Why Women are Ditching the Pill for the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)

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Hello lovely readers! Today Justina Thompson from Red Coral Fertility shares here thoughts with us on why women are Ditching the Pill and switching to the Fertility Awareness Method:

Have you ever felt like the birth control pill is the only good option despite feeling like a different person while taking it? Or maybe you gained a puzzling amount of weight post partum only to realize your mini-pill was the culprit? 

You are not alone.

According to a study published in Contraception, 47% of women discontinue use of oral contraceptive pills within the first year of use.
(1) The top reasons cited include emotional side effects like depression, worsening of PMS, and a vanished sex drive. Additionally, abnormal weight gain is one of the most reported side effects by women taking the mini-pill after giving birth. Hormonal birth control introduces artificial hormones into the body to prevent pregnancy (and/or to treat reproductive health). (2) All hormonal contraceptives contain artificial versions of our natural hormones and work to overpower our natural cycles. Included in this category are not only oral pills, but also all hormonal devices like the patch, ring, shot, implant, and the hormonal IUD. For brevity, the remainder of the information will reference all hormonal birth control with the term “the Pill.” 

The body does not know what to do with artificial hormones in the body and as a result the endocrine system is impacted and side effects surface. In addition to the side effects listed above, the Pill increases the risk for blood clots, strokes, heart disease, infertility, severe nutrient depletion, glaucoma and cancer of the liver, breasts, and cervix. (3,4)

Personally, the negative experience I had with taking the Pill, like most women, was not obvious for quite some time. As months passed, I thought my emotional and physical descent were “just a phase” or proof that “I wasn't trying hard enough.” I’m not the only one. More and more women are speaking up boldly about the side effects and health problems they encountered while using the Pill. Author and researcher Holly Grigg-Spall recently wrote the book Sweetening the Pill: How We Got Hooked on Birth Control and explains her story to The Independent in an article called: “Why I’ll Never Take the Pill Again.” In the last year, many other bold women have shared their experience and research. Here are a few of their testimonies:

Yes the Pill sucks, but Is It The Only Good Option?

Actually, no! That's the good news. If you are experiencing symptoms and currently taking the pill or have discontinued use in the past 3 years, please know two things: 1) Your experience is not in your head! 2) There are natural, alternative, EFFECTIVE options for preventing pregnancy. 

One of the most popular being the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). Human Reproduction published a research study proving that FAM is over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly, which is as effective as oral contraceptives. (5)

What is FAM?

  • FAM is based on the observation and charting of two scientifically proven fertility signs that determine whether or not a woman is fertile (capable of getting pregnant) on any given day.
  • FAM is NOT the rhythm method previous generations used. The rhythm method predicts when a woman will ovulate and is therefore ineffective, but FAM is based on daily observation ofa woman’s two fertility signs:Cervical Fluid (CF) and Basal Body Temperature (BBT). 

Unfortunately, these fertility signs are not something we learn about in sex and health education class. However, women who take a workshop from a qualified teacher learn the facts and develop confidence to practice FAM effectively and accurately.

What to Rely on After Pregnancy?

In addition to working with irregular cycles, FAM is also an effective birth control method for post-partum moms who are breastfeeding. Generally, doctors will prescribe a low dose, progesterone only pill (mini-pill) to prevent a new mom from conceiving before she is ready (mentally and physically) for another pregnancy. The reasons for allowing space between pregnancies are important. However, is the mini-pill safe after pregnancy? On one hand, the few conventional studies done have shown that not enough of the artificial hormones are passed to the baby via breast milk to effect development or health. It’s worth noting that those studies did not measure long-term effects. On the other hand, Naturopathic doctors and holistic health practitioners working with such families are seeing the opposite and advising against it. Healthy child spacing and wellbeing for mother and child are more reasons women are ditching the pill to use FAM.

What about those taking the Pill to Treat Symptoms?

The decision about birth control is certainly one that is both personal and multi-faceted. Women who were prescribed the Pill to treat symptoms of hormonal imbalance may be glad the Pill helped relieve some of those. However, it’s important to understand that the Pill works to treat the symptom and not the underlying cause. As a result, women who get off the Pill when they are ready to conceive are back at square one as they are faced with the same problems they had before. Be encouraged to seek out better answers from an array of health professionals including holistic health practitioners.

Much of the alternative realm of health care approaches the imbalance of a female's hormones in a holistic way. Instead of pumping artificial hormones into the body to treat the symptoms of irregular cycles, natural health care practitioners look at the whole person and seek the underlying cause. That way, a woman can begin taking steps to heal the actual problem with natural therapies and can be on her way to maintaining healthy cycles, periods, and fertility. Learning to chart with FAM is a wonderful first step in the journey of taking back control of your health so that feeling great and vibrant is your new norm!

The Top 5 Reasons Women are Ditching the Pill for FAM:

  1. It Works. FAM is over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly. Take a workshop to learn the facts while developing the confidence to use FAM most effectively.
  2. No Side Effects. Not only is FAM over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, it’s also 100% natural meaning no artificial hormones and no side effects.
  3. Cost Free. Beyond the one time class fee and an inexpensive thermometer, FAM is a no cost birth control! (Prescription birth controls can cost up to $1,600 per year).
  4. Body Knowledge. Being a woman can feel like a mystery, but not anymore. Learning in depth info about the female cycle including hormones, energy, and emotions deepens a woman’s self awareness on a whole new level.
  5. Empowerment=Confidence. Knowing one’s body on a deeper level empowers a woman to have greater confidence in all areas of life: work, relationships, self-image, sex, and health.

Justina Thompson is a Fertility Awareness Educator (FAE) and founder of Red Coral Fertility, Justina’s passion for natural living and belief in the benefits of alternative therapies led her to a 2-year certification program in Fertility Awareness and Holistic Reproductive Health. As an educator, she connects women with a deeper knowledge about their bodies and teaches women (and men!) how to use the effective and natural Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) for birth control and healthy cycles as well as optimizing chances of conception. You can visit her website for a free email subscription to newsletters with up-to-date information on how to support hormonal health and wellbeing. Visit Justina on her Website or Blog, and connect  with her on Facebook and Twitter.

1. Sanders, SA, Graham, CA, Bass, JL, & Bancroft, J. (2001). A prospective study of the effects of oral contraceptives on sexuality and well-being and their relationship to discontinuation. Contraception, 64(1), 51-58. Retrieved from URL.
2. Norethindrone Related Abnormal Weight Gain. (2012). DrugInformer, by aculus, LLC. Retrieved from URL.
3. Bennett, J & Pope, A. (2008). The Pill: Are You Sure It’s Right For You? Austrailia. Allen & Unwin.
4. Grant, E. (1985). The Bitter Pill: How Safe is the Perfect Contraception? Elm Tree Books.
5. Frank-Herrmann, P., Heil, J., Gnoth, C., Toledo, E., Baur, S., Pyper…Freundl, G. (2007). The effectiveness of a fertility awareness based method to avoid pregnancy in relation to a couple's sexual behaviour during the fertile time: a prospective longitudinal study. Human Reproduction, (22)5, 1310-1319. Retrieved from URL.

Wanting to learn more about FAM? Here are a few books I would highly recommend checking out:

See it on Amazon.
by Katie Singer is a short and concise book that explains how a baby is conceived, explains how to chart your body's fertility to either plan for pregnancy or to avoid it. Includes excellent dietary advice for optimal health and fertility. 

See it on Amazon.
Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health  by Toni Weschler. A very large, information-full book. For more than ten years women have used this as a go-to reference for achieving pregnancy, natural ways to avoid pregnancy and generally gain control of their bodies and health.

See it on Amazon.
The Garden of Fertility: A Guide to Charting Your Fertility Signals to Prevent or Achieve Pregnancy--Naturally--and to Gauge Your Reproductive Health by Katie Singer. An excellent guide for understanding and using the fertility awareness method (FAM) to either achieve or prevent pregnancy. This book provides detailed description for describing how to chart to understand genealogical health. This is the information you should have learned in sex education class, but didn't. 
See it on Amazon.

 Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen's Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body by Toni Weschler. Teenage girls have so many questions about their bodies that go completely ignored. This books helps them understand what is happening with their bodies in a fun and informative way. 
(Note: this post contains affiliate links. Meaning if you shop on Amazon after clicking on one and shop, you are helping support my blogging endeavors. Thank you!) 


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  1. Yes! I stopped using hormonal birth control after reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility over the summer. The FAM works. I'm have a four year science degree and am a practicing Registered Nurse and I can't believe how much I didn't know about my own body.

    1. Hey Julie! It really is crazy how much we don't know... how much we aren't told. I definitely want to help change this in any way I can for my daughters generation! <3

  2. diaphragm worked for me back in the 80's, but I'm going to get the book for my daughter.

    1. Great. I want to get the book, too. For my daughter. :)

  3. A reason that is not touched on here, but is of even more importance than those listed, is that of the god's intention for sex in a relationship. Using FAM solely, there is that openness (some may falsely call it risk) to the possibilty of childbirth. It makes sex sexy, powerful and meaningful when both parties are aware of this beautiful function of sex... the original function. This isn't to say that everyone having sex should have babies, it can be easily avoided with FAM method. But to shut off the body with pills or condoms puts up a spiritual barrier in that moment of divine union and ultimate trust between two people.

    1. You do realize that not everyone is religious, right?
      Which is the reason "god's intention" wasn't touched on or viewed as important in this article.

    2. #6 - Catholic guilt.

      With religious controversy over contraceptive coverage in the news, more people are taking another look at natural methods for religious reasons. Then when they try it, they find many of the benefits in the article.

      Conversely, people who try FAM for strictly health reasons often find that there is a spiritual side to it. Many couples have said that "making the switch" has brought them closer together. First, you're not fighting your bodies. Second, it definitely helps you communicate about some very intimate topics.

  4. http://www.thebillingsovulationmethod.org/ I used the Billings Ovulation Method for years. I had issues with the pill. When I went off the pill, I was taught the BOM by a nun that worked with teenage pregnant girls - god has a sense of humor. For me the BOM fit my life style and values. It helped me get my body back on track and is very empowering. When I was ready to get pregnant, I was successful the very first attempt using the BOM, which was a shock b/c I knew so many couples struggling with fertility issues and I was older. I think it is important for women to understand their bodies and how hormones impact health.

  5. you should advocate the cooper IUD!

    1. Yeah, and if the strings break or "get lost", which isn't an uncommon problem, the IUD has to be surgically removed.

    2. As a former copper IUD user, I can say that it was by far my worst birth control experience. If it wasn't unbearable cramps, it was unmanageably heavy bleeding for prolonged periods of time. I have tried every birth control option in the book and natural family planning really is the best option (for someone that intends on following the method carefully)

    3. Wouldn't touch that one, either. For one thing, I think it would _totally_ freak me out to have a foreign object in my body; just knowing it's there.
      Also - the copper IUD is preventing a fertilized egg from implanting. Goes against my ethics. So... at least a big double-no right there.
      I could also do without more cramping and even heavier bleeding (after two very wanted, longed for babies). ;-)

  6. I did this very thing. I wasn't comfortable with the risks of taking hormonal birth control after the first three years. I also have ethical objections to IUDs as someone who is strongly pro-life (it prevents implantation). Furthermore, the IUD has some very serious risks, like uterine perforation. Natural is the way to go.

  7. If you think people have trouble being on the pill, try coming off after being on for years. I didn't realize the damage and thought I did "well" on the pill until I came off and then I realized how bad it was for my body to have been on the pill for 15 years. Three years later, I am still recovering.

  8. Yes, great article. I ended up with a yeast infection for some time after 2 years on the pill. I now regret ever using it and would not recommend it to anyone>

  9. Thank you thank you thank you ! I've been so burdened about the pill I'm taking yet after 3 kids all 2 years apart, I felt I had no better choice. I'm going to look into these books and FOR SURE get enrolled in this class. Wonderful information!

  10. I've tried this but never could get the hang of it. I have wacky cycle and all things related to them in general though bouncing between 20 day and 50 day cycles.

  11. Is anyone using the FAM with diaphragm or cervical cap as extra protection?

  12. Great article! I wish I had known the difference between FAM and the rhythm method when I was young and not ready to start a family yet. I hated being on the Pill.

  13. I take a birth control pill continuously for endometriosis. Mine is very bad and the pill is the only thing that helped me. It feels like I am giving birth for 14 days out of the month and I end up in the hospital without the pill. I wonder if anyone has found a natural way to deal with endometriosis? I could have surgery but have been told the growths will grow back. I don't like what I am hearing about birth control and would love to stop taking it but I feel like my quality of life is being affected negatively by endometriosis. Anyone else?

    1. I also have Endometriosis but have been using a progesterone supplement to help with the pain, it was suggested to me by a homeopathic dr and has worked well for me when I am able to keep track of when to use the cream. I would recommend looking into it

  14. Great post.........Fertility is the natural capability to produce offspring. As a measure, fertility rate is the number of offspring born per mating pair, individual or population.acupuncture in la jolla


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