Wondering how to practice natural birth control by monitoring your cycle? Birth control has been a subject of conversation for many lately. Whether or not you have it available, it is helpful to know how your cycle works normally and what to do with it. Personally, this part was missing from my sexual education. Sure, I learned about ovulation and periods. But exactly when it happens, and how it works? No. I used to think you could get pregnant at any time, and that's how it worked for all women. Turns out, we are only fertile a few days out of our cycle. There are many factors that can change that number (the quality of sperm, giving yourself a "cushion" of days around your ovulation), but it is different from what I understood. Though we are all very different from each other and have different cycles, I will share what has worked for me, how I track my fertility, and how I avoid pregnancy without birth control. Here's how to practice natural birth control by monitoring your cycle.
1. I Read “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler
Through this book, I realized how my body has natural signals to show fertility. I learned in an anthropology class that we, as humans, didn't have obvious signals for ovulation, and we're one of the only species that mates for pleasure throughout the menstrual cycle. However, there are ways to realize you're ovulating, including great skin, a rise in sexual desire, quality of the cervical fluid, and a subtle rise in body temperature. Paying attention to these things is just one of the answers for how to practice natural birth control by monitoring your cycle so keep reading.
2. I Took My Temperature Every Day
I wasn't sure I would be good about taking my temperature every single morning, but I surprised myself. I keep the thermometer on my nightstand and know that keeping track of the temperature every day helps create the trend throughout the month and to discover where the “rise” is for ovulation. I quickly realized I had other ways to figure out I was ovulating, so even if I got bad about tracking the temperature, I had a general idea of when it happened (and it's kind of fun).
3. I Noticed My Body Regulated Itself
I am lucky that my cycle regulated when I quit the pill. I had been on birth control for about 15 years after my crazy cycle prompted the doctor to prescribe it in my teen years. The IUD (intra-uterine device) did not work well for me, and, being the crunchy hippie that I am, I didn't like the idea of using synthetic hormones for so long and not ovulating for real. I also wanted my body to right itself before deciding to have kids.
So, in using this method, I have empowered myself by taking control of my fertility (it feels like a subtle feminist way to fight birth control) and realized that I felt so much better. No more tender breasts throughout the month (just for a week now) and no more constant bloating or dizziness. I feel awesome! For some, this may not happen, and a regular cycle may not occur. But it may also highlight other health issues that wouldn't have been discovered had the pills/patches/IUD been continued. I see that as a plus.
4. I Logged Everything
I have been logging feelings, cravings, and certain workouts for my entire cycle. I try to schedule things (like waxing) around my period. I can try to predict what my body needs based on what I crave, and I do more beastly workouts in the upward march to ovulation. After ovulation, I do a bit more yoga and introspective activities like meditation.
5. I Downloaded a Fertility App
I found that there are many apps that help you track your cycle, and Kindara is the one I use (it was referenced in the book and it's pretty). You can customize what you add in the diary, like what workouts you did and what cravings you have. It also helps you track your body temperature and automatically calculates ovulation. Based on a few cycles, the app will also predict your next period, so you'll have an idea of when you're going to start the next cycle and plan parties around it. Super win.
Honestly, I will never go back, even after I have my children. Again, I am trying to go natural in many ways when it comes to my health, and empowering myself by taking charge of my cycle is just one piece of that puzzle. Is it a tried-and-true, mathematical solution to avoiding babies? No, mistakes can be made if you're not careful. But I know it has worked for me, and now I am not under the control, influence, emotional distress, and bloating of birth control. That, in itself, makes me feel like Wonder Woman.