Like numerous women I also took the pill for many years. I decided to put an end to this when I realized what I was doing to my body, as I explain in my book Back to Natural. What about alternatives? I got to know that by monitoring certain body indicators I could know if I was fertile or infertile and, as a result, choose if I wanted to try to get pregnant or not. But before deciding if you want to continue reading this post I would like you to know that fertility is not a women´s subject. It´s a couple´s subject. What´s more, this understanding will change your relationship…and for the better.
Contrary to men, women are not always fertile. In fact, women´s fertility is just 6 days per cycle due to the following reasons:
- The sperm can only survive up to 5 days inside a woman´s body
- The egg survives a maximum of 24 hours after ovulation*
The key to identifying the fertile phase consists of monitoring the menstrual cycle whose length varies from women to women (in general from 24 to 36 days)**. To do that the Fertility Awareness Method uses 3 primary indicators:
- Basal body temperature: it´s the temperature soon after waking up, even before getting out of bed. This should be done orally, every day at the same time and at least with 3 hours of sleep. This indicator only allows to know if the fertile phase is already gone due to the sustainable rise in temperature that results from the release of progesterone
- Vaginal mucus: the vaginal mucus allows the transport of sperm otherwise it would not survive inside a woman´s body. However, the type of mucus varies throughout the cycle – non-existent/dry, sticky, creamy, slippery and/or like egg white – becoming more liquid as ovulation approaches due to the influence of estrogen. It´s this type of mucus, more slippery that many times looks like egg white, that is considered ideal for the transport of sperm and, as a result, to get pregnant
- Cervix position: this indicator serves to support the other two. The cervix varies from firm, low, close and nonwet in the infertile phase to soft, open, high and wet in the fertile phase
It is estimated that a fertile couple has around 25% chance of getting pregnant*** during a cycle, but chances considerably increase when these indicators are taken into account. If the idea is not to have children then there are 2 options: abstinence or the use of barrier methods, like the condom, during the fertile phase.
The Fertility Awareness Method when used correctly, and with abstinence in the fertile phase, has a failure rate of approximately 2%***. However, as this method does not provide protection from sexually transmitted diseases it´s only advisable to monogamic couples.
If this method has got your attention I advise you to read the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler, health educator.
*According to Toni Weschler in her book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, in a small percentage of cycles two or more eggs can me released, what is called multiple ovulation that results in fraternal twins. Because of this it is important to include an extra period of 24 hours, which gives 7 days. However, Toni Weschler considers that for contraceptive reasons the ideal is to include 8-10 days of fertile window in total.
**The same women can also have cycles with different lengths.
***WESCHLER, Toni (1995). Taking Charge of Your Fertility. United Kingdom: Ebury Publishing (ed. 2003).