1. General Information
2. Breastfeeding and Natural Contraception
4. Woman's stories
1. General Information
MAIN PURPOSE OF FERTILITY AWARENESS:
To accurately determine the woman's fertile and infertile time in her cycle, and use this information to either achieve a pregnancy or avoid a pregnancy through natural means.
FERTILITY AWARENESS IS BASED ON SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NATURAL METHODS OF CONTRACEPTION:
1. A woman's menstrual cycle is hormonally controlled by estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen dominates the first part of the cycle and progesterone the latter.
2. A ripe egg lives a finite period, between 10-24 hours. If a second egg is released in one cycle (e.g.fraternal twins), it will be released within 24 hours of the first egg.
3. Sperm can live in a woman's fertile quality secretions for 3-5 days.
4. The corpus luteum (the remnant of the follicle after ovulation occurs) releases progesterone, which acts to inhibit further eggs from ovulating until the following cycle. Its lifespan is 12-16 days, approximately two weeks.
E. A healthy woman produces three observable fertility signs that signal impending ovulation or its aftermath: basal body temperature, cervical fluids or secretions, and cervical position.
Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)
Fertility Awareness Method is based on daily observation and charting of three fertility signs during a woman’s menstrual cycle (Basal temperature; cervical fluid or secretions; cervical position). By monitoring these signs, a woman can accurately identify the fertile and infertile days of her cycle (see sample chart). Because cycles are not usually clock-work, the method takes into account various changes such as stress, illness, travel and medications. During the infertile days, couples can enjoy full relations without contraception (most days of the cycle). During the fertile days, a couple can choose to use barrier methods like a condom, diaphragm, cap, or spermicide, or to engage in other non-penetrative forms of intimacy. Likewise, during the fertile days, a couple can know exactly when to time relations in order to achieve a pregnancy. Fertility Awareness is a life skill that can be learned and mastered by most women. When used consistently and correctly, it is highly effective, reliable and safe.
Rhythm Method or Calendar Method
This method of contraception is based on a mathematical calculation which takes into account a woman's past cycles lengths in order to predict a woman's present and future cycle lengths, and her fertile and infertile days. This method cannot be considered reliable because an error of one day can lead to an unplanned pregnancy. The fact that most women’s cycles are often influenced by external factors (travel, illness, medications, stress, etc) helps explain the method's low effectiveness rate.
Withdrawal (Intercourse without internal ejaculation)
While this is a commonly-used method of contraception, it cannot be relied upon for two important reasons: Firstly, if a man experiences an orgasm (by himself) during the hours before he has intercourse with his partner- there is a possibility that live sperm will be present in his tubes and be expelled with the sexual arousal fluid which is secreted way before a man actually reaches orgasm. Secondly, there is a chance of accidental pregnancy if a man ejaculates near a woman’s vaginal opening during her fertile days when her ovulation secretion enables the sperm to enter and swim up quickly to meet the egg. Many women have conceived this way.
EFFECTIVENESS OF FAM
The theoretical effectiveness of FAM, like most conventional methods of contraception, is 98-99%. Theoretical or method effectiveness is another way of stating “perfect use.” Actual user effectiveness, or imperfect use, is between 80-95%. The rate depends on the following factors:
how much experience the user(s) of the method has
the extent to which the woman/couple follow the method rules correctly
the way the method was learned: did woman/couple receive instruction and follow-up from a certified teacher?
if the couple abstains from intercourse during the fertile phase or uses one or two back-up (barrier) methods
if the couple observes niddah-laws (which typically allow for unprotected intercourse after ovulation).
THE FERTILITY SIGNS WHICH ARE THE BASIS OF FAM
1.Basal Body Temperature (BBT) refers to a woman’s waking body temperature; it is taken in the morning with a special digital thermometer. A relative rise in BBT signals the beginning of the infertile phase after ovulation (approximately 10-13 days). These are the days in which a couple can have unprotected intercourse.
2. Cervical Secretions or Fluid refers to normal changes in cervical secretions which occur throughout the menstrual cycle. Secretions change in color, texture, wetness, acidity and quality and are directly related to a woman’s fertility status. Fertile secretions are necessary for ovulation and fertilization of an egg by a sperm cell; secretions are observed either internally or externally.
3. Cervical Position refers to changes which can be felt internally near the os (opening of cervix). The cervix changes in height, softness and size during the fertile time only. Any woman can feel these relative differences with her own fing