Before I dive in, I want you to reflect on a few questions ...
- Do you notice a change in mood, motivation, or body shape and physical symptoms during your cycle?
- Did anyone ever teach you about tracking your cycle, ensuring you knew the different phases you’ll experience after your period, until the next one?
- Have you heard of the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), or know how it can help any menstruating woman?
If you answered no to any of the above, I’d love to help you unlock the power of tracking and understanding your menstrual cycle. In this blog, you’ll get a little taste of what it’s about and how it can help you.
What lead me towards Fertility Awareness?
The best way for me to explain the power of your cycle, I think, is to share my own story.
I was 14. It had been at least 5 years at that point that I experienced skin issues – acne, blackheads and pimples, on my face, neck, back and chest. It only got worse once I hit puberty and had my first period at age 13. And as you might imagine, acne + high school + poor self-esteem = not a great combo.
With my mum, wanting to find an answer for my skin ailments, we sought help from my local GP. After a round of unsuccessful antibiotic treatment for my acne, I was recommended the oral contraceptive pill. I had read about how many women had success with this as a ‘treatment’ for their blemished skin, and I couldn’t wait to start.
After only experiencing a years’ worth of true menstrual cycles, I was prescribed The Pill and stopped my real cycles for the next 3 years (that’s right – The Pill interrupts your regular hormonal patterns, so you do not ovulate, or have a true period). Arguably, these would have been the most crucial years for sex hormone development, as well as getting to know my unique cycle.
Looking back now, I grieve those early cycles that I lost; the hormonal adaption that my body missed out on. But, I’m grateful for having clear skin (and an effective contraceptive option) during high school, as this allowed me to develop self-confidence.
At age 17, with the help of my biology studies, I realised that being on The Pill might not be the best option for a still-developing teenager. While I still didn’t quite understand the long-term effects this medication would have on my body, or what it was doing at the time, I knew I would miss the clear skin, lighter bleeds and virtually painless ‘periods’.
Getting on track & finding the FAM
It was about 6 months after stopping The Pill when I got my first period back. Bleeding, pain, and lots of it. I was overwhelmed, but I knew I couldn’t go back to The Pill as a means of ‘managing my period’.
At the same time, I was called to try tracking my cycles. It was 2012 at the time, and as you could imagine, the options for period tracking apps were limited, and all predicted ovulation and periods (tip: don’t let an app predict your fertile window OR your period). I settled on the one that looked the prettiest and started tracking my periods.
Fast forward a year – in a long-term relationship, I was looking for a contraceptive option. Knowing that The Pill was no longer for me, and not favouring the idea of injections or insertions of any sort, I took to the internet for an alternative, natural solution.
This is where the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) came into my life. Not only would it become my trusted and most reliable form of natural contraception, it also became my personal tool for understanding my own cycles, hormones and fertility.
Here’s 3 ways the FAM changed my life (and it can change yours, too).
1. It gave me the option of empowered contraception
For the first time in my cycling life, I learned how exactly I could fall pregnant. I’m not talking about the ole “sperm meets the egg, yadda yadda yadda…”. I’m talking about learning that I could only fall pregnant in one fertile window per cycle, and that I wasn’t at risk of unwanted pregnancy every time I had sex.
And more interestingly, that most of the fertile window is made up of how long sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract (as opposed to woman’s fertility). By using the FAM, I am aware of my fertility potential every single day of my cycle and can make informed contraceptive choices with. And it’s as easy as noting simple body signs daily and tracking their changes.
2. I was able to manage and prevent PMS and period pain, naturally.
This educational awakening also gave me a better sense of what my hormones were doing throughout any given cycle. I came to understand how my mood, focus, immunity, weight and even gut health would be impacted by my fluctuating hormones. I was empowered to make choices that allowed my life and routine to work for my cycle, rather than forcing my cycle to adapt to a constantly busy lifestyle (as so many of us do).
Knowing when these important hormones are changing, I’m aware of when I will likely experience PMS, so I can work with my diet, habits and mental health to cope more effectively and reduce its impact on my life. I also have a much better idea of when my period will arrive, so I utilise the days beforehand to work on preventing day 1 cramps and pain, with nutritional medicine, herbs and lifestyle changes.
And a nice bonus: no unexpected periods or ruined underwear - I always know when to use my cup or cloth pads in time for my bleed.
3. I found deeper connection to my body + her wisdom
Through practicing a FAM, I now have a beautiful, more trusting relationship with my body. I connect and tune in with her on a daily basis and am clear on which menstrual phase I’m in at any given point.
I notice the changes in my body and what’s going on in my life, and I can truly appreciate how my hormones and cycle adapt to serve my health and wellbeing. Fertility Awareness has also helped me eliminate any taboo associated with my vagina, and helped me develop a deep sense of body-love, and ultimately, self-love.
How can you learn the Fertility Awareness Method?
After 7 years of using the FAM, and 5 years of study, I’m here (and certified) to help you on your path of cycle discovery.
As a Natural Fertility Educator and a women’s health naturopath, I would love to help you. Whether you’re seeking a natural means of birth control that puts contraceptive power back in your hands, or if you desire a deeper connection to your body, hormones and want to work in alignment with your cycle, I can guide you through.
To say the Fertility Awareness Method changed my life would be an understatement. It unlocked a whole new way of living, of being and connecting to my wise body and natural rhythm.
Karinda is a qualified Naturopath and an intuitive healer. She graduated from Endeavour College of Natural Health and hold a Bachelor’s degree in Health Science, majoring in Naturopathy.
Karinda is passionate about is cycle empowerment and is trained in Natural Fertility Education. She loves to help women better understand their menstrual cycles.
Get in touch with Karinda here ..