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The Fertility Awareness Method of Contraception

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Few things in our lives are controlled, understood and maintained on our own. When we go to the grocery store, people may see the bread on the shelves but ignore how flour, sugar, water and yeast reacted to put it there in the first place. So too can be said of the cars we drive, buses we ride and bikes we steer, all of which may and typically are maintained by a specialized group that leaves the rest of us ignorant.

As individuals we rely on others to inform us how our lives should be shaped and run. We are told that this is fine, that these specialists exist to make our lives more convenient and that we do not need to understand how everything works. The time saved allows us to focus on our own pursuits.

For women, our bodies have been similarly fashioned. Menstrual cycles have turned into a veritable organic production line in which outside sources inform us when we are ovulating, when we are pregnant, which method of contraceptive is best, and for hormone-regulating options, when we should be taking it each month.

This disassociation from our bodies may change due to the resurgence of the fertility awareness method (FAM) of contraception.

In comparison to the calendar method in which women guess their ovulation schedule based on previous menstrual cycles, FAM users relies on bodily indicators to determine when they’re ovulating. By tracking spikes and falls in body temperatures while at rest, or basal body temperature, noting increases in cervical mucus and the position of the cervix, women may rely on their own bodies to either become pregnant, or avoid it.

Although WebMD reports that 25 out of 100 women have unintended pregnancies while using FAM, it still provides a viable alternative to hormone birth control, which provides its own disadvantages: possible bone loss, blood clots and increased risk to Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.

According to Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, 76 million women in developing countries experience unintended pregnancies annually while 19 million women resort to unsafe abortions.

As for those with access to contraception, there still remains the stigma and cost associated with purchasing them. With proper education, FAM could help women around the world control their lives more effectively, simply by understanding their bodies better.

– Emily Bajet

Sources: WebMD 1, WebMD 2, Mayo Clinic
Photo: Flickr