Fertility Info2017-10-23T20:13:08-07:00
Digital Basal Thermometer

Fertility Info

Contact Us
For more than 30 years, Toni Weschler has devoted herself to empowering women to take charge of their reproductive health and fertility. During this time, she has received thousands of inquiries from women as they learn to incorporate her teachings on the Fertility Awareness Method into their daily lives. Below is a collection of the most frequently asked questions, along with Toni’s answers! If you have a question that doesn’t appear here, please Contact Us.
Contact Us
Is it worth checking my cervical position?2015-11-19T23:08:15-08:00

Although it is not necessary to check your cervix in order to practice FAM effectively, I urge you to learn how to do so. At a minimum, I think you should practice checking in the days leading up to and just past ovulation, for the first few cycles that you’re learning the method. Once you recognize how your cervical position reflects your fertility, you will always be able to use it as a cross check whenever you find the slightest ambiguity in your other two fertility signs.

The bottom line is that complete familiarity with the changes in your cervix will greatly increase the confidence with which you observe your fertility and overall gynecological health. And since it only takes seconds a day to check, my attitude is that for those few relevant days per cycle, you should just do it!

A distinct but closely related question is whether those women using FAM for contracption should ever check their cervical fluid at the cervical tip. The short answer is that it isn’t necessary to do so, although if you want to be even more conservative than the FAM rules require, or if you simply want to know your cervical fluid status ahead of time, it certainly couldn’t hurt (Remember that the cervical fluid you normally check at the vaginal opening might have taken several hours to trickle down from the cervical tip). Finally, checking this way may provide some couples with more time for unprotected sex.

What does it mean if I don’t see a thermal shift but I have very regular, 28-day cycles?2015-11-19T23:07:44-08:00

It can mean one of several things: First, you may be ovulating, but you may be one of the few women whose temperatures do not reflect the heat-inducing progesterone produced following ovulation. Second, you may indeed be having a thermal shift, but are not drawing the coverline correctly in order to accurately interpret your charts Third, and finally, you may not be ovulating altogether, although this is not that likely, since women with extremely regular cycles usually do ovulate.

How can temperatures be relied upon if I sometimes get a fever?2015-11-19T23:07:26-08:00

There may be several factors, from fever to alcohol to lack of sleep, that could affect your waking temperature. Yet this doesn’t compromise your ability to rely on them while charting, because you ultimately want to identify a pattern of low and high temperatures, rather than focusing on individual ones. Outlying temperatures can be effectively dealt with by using the Rule of Thumb, which usually allows you to ignore them in interpreting your chart. In addition, you will always be able to rely on your other two signs to cross-check your fertility in situations such as these.

Do I have to wake up every day at the same time in order to take my temperature?2015-11-19T23:06:57-08:00

No, although you should try to be as consistent as possible. In general, waking temperatures tend to creep up about two-tenths of a degree for every extra hour you sleep in. Thus, if you take it substantially later than usual, it may result in a reading that is outside the range of your usual pattern. If you wake up earlier than usual, you should take your temperature upon awakening, so long as you have had at least 3 hours of consecutive sleep.

Regardless, an occasional aberrant temperature can easily be dealt with by following the Rule of Thumb. You should also be aware that if taking your temperature feels like a burden, you can in fact take it for only about a third of the cycle without sacrificing contraceptive efficacy, as described in Chapter 10 of Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

How many days do you have to abstain when using the Fertility Awareness Method for birth control?2015-11-19T23:05:27-08:00

You never have to abstain when using the Fertility Awareness Method. This is different than Natural Family Planning, which does require abstinence during the fertile phase. However, if you do have intercourse when you are potentially fertile, you must use a barrier method of contraception. The fertile phase will vary, but in practice this means that the average couple would have to use barriers about 8-10 days per cycle. The average cycle is 27-31 days, and thus for the typical couple, barriers (or abstinence) would be required for about 30% of the cycle.

How effective is FAM as a method of birth control?2015-11-19T23:04:49-08:00

If used perfectly every cycle, including abstaining during the fertile phase, the FAM rules have a failure rate of approximately 2% per year. This is considered lower than any barrier method, except the condom, which is also 2%. But unlike other methods of contraception, this method is the most unforgiving, since, if you make a mistake, by definition, it will occur during your most fertile time. So in actual use, failure rates may be higher, depending on the motivation of the couple to adhere to the rules.

What are the differences between the various methods of natural birth control?2015-11-19T23:04:29-08:00

* Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is the generic term used to describe all scientifically validated, natural forms of contraception. It involves the daily charting of the primary fertility signs which indicate the fertile phase surrounding ovulation. The three signs which are charted are waking temperature, cervical fluid, and cervical changes. It allows for the use of a barrier contraceptive during the woman’s fertile phase.
* Natural Family Planning (NFP) is virtually the same as the Fertility Awareness Method, but it requires abstinence during the fertile phase. It is typically practiced by those individuals who think of the method more as a way of life and tend to be more religious-oriented.
* The Rhythm Method is an antiquated, obsolete, ineffective method of contraception which is based upon a strictly mathematical computation of the average of a woman’s past cycle lengths, with absolutely no daily observations to determine impending ovulation of each individual cycle . The Rhythm Method is the greatest obstacle to the acceptance of FAM and NFP as valid, effective methods of contraception, since it is often erroneously associated with the two, even though FAM and NFP are based upon scientifically validated principles which treat each cycle uniquely.

How soon after childbirth will I start ovulating? Can I expect the same cycle as before?2015-11-19T23:03:48-08:00

Women who don’t breastfeed find that their cycles resume very quickly – as early as 4-10 weeks after childbirth. But, if you meet the following 3 criteria, then your chances of ovulating are only about 2%:

* Your menses have not returned.
* You are fully or nearly fully breastfeeding.
* Your baby is less than six months old.

If you wanted to have a safe and natural method of contraception during these first 6 months, you could use the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM), as described in TCOYF.

Why does my ovulation kit indicate that I am ovulating, but my BBT doesn’t have a rise at the same time?2015-11-19T23:03:13-08:00

This experience is completely normal and to be expected. The ovulation kits predict impending ovulation by detecting the surge of a hormone called, LH, or luteinizing hormone. This hormone is the very catalyst that thrusts the egg out of the ovary during ovulation. The temperature shift indicates that ovulation has already occurred. Once you ovulate, the leftover follicle (the corpus luteum) that encased the egg in the ovary starts producing progesterone, a heat-inducing hormone.

It is the progesterone that causes a thermal shift, or temperature rise in your body, usually a day or two after you ovulate. So in essence, you would expect to see about a two or three day delay from the LH surge to your thermal shift. The order is: LH, ovulation, and then thermal shift. But keep in mind that it is possible to have an LH surge, and still not actually ovulate. If this happens, you temperature will not rise to a sustained higher level.

Does ovulation occur when my cervical fluid is most abundant, or afterwards?2015-11-19T23:02:51-08:00

This is actually a very interesting question, because the answer is not intuitive. Every single woman has one day in her cycle that is more fertile than any other day, but that day is not usually the day she ovulates! How can that be? Generally speaking, your most fertile day is considered the last day that you produce fertile quality cervical fluid or have a wet vaginal sensation for any given cycle. It is called the “Peak Day,” because it denotes your peak day of fertility. But this day usually occurs a day or two before you ovulate, or occasionally on the day of ovulation itself (Unfortunately, the only way to know precisely when you ovulate would be to have an ultrasound every month-not a very practical solution).

One of the obvious drawbacks of charting the Peak Day is that you will only be able to determine it in retrospect, on the following day. This is because you can only recognize it after your cervical fluid and vaginal sensation have already begun to dry up. This concept should become intuitive fairly quickly, though. Also be aware that the Peak Day is not necessarily the day of the greatest quantity of cervical fluid. In fact, the longest stretch or greatest amount could occur a day or two before your Peak Day.

Do women feel more sexual around ovulation?2015-11-19T23:02:33-08:00

Many women do. Because estrogen peaks around ovulation, women typically experience a wet, slippery sensation due to the fertile cervical fluid they produce. This cervical fluid feels similar to sexual lubrication, and can therefore be experienced as a sexual feeling. A woman who practices FAM needn’t worry about confusing the two, because cervical fluid is checked periodically throughout the day, and not when she is sexually aroused.

Can you “feel” ovulation happen?