have– so, at this point, we don’t even risk it during the days surrounding ovulation. Rico and I are two insanely fertile people, and for that, we are SO fortunate, but at the same time, we have to be extra careful unless we want another baby like today, lol. A positive of this method is that like anything in life that you have to wait for, it’s THAT much better when you get it. Forbidding yourself of things that you want isn’t ever easy in the moment, but, the pay off is always worth it. Think about it– when was the last time you made yourself wait for something that you really wanted? It isn’t fun, and to be honest, it can really suck, but it is so good for us as human beings to deny ourselves every now and again.
I really hope that this post answered your questions and that you learned something. As always, with anything that I write, or share, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have a question or if something doesn’t make sense to you. I am always here– even if it takes me a few days to respond.
who runs the world? xo, G