Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hormone Free Birth Control, Which Alternately (When Desired) Can Aid in Achieving Pregnancy

Warning: If you are close family or friend this post could be awkward to read.  I tried not to get too detailed, but you have been warned.  :P

Everyone has a stance on birth control.  And I'm not here to talk anyone out of anything at all.

I just thought, "Hey, while I'm on a roll with pregnancy stuff posts, I should throw this out there..."

Personally, I hated being on birth control.  It made me feel awful.
The first one I tried was the Nuvaring, and that thing was bad news from the moment I put it in.  I had an immediate emotional shift.  I thought I just needed to get used to it but I never did.  My husband and I now refer to it "affectionally" as "The Devil".  I was no fun to be around during its stay, and I was trying my hardest.  It was just too much for me.
Then I tried Yaz, and that was an incredible improvement over The Devil.  But I just wanted to not have any more hormones that weren't my own coursing through my body.  I still didn't feel like me.

So I looked into This Book called: Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler upon a friend's suggestion.

I, like most people, was pretty unsure about the whole idea.  

The book explains how if you learn your body's signals, you can tell when you are and are not fertile.  And if you either abstain or use protection during the fertile times, you can prevent pregnancy. 
(Or, in the reverse, you can use this knowledge to promote pregnancy by timing things with when you actually ovulate -- which isn't necessarily on day 15, every women is different, and even every cycle can be different.)  

My husband and I talked and agreed we would try it.  But we also were at a point where we were okay if it really didn't work and we did get pregnant.  (I think this is an important place to be when trying this method.)  

Also, I was very cautious with how we proceeded with it.  Initially, after going off the pill, we did not rely, whatsoever, on this new method.  We used protection for about 3 months (maybe 4, I forget now) while I learned my body's signals.  

And then once we felt more secure in the idea and started using some of the method, I was very cautious about when we did not use protection.  (I found the second half of the month to be easier to "read."  So for a long time, that was the only point in my cycle where did not use protection.) Eventually I was able to feel confident enough to use the method fully.  

I know some people who are pretty jaded to this method because they did not have the success they had hoped for.  But in most of these cases that I have heard of it had nothing to do with the method failing, but with their improper use of the method for birth control.  Of course, as I'm sure you know, all birth control has a failure rate, so nothing is 100%.  
But we were able to use it for an entire year hoping to avoid getting pregnant, with total success!  (And I DO NOT have a regular cycle --- never have, probably never will.  This method actually helped me to understand what was going on more --- I just take longer to ovulate, and it's not on a set schedule --- but even that doesn't stop a person from using this method to prevent pregnancy.)  
After that, we wanted a baby.  And with my understanding of my body and fertility, we achieved a pregnancy in one month.  (And I was able to know my due date right away, despite my lack of a standard cycle.  That knowledge actually gave me the ability to convince my providers to let me stay pregnant longer than they normally would have, with the goal of avoiding premature induction.)  

Personally, I LOVE having all this knowledge.  Even if you are not at a point in life where your fertility really matters much, I think being able to see how your body works is amazing.  (There were many things that I had no idea about, but made so much sense in retrospect.)  
And I also appreciate the ability to basically predict my emotional-woman monthly roller coaster.  (I actually can see that my hormones, and therefore moods, do more than just PMS, they also shift mid-cycle when I ovulate.) 
So I recommend a read through even if you don't really have much interest in the idea of going off of birth control --- just for the sake of knowing how your body is made.  It's really cool. 
I definitely plan on telling my daughters about this stuff so they will have the knowledge and the option to use it.  I hope they will start learning their body's signals before they need to worry about getting pregnant, so that they will be really familiar with their bodies' signals when it does come into play --- making the whole process of (possibly) using this much easier for them.

I'm not really going to blog any of the how-tos, because the book is so great at explaining it.  But I will say that you will need to be willing to take your temperature in the morning before you get out of bed.  And you will need to be able to observe a bit of what's going on "below" with your cervical fluid.  For some women that might be too much to ask.  Honestly, I found that it was something I witnessed on a regular basis when going to the bathroom, but now it finally made some sense.  And you need to be willing to write down what you observe with those two signals.  It's a pinch involved, but once you become used to it it turns into nothing. 
If that sounds like something you can handle, give this book a read.  It's pretty cool.  

*I will say, if you are pregnant and planning to breastfeed and hoping to use this method, or are currently breastfeeding, your hormones will be/are in a different state, making it more tricky to learn.  (And the book does go over that in detail.)  Don't let that fact stop you from reading the book.  You may choose to use the information you gather at a later time, but at least you will be in the know. 


  1. my son is 13 months and still nursing frequently and we are using NFP. i found out about it when we were thinking about getting pregnant and picked the book up and LOVED it. hormonal birth control made me so crazy. it was a sad year. i've had my period back since 8 months pp but my luteal phase is so short! 6 days! it was 10 when we got pregnant. we aren't anywhere near ready to try for a second but i guess i worry that it won't lengthen. anyway, i love NFP and will never use the pill or anything again. plus it's linked to blood clots and breast cancer! pass!

    1. Thats awesome! I love using NFP too! I can't see ever going back!
      I wouldn't worry about your cycle getting back to normal. From what I've read, when your cycle come back sooner after having a baby, it takes longer for them to actually become fertile cycles. Where as when your cycle comes back later its fertile more quickly. Its very normal for it to do what yours is doing. I found this article very helpful in understanding fertility while breastfeeding:
      My oldest nursed very frequently and I didn't get my period back until 14 months postpartum. At that point I had two pretty standard-for-me cycles (and we were ready & trying for another baby) without getting pregnant, followed by a cycle where I ovulated early and got pregnant. So our girls are 24 months and 2 weeks apart. :)

    2. Oh, and I should mention I was nursing at the time. (So I didn't need to change anything in our nursing routine to get pregnant.) I nursed through my pregnancy too. (My milk went away half way through. But my daughter held on for emotional connection.)

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