The Fertility Awareness Method is becoming more commonly known and followed for birth control or conception purposes, but there is still a lot of skepticism and worry from many women and men. For those that are new to the method, there can be a lot of confusion on how it works. I’ve tapped into the fertility awareness bible, Taking Charge Of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, to bring you some of the most frequently asked questions and concerns about FAM. If you are considering using the Fertility Awareness Method for either birth control or conception, I highly suggest purchasing this book as it is the most comprehensive guideline available. It teaches you exactly how to use FAM either to conceive or avoid conception. It is also an easy read for everyone, including teens.
FAM Frequently Asked Questions
How effective is FAM for birth control purposes?
If used correctly for every cycle, and you abstain from intercourse during the fertile phase, the FAM rules have a failure rate of approximately 2% per year for the typical couple. This is lower than any barrier method, including condoms. The failure rate increases with misuse of the method. Proper charting and following the rules properly are the only way to ensure a low failure rate.
What is the difference between FAM and the Rhythm Method?
The Rhythm Method is an ineffective way of identifying the fertile phase using statistics from your past cycles. FAM is a scientifically validated method involving the observation of your primary fertility signs. FAM is far more effective because fertility is determined on a daily basis.
How long does it take to learn the method?
This varies with each woman. Thoroughly reading Taking Charge Of Your Fertility can take longer or shorter, depending on how much time you dedicate to learning the method. Some prefer to take classes from qualified instructors. I personally took about 1 month to read the book. If you want to learn fast, dedicate more time to reading and learning.
How much time does it take to use FAM?
FAM takes literally a few minutes out of your day. Depending on your thermometer, taking your temperature first thing in the morning can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. It takes about another minute to check your other fertility signs (cervical fluid and also optional cervical position).
Is FAM good for everyone?
For birth control purposes, FAM is appropriate for women who have the discipline to learn the method, and properly perform it every single day. It is not difficult to perform or learn the method, it is simply about discipline. Furthermore, it is only recommended for monogamous couples (given the dangers of STDs).
For couples that are trying to conceive, FAM is highly advised to maximize chances of pregnancy and to determine if there are any issues with fertility.
FAM is also highly beneficial for all women who simply want to educate themselves about their bodies. Even if you have no interest in using the method for avoiding or achieving pregnancy, it is incredibly empowering for learning about your body and taking charge of your gynecological health.
Teens can also use FAM. If you are a teen and you want to learn FAM as birth control for when you plan to become sexually active, this is a fantastic way to get to know your body ahead of time. Again, it is important to be very diligent and disciplined with learning FAM, so it’s best suited for responsible teenagers who will use it in conjunction with their partners.
How many days do you have to abstain when using FAM?
You never have to abstain when using FAM. You must use a barrier method during your fertile phase if you decide to have intercourse. However, it is recommended to abstain for the highest success rate, as the success rate using a barrier method during the fertile phase is that of the barrier method itself (which is a lower success rate than FAM). Every person is different, however the average fertile phase for somebody with a regular cycle is about 30% of the cycle.
Do I have to take my temperature at the exact same time every day?
No, however it is best to be as consistent as possible. Your temperature gradually increases for every extra hour you sleep. So if you sleep in very late one day, your temperature may be questionable. If you wake up earlier than normal this is fine, however you need to have a minimum of 3 hours of consecutive sleep. If you need to wake up to go to the washroom, and you know you will only be sleeping 1-2 more hours, take your temperature before getting out of bed and log this temperature reading. Then you can go back to sleep. If you have very irregular waking times, you can set an alarm at around the same time each morning to take your temperature, and then go back to sleep. Many ovulation thermometers have alarms as well.
Do women always ovulate on the same day?
It’s common to ovulate on the 14th day, however, ovulation day can be different for everyone, and that is completely healthy and normal. For those with regular, healthy cycles, you will have a fairly consistent ovulation day but it can still vary from cycle to cycle.
Can a women ovulate more than once per cycle?
No. You can only ovulate once per cycle, however ovulation can occur over the course of 24 hours and you can release more than one egg at this time (usually 1-2). Ova survive around 6 to 12 hours after ovulation but you must count on a 24 hour survival period.
Can a women get pregnant if she hasn’t been menstruating?
Yes. Since a women releases an egg around 12-16 days before menstruation, it is possible to get pregnant without actually having a period. Women who are not menstruating due to various reasons (ex: excessively low body fat), are always at risk of ovulating at any point. This is because the underlying issues causing the lack of menstruation can change at any time.
Can stress or sickness affect your fertility?
Stress or illness can prevent ovulation, however it is more likely to delay it. The body is smart, and it will not want you to conceive a baby if you’re sick, so ovulation may be delayed by a few days.
How many days can sperm survive?
Sperm can generally survive a maximum of 5 days in fertile quality cervical fluid. There are some suggestions in medical literature, that under extreme cases, sperm has survived for 6-8 days. It is much more likely that sperm will survive a maximum of 3 days, and only a few hours in infertile quality cervical fluid.
I hope this has helped to create some clarity on the FAM method. As always, refer to Taking Charge of Your Fertility for further information and before relying on FAM.