No hormonal birth control? No Babies? Is it possible?! YES
Probably the most common question we’ve been asked in the last day is “Did you guys plan your pregnancy or was it an accident?”
If you know anything about me, you know I’m not big on hormonal birth control for my personal use. I have no qualms if you choose to use it, but I do have a slight itch if you’re using it without proper education (hence why I try my best to put that out for you guys on the reg).
So the question still looms… “Was it an accident? Or did we plan it?”
When you’re married and want kids, you can get kind of “complacent”. So did we sit down and map out the next year and decide that this was an optimal time for a baby? NOPE. But we also weren’t actively trying to prevent it either.
I get that the majority of you don’t have the luxury of “whatever happens, happens!” So let’s talk about what the heck we can do to prevent a surprise baby situation WITHOUT the use of hormonal birth control (HBC) 🙂
Other Methods of Birth Control Besides Hormonal Contraceptive
When we talk about BC, people like to throw up their hands and pretend like there’s absolutely no way to prevent pregnancy besides being on HBC and that’s just not true.
It takes more work to do it naturally – but that’s the way most things go – you can take a pill and forget the fact that you need to listen and respect your body, orrrrr you can cut to the chase and deal with the root cause.
The same goes for taking the pill to prevent pregnancy. We can evade our responsibility to know our bodies, or we can sit down and learn about it so we aren’t dealing with side effects and potentially infertility down the road.
And I get that this is an Rx we are talking about and I’m not a doctor and some people actually NEED these things to function…I’m on board with all of that – but those are more exceptions than the rule. The rule has become, “take this pill and forget about it” and I see that as a problem and I’m not afraid to say it.
And I think this “take it and forget it” mentality has become popular because everyone is so busy that we don’t have the luxury of changing our lifestyles, buying and prepping good food, or learning about and tracking our cycles. Maybe the barrier to entry seems too high, so we take the easy route? Maybe we just aren’t taught anything besides what conventional medicine throws at us from the get go?
Whatever it may be, I have faith that women are waking up and wanting to know more and take that power back over their bodies. I receive many messages asking about natural birth control, wanting to know a better way, but just not knowing where to start. Well this post is for you 🙂
Let’s dive right in! Today we are going to teach you all about how to chart your cycle, when to predict ovulation, prevent pregnancies, optimize fertility, and eventually, allow us to problem solve any underlying issues you might be experiencing. It’s like going to the doctor’s office, but way better 😉
PART I: How to Chart Your Cycle
Why chart? Charting helps you to know if and when you are ovulating so you can either time sex to become pregnant or avoid sex to prevent becoming pregnant. Ovulation is the event in which you release an egg from your ovaries – it’s when you are MOST fertile and probable to get pregnant (as long as there are sperm around).
There are just a few fertile days each menstrual cycle that you can get pregnant. And because sperm can survive up to 5 days in the women’s body, the this fertile window can be at MAXIMUM 6 days.
This is called the MAXIMUM FERTILE WINDOW and is comprised of the 5 days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. To break it down further, if you have unprotected sex on day 9 of your cycle and you ovulate on day 14, the sperm will be there waiting for the egg to be released. And as soon as it does, the egg becomes fertilized.
That might seem like a long time to abstain from sex each month, which is why you can certainly use condoms during this time frame. In reality, most pregnancies can be attributed to intercourse from within TWO DAYS before ovulation up to the day of ovulation (the egg only survives one day post ovulation).
For practical purposes, your FERTILE WINDOW is about 3 days each cycle => the 2 days before you ovulate and the day of ovulation. After the day of ovulation, you are no longer fertile for that cycle.
One myth that you will want to be aware of is that you ALWAYS ovulate on day 14 of your cycle – this is not true. The only way of knowing if you TRULY ovulate is if you track your fertile signs and basal body temperature (BBT). Here is how we do that…
Part II: How to Predict Ovulation
Your own fertility pattern is unique to you, which is why tracking is so important. We can’t rely on clinical definitions of ovulating on day 14, because that rarely applies to you. Instead, we rely on the clues our body gives us that are driven by hormones to determine when we ovulate…
The hormones that offer the best clues about your fertility status are estrogen and progesterone:
-Estrogen dominates the FOLLICULAR phase BEFORE ovulation, when you are most fertile.
-Progesterone dominates the LUTEAL phase AFTER ovulation, when you are no longer fertile.
Several fertility signs relate to thes hormones as well:
-Your PRIMARY ESTROGEN signal is your CERVICAL MUCUS (CM)
-Your PRIMARY PROGESTERONE signal is your BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE (BBT).
Ok, here is where it gets a little graphic, so bare with me.
CM is the fluid produced by the crypts of your cervix. It changes throughout your menstrual cycle depending on your fertility status. It can be observed on toilet paper when you go to the bathroom.
This is hands down the easiest way to determine the level of estrogen in your body which correlates to your fertile window because it has a unique appearance and ‘feel’. CM becomes slippery and looks like raw egg white – this usually starts about 3-5 days before you ovulate and completely stops the day after ovulation. This CM is special in that it helps sperm swim up through the cervix and uterus to meet the egg and nourishes its survival.
So we’ve pinned down that CM indicates when you are highly estrogenic and fertile, but it cannot CONFIRM that you ovulated.
In order to pinpoint and confirm ovulation, you also need to look at your other primary fertility sign: Basal Body Temperature (BBT). Progesterone causes body temperature to rise, so our resting body temperature will be higher after ovulation due to the increased progesterone. The purpose of progesterone is to make sure the uterine lining is stable during pregnancy and ensures the fertilized egg stays attached.
Because progesterone is only secreted AFTER ovulation and causes your body to increase in temperature, it is the primary way to confirm that ovulation has occurred.
Part III: How to Prevent Pregnancies or Get Pregnant by Charting
We are now ready to go ahead and download a chart to start tracking our cycle.
Start a chart on the FIRST DAY of your PERIOD. This is Cycle Day (CD) 1.
Cervical fluid can be observed and noted at any time of the day – the most fertile fluid observed during the day should be recorded.
BBT should be taken upon waking every morning at the same time after a normal solid block of sleep. Whenever you deviate from your normal routine, you must note it because it could cause an outlier temperature. We recommend the DAYSY Fertility tracking thermometer and app!
From the example fertility chart above, you can see that the first day of the period starts on cycle day 1 (CD1). Cycle Day 1 is the first day of your period (full red flow, not spotting).
Next step is to check your primary fertility signs:
- your cervical fluid observations (dry, sticky, creamy or egg white and runny)
- your waking temperature BBT (before you get out of bed)
- the time you took your temperature
- when you have intercourse
- when you have menstrual bleeding
- Secondary, fertility signs that you MAY choose to observe, but are not necessary, include:
- observations of the position,
- texture and opening of your cervix,
- results from commercial tests and devices, and
- other personal observations that you learn to associate with your fertility.
The feedback from these charts lets you see when you are approaching ovulation, when you have already ovulated, when you should expect your period or a positive pregnancy test, along with other insights that will help you get pregnant and learn about your unique fertility pattern!!
The analysis will tell you the best time to have (or to not have) intercourse to maximize your chances each cycle. It will show you when you are fertile, when you have ovulated, when you are no longer fertile, when to expect your period if you are not pregnant, and when you can expect a reliable pregnancy test result. 🙂
Hope this helped! Let me know if you have any questions!
(images from fertilityfriend.com)