Okay. If that and the word "Contraception" didn't scare you away, then off we go!! LOL
A little background: I have been using an IUD (or intrauterine device) for contraception since my youngest was born, 5 years ago. Conveniently, the lifespan of said device is 5 years. So, it was time for me to either get the thing replaced or find an alternate method of birth control. With 4 children already between the two of us, Jeffrey and I would definitely prefer not to have another baby!
For a variety of reasons (which I am happy to discuss in detail if anyone wants to know), I elected not to get the Mirena replaced. After taking it out myself about two weeks ago, I am certain I made the right decision. However, I have previously used about every birth control method known to man - and have very poor tolerance to any of them. My body just doesn't like outside intervention or hormonal interference. ;) So, the most appealing method to me came up as Natural Family Planning!
This method of contraception has gotten a seriously bad rep over the years, but it goes beyond simply 'being careful' - today's NFP includes checking your BBT (basal body temperature), cervical position and mucus, and other symptoms - actually being aware of and charting your own body's cycles and rhythms using scientific indicators for ovulation and fertility. If done correctly and cautiously, it has about a 99.5% efficacy rate in preventing pregnancy - which is on par with an IUD or even tubal ligation. It is also pretty darn helpful if you are trying to GET pregnant!
Okay, I get paying attention to when you ovulate - but not all women know when they ovulate. How do you tell? Well, beyond the ovarian pain, general crankiness (or horniness), and other obvious symptoms, your body goes through some measurable changes. One of those is a slight temperature spike during and for a few days after ovulation, and the other is a change in cervical mucus and position(thus the "eew factor" lol). Becoming familiar with how to track these signs is a challenge of its own!
Fortunately, there are tools and resources to make it easier, such as:
- The Ovuview app for Android (really fantastic fertility tracking app - the best I've found, and free)
- Sister Zeus' site (all about fertility and contraception; includes herbal info)
- The Ovulation Method (videos and resources on tracking ovulation)
So, now the challenge for me is to re-learn my body's symptoms and cycles. Having been without a period for almost 5 years, dealing with PMS and ovulation and menstruation is a bit strange! Being able to track my own fertility and prevent pregnancy? Priceless. I'm also planning on teaching my daughters (one of whom already menstruates) this knowledge - that they may grow up more aware of their bodies (and the repercussions of their actions) than I did! :)