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Monday, March 26, 2012

Demystifying Your Cycle

I was shocked to realize the other day that I have never written here about my "Fertility Bible." I guess I figured that because I've talked with so many friends and family about it, I had also written on the topic. Let me rectify my oversight right now!

I first read Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler almost six years ago, when I was struggling to conceive for the second time. Honestly, it was like holding an epiphany in my hands--several, in fact. As I read it for the first time I was struck over and over again with amazement and excitement. I had no idea I could know so much about my own body and that it was actually giving me signs throughout the month of what it was doing.

When my cousin first told me about this book, she wrote, "I thought I knew what was going on with my body, but I really didn't. I think it's a sad thing that most women are so clueless." Ditto. I didn't realize how clueless I actually was until I learned all the book has to teach. Finally, instead of being frustrated over not having a "normal" cycle and despairing over how long it was taking to conceive, I had the knowledge to demystify my own body. It was incredibly empowering!

But this book isn't just for those trying to conceive. Another empowering aspect about this information for me was learning how to use the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) as a form of birth control in between children. (By the way, FAM is NOT the Rhythm Method, which is an ineffective guessing game.) Using hormonal contraception after my first child had enough of a negative effect on my moods and overall sense of balance and well-being that I didn't want to go that route ever again. I was, therefore, ecstatic to learn I didn't have to. (And over the years as I continue to learn about the connections between birth control and cancer, etc, I continue to be grateful I'm not still putting synthetic hormones in my body.) It has been a wonderful and effective replacement for the pill, is (obviously) all natural, and doesn't produce any negative side effects like synthetic hormones often do.

Now, if you aren't trying to conceive or prevent pregnancy, this book is still for you. It gives you the tools to understand your own reproductive health, as well as information on perimenopause and menopause. It's your body and your health, so it pays to know and understand as much as you can!

Here is Toni Weschler's official website, which has lots of helpful features. Here are popular fertility myths and what is actually true (which is typical of what you will learn in the book). And here is a post my (aforementioned) cousin wrote, debunking myths about the Fertility Awareness Method.

Speaking of myths, it's a crying shame how few doctors actually know the information in this book or the details of the Fertility Awareness Method. They are seriously doing their patients a disservice by their ignorance about something that is so important to a woman's life. Case in point: When I went in for a doctor's exam a couple years ago, after trying for almost a year to conceive our third child, he asked me what we had been trying to help us conceive. He was looking for an answer relating to medication, but I told him about FAM. He dismissed this information almost with a laugh and immediately discounted it as ineffective at best. It was blatantly obvious to me he had no idea how FAM empowers a woman to know exactly when she is fertile, which is key to attaining pregnancy. He made me feel stupid for trying such an old wives' tale, but I was also (quietly) outraged that I knew more about this information than he did as an OB. So don't look to most doctors for this information!

Of course, I realize that even with FAM some people are unable to conceive without fertility drugs and other modern medical miracles. My heart aches for those who have tried for so long to conceive and are still waiting for that precious baby. But even for them, using FAM increases the effectiveness of such interventions.


Eric and Jessi said...

Great timing, I've had pain and bleeding since the twins were born and my doctor wants to give me hormones. I'm looking for alternatives, hopefully this book can clarify somethings for me. Thanks for the recommendation!

Katrina said...

Oh no! That doesn't sound fun at all. I hope the book can give you some insights.

Carolyn said...

Agree, agree, agree! I love this book and can't recommend it enough. I too felt sad that I didn't know this information sooner. I used FAM as birth control for over a year and then turned around to use it to get pregnant with my last baby. Wonderful information!


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