Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs)
Are you aware of your fertility rhythms and cycles? Most of us think that we know more than we do! It’s a problem facing many women who are trying to conceive. A recent Australian study (Hampton, Mazza,& Newton, 2013) looked at this very concept and found that only about 13%of women attending an assisted reproductive therapy (ART) clinic could accurately identify their ‘fertile window’ (the only time during a menstrual cycle when conception is possible). This was despite 68% of women believing they had timed intercourse within this fertile window. What’s more 86% of couples in the study were actively trying to improve their fertility awareness. This suggests a lack of fertility education could be underlying why many couples find it difficult to conceive naturally.
It is estimated that approximately 10% of couples worldwide are sub-fertile or infertile. A couple is considered infertile if they are unsuccessful in their attempts to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse, after which time they may be referred to assisted reproductive ART clinics for treatment. The most recent stats in Australia are that 3.2% of babies are born via ART interventions, and this figure keeps rising. Whilst this makes pregnancy achievable for some, it is a very expensive and stressful treatment option with mixed success rates.
Fertility Awareness Methods are natural and evidence-based methods that should be considered the first step in a couple’s fertility plan before considering ART.
Fertility awareness methods can provide safe, inexpensive, and pain-free options to ART for couples planning their family. Hampton et al(2013) found that couples who attended sessions with a trained teacher in fertility awareness had an 80% rate of identifying their fertile window, in contrast to only 13% with no professional training. With 86% of women attending ART clinics expressing a desire to know more about natural fertility methods, trained educators are well placed to bridge this gap.
Fertility awareness Methods can help women at all ages and life stages understand their menstrual cycle and hormone fluctuations. It is currently overlooked as a potential method for understanding and identifying women’s health conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, pre-menstrual syndrome, and symptoms associated with perimenopause.
Fertility charting, the method used to identify fertility, is an extremely useful tool for helping women identify health, lifestyle and nutrition factors contributing to irregular cycles and symptoms such as fluid retention, cramping, migraine, bloating, cravings, irritability and anxiety. It can also be used as a natural option to help women avoid pregnancy when used under the guidance of a trained teacher.
As a trained teacher in natural fertility, I'm passionate about bringing the most up to date information and education to couples trying to conceive. In my fertility awareness program, you will learn how to chart your menstrual cycle and identify your fertile and non-fertile times with an evidence-based method. There is no need for expensive or uncomfortable tests. In fact, it can often be difficult to know when to perform such tests without correctly identifying ovulation first!
While learning fertility awareness, optimise your health with preconception nutrition and prepare your body for fertility, a healthy pregnancy, baby, and beyond! Experiencing hormone imbalance? Learn about nutrition for healthy hormones at any age or life stage and nurture your body for life!
Hampton, K., Mazza. & Newton, J. (2013). Fertility-awareness knowledge, attitudes and practises of women seeking fertility assistance. (2013). Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69(5).1076-84.