NOTE: The following information has been pulled directly from comments within the community. Please use suggestions at your own discretion. This is not considered “professional advice.” First and foremost, always listen to your body and trust your instincts.
The following is meant to be extremely concise – lots of straight-forward information, in as few words as possible. For more depth on any of the following subjects, conduct your research, check out the suggested books, hire an instructor, see your doctor, or post a question to the community. This information was gathered after seeing many of the same questions being asked over and over, and its intention is to help alleviate some of the need to repeat answers.
FAM in General
Where can I find more information on Fertility Awareness Method?
Our getting started file is here
The resources page on this website – including the instructor list.
The knowledge base within your chosen app, if you use one (eg Kindara)
The book Taking Charge of Your Fertility (TCOYF) by Toni Weschler
Fertility Friday, and other podcasts mentioned in our Podcast list
Types of methods: #FAMMethods
What’s the key to successfully using Fertility Awareness Method to avoid pregnancy?
Always assume you’re fertile if in doubt.
Chart for at least 3 cycles before having unprotected sex.
The rules for having unprotected sex before confirmed ovulation (P+3, T+3) are for those who have been charting a long time (about a year or so) and/or for those who are completely confident and comfortable with their ability to observe cervical fluid and cervical position accurately. These women also have a thorough grasp of all the rules and why they are in place. If this does not describe you, you WILL be risking pregnancy by having unprotected sex before you confirm ovulation already took place.
For further confirmation, post your chart and we’ll help guide you.
Communicate with your partner, see our Fertility Intentions Scale here, and make your sexual choices accordingly.
What’s the difference between the old Taking Charge of Your Fertility and the newest edition?
New edition contains:
A fully revised and intuitive charting system
A selection of personalized master charts for birth control, pregnancy achievement, breastfeeding, and menopause
An expanded sixteen-page color insert that reflects the book’s most important concepts
Six brand new chapters on topics including balancing hormones naturally, preserving your future fertility, and three medical conditions all women should be aware of.
Link to TCOYF book > Amazon US https://amzn.to/31VpuEE Amazon UK amazon.co.uk/dp/0062326031
Chart Interpretation (based on TCOYF)
Is it safe for me to go UP?
Are you at least 3 days past your last fertile day of cervical fluid? (Aka P+3)
Have you had at least 3, consecutive days of temperatures in your normal Luteal Phase range? (Aka T+3)
(If you don’t know what your “normal luteal phase range” is, the answer is automatically “no” because you should practice FAM for at least 3 cycles before going unprotected – Keep Calm and Chart On).
If you answer “no” to either above question, the answer will also be no – Keep Calm and Chart On.
I am nervous about going UP, any advice?
This is totally normal! Most of us were raised to believe we’re fertile all the time and it’s hard to immediately believe in something else (science in this case) until you see it for yourself.
Have you practiced for at least 3, ovulatory cycles?
Have you met the above criteria for being safe to go unprotected? (P+3, T+3)
If you answered “yes” to the above two questions, by now, you should know about how long your luteal phase is. Try going unprotected only 1-3 days before you expect your period so you don’t have to anxiously wait so long for your period to arrive. Each cycle, go unprotected earlier and earlier until you feel confident going unprotected anytime after P+3 and T+3.
Help – I don’t know what my chart is doing!
Keep Calm and Chart On.
If trying to avoid pregnancy, assume you’re fertile and abstain, withdrawal, or double up on methods (withdrawal + diaphragm, condom, sponge, etc).
Also consider, are you:
sick? traveling? taking antibiotics? taking a decongestant? moving? studying for a major test/exam? going through an emotional time?
All of these things, and more, will impact your chart and overall health.
What can I do?
Take magnesium for stress.
Get as much sleep as possible.
Stay focused on your priorities.
Promote health (rest, diet, water, relaxation time).
Continue charting as best you can until you can start over next cycle.
What is a coverline and why would I draw it?
It’s a horizontal line across your chart that helps distinguish Follicular Phase temps from Luteal Phase Temps.
It is a visual tool for confirming ovulation already happened via temperatures.
Is it possible to ‘ovulate twice’ in one cycle?
Read this http://pregnant-naturally.com/can-you-ovulate-twice-in-a-cycle/
and this http://news.usask.ca/articles/research/2012/a-cautionary-tale-about-research-that-touches-a-nerve.php
What can I take/do to promote ovulation?
Most importantly – eat clean. That means no sugar, no A1 dairy, healthy fats, lots of water, lots of veggies.
Second most importantly – Get regular, solid sleep. (Sleep effects your pituitary gland which is responsible for hormone production. Not enough healthy sleep means not a healthy production of hormones to stimulate ovulation).
See our supplements and magnesium file if you’re interested in a multivitamin or magnesium supplement (Both of which aid in good sleep and a healthy balance of the right nutrients you need to support your body’s needs).
If you’re suffering from inflammation from dairy or gluten, cut out those items.
Read Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden.
Read Woman Code by Alisa Vitti.
Incorporate healthy amounts of exercise into your lifestyle.
If you have done the above for at least 4 months (a follicle’s lifespan is 100 days), and still are experiencing issues, there are other things to take such as Chaste Berry Plus by Metagenics/Vitex:
Please see a knowledgable professional before taking as these are extremely powerful treatments that must be taken as directed.
What are OPK tests and why would I use them?
They test for surges in LH – the hormone that tells your body to release the egg from the follicle it’s being developed in. It does not mean you will definitely ovulate or did ovulate – it only indicates a surge in the hormone responsible for ovulation.
Only a temp shift confirms you actually ovulated.
Women take these tests to confirm that they are indeed approaching ovulation. It is a test to confirm the changes they see in their cervix and cervical fluid.
Ovulation Pain? http://healthosphere.com/cramping-after-ovulation/
Can you ovulate from the same side two months in a row?
My partner can’t keep their hands off me and I’m near ovulation. Does anyone else experience this?!
YES! Yes all the way. Also, see our “humor” album under photos. Many women experience a similar rise and fall in their libido as ovulation comes and goes.
I’m interested in ferning – where can I get a microscope?
Babyhopes.com has them for $20-30.
Wait, what is ferning?
It’s how your saliva looks under a microscope when you’re nearing ovulation. (yup – it’s evident in saliva too. Pretty cool, huh?)
What about twins and double ovulation?
FAM rules are based off the assumption that every woman may produce more than one egg per ovulation.
If you follow P+3, and T+3 rules, you will be covered even if you released 2 eggs.
You only ovulate (release egg(s)) once per cycle no matter how many eggs you release. Once ovulation is confirmed via a sustained rise in temperature (T+3), you will not release any more eggs until after your Luteal Phase and Menses are over. This is why it is safe to have unprotected sex during your Luteal Phase – the egg(s) is(are) already dead since they only live 12-24 hours. See this page for more details.
**If you are TTA, please read over all the rules for having unprotected sex during your menstruation and within your follicular phase to avoid becoming pregnant because of early ovulation.**
Remember: SPERM CAN LIVE UP TO 7 DAYS in fertile cervical fluid. Blood can mask fertile cervical fluid. The life span of the sperm + the lifespan of our eggs is what determines the rules.
Doctors will not prescribe fertility treatment to promote twins. But there are natural ways you can do so:
Barrier Methods, Emergency Contraception, and Fertile Time
What kinds of barrier methods do you prefer?
Caya for diaphragm
Lifestyles Skyn for condoms
This group is also helpful: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/DiaphragmsAndCaps/info
I am nervous about using withdrawal, any advice?
First, practice using withdrawal during your infertile window only.
Does your partner have full control over withdrawing in time?
Do you and your partner have an open and honest relationship in which you can trust each other and communicate effectively?
Have you had the conversation about where you and your partner are on Fiona’s Intention Scale? view here
Do you have a backup plan in case withdrawal is ever done too late/sloppily?
Addressing these things will automatically bring you more confidence in your method of choice for birth control.
Also refer to tour page on withdrawal here
What resource can I use for learning more about herbal use for emergency contraception?
NOTE: Be sure to read through the site carefully and thoroughly. Herbs ARE powerful and not without their own precautions. If you are looking for abortive or implantation resistance measures, we must stress that if you use any natural measures for abortion, be sure to follow through with abortion fully. You must be certain in your decision; these herbs are not to be taken lightly or under uncertainty.
How can I check for holes in condoms?
Use this trick: https://goo.gl/fmE3ZB
What about Sea Sponges?
Some women use them as reusable menstrual products and some use them as contraception when in conjunction with a spermicide.
Some women also use them so they are able to have sex that is “less messy” during their period.
How can I increase fertile cervical fluid?
Drink lots of water. (How can you produce fluids if you’re not ingesting enough for your body and all its functions?)
Evening Primrose (oil or capsule form, take as instructed)
Artifically: Preseed or Emerita personal lube from iherb.com
Check out this page on supplementing with GLA
What’s the difference between arousal fluid and EWCM?
Arousal Fluid dissolves in water. EWCM does not.
This simple water test may be helpful while you learn the distinction between your personal fluids.
Also see our instructor file if you would like to work one on one with someone trained in helping decipher your personal fluids and how to chart them accurately.
I have no dry days, help!
The vagina is naturally a damp place, just as the inside of your mouth is. This natural moisture is different than the fluid that comes from your cervix. After several cycles of observation, you will begin to notice the difference between your personal cervical fluid, and the vaginal wall secretion that is natural for your body. If you are still frustrated by CM, please find an instructor to work with via the Instructor file. They are trained in helping apply these terms to YOU specifically.
Note: DO NOT MARK A DRY DAY if it is truly not a dry day. If you observe ANY Cervical fluid – IT MUST BE MARKED. Even if it’s a little bit. Even if it’s “not much”. Even if it was in the toilet and you don’t know which category it was. Even if — No, it still counts. Do not consider it a “dry day”. Otherwise, you risk missing your fertile window and therefore risk pregnancy.
My Cervical fluid is out of whack, help!
Is your diet well balanced?
Are you drinking enough water?
Are you pregnant?
Are you post-partum?
Are you sick and taking a decongestant?
Do you have an infection?
All of these things can effect your cervical fluid. It is normal to experience varying degrees of “whackiness” depending on your answers to the above questions. If you are experiencing none of these things and are just having a hard time deciphering “WTH is going on down there,” either Keep Calm and Chart On until you understand your personal pattern, or try working with an instructor directly.
Also, since estrogen is what prompts your body to produce fertile cervical fluid, you may be experiencing fluctuations in your estrogen production. Did you recently quit smoking? Did you switch to a healthier diet? Did you increase the amount you exercise? Do you eat soy products or drink soy milk, or recently reduce them? Did you alter your sugar consumption? Do you drink coffee? All of these things will effect your estrogen production. Keep Calm and Chart On.
What does CM look like after you’re pregnant/postpartum?
Unfortunately, women experience both pregnancy and postpartum differently. Normal CM for one, will not be normal for another. Your best bet is to fallback on FAM 101: learn YOU, your personal patterns, and Keep Calm and Chart On. It DOES get easier!
Also, follow our #ROF (Return of Fertility) Wednesday posts. Many women in the group share their PP charts and have excellent discussions on what’s going on.
What if I get CM after confirming ovulation?
This is fairly normal and is most often due to a surge in estrogen.
Natural alternatives to treating bacterial or yeast infections?
Lots of water to manage healthy pH and cervical fluid.
A garlic clove with holes poked in it inserted for a day or two.
A diet without sugar.
Non-linty toilet paper and cleaning skin thoroughly.
Breathable underwear and clothing.
Pregnancy, Miscarriage, Chemical Pregnancy
How soon after a miscarriage can I start trying to conceive again?
Women have found they were fertile the cycle immediately following a miscarriage, and successfully carried their babies to full term. As always, do what’s right for you and your partner during this time.
How do I calculate my due date?
Pregnancy usually lasts 38 weeks from the day of conception. For women who ovulated later in their cycle (anytime after cycle day 14), it may be helpful to give your doctor the date two weeks prior to your temp shift rather than the date of your last period in order to avoid being wrongfully induced.
My progesterone levels are low, can I still sustain a pregnancy?
According to firsthand, personal stories from women in the group – yes. Focus instead on overall health and practicing ovulation suggestions above.
I’m interested in learning more about natural birth. Where can I find more information?
Birth Without Fear by Pam England
Bump by Kate Evans
How can I increase progesterone?
According to firsthand stories from women in the group, they were able to carry babies to full term even with low progesterone and short luteal phases.
How can I lengthen my Luteal Phase?
First off – why do you wish to lengthen it? Is there a particular number of days you think you should be at?
We must stress that every woman is different and it is normal, and healthy, to have anywhere between 10 and 16 days. There have been women with 8-9, and women with 16-18.
Also consider: your temp shift may not happen up to 3 days past ovulation. Technically, these days would also be considered part of your luteal phase, and yet, they were not observed because your basal body temperature did not rise immediately after. (It may take slightly longer for progesterone to stimulate your metabolism).
It IS still possible to sustain a pregnancy if your LP is just below average. If you still have concerns, or have tried the suggestions below without success, you must seek a professional.
That being said, the above mentioned suggestions for promoting ovulation, also work for lengthening LP because the main focus is the same: promoting and balancing healthy hormones by supporting your body’s needs. In addition:
Vitamin B complex (specifically B6)
Chaste Tree Berry under care of professional:
Any remedies for acne?
There’s a reason I put this under “hormones.” Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden (https://amzn.to/30U1sKY) addresses WHY – which is even more important than the “what do I do” aspect. Nothing will work if you’re not treating the real underlying issue (which is most likely hormonal).
If you’re freshly off hormonal birth control – hang in there. It DOES get better. Focus on giving your body what it needs to be healthy and produce balanced hormones (see above suggestions for promoting ovulation).
coconut oil and a wet cloth only
coconut oil before washing
Very mild, chemical free, face soap
SeaSource mud mask
Reduce sugar intake
Eliminate Dairy if it causes inflammation for you
Eliminate Gluten if it causes inflammation for you
Include zinc in your supplements
Fish Oil supplements
Homemade concoction of water, baking soda, and tea tree oil
Water, water, water (it really does make that much of a difference in your health!)
Frequently wash your pillowcase.
Be very picky about your makeup. Coating on lots of coverup will NOT help (even though you want to hide it).
Any good book recommendations for supplementing?
Beautiful Babies by Kristen Michaelis https://amzn.to/31QBh7p
The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care https://amzn.to/3iKzM1n
Web resource: Weston Price fertility diet
Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition by Marilyn M. Shannon https://amzn.to/3iFFYrd
Before Your Pregnancy by Amy Ogle https://amzn.to/3gZmxt3
Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden https://amzn.to/31UMGTF and her blog www.larabriden.com
Aviva Romm’s blog – http://avivaromm.com
Other book recommendations for all things related to FAM, hormonal health, pregnancy and birth can be find in the group recommended books list
All things “temp” related
How to handle daylight savings and temping?
Check out this handy excerpt from a book.
Will the temperature in my bedroom effect my temperature?
Quite possibly. Again, consistency is key in having clear, accurate charts. Try to maintain consistency through the entire cycle and be sure to note anything that may effect your observations.
How can I get more consistent temps?
Did you wake up later than usual? Is that temp outside your normal temp range for the phase you are at within your cycle?
Did you sleep worse than usual? Is that temp outside your normal temp range for the phase you are at within your cycle?
Did you drink alcohol the night before? Is that temp outside your normal temp range for the phase you are at within your cycle?
See what’s happening here? Try to be as consistent as possible. Learn YOU and what effects you. Take notes.
Mark all temps and note when and why they are questionable. You will begin to see patterns.
Still having wonky temps?
Are you a mouth breather?
Does the temperature of the room you sleep in change?
If so, try temping vaginally.
Also, it must be mentioned how important good sleep is for all temps. Interrupted sleep affects the pituitary gland which regulates reproductive hormones (which effects your BBT). If your sleep is irregular or interrupted, you may see a drop in overall temps.
For mamas who are cosleeping and/or breastfeeding, it IS still possible to see temp patterns. There are many successful Postpartum FAMers in the group. Keep Calm and Chart On.
I’m a mom who breastfeeds and/or cosleeps. Any tips on temping?
Choose a time after you generally get the most sleep.
Take your temp at this same time every day no matter what.
Help! I took my temperature multiple times and now I don’t know which one to use!
Always use the first temp.
Don’t adjust (unless working under an instructor’s guidance).
Don’t make up your own temp.
Remember, consistency is more important than anything. If you always warm your thermometer up before taking your temp, do that every time. If you never warm your thermometer up first, then never warm it up first. Please see a guide on when to mark temps questionable to be sure you’re marking temps correctly.
I had a temp spike but then it went back down below the coverline, what do I do?
When in doubt, always assume you’re fertile…and Keep Calm and Temp On.
If trying to avoid pregnancy, restart your temp shift count (with 1) after your temp goes back up above coverline.
Note: If you are already past T+3 and your temperature dips but then goes back up, don’t be alarmed. This is normal fluctuation in your hormones. If you followed the rules and stayed protected inside your fertile window, you’ll be fine. If you did not follow the rules and had unprotected sex inside your fertile window, sometimes a temperature dip can mean implantation. Keep Calm and Chart On.
How soon after Ovulation does your temp go up?
Temp can rise 1-3 days after ovulation. It depends how long it takes for progesterone to stimulate your metabolism (which raises your body temperature).
If trying to conceive, waiting until you see your temperature rise is not a good indicator for when to have sex with the purpose for conception. An egg, once released (ovulation) lives only 12-24 hours.
Does having a sunburn effect your temps?
How do I temp vaginally? How far does it go in!?!?
See this post for an illustration =) #HowFar
Which thermometer does everyone use or suggest?
See our recommended thermometer page here
Menstruation and Spotting
What’s the difference between spotting and light period?
Spotting is seeing Cervical Fluid that is pink or brown tinged, or brown blood that only appears while wiping, or requires maybe one pantyliner for the whole day. It can occur after sex (even if not “rough”), around ovulation, around possible implantation, and before or after your period.
A light period is any red flow.
Remember: Cycle Day 1 is the first day of red flow (not spotting).
I’m spotting outside normal implantation, ovulation, or menstruation times, what could it be?
Did you recently have sex? If so, that could be it – even if it’s not “rough”!
Is there a lot of soy in your diet? If so, try cutting down on that first.
If it’s not because of ovulation, implantation, menstruation, soy, or sex, consult with your doctor. This many indicate a hormone imbalance.
Note: Ovulation can be delayed for many reasons and may not occur in your “usual time”.
Also see below question:
What is recommended for spotting that happens outside of ovulation, period, or implantation times?
Because spotting is likely hormone related, please see above suggestions on promoting ovulation and healthy hormones. If these suggestions do not work:
Reduce or eliminate soy consumption.
Reduce or eliminate pain medication such as tylenol or ibuprofen.
Maintain a healthy weight. Find alternative ways to manage stress (meditation app, yoga, etc).
Try switching menstrual products – to a cup or organic cotton tampons and pads only.
Are you on any prescription medication?
Do you have an illness or disease? Please see your gyno for more information than this.
Can my period be “too short” or “too long”?
It’s average for women to lose anywhere between 30-40 mL of blood per cycle and still okay to lose anywhere between 10-80 mL – whether that’s in 2-3 days or 4-7 days. If your periods are very heavy, check out Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden (or a doctor) to see what the real underlying issue could be. If your periods are extremely light, consider that they may be “breakthrough” bleeds, or estrogen withdrawal bleeds. If your charts show your cycles to be anovulatory, then the bleeding is estrogen withdrawal, or breakthrough, related and not considered a “true period”. Please see above suggestions for promoting ovulation and healthy hormone production.
What is “breakthrough bleeding” or “estrogen withdrawal bleeds”?
Bleeding that doesn’t follow an ovulatory cycle. Basically, you bleed from estrogen withdrawal, or because the lining of your uterus built up so much in preparation for an egg that never came, that it finally shed.
Any remedies for awful cramps?
Always try to find out what may be causing period pain first. Read Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden and/or find an instructor/naturopath/doctor. Otherwise, women in the group swear by the following:
Clarycalm by doterra
Red Rasberry Leaf Tea (started a week before period)
Moon Cycle Tea
Switching to resuable cloth pads, organic cotton pads or tampons, and/or a menstrual cup
Let’s talk menstrual cups.
Menstrual cups are cups made from medical grade silicon placed in the vagina in order to collect menstrual flow (rather than absorb it). Check out this video for pointers in finding your own:
Hearts! (Aka: Sex, doing the deed, baby dancing)
Natural lube suggestion?
Coconut oil (any oil based lubes are NOT condom friendly)
MCT oil (aka fractionated coconut oil) https://amzn.to/2FinvTe
Earthly Edible Massage Oil https://amzn.to/3gXgjtz
Sliquid Organics Natural Intimate Lubricant https://amzn.to/3apZk0T