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Contraception or Conception- Have you Tried FAM?

What is the Fertility Awareness Method?


Fertility Awareness Method, often referred to as FAM, is an approach tracking various fertility indicators to determine the fertile and non-fertile phases of the menstrual cycle. It relies on observing and interpreting changes in cervical mucus, basal body temperature (BBT), and other physiological signs to pinpoint ovulation and fertility. 


This approach not only identifies fertile windows but it empowers individuals to understand their menstrual cycles giving insights to overall health insights and make informed decisions about their reproductive and hormone  health as a whole. If you'd like to read another blog on the significance of the menstrual cycle as a vital sign we check out THIS BLOG


Monitoring Basal Body Temperature (BBT) 


Basal Body Temperature (BBT) serves as a valuable indicator of overall health, particularly in relation to thyroid, adrenal, and reproductive function. For this reason it can be a valuable tool we use to gain deeper insights with a client's health. 


Maintaining a consistent BBT pattern can offer insights into thyroid function, as thyroid hormones play a critical role in regulating metabolic rate, body temperature, and energy expenditure. Similarly, BBT fluctuations can reflect adrenal gland activity, which produces hormones essential for stress response and energy regulation. 


If you'd like to read more on these connections specifically see THIS POST


BBT tracking is commonly used to assess ovulation timing and menstrual cycle regularity. A rise in BBT following ovulation, typically around 0.5 to 1 degree Fahrenheit, signifies the release of an egg and the onset of the luteal phase.


To measure BBT and monitor ovulation, follow these steps:


  • Use a basal body thermometer with high precision (0.01 degrees Celsius or 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • Take your BBT at the same time every morning, preferably upon waking and before any activity.

  • Look for a sustained temperature rise of 0.5 to 1 degree Fahrenheit for several consecutive days, indicating ovulation has likely occurred.


While measuring BBT is a valuable tool, it's important to be aware that various factors can influence its accuracy. External elements, overall health, and even dietary choices can impact BBT readings. Understanding these factors and their potential effects is crucial for interpreting BBT patterns accurately. Here non-exhaustive list of factors that may affect  BBT:


  • Travel

  • Illness

  • Injury depending on severity and duration

  • Medications

  • Poor night's sleep 

  • Alcohol consumption 

  • Blood Sugar Dysfunction

  • Thyroid Health

  • Adrenal Health

  • Dieting 


It is important to make note that Basal Body Temperature can be a key indicator that ovulation has potentially already occurred not that it is getting ready to occur. This is where cervical mucus becomes key! 


Monitoring Cervical Mucus: The Key to FAM


Central to FAM is the observation and interpretation of cervical mucus. We just discussed BBT (basal body temperature) which can be an indicator that ovulation has potentially already occurred whereas cervical mucus can give insight in that ovulation is close to occurring and has potentially occurred. 


Cervical mucus, produced by the cervix, undergoes characteristic changes throughout the menstrual cycle in response to changing hormone levels, particularly estrogen. 


2 main types of cervical mucus associated with times of fertility:


  • Creamy Mucus: As estrogen levels rise, cervical mucus is wet and becomes thicker, creamy and opaque.. This is also most often referred to as non-peak mucus. 

  • Egg-white Mucus: Also referred to as peak mucus is wet and resembles raw egg whites in consistency. It is clear and stretchy. 


You may take notice we mentioned wet as a characteristic in both scenarios. Remember, cervical mucus/discharge undergoes changes throughout the menstrual cycle so it is not that you only have cervical mucus/discharge present at only one time. You have different types present at different times. For example you may notice dryer mucus just prior to menstruation as well as after menstruation.

 

It is important for us to note that every female is unique and why we work with our clients to ensure we notice what is typical to her but also that we do not normalize what may be far from typical or acceptable. Taking notice of these insights can be an incredible tool in listening to what your body is doing.


It is also important to note having mucus and discharge is NORMAL however,  If you notice a mucus or discharge that is itchy, yellow, green, brown, grey or any other questionable color please see your physician for potential infection. We would also like to take a moment to mention that a female's vagina and discharge should not smell like cotton candy nor bubblegum so please discontinue the vaginal deodorant sprays and leave any suggestion to douching in the past. Lastly, if you have recurring urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginosis, candida or anything of this nature it is our suggestion to look into not only adrenal, thyroid, and hormonal health as a whole but also let us not forget the importance of digestive health in this equation. 


Determining Fertility Window and Sperm Lifespan


Have you been told that you are fertile every day of the month? Or perhaps you are in the camp who has been actively seeking to conceive and told you have 1 chance, 1 opportunity, within these 3 hours of this 1 day and after that all hope is lost. We’d like to bust these myths, but we are certainly not the first myth busters as this has been studied. 

The reality is females are fertile six days a month.  


Sperm can survive for up to five days within the female reproductive tract, thanks to the female's mucus. The fertile window is typically defined as the 5 days leading up to and including ovulation. 


The reality is females are fertile six days a month ( 5 + 1= 6). We would also like to mention we always suggest factoring in any applicable buffers. Using the FAM method can be an incredible way to support your goal of conception OR contraception. 


Hormonal Influences On and Beyond Fertility

Throughout the menstrual cycle, various hormones orchestrate physiological changes that govern fertility. Estrogen, produced predominantly during the follicular phase, stimulates the production of fertile cervical mucus and promotes ovulation. Progesterone, secreted during the luteal phase, sustains the uterine lining and elevates basal body temperature post-ovulation.


We suggest you check out THIS BLOG 


In Conclusion

While FAM does require consistency, it's effective and minimally invasive making it a great option and an incredible opportunity to learn more about your body. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently identify fertile windows and make choices aligned with your contraceptive or conception goals.


If you'd like more one on one support through coaching regardless of where you are on your health journey our coaches are here to help!



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