Let’s revisit Sex Ed class
Remember back in Sex Ed class as a teenager, when you were taught that any form of unprotected sex could result in a pregnancy? Many of us grew up believing that a woman could fall pregnant on any day of her cycle. This fear drove us to seek out birth control options like the pill in order to eliminate this risk. Or it left us petrified after every sexual encounter that we might be pregnant.
Imagine knowing there were only a few days each month that it was possible to fall pregnant. This information is not readily taught in high-school sex-ed classes because of fears it will be misinterpreted, but today I want to let you in on a little secret:
In reality, it is only possible for a woman to fall pregnant for 5 to 7 days of each menstrual cycle. This means that unprotected sex on the remaining days of the cycle cannot result in pregnancy. How is this possible? In a word: mucus. Sperm cannot survive without mucus.
As a culture, we don’t often talk about cervical mucus, however it is the master sign of a woman’s fertility. Fertile mucus can keep sperm alive for up to 5 days, but without fertile mucus, sperm will die within 2 hours of entering the vagina. Fertile mucus is only produced for on average 5 to 7 days per menstrual cycle, meaning that outside of this window, it is not possible to fall pregnant.
Outside of the fertile window, the cervix is blocked by a thick mucus plug which prevents sperm from entering the uterus. Sperm literally cannot meet the egg, and will die within 2 hours of entering the vagina. As a woman heads towards ovulation, this mucus plug dissolves and she begins to produce the fertile mucus, which is very hospitable to sperm.
With the cervix now fully open, sperm can enter the uterus, and supported by fertile mucus can stay alive for up to 5 days whilst they wait for an egg to be released. Once the egg is released (ovulation), the egg dies within 12-24 hours if not fertilised. This means that there is a maximum of 7 days per cycle when the egg might be fertilised, and therefore unprotected sex during this fertile window is the only time that pregnancy can occur.
What is the Fertility Awareness Method?
The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is a natural, hormone-free method of birth control. The method teaches users to read their body’s changes in cervical mucus and body temperature to determine the fertile and infertile phases of the cycle. A simple set of rules can then be applied to either avoid or achieve pregnancy. When used correctly, FAM is 99.4% effective at preventing pregnancy. In couples wanting to conceive, FAM can be an effective tool in greatly increasing the chances of pregnancy by timing sex for conception.
Due to the commonly held belief that a woman is fertile every day, many healthy couples incorrectly believe they are struggling with infertility. When they learn to read to signs of fertility and time sex accordingly, they can fall pregnant with ease. As you can imagine, if there are only 5 to 7 possible days to fall pregnant each month, many couples are simply missing this window!
Why all women should chart their cycle
As a Clinical Nutritionist and Fertility Awareness Educator, I believe that our menstrual cycle provides invaluable information about our overall wellbeing. When we are out of balance, our body sends us clues that show up through our cycles. This might be shorter or longer cycles, PMS, migraines, painful or heavy periods, mood changes or cravings. Working with a qualified Nutritionist and FAM educator means that we can identify areas of your cycle that need support, and help to bring you back in to balance. I work with clients who are looking for an effective, natural method of birth control, and with couples who are trying to conceive. Learning how to chart your cycle gives you a stronger connection with yourself as it forces you to go inwards and pay attention to your body. Many women find it a beautiful opportunity for reflection and self-awareness.
If you would like to learn more about the Fertility Awareness Method, want to get in touch with your cycle or are struggling with hormonal imbalances, get in touch with Tamika. Tamika practices from the Bondi Junction and Kingsford Health Space clinics. Make a booking by calling (02) 90115595 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was originally published on Nourished Natural Health, Tamika’s personal blog. Learn more about her and FAM at this link.