We’ve written extensively about why we love using Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM) for natural birth control and to help those trying to conceive, but even if you’re not looking for either of these outcomes, charting your menstrual cycle using FAM has huge benefits. In fact, most of the people who join our programs for contraception end up telling us that the greatest benefits they have experienced have little to do with birth control at all. Here are five great reasons we recommend every menstruater learn to chart their cycle:
- Knowledge is Power. Few of us actually have any idea how our bodies work. Imagine a car that starts smoking. If you know nothing about how a car works then you not only won’t know how to fix it… you won’t even know if something is wrong! Our reproductive systems are sort of like that. We are only taught a fraction of what we need to know about reproduction in school so most of the time we have no idea how to address symptoms when they appear. More than that, we may not even realize that these symptoms are a way of our bodies signaling us when something is wrong. Fertility Awareness Methods (like the Justisse Method that we teach at Red Tent Sisters) help you understand exactly how your body works – so you know what is healthy and what is not – and when you work with a certified teacher of FAM you can even learn how to fix the things that are not functioning the way they should.
- Figure out What Micronutrients Your Body is Craving: Did you know that heavy periods can be a sign of iron deficiency, or that pre-menstrual chocolate cravings can be a sign of magnesium deficiency? Tracking your cycle (with an experienced teacher to guide you) can give you insight into a whole world of information about what your body needs. Addressing these nutrient depletions can tame everything from hormone-related migraines to breast tenderness and even fatigue. We can't tell you how many of our clients have previously relied on pain killers who are now symptom-free. In fact, Amy used to have an Anapox prescription which she hasn't had to use in years thanks to lifestyle changes.
- Improve intimacy with your partner: (by having conversations you never would have had otherwise): If you’ve ever red Dan Savage’s advice column or listened to his podcasts you know that the biggest advice he gives to heterosexual couples is to ask the question, “what are you into?” If you’re sexually active and using FAM (regardless of whether it is your primary form of contraception) you may choose to abstain from vaginal intercourse on fertile days. However, since these are the days that often correspond with some of our peak times of libido, most couples are forced to ask the question, "if we can’t do that, what would you like to do?" FAM requires a greater degree of communication between partners than other forms of contraception. It’s not enough to mutually agree to have sex – you must then agree on what kind and whether additional contraceptive methods will be employed. People who learn FAM frequently report that one of the biggest benefits they have experienced from charting is an increase in intimacy and sexual satisfaction with their partner. Bonus!
- Identify Your Body’s Signs of Distress (before they turn into a full-blown illness): Our medical system is based on treating symptoms, rather than the underlying root cause(s). Unfortunately, symptoms that are bad enough to warrant a trip to the doctor are usually preceded by months or even years of breakdown in the body that we can’t see. Fortunately, there are subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) signs in the body that we can learn to read that will give us a head’s up that something is out of whack. Whether it is a chronic undetected food allergy that is compromising your digestive and immune system, or a subtle imbalance of hormones that is putting you at risk for breast cancer, learning to track your cycle could literally save your life by giving you an early warning sign of impending dis-ease.
- Set an example for a young girl in your life. Too many of us grew up with shame around menstruation. FAM teaches us to value our bodies by connecting menstruation, ovulation and that “stuff” in our underwear with the cycles of life. Practicing Fertility Awareness can help change the menstrual narrative to one of celebration and awe - a legacy that can help foster a new generation of empowered girls.
Looking for more tips on charting your cycle? Check out our 5 Tips For Using Your Period Tracking App More Effectively… so you can have better sex, reduce PMS, & feel your best all month long.
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Kim & Amy Sedgwick love to discuss sex, periods, and all the other things we’re not supposed to talk about. The co-founders of Red Tent Sisters and ecosex.ca, they’ve been featured in every major Canadian news outlet and have become a trusted resource for women seeking natural (effective!) birth control, a more joyful sex life, and an empowered journey to motherhood.