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TTA, TTC, Just Chillin

TTA, TTC, Just Chillin

Let's talk fertility awareness. 

Are you and your partner ready to start a family but you're unsure about the best days in your cycle to try? Are you trying to postpone pregnancy for a better time or trying to avoid pregnancy completely? Are you simply trying to understand your body a little better?

From trying to discover if you have begun ovulating after having a baby or while breastfeeding to having the need or desire to figure some stuff out first and put off our family-starting adventures {without harming our bodies}... what's a girl to do?

Natural Family Planning provides assistance to women no matter which category you best fall under. Fully informing yourself on each part of the process can be a very empowering act for yourself (& your partner!). 

Most of you already know the big ones people use to prevent pregnancy (i.e. condoms, oral contraceptives, etc.), so I'd like to briefly discuss NFP, a collection of effective methods many people aren't aware of unless they are trying to conceive. If you are currently using an IUD or oral birth control, I encourage you to research them on your own so you may make a fully informed choice about these sometimes risky methods. 

As much as I love all things pregnancy and birth, it remains my decision to postpone starting a family for the time being. It's kind-of funny at times—attempting to be a part of the online communities of Natural Family Planning Methods as someone who is TTA (trying to avoid) while most of the discussions are concerning how to make that life-changing event happen. Nevertheless, NFP promotes fertility awareness, allowing you to predict the fertile and infertile times of your cycles, which is knowledge you can then use to avoid, postpone, or prevent pregnancy... or simply just understand the processes of your body!

First things first: what the heck is it

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Natural Family Planning uses non-hormonal, non-barrier, and non-surgical methods to promote fertility awareness for bleeding women of all ages. Even if you're single and are not currently sexually active, it simply feels great to be so aware of the patterns in your cycle that you understand what's going on in your body with ease and are quickly alerted to any subtle changes/if you begin experiencing any new symptoms. If you're using other forms of birth control and have an "oops!," using these methods in conjunction with it can greatly help you in determining how much concern you should have. The 3 main approaches in NFP include ovulation, sympto-thermal, & sympto-hormonal methods. 

Just a quick overview of ways to help you learn more about your cycle:

  • Ovulation methods involve using cervical mucus and noting the wetness or dryness of the vulva
  • Sympto-thermal methods involve checking for 3 signs: mucus, daily temperature, and cervical position
  • Sympto-hormonal methods uses mucus and at-home ovulation testing

For the past year and some change I have been using the sympto-thermal methods as I feel it gives me the most peace of mind in postponing pregnancy. Natural Womanhood shows a finding of a 96-99% effectiveness in this technique. Again, this involves tracking my BBT (Basal Body Temp) each morning before getting out of bed... like keep the thermometer by your head so you move as little as possible to reach it. BBT thermometers are different than the everyday household ones as they measure to the closest .00 (as seen in the picture above)—making them slightly more accurate. You can buy them at a pretty affordable cost on Amazon.

Screenshot of the home page on my Ovia Fertility app

Screenshot of the home page on my Ovia Fertility app

Screenshot of the beginning of a cycle chart on my Kindara app  

Screenshot of the beginning of a cycle chart on my Kindara app  

 I use the apps Kindara & Ovia Fertility (both are either free or have a free option) to log my temperatures, symptoms, and cervical mucus; both apps then display this information for you in a simple chart. I would say Kindara is a great tool for those who are really committed to learning the ebbs and flows of their cycle. It offers great tips for charting newbies and has a wonderful community board where you can easily post your chart if you have any questions. The app asks you if you are TTA or TTC (trying to conceive) and shows any charts you choose to share to the communities with similar desires. Ovia Fertility is an app significantly more geared to those TTC— so if you have pregnancy anxiety it might not be the best as it often acknowledges when certain symptoms are common, possible signs of pregnancy and provides TTC Tips as shown above. I use Ovia because it allows me to log my cervical position and also because it attempts to help you determine when your Peak or Ovulation day is in advance, which is nice, and it changes its guess based on the daily information that you put in. Kindara gives you the ability to log cervical positions as well but I believe they now charge a monthly fee for access to more tools such as that.

 

There is so much information out there about these methods and there's no way I could provide all of it here in one blog post. I mean, there are whole websites dedicated to providing the deets, such as Natural Womanhood which offers tons of really great information if you'd like to learn more! Also, these two books have a wealth of info. that all women should know and understand concerning their bodies: Honoring Our Cycles & Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

Charting and tracking my cycle has become something I really enjoy and feel passionate about. I'm not going to lie, training yourself to take your temp as soon as you wake up is a challenge. It can also encourage falling back asleep as you await that finished temp beep, but it has been wonderfully rewarding. I have such a significantly better understanding of my body. I can now relate certain things I may feel to different cycle phases. I can feel at ease being intimate with my partner. I can start tackling PMS symptoms before I have them and have easier periods because I know how to better handle them. I highly recommend taking on this practice.

Happy charting!

xo-B

*I'm sure this goes without saying, but just to throw it out there— these methods are best used with other forms of contraceptives if you are not in a committed relationship or are concerned about sexually transmitted diseases, as these methods obviously will not prevent you from contracting any. 

 

Change Happens

Change Happens

New Things Here, New Things Coming

New Things Here, New Things Coming