Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Fertility Journey Begins

In line with my commitment to natural, clean living, unconditional partnering and my personal Catholic faith, the question of fertility monitoring leads me away from the various artificial and hormonal options on today's market.

I was somewhat surprised to learn that Natural Family Planning (NFP) also known as Fertility Awareness Monitoring (FAM) is not a well-known topic in the crunchy community.

This surprised me as artificial contraception has a variety of concerns from synthetic hormones that damage our bodies and our planet to mutilating the body permanently.

Additionally, I was surprised to find very few resources from a crunchy standpoint. And even fewer convenient options are available other than the expensive Ladycomp and the classic form of charting in its many alterations. I can't help but grumble as well that now synthetic hormones will be covered by insurance, but healthy alternatives are completely ignored in the current birth control debate.

So I've decided to blog my journey of learning more about NFP/FAM, using different monitors and testing methods and analyzing how fertility awareness influences my relationship and my own self emotionally, physically and spiritually.

As of now, I've acquired the Ovacue classic version (the original) with the oral sensor and vaginal sensor for $140. It takes one 9v battery. This is a handheld monitor, nothing fancy, that tracks your hormonal changes and predicts fertility. You place the oral sensor on the tip of your tongue every morning. Once the monitor begins to detect potential fertility, you use the vaginal sensor internally in the evening (like inserting a tampon) until ovulation is confirmed.

Please note! This monitor is intended for trying to conceive (TTC) and not for trying to avoid (TTA). The company is currently seeking FDA approval to market it as a contraceptive device. It's allegedly extremely accurate at pinpointing ovulation, which means you can use it to avoid pregnancy, but we have no "proof" that it will effectively help with that. I am choosing to use this monitor in addition to other charting methods with the understanding that I could conceive. Just wanted to put this disclaimer here in case anyone thinks the monitor is foolproof.

Right away I noticed a frustrating issue with the classic version. It can only show you the current reading of the day. There's no way to view your entire charted cycle for comparison or curiosity unless you purchase separate software and take the time to download the information to a computer. I hear the ova cue II remedied this and am trying to buy that monitor on ebay. I bought one a couple weeks ago but the seller didn't ship it.

Anyways, by the time I received the classic ovacue, I had just started my second cycle. I began daily monitoring, which is simple and fell into my morning routine without issue. On cycle day (CD) 8, the monitor gave me a reading of 3 bars, which is potential fertility, or the lowest level for possible conception. I began using the vaginal sensor in the evening.

On CD 17, it gave me a cue peak reading, which is the highest level.

If you want babies, this would be the time to do the cha cha cha!
There is a term in the NFP community: conservatively charting. It means you strongly want to avoid pregnancy and are not taking any chances. For those who are being conservative, this monitor seems helpful. Note that it began to warn about upcoming ovulation on CD 8, even though the peak wasn't recorded until CD 17. That's an early warning to avoid all potential conception days. Other monitors such as the Clear Blue Easy will only give 2-5 days warning, and pee sticks might only give 1-2 days warning. Since sperm can live an average of 3-5 days and even up to 7 days theoretically, this advanced warning should be helpful in attempting to avoid pregnancy.

I really struggled with this first cycle of officially trying to avoid. In fact, part way through, I wanted to give up, or "let go and let God" as they say. As with other topics in the crunchy community, being self-aware is not always easy. Like when we want to eat crappy chocolate but we remain sharply aware that enslaved children were involved in harvesting it. Sometimes you just want to scrunch your eyes closed, plug your ears and say "lalalala." Being able to pop a pill every day, or put a cross-shaped device into your cervix/fallopian tubes and ignore the issue for years removes that personal responsibility and self awareness. I understand that temptation.

I spent some time talking intimately with my husband on that feeling. (Talking intimately becomes more of a possibility when you're not having sex hahaha. Ok, couldn't resist the joke). What ARE we doing? Do we really want to avoid pregnancy right now? Do we really have good reason? IS this right for us and our family? The answers are so simple, but the feelings and ramifications run deep.

Resources


My only blog post on the topic until now:
http://guggiedaly.blogspot.com/2011/01/oral-contraceptives-impact-and.html

A secular and awesome resource for fertility awareness (BUY THE BOOK):
http://www.tcoyf.com/

A Facebook page w/ crunchy undertones:
http://www.facebook.com/iusenfp

If you have more links and resources, please share them with me and I will add them to this series.

4 comments:

  1. Very interesting. I end up using a combo of ecological breastfeeding & the Billings Ovulation Method (I also teach the BOM). I know little about the monitors, though they intrigue me.

    Oh, and as for 7 day sperm life being theoretical, tell that to my almost 12-week-old fetus. ;-). We were a little surprised I actually conceived with that cycle.

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  2. I'm glad you're experimenting with this - I have a FAM method I'm happy with, and as long as I keep my diet somewhat in check, it seems like I have long amenorhea anyway. I'd like to be aware of the many options though - everyone finds something different that works best for them.

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    1. Very true, Jen! When I teach, I always point out that all e methods are good, but some work better for some then others, so you just have to find the one that works best for you and learn it well. I like learning about the different options out there, in part so I can refer clients to them if Billings isn't working for them.

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  3. Nice Posting! Keep it up!!Main Problems Faced by Women Trying to Conceive! Are you ovulating? It is necessary to know theRIGHT Day, RIGHT Time and RIGHT Way for conception…
    Now it has become very easy to identify the right Day, Time, and WAY. Now you can plan your pregnancy and you can choose your date and time of pregnancy as you like with Ovulation Kit

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