Post # 17
Hey thanks for the shout-out KLP2010! I have been using the sympto-thermal method (STM) of natural family planning since August 2007. No babies yet! Hormonal birth control really disagreed with my body too. After years of trying many different pills as well as the ring I finally gave up and turned to NFP. It has been extremely cost-effective, easy to learn, and easy to do.
Some of my (rather verbose) responses in this thread here address the efficacy and methodology of STM: http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/alsonatural-family-planning-does-it-work
I second “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” (TCOYF) by Toni Wechsler as the best all-audiences book about NFP out there. The lynchpin of NFP is that a woman is only fertile for a short time each month. NFP allows you to determine when that fertile time is, and then you choose what to do during that time (abstain or use a barrier method such as condoms). You do not have to use NFP alone to avoid pregnancy. If you are comfortable with using condoms (or any barrier method) to avoid pregnancy then you can learn NFP concurrently and even can use NFP to enhance the efficacy of condom use—for example, it will tell you when you are very fertile, in which case you have to decide how much you trust the condom, and it will tell you when you are totally infertile (after ovulation for the rest of the cycle), at which point you don’t need to use a condom at all. NFP is compatible with many different lifestyles and family planning plans. The only thing it is not compatible with is hormonal birth control (or pseudo-hormonal methods like the copper IUD).
There is a set method for learning NFP when you are coming off the pill. I had been taking the pill too when I decided to learn NFP. It does complicate matters because not only are you learning a new method, but the residual hormones can mask the signs your body is giving. Nevertheless, tons of women figure it out and do so successfully! My signs became clear after two months off the pill. You will know when it’s right because your chart will look just like what’s in the book. If you are unsure, you can always give it another month or consult someone who knows about NFP.
The recommendation for women learning NFP after quitting the pill is that you abstain from sex until after you have ovulated for the first three cycles off the pill. That allows you to observe your body without any interference. The signs you need to look for with NFP are the beginning and the end of the fertile window. So once you’ve found the end of it, you can have sex (using a barrier method if you want, although it’s not necessary) until the end of your cycle. There’s a chapter on doing this in TCOYF. Feel free to PM me too with any questions.
Post # 18
On the subject of books, while I liked and own TCOYF, I learned from and really recommend the book The Art of Natural Family Planning by the Couple to Couple League as well.
If you have the funds or inclination to have two books, I would recommend you get The Art of Natural Family Planning too (make sure to get the revised edition from 2007, not the older one). It’s not my first recommendation usually because it is written from a Catholic perspective in which birth control is considered wrong, and lots of people find that off-putting. However, there is only one chapter on that, so you can skip that chapter easily if you want. The “how-to” chapters are free of morality discussion. I recommend it because I think it gives clearer directions than TCOYF. I liked that there are exercises where you can practice interpreting sample charts. There are even color pictures of the stages of the mucus sign—so valuable when you are learning.
Post # 19
Thanks Soo much Chelseamorning for all the insite! I’m getting lots of great feedback… I’m feeling better about this 🙂
Post # 20
This is great information- i think i am going to order the book/s tonight. i like the idea that this is much more natural than being “doped up” on harmones.. and i like that when we DO decide to get pregnant (someday…) we will have a better understanding of how to go about doing that!! thank you!
Post # 21
i take my pill continuously so i don’t get my period- EVER. My doctor actually recommended I do this and said that’s what she and all her colleagues do. It’s a monophasic pill so there is no fluxuation in hormones. There is no medical necessity to have a monthly period and it will not affect your fertility. I know this technique is not for all girls (I have friends who say it’s “unnatural”) but taking the pill in the first place is “unnatural” and I have to say it’s WONDERFUL to never get my period. NO spotting, NO mood swings, NO cramps… i love it!!
Post # 22
@butrfly682: I do the same thing where I don’t have off times in my pill. Sadly, it doesn’t stop the side effects!
I’m thinking about going off BC too. I’m not sure that I could trust myself with just FAM or NFP though.
Post # 23
@MissAsB: I’m in the same boat. I’m on a pill that supposidly is the same dosage through all the rows of pills but I still get the side effects…. Arg
Post # 24
Trust yourself! NFP is not difficult and the rewards of understanding your body are awesome. I LOVE it. I second the TCOYF book, it is clear and has tons of examples so you can see a chart that looks like yours. Also lots of resources in case there is a problem. I also bought the Petite Sophia thermometer to go with the FAM method and it is great for newbies because it has software that does the charting, so I have used it in conjunction with my charts to make sure I am charting correctly. It also has an alarm that goes off in the morning so I never forget to take my temp on time. They sell it on amazon.com. Easy peasy!
Post # 25
Hi Lacylust, I can completely relate to hating pills! I tried the nuvo ring for awhile but didn’t have any better luck, plus I found I was more prone to infections (not fun).
I thought about doing natural family planning, but my doctor, a well-respected naturopath who I see for all of my gyno needs (and who will probably be my prenatal doctor when we decide to have children) advised against it. She said that the method can work well for some women, but not for all, and if you are not one of the ones that it works for, you won’t know that until you are pregnant. I’ve also had at least two friends using the NFP method that have become pregnant. Now, they may not have been doing it correctly, but either way, I haven’t been in a position where it is something I want to risk. Personally, I’d be willing to experiment with it after I’m married, when I’m in a more stable position financially, etc.
Anyhow, I got an IUD instead and couldn’t be more happy with it. I don’t even think about it, honestly, and I don’t have any side effects of moodiness, mood instability, etc that I experienced while on pills. The negative is that my periods are a little more painful now than they used to be (more cramps) and I also have heavier bleeding the first two days of my cycle (I had very light flow before getting the IUD). However, the tradeoffs to me are totally worth it. Also, while cramps were pretty severe for the first two months, they’ve gotten much better to deal with over time. Finally, I should mention that I have the copper IUD. The Mirena (plastic one) is supposed to generate less cramping than the copper, and also less severe changes in volume of flow.
Post # 26
I have major mood swings with the pill and never heard of the these methods until now. Thanks for the info-I’ll look into it. I definately don’t want to stay on the pill much longer!
By the way, for our “1st wedding” in India 3 months ago, I was scheduled to get my period the day of the wedding. My GYN told me to take the pill continously starting two months before we left. I ended up spotting every single day we were there (3 weeks). I just realized a few weeks ago that my period is due for half of our honeymoon in April so I’m considering taking the pill continously again, but crossing my fingers there isn’t any spotting this time. Anybody been through this?
Post # 27
I’ll second the love for an IUD – if you are interested in NFP for non-religious reasons, it might also be something to think about. The Mirena does have hormones, but (according to my gyno) the dosage is much smaller because it doesn’t need to be systemic, and therefore it has a smaller chance of the emotional side effects. The Paraguard (copper) is hormone-free.
The downside of an IUD is that you can’t really just “try it out” – getting it inserted is a serious, somewhat painful, process. For me, totally worth it, since it matched my needs really well. But it’s something you want to do a lot of research about, and have conversations with your doctor about, before you decide on it.
Post # 28
Hormonal BC made me crazy too so my Fiance and I switched to condoms – I know they aren’t for everyone, but we found a brand that works for us and we use them diligently. No babies, no scares for over a year now.
Look into the copper IUD. It’s a piece of copper inserted into your uterus, painful for the first day or two and then totally effective and non-hormonal birth control. My best friend uses it and swears by it. She had it removed when they wanted to get pregnant and had it put back in after having her baby.
Post # 29
So, for the last 8 years I have kept track of my period on a fertility wesbite designed for women trying to concieve. FI and I use it to NOT get pregnant. I just hate, hate, hate hormonal BC. Then again, my body is like clockwork–there is not guessing as to when I’m ovulating. If you’re a fairly regular person, this method can work well.
Post # 30
@LacyLust be careful with the Nuvaring I went on that in desperation because of the same thing the even low dose BC pills were so difficult for me to be on. It was pretty much like I had PMS ALL the time. I went on Nuvaring and it was the worst of all of them it made me very angry and aggressive. In the end I found a new doctor who diagnosed me with PMDD (my previous doc had misdiagnosed me with chronic-depression instead of just taking me off BC pills). She also found a major Vitamin D deficiency which can also effect your hormones so you might want to have your doc look into that too because it can definitely effect your mood swings and hormones. For me I can’t be on any form of pill or any product with hormones in it (IUD’s, inserts, etc). Now I take a prescription dosage of Vitamin D and I’m also treated for PMDD for 1 week when I go through pms. It was totally life changing for me, I wish I had switched doc’s years ago! PM me for more info about PMDD!
Post # 31
I totally recommend the copper IUD. It was great – once its in you’re done – you check the strings every so often but that’s it! And it works for 10 years, plus for me, it was basically free since my insurance covered it completely (though they wouldn’t cover pills? weird).