Post # 1
Looking to get some insight from any bees that use the fertility awareness method as their primary means of birth control.
Background: I’m 27, started taking the Pill when I was 15. Had Mirena IUD for a little over a year age 23-24, then back on the pill.
DH and I plan to start TTC later this fall (minimum 6 months from now). However in the last few months I’ve begun to seriously HATE my pill. I’m taking Tri Previfem which is like ortho tri cyclen. I’ve had acne since age 11, but it seems to be getting worse and worse ..the first week I take the active pills my skin is good, but week 2-3 i get horrid breakouts to my face neck chest and back. My “sugar pill” week it starts to clear but obviously it’s not instant so it feels like I start to clear just in time to break out again. It’s embarrassing, and out of control. I’ve tried more acne medications and remedies than I can count, but I’m convinced it’s hormonal due to the pill. I also find that my sex drive is decreased and definitely have mood swings.
Since we are planning to start TTC soon I don’t want to switch to a different type of pill and I’m skeptical about a different method to try such as the shot or Nuva ring because there’s always the adjustment period with new methods and side effects.
So – if you use or have used FAM to prevent pregnancy, what was your experience? Did you abstain or use other additional methods of protection during your fertile window (condoms or withdrawal)?. Was it easy to figure out and keep track of or did you find it tedious? Comparisons to other birth control methods would be helpful too!
Post # 2
Commenting to follow! I want to switch to FAM next year before we start TTC, I’m interested to hear from people who use this method consistently and effectively.
Post # 3
I don’t have experience using FAM but I recently went to my doctor to talk to her about going off the pill. She told me that FAM could not be used reliably until my cycle became regular again which could take up to six months. Until then she recommended a diaphragm.
Post # 4
we practice nfp/fam. we use condoms during my fertile window. it can take a while to get the hang of it, but it’s not hard and after while it becomes part of your normal routine. i’d recommend taking a class if you can find one in your area. it really helped us to get a better understanding of it. our class was 3 months long (one class a month) and by the third month i felt like we had it down. like any other form of birth control, it’s not 100% effective. in the 5 years we’ve been practicing, we’ve had 1 surprise pregnancy. i’m currently pregnant for the 2nd time and we were not trying/not preventing.
the thing i like the most about it is that my husband and i are both involved with it. it’s not just on me to remember my pill or get my shot (both of which i have been on in the past). we took the class together, he knows how it works, he knows how to read my chart, he knows where i am in my cycle, etc. it doesn’t cost anything (just the price of a thermometer), there are no weird side effects, i’m not putting any artificial hormones in my body, and we’ve been happy with it so far.
Post # 5
panda_bear3 : I used it a couple of years ago, for a few years probably from age 20-23-ish? If used right, it is great! After using a double decimal thermometer for a couple of years, many women I know switched to the ibutton, which means no more waking up early to measure your temperature – you should now your cycle very well before making that switch, though. There are also various apps that help you analyse and track your data these days, which means you only need to check if they applied the rules right. I can also be a good way to have your partner involved. I actually made FI read Taking Charge of your Fertility because I couldn’t imagine living with a man who doesn’t know this kind of stuff – he knew most of it before but better safe than sorry.
You have to figure out what your basal temperature is sensitive to, though. For example, I couldn’t drink more than a glass of wine while waiting for my temperature to go up because alcohol messed with it. I am also time sensitive, which means certain days were pointless for me to measure because I went to bed too late or woke up too late. That doesn’t apply to all women, though, I know a couple who work various shifts and still use NFP successfully. Also, I drank a lot of water – TMI ahead – my mucus was pretty much almost classified as super fertile but I could still see a change in quality within that super extreme fertile category. Thus, I didn’t class it according to textbook but according to what my body did to define the mucus specific-fertility window.
As for the fertile window, condoms work, obviously. Diaphragms are another option – be sure to find one that is fitted, though and don’t take one of those new one-size-fits-all. Their pearl index is awful. They also need to be re-fitted after a weight change of more than 5kg (~10lbs) and finding a gel that doesn’t contain a truckload of chemicals can be tricky. I know one of my friends regularly imports some Canadian gel for that purpose but can’t remember its name. Probably easier to get in the US than here in Europe, though – google should help.
Honestly, the only reason why I switched to my copper IUD was because I started to work insane hours and combined with that, didn’t want to be tea total when I finally got around to socialising, which never seemed to line up with my cycle. I also recommend “sweetening the pill”, if you haven’t read it already. I went on the pill before trying NFP knowing that it was bad for me, but thinking it was easiest for 17-year old me – and it was, I only went off it when the side-effects started, so I am not condemning it. In retrospect, I am incredibly happy with my IUD and will renew it once this one is done but 10 years of contraception might be a bit much if you want a child soon 😉
Post # 6
sparklebee83 : That is not true. You have to keep track of the earliest ovulation you have observed and (with most methods) deduct 8 days to get the cycle day from which on you would have to abstain or use additional contraception, e.g. condoms. For the first year, you never get more than 5 days at the beginning of your cycle with most methods, anyway. After 12 cycles, you can then apply the -8 rule. Unless the minus-8-rule would suggest that you have less than 5 non-dangerous days at the beginning of your cycle during the first 12 cycles – e.g. your temperature goes up on day 12 of cycle 3, in that case, you should start using condoms on day 5 in your cycle from then on.
It totally can be used with unreliable cycles, it just means less days “off” at the beginning of the cycle. My cycles ranged from 26-42 days, but I absolutely knew when I was fertile and when not.
Post # 7
panda_bear3 : just a question: why not just use condoms?
Post # 8
FAM is not birth control. It will help you SLIGHTLY reduce your chances of getting pregnant, but it is NOT birth control.
There is a very good reason doctors do not reccommend FAM to avoid pregnancy…
Post # 9
I too hate the pill. Not been on it 15+ years.
Used condoms mainly then in the couple of long term serious relationships in that period have used withdrawal method.
No pregnancies at all. Started ttc with my husband on our honeymoon. Got pregnant fairly quickly.
Is withdrawal or condom method something your DH is happy with?
if so you can condom up in your fertile phase, withdraw or condom in your non fertile phase.
If you’ve been on the pill though it may take 6 months or so for your natural cycle to be evident.
I must add that although I’m a fan of withdrawal I’d only ever suggest it where partners are monogamous/have had STD tests/are ok with an oops baby.
Post # 10
amanda1988 : UK-bee : while we aren’t entirely opposed to condoms, neither of us really likes the way they feel and I find they do make me overly sensitive (although I’m sure that’s just a matter of finding a different/better brand?). My preference would not be condoms but I do know they are easier to use and obviously far more effective/higher pregnancy prevention rate.
Withdrawal we are also ok with, and may be something we would couple with FAM.
it is frustrating as it’s an annoying timeframe … switching to a different type of hormonal option or figuring out my cycles will (potentially) take some time. I have been struggling with the decision because I am just so fed up with the pill I don’t know if I can deal with it another 6 months! Just about the only thing I like is knowing exactly when to plan to pack a tampon in my work bag 🙄
Post # 11
iwanticecream : Yeah, from my understanding what she meant is that I should wait not until my cycles are perfectly regular but until I know what a normal cycle looks like and can recognize when I am ovulating. My post was definitely unclear. I’ve been on the pill since I was 17, so I have no idea what normal looks like and it will probably take me a few cycles when I go off to figure things out.
I think she also wanted to discourage it since many methods have few safe days, especially at the beginning and a barrier method would be needed then anyway.
Post # 12
I would say FAM is not a great choice, unless you’re completely ok with getting unintenionally pregnant before you TTC (considering, you’re only 6 months out from trying, I’m guessing that might be the case?).
One thing though on the tri-cyclen–I was on a generic try-cyclen for a year and I had a really similar experience…it made my skin HORRIBLE. It also made me super moody and miserable. I talked to my doctor about it (who was a new doctor, not the one who originally prescribed the BC) and she said that happens a lot with the tri-cyclen type pills because of the weekly changes in the hormone levels which aren’t necessary. I went on a pill that didn’t have the three different types of pills, and it pretty much instantly fixed everything…just an idea if you do decide to switch up pills or go back on after having a baby.
Post # 13
panda_bear3 : my iud expires next year and after it does I also want to use fam. My iud is non hormonal so I could start charting way beforehand. I already track my periods (not the same thing, I know) and they are fairly regular. I think I’m going to start charting three to six months ahead of time.
I have to do more research but I hope to use an app to help me keep track and maybe give me a better idea of my “safe” days. There are some that have algorithms built in that take into account your temperature and other information to help you out. Obviously more research into it is needed but that’s my current thoughts.
Post # 14
I used it. It works really well if you are super diligent about it. If you’re okay with possibly getting pregnant early I think it’s fine just to use condoms or abstinence. I only used it between pregnancies so we just used the pull out method. My suggestion would be to use condoms, abstinence, or pull out (if you are comfortable doing that) from CD1 through confirming ovulation. We had normal sex until about CD 9 since I ovulated usually CD16 or CD15. One month I ovulated a day early on CD14 and since we had sex on CD9 I got pregnant. So it worked until I messed it up, shouldn’t have had sex on CD 9 as it was the first day I had any cervical fluid and that is a no-no I believe. So really I think the fault was my own but that’s the way the method works- you have to be extremely diligent. So you can keep in mind that I choose to not use it quite as diligently as I should have because we did want another one, and I actually got pregnant the last month we were avoiding.
I think I will use it again until this baby is 1 and then I am getting an IUD but I won’t be having reglar sex until after confirming O since I don’t want any more babies this time. So it can be very effective but only if you are extremely diligent all of the time, at least up until you confirm O. It’s not really much work at all but you do have to think about it every day until after confirming O. Withdrawal wasn’t a problem for me, that part worked great!
Post # 15
- Wedding: Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception/The Gallery
So I had a very similar experience with the pill/Mirena–only it made me a crazy person and it got to the point where I couldn’t take being on it any longer.
So, around the time of our wedding, we started NFP/FAM. It went really well for a while and then we decided to go a little more lax and just kind of not TTC but also not prevent. Because I was already aware of my cycle timing, this was more like no-pressure TTC. Then, due to a few life circumstances, we decided to go back to tracking my cycle to avoid for another 6 months or so.
WELL, one month into that plan we admittedly didn’t abstain/use condoms soon enough in my potentially fertile window, I ovulated 3-4 days earlier than any other cycle I had tracked and two weeks later, got a positive pregnancy test! Oops! So, here I sit, nauseated at 9 weeks 3 days pregnant. We’re excited but it wasn’t the plan to be certain.
So, long story short, it CAN work. But you have to be diligent–or open to any “mistakes” that may occur. Also, read Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It’s the best for explaining just what’s going on and how to use that information.
TL/DR: FAM/NFP can work if you’re really diligent and careful. Otherwise you’ll be like me–pregnant!