Originally posted on Thirty On Tap (September 27, 2016)
After 15 years of being on birth control I’ve decide to ditch the hormones and say hello fertility awareness method or “FAM”. Sayonara hormones! Goodbye progestin.
In an era that lauds tech speed and efficiency over all else, the choice to switch off hormonal birth control was a difficult one for me to make. It’s easy and worry free. Pop a pill in the morning or get a shot in your hip every three months and you’re done. Hakuna Matata folks.
For the past 15 years – that’s nearly half my life – I’ve casually tried various forms of birth control. Pill, ring, and shot; you name it I’ve tried it. Finding the right method can be difficult since everyone reacts differently. The first few pills I tried gave me debilitating headaches. I remember having to lie down on the couch in my family room with low lights and a cold compress. In college I moved over to trying the shot and ring. The headaches went away but bad cramps and weight gain took their place. And so it went. It wasn’t until Lo Loestrin Fe that I found my balance.
So for the past five years I’ve used this ultra-low dose pill with little to no side effects. I’ve rarely had a period, have never experienced headaches, uncontrollable rage or weight gain, and my skin has retained its youthful glow. So why switch now?
Well it seems I’m joining a trend that’s been quietly growing among women between the ages 26-35. The ease of use and access to online apps have spurred more and more millennial women to dump the pill and switch over to natural pregnancy planning and prevention methods. Essentially dumping new school methods for ultra old-school. In much the same way that millennials have decided to go organic, both in food and products, women, like myself, are looking towards more “natural” ways to avoid pregnancy that avoid the use of synthetic drugs and medical devices.
Beyond the health benefits to going natural, there is another, more driving, reason as to why I’ve been wanting to switch. Empowerment.
On birth control I lost all sense of control and understanding of my cycle. I would go from never having a period to being surprised midday by the vengeful red. Through FAM, I’m charting my cycle and learning intimate details about how my body works. FAM allows me to take control of my body while letting it function on its own. And in a day and age when society still defines a woman by her sensuality and outward appearance instead of her inner drive, ambition, and self-worth, reclaiming the most intimate function of my body as my own feels pretty damn good.
For some women, reading this may seem like I’ve taken a step back. As if I am dragging my feet and dismissing the hundreds of women who fought for my right to secure affordable, effective, and legal forms of birth control. I get where you are coming from. The pill provided women with sexual freedom and redefined what sex meant for a woman. It allowed women to wrestle control of their bodies from a society that believed a woman’s only place was in a home, raising children and taking care of her husband, to flooding the workforce and branching out to the various industries that populate and drive our economy today. Your righteous reaction is not one to be taken lightly. But I would like to put forth the argument that by abandoning a synthetic method I am taking a powerful step to reconnecting with my body to become more empowered in my decisions regarding sex, relationships, and personal health. Shouldn’t that also be considered feminist as well?
FAM can seem like a daunting task. It requires a more attuned sense of your body’s functions and when you’re ovulating. In a busy world the thought of having to set aside time to chart your own cycle seems scary. What if I don’t track well enough? What if I misread my body’s signals? But do not fret! There are [dozens of apps to help you with the process.
After polling a few friends I know who use FAM and doing “exhaustive” internet research (say 30 minutes) I decided to go with Kindara. For me, I was looking for an app that combined all three methods of fertility awareness – period tracker, cervical fluid, and basal body temperature (BBT). It’s easy to enter in my daily data. With a pleasing interface and easy-to-understand charts and calendars, I was sold. Kindara also has a BBT thermometer called Wink that links directly to the app, so taking your morning temp has never been easier.
The trip is going to be long. I’ve been on birth control for so such a large portion of my life that it may take months or even years before my body fully normalizes. But it’s a journey I am willing and excited to take.
If you’re interested in learning about the various methods of fertility awareness, check out ACOG