It's important to monitor your finances, but have you ever thought about monitoring your fertility? In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, let me take a step back.
Between puberty and menopause, your body prepares to have a baby each month. If you pay attention, you'll notice indicators that give clues to where you stand in the cycle, such as body temperature and mucus quality. The method of tracking these indicators is called "charting" or natural family planning (NFP).
Under the umbrella of NFP, there are several types of methods, Billings and Creighton being two of the most common. Regardless of the system you choose, tracking your fertility, a form of nonhormonal birth control, can be life-changing. It was for me, which is why I wanted to share why my experience.
"Birth Control Isn’t For Me."
When I was a teenager, I experienced a ruptured ovarian cyst. It was painful and caused me to pass out. I went to a doctor who told me to use birth control to prevent the regrowth of these cysts. I was scared, so I followed her instructions. I didn't question the decision until my mid-twenties. At the time, I didn’t know there were any other options.
Birth control side effects impacted my running career and my life in general. Not only did the excess estrogen slow me down as a runner, but it also made me an emotional roller coaster. Birth control told my already broken body to stop showing symptoms of deficiencies. It was a band-aid; not a cure. I always hated how it affected my mind and body, but I didn't think I had any other choice.
NOTE: Just because birth control isn’t for me, doesn’t mean that it's not right for someone else. I just think women should have the right to choose, especially since there are alternative options available.
Once I hit my twenties, I learned that women who've previously been on the pill often experience difficulty getting pregnant. After doing more research, I discovered that women already suffering from hormone imbalances — women like me — were the most impacted. From there, I decided that birth control wasn’t right for me and began looking into alternative methods of preventing ovarian cyst regrowth.
NFP Can Help You Understand Your Body Better
The more I learn about my body, the more in awe of it I am. Sometimes, our hormones are like the components of a beautiful symphony, working together in perfect harmony. If you have normal, healthy periods, that's a beautiful thing. But if you don’t, charting can help you pinpoint the underlying causes and come up with a plan of action.
Here are some signs which may indicate that something is off with your cycle:
They last longer than 35 days
Days of brown bleeding at the start of your period
Bleeding between periods
Really, really painful cramps (to the point where it's hard to function)
History Repeats Itself... If We Do Nothing About It
I love my family, but their hormones were not the best gift they passed down to me. My grandparents had multiple miscarriages and my immediate family has thyroid issues, emotional mood swings and other hormonal imbalances. Believe it or not, these symptoms are all connected.
As I started my charting journey, I learned that certain menstruation cycles, specifically shorter luteal ones, can be indicative of a proneness for first trimester miscarriages. After a few months of monitoring my menstruation, I discovered that my body was demonstrating that pattern, which was terrifying, yet empowering. I turned to nutrition to make a change.
It can take a few months to see results, but re-writing heredity is incredible. I don’t currently have a child, but now that I've gotten my imbalances under control, my future baby will have better odds of surviving pregnancy. I’ve consciously made the decision not to give my future offspring these same hormonal imbalances if I can help it. I never could've gotten to this place if I simply accepted birth control side effects as my fate. I never would've learned so much about my body if I hadn't gotten curious about nonhormonal birth control.
NFP is often associated with religious beliefs, but there are many other reasons why women and their partners begin tracking menstrual cycles. Imagine a world where students were taught about nonhormonal birth control methods as part of their health class curriculum. Teenage women would have a jump start on their health instead of waiting decades to realize that birth control side effects are impacting their wellbeing and ability to conceive. They’d be able to better understand the choices they’re making for their bodies.
If you’re curious to learn more, talk to your Gynecologist/OBGYN. There are also plenty of apps and software nowadays that help make the process easy.
Still have questions about getting started? Click here to speak with a member of our team to learn how you can begin to rewrite the future of your fertility.