Monday, August 5, 2013

Charting Fertility for Prevention and/or Conception

{Note: This post may want to be skipped in being read by our close family members, especially males.)
     “The Pill” and other means of birth control are of high use in society. In fact, it has even become standard practice for women, regardless of the presence of an underlying medical or behavioral concern. While this practice may be beneficial in some regards, it is dismaying that it is often the only method presented to women, or even young girls. Ultimately, the individual must decide the most appropriate method for her life. My intention is to simply bring to light a method that is likely not being presented as part of that decision (and I personally wish it had).
     Let’s begin by clarifying a few myths. First, many methods are available but are not taught and supported equally based on assumptions of probable success. Note that the “failure” rate pertains to the user’s compliance not necessarily the method. A natural prevention method does require far more attentiveness than simply remembering to take a pill. However, making the choice for an alternative method is not done half-heartedly. Second, a non-chemical or physical barrier method will not mean you will have twenty children. A natural method is very effective in prevention. Furthermore, the window for conception is actually very small each month and avoidable if desired.

     I personally refused “the pill” prior to marriage. My husband and I had agreed to wait for children until later in our marriage (though my biological clock deemed that agreement null and void not long into our marriage! Haha!). I respected (okay, I tried my best but that clock is hard to ignore!) his desires to wait, and went on “the pill.” Birth control use in the early years of marriage is common practice, and the only one of which I had been aware. Yet, it was not too long before I began to be conflicted of its use (and no, not for reasons of that biological clock). We began discussing the concerns of its use and he supported me in finding a more appropriate method for us. He certainly demonstrated a tremendous amount of love, respect and trust in me to follow a method that would be successful entirely on the honesty of compliance! I purchased books and read online of the Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness Method, two methods which are very similar in that they both center around preventing or conceiving based on knowledge of one’s fertility cycle.
     The fertility awareness method /natural family planning involve three measures: basal body temperature, cervical characteristics and fluid. Since I tend to be very predictable in my cycle, I also used certain PMS symptoms as fourth measure (though this is not emphasized in either method and I don't recommend it if you're not extremely predictable). The concept is to follow the cyclic changes the body undergoes each month to predict ovulation and the most fertile days. If the desired outcome is to prevent a pregnancy, then you can choose to either use a barrier method or avoid during this time. (Preventative practice is the key difference between Natural Family Planning (avoidance) and Fertility Awareness Method (barrier)). We practiced this natural method with the intention of prevention before switching to using it to try to conceive. For us, it has been very successful for both prevention and conception, and is the only method we’ll continue.

Benefits we have gained from NFP/FAM:
  • ·         The woman’s health is protected- NFP/FAM works with the woman’s natural body, not against it. Therefore, there are no risks to one’s health or fertility.
  • ·         Shared responsibility- Both individuals must be committed and share the responsibility of the method. If prevention is desired, then the man and woman must both be committed to the chosen prevention method (barrier/avoidance) during the fertile time.
  • ·         NFP follows closest to 1 Corinthians 7:5- This verse speaks of depriving each other by mutual consent and only for a time. This time would be the fertile time if choosing to prevent.
  • ·         Education & empowerment- It teaches you to really know how the body works and how to respond to it effectively.  I was amazed how much I learned, despite being twenty-four years old. I kept thinking, “I wish I had known this information sooner!” The birth control was supposedly to empower women, but I have personally found embracing rather than denying my natural womanhood far more empowering!
  • ·         Strengthened marriage relationship- A tremendous amount of love, respect and trust must be a part of the commitment to practice NFP/FAM. Effectiveness is founded more on the user than the method. Therefore, both individuals must be committed and honest regarding the practice. Second, (tmi warning) "it" is just better without barriers!
  • ·         Acceptance of children- Despite the intention of prevention, we understood that without a chemical/physical barrier there would be a potential for conception. We agreed that if this came to be the case, then we would gladly accept the gift of a child. We would not be flatly rejecting the gift as would be done through other methods of prevention.
  • ·         No waiting period once decided to try to conceive- Because NFP/FAM works with your body’s natural function, there is no time period of waiting for your body to re-regulate itself once the decision is made to no longer prevent a pregnancy.
  • ·         Problems with hormones and/or fertility can be determined- All lot of information can be gathered from the charts! While it’s best not to attempt to diagnose yourself directly from them, they can help point you in a good direction if there appears to be a problem. Issues such as anovulatory cycles or short luteal phases can be seen from the charts (and again, to be brought to the attention of your provider). It would be much more difficult (and invasive and expensive) to have to start at square one and take a shot in the dark at the problem without information about your particular cycles. 
 Recommended Resources:


Taking Charge of Your Fertility (multiple charts) 
The Bump (conception chart)


*Note: Some of the products listed above contain affiliate links to Reviving Homemaking is an affiliate of, and as such receives compensation for each purchase made through the links.  


  1. Thank you for presenting this. I have used charting to deal with some hormone issues, and it is a big help. Unfortunately I just don't believe it is biblically sound to abstain from sex for the purpose of not having children. The verse in 1 Corinthians talks about abstaining for a time for the purpose of devoting oneself to prayer, not for the purpose of preventing children. However I certainly respect your respect for your husband's wishes

    1. I understand your perspective, and am familiar with the arguments. My intention in this post is simply to highlight another option. I have provided only the benefits which have applied directly to my husband and I, and do not expect the same to be true for everyone else as well. I can only speak for myself. I can also only hold myself and our family to our belief of what is or isn't "biblical." I respect each individual's and couple's choice regarding their decisions towards children or birth control.
      For me, I felt it greater to respect my husband's wishes. I prayed and trusted God to be the one capable of changing the heart. Again, this is just our experience. :)

    2. You are a great role-model for respecting your husband's wishes in this. Birth control in general is such a touchy and personal subject, especially since many churches and Christians don't address it. Personally, I have been on the fence about it for several years and find it frustrating that so few talk about. I appreciate you being open about your experience and decisions.
      I think every woman should learn how to chart her cycle if only to learn more about herself. It is amazing how ignorant I was before I started charting!

  2. I love this Whitney!! I've been recently learning more about this too and figuring out how to chart :)

    1. Go for it! It definitely would fit with your all-natural lifestyle! :)

  3. Both of my daughters have used the fertility awareness method--it has been a blessing in their marriages.

    Another good book (although quite academic) is NaProTechnology Revolution: Unleashing the Power in a Woman's Cycle by Dr. Hilgers.

  4. Thank you for addressing this in a graceful way. I too was on the pill early in my marriage because it seemed like the only option. I began having concerns about whether I should continue with it after a year or so. I started doing research but kept taking it under the wishes of my husband. A while later I wondered if it was contributing to some health issues I was having and expressed these concerns to him. Finally we decided that I would stop taking it and I am glad to say that I have felt better since then. I think a lot of people, even in the Christian community have a view that it is totally fine or that it is evil to take the pill. I am not sure I fall into either of these extremes, but I think more people need to be aware that it does affect your body, it isn't harmless. There are so many possible ill side effects associated with it.

  5. My fiance and I are about 1.5 months away from getting married and were recently introduced to the idea of FAM and have made the decision to jump on board. Like you and your husband, my fiance and I have agreed to wait a few years before having children. However, we were both very against me going on the pill from the beginning, but unsure what alternative was best/we both felt comfortable with. I've been reading the Weschler book and already I am amazed at how much I have learned about my own body! Any other suggestions? Did you take a class at all or learn on your own? Also, do you see a doctor who supports or is knowledgeable about FAM?

    1. Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! While I do respect each individuals decisions, I'm also personally glad to hear you've chosen FAM! I found the TCoYF book to be the most comprehensive. The other book I listed is also good though. I, too, was amazed at how little I had previously known about my own body! Charting is fairly simple once you get the hang of it, and it becomes an unconscious routine. These two resources were the ones that I used to learn the method. Of course, there are also plenty of online resources. If you're having trouble learning to interpret the charts, then this could be a helpful avenue. (It didn't really help me because most of them are seeking help interpreting a special cycle situation, which is something I've not had to encounter personally). The organization that produces the "Natural Family Planning" books does offer a class. It can be expensive and even require a drive to the nearest offering. It will also be taught from a Catholic perspective. We didn't have the time or financial resources to attend this class (not to mention the fact that my husband would have never been able to sit through a class learning about his wife's inner workings!). I was able to learn the method on my own, but I am very self-directed in learning in this manner. If you're more of a classroom learning, then you can visit for class offerings. Finally, when we began FAM the lady doc office available in the town we lived in was super-feminist oriented. I'm pretty sure they judged me quite a bit just for wearing skirts and dismissing conventional birth control. I maintained our decision in bc method nonetheless. Where we live now, there are providers who are much more holistic and open to different perspectives or preferences. They, of course, still support conventional bc (it's BIG business afterall!), but are also very, very respectful of a patient's choice. As far as a provider or group supporting FAM to the point of education, I haven't not encountered such. In fact, I'd be really shocked if I ever did. It would be nice though! Unfortunately, my experience as demonstrated FAM to be something that an individual/couple must learn on her/their own. It can be done though! Best of luck! Email me if you have any questions, and I'll do my best to answer them! :)


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