Fertility awareness is a method of contraception that has received a lot of bad press. It has been labelled as ‘risky’ and even as ‘irresponsible’ when recommended to young women. Whilst it may not be every woman’s first choice when it comes to contraception, it is useful to understand how it works in relation to fertility. Being able to track and predict your menstrual cycle can help to tell you when you are most fertile and therefore when you are most likely to conceive. In this guide we answer the question: what is fertility awareness and how does it work? We also take a look at how fertility awareness relates to fertility and the fertility tests for males that are available to help you in realising your dream of becoming parents.
Let’s begin by grasping the basics of fertility awareness. Essentially, fertility awareness is a drug and hormone free way of protecting against unplanned pregnancy. Through the tracking of the menstrual cycle, temperature and cervical secretions, a woman is able to understand and predict when ovulation is likely to occur.
Being a drug free method of contraception makes fertility awareness a natural method that relies only on the natural cycles of the body. This is attractive to many women who do not want to put drugs and hormones into their bodies.
Additionally, being free from drugs and prescriptions means that this method is not at the mercy of pharmacy opening hours, medical appointments or drug availability. This can make women feel empowered and in control of their natural fertility and periods.
Many couples also like the fact that it includes both partners in the process and cycle. Both become in tune with the rhythms of the woman’s body and this can help to build trust and intimacy.
In order to ensure that this method of contraception is effective, you need to be able to closely monitor your body and its cycles with a high level of accuracy. A miscalculation can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.
This method does not prove useful for those women who find themselves travelling through time zones on a regular basis as the body’s rhythms will be disrupted in connection to the disruption of the natural circadian rhythm.
This method does not offer protection from STIs, so is not recommended for those who are not with a regular partner, or do not wish to take additional methods. Regular STI checks are important if this method is favoured.
A busy lifestyle that means you may not have the time to accurately record your temperature, track your cycle and keep notes may result in the failure of this method.
So, how does fertility awareness relate to infertility and fertility issues?
Firstly, it has been shown that those who use this natural method of contraception often conceive more quickly than those who use drug-related methods. This is because there aren’t any hormones or drugs that need time to leave your system.
Clearly the most effective thing about this method in relation to fertility is that you will have an intimate understanding of your menstrual cycle and will already know when you are going to be ovulating. This knowledge is something that many women have to get to grips with when they are trying to conceive, or looking to start fertility treatment. Those women who are already using this natural method of contraception will already know when they are likely to be most fertile, and this can be a way to get ‘ahead of the game’ when it comes to fertility treatment and assisted contraception.
Of course, male fertility cannot be tracked in similar way, and once you have made the decision to start your journey to parenthood, it is important to research male fertility testing and book an appointment at a trusted clinic.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.