“We don’t, as a society, give intrinsic value to fertility as a sign of health, of wholeness, of well being, of a body doing OK. We are creating huge problems with this attitude, for individuals and society as a whole.”

-Wendy Dumareso, Herbalist

Personally, a huge part of recovery for me was learning to love my cycle. Part of this was inspired by reclaiming my fertility through the help of Toni Weschler’s book Taking Charge of your fertility as well as learning to chart and read my fertility signs. This was a true gift and resulted in absolute empowerment and joy about sharing it with others. Another part of loving my cycle was deconstructing the socially conditioned idea that having a period is a bad and shameful thing. Something to push through and control. By learning how to accept it as a natural process of my body and make time for it, I feel like I’ve given myself the most intimate gift: The gift of being in the body I was born into, connected to the world and universe I exist in. Although bleeding monthly can be painful and get in the way of work and responsibilities, the uncomfort in this is societally conditioned. Realizing this has made a huge difference for me.

Jane Bennett and Alexandra Pope suggest that difficult periods have an underlying cause and going on hormonal birth control simply puts a bandaid over it without addressing the root. They make some suggestions in their book “The Pill, are you sure its for you?” including looking at the root cause of diet, environmental pollutants, stress and more.

“Eight ways to ease difficult periods

  1. Eat regular nourishing meals so your blood sugar levels don’t plummet
  2. Cut out sugar and white flour products and reduce your coffee, (caffeinated) tea and alcohol intake because they can make you reactive and tetchy
  3. Get sufficient exercise and rest
  4. Respect the feelings that do emerge as meaningful even if you don’t always fully understand them
  5. Keep a journal in which you write, dream, mull, draw and doodle when you’re troubled, want to work things out, figure out your needs and celebrate your successes.
  6. Practise asserting yourself on smaller issues the whole month long, so that you feel there’s a balance in your relationships
  7. Pause, think and feel before responding to a request
  8. Do something special for yourself when you bleed” (Bennett and Pope, 2008. Pg. 176)

To bring in a little chinese medicine, the liver is the organ in charge of flow of Qi as well as healthy menstruation. It’s also the organ that both physically and energetically deals with the toxins of life. To support your liver is to support a healthy menstrual cycle. Some ways to support the liver are eating real, fresh food. Avoiding toxins in the environment and in your diet. Taking time to slow down, rest and refresh. This is important, not only for healthy cycles but for the health of our culture.

“Menstrual Health Tip 2-Lemon water

To assist your liver and aid digestion take a couple of lemons, ideally organic, scrub well, roughly chop up and place in a class container (it must be glass). Add 2-3 cups of purified water and let it stand for at least 3 hours in the fridge. Enjoy drinking any time you like but especially first thing in the morning and before and after meals.” (Bennett and Pope, 2008. Pg. 217)

“Menstrual Health tip 3-Nettle tea

For a mineral rich tonic that nourishes and stabilises energy in the reproductive/hormonal system, promotes healthy bones, helps ease cramping and profuse menstrual flow and is a great pick-me-up and general all-around ally for women, place two teaspoons of loose dried organic nettles in a jar and top up with one and a half cups of filtered water. Let stand overnight. Drink at room temperature or heat up (without boiling) for a hot drink. You can also make it like a normal tea although you won’t get the full blast of nutrients.” (Bennett and Pope, 2008. Pg.218)

“Liver tonic formula for Menstruation:

2 Parts burdock root

2 parts dandelion root

2 parts sassafras (for flavor)

1 part chaste tree berry

1 part licorice root

½ part Ginger” (Gladstar, 2008 pg. 219)

There are plenty more herbal recipes as well as female reproductive health tips in Rosemary Gladstar’s book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. Bennett and Pope also have many other tips including: Miso Soup, epsom salt baths and reducing commitments. They also recommend upping your magnesium supplements and drinking plenty of water. The biggest take away from the “Recovery” section is Improving diet. This seemingly simple step makes a world’s difference in the reproductive cycle.

***Remember: If you’ve been on hormonal contraceptives for a long time or have other health issues, you may be eating extremely well and not absorbing any nutrients. Stick with it for a minimum of three months. The body needs time to reboot!

“In modern medical practice the cycle itself is often seen as the culprit and it’s assumed that if the cycle is switched off, or artificially regulated, then the problem will be solved.” (Bennett and Pope, 2008. Pg. 95)

Like many things, the history of hormonal contraceptives is mixed and complicated. One valid truth is that The Pill was a huge step in women’s liberation and has helped many people manage their intimate lives without procreating. It was a fight to obtain this, and has served in many ways. Unfortunately, because it stemmed from women’s oppression, there are still injustices being done to female bodied people every day in regards to their reproductive health. This starts with the lack of transparency about the side effects and health risks of taking synthetic hormones to the testing on Puerto Rican women in the early stages of inventing the pill. This can even go back to the absence of education on female reproductive processes and a purposeful disconnect with the female body. Many people across the globe remain uneducated about their own bodies and reproductive health their entire lives. Instead of celebrating the natural cycles of our bodies, we are taught to fear them (partially because they’re unknown) and to control them. If female bodied people were taught about menstruation, ovulation, how to read fertility signs and take care of our hormonal systems, a lot would be different. This isn’t to say some people wouldn’t chose to take the pill, but our consent to synthetic hormones would be educated and rooted in understanding.

“By blaming women the medical establishment was dicorcing women from their own bodies and making the female body an object of and a source for fear and oppression. If they had physical health issues women were told to blame themselves and their faulty, weak bodies.” (Grigg-Spall. 2013, pg.32)

How Does Hormonal birth control work?

“Of great concern are the remote, hidden and ever-mounting changes within the human race, resulting from the accumulative effect of hormonal manipulation on succeeding generations. The use of the Pill must be regarded as one of the most serious and influential causes of iatrogenic disease. (disease caused by a doctor).”

-Dr. David Lilley, Medical Practitioner and homeopath

The Drug-

The Hormonal birth control pill is made up of synthetic hormones that mimic your natural hormones. For a long time, “…medical practitioners believed that the uterus worked in competition with the brain.” (Grigg-Spall, 2013 pg.30) They didn’t believe that they could work together. Natural hormones in the body are in a delicate balance naturally produced in small amounts to spur healthy functioning. In hormonal birth control there is 4 times the amount of synthetic hormone than our naturally occurring counterparts even at the peak of a cycle.  The ingredients of different pills include: oestradiol, mestranol, levonorgestrel, norethisterone, desogestrel, gestodene, ethinyl, acetate and more. These synthetic hormones cause temporary infertility by acting on your endocrine system and mimicking a pregnancy. Most notable of these changes are prevention of ovulation, changes in endometrium which prevents an egg from implanting, and changes in cervical fluid causing an inhabitable environment for sperm. This causes your body to be on high alert most of the time.

-Synthetic Hormones/ Endocrine disruptors

Hormonal health is important! Many current studies speak widely about endocrine disruptors and how to rid your home of chemical products in cleaners, body products and food. However, synthetic hormone consumption in birth control is hardly ever mentioned and it is one of the biggest disruptions to the endocrine system. Your endocrine system works as the homeostasis system of your body. It connects your inner world to your outer world through stimulus. It resides in the hypothalamus, the master endocrine gland which gathers hormonal messages from your organs and glands and summons the pituitary gland to send messages back to your body, keeping a hormonal balance. This system helps with everything, from waking up to coping with stress to digestion to sleep.


Side Effects:

The main thing that synthetic hormones impact is the endorphin system specifically our sex hormones. Because our sex hormone cycle regulates 150 different bodily systems, and because our sex hormones are profoundly interconnected with our neurological and immunological systems, hormonal birth control impacts:

“-Energy Levels

-Memory and concentration

-Motor coordination

-Adrenalin Levels

-Pain Threshold

-Vitamin Retention

-Blood glucose levels

-Thyroid and Adrenal Function

-Sleep Patterns

-Body Temperature

-Skin color and Texture

-Brain Wave Patterns

-Metabolism Rate

-Visual, Auditory and olfactory acuity

-Concentrations of vitamins

-Immune System” (Grig-Spall, 2013 pg. 44)

And because of this disturbing facts, the side effects are immense. Some of the most common side effects are:


-Migraine and non-migraine headaches occur mostly during the placebo-pill week. They are a monthly withdrawal symptom to the hormones.


-A major health complication caused by taking hormonal contraceptives is nutritional disturbance. The severity of this can be determined by the individual’s nutritional intake before beginning taking hormonal contraceptives, but at the end of the day the synthetic hormones affect the metabolism itself. A FULL LIST OF IMPACTED VITAMINS AND MINERALS CAN BE FOUND IN APPENDIX 2 IN “THE PILL, ARE YOU SURE IT’S FOR YOU?” BY JANE BENNETT AND ALEXANDRA POPE ON PAGE 276.


The vitamins impacted by the pill are A, B1, biotin, E, B6, B12, folic acid,  C, riboflavin, and thiamine.This can cause a plethora of problems including declining gum health, eye irritation, anxiety, depression, nausea, impaired libido, candida imbalance, and more


Zinc, (Increased) copper, Iron, Calcium, potassium, selenium, and magnesium are all impacted by taking synthetic hormones. Among other things, this can cause anxiety, muscle cramps, sugar cravings, insomnia, immune dysfunction, diabetes, healthy pregnancy and birth (specifically zinc insufficiency).

-Gum health (Partially caused by B2 deficiency which can cause gum and mouth infections)

-Suppressed Adrenal Gland function

-Mood swings

-Weight gain (Specifically with Depo-Provera)

-Brittle bones

-Suppressed Immune functioning


“It was decided by sex endocrinologists that women had a cyclical hormone regulation and men a “stable” hormone regulation. Today men are generally considered to have relatively stable hormone levels and women are described as having erratic and unpredictable hormone levels.” (Grigg-Spall, 2013, pg.51)

Informed Consent

What is informed consent?

Often times when someone is presented with a pill or drug, for many things but especially hormonal contraceptives, they are not given all the information about how it will affect their bodies long term. In the West, there is a lot of blind trust in medical doctors, which isn’t a bad thing but sometimes we aren’t getting the full story. This could be for a plethora of reasons. Informed consent is consenting to a health treatment only after you’ve received all the information.

“Five ways to inform yourself

-learn as much as you can about your body as a woman.

-assume that your body’s natural rhythms and processes are there for a reason

-research all health care alternatives and remember that ads, and top internet sites, are placed there by those who have the money to do so., This doesn’t mean they necessarily have the best information.

-pay attention to how you feel and follow your instincts

-consult knowledgeable, health conscious women about how they manage their reproductive health.” (Bennett and Pope, 2008. pg.132)

“Neither pregnancy or fertility should be viewed as an illness that requires treatment with pharmaceuticals or surgery.” (Grigg-Spall, 2013. pg.74)

Hormonal Health Tips:

-The endocrine system is the name we use to describe the hormonal center of the brain. This system takes a hit any time a change or stressor happens and this puts everything on pause.

-stress and sex hormones start with the same building blocks but stress takes priority. This makes it hard for them to exist at the same time.

-Avoid endocrine disruptors



-plastic (BPA)

-Chemical filled lotions, shampoos and body products

-Non-organic tampons or pads

-Non organic makeup


***If you’re curious about the products you use go to to look them up. You can also google dirty dozen, clean 15 for a list of veggies to purchase organically is possible if you’re on a budget or they’re less accessible for you. These are the veggies most susceptible to pesticides.

-Things to consume

-healthy fats


-fermented things

-use cast iron pans

-Good filtered water

-Buy second hand and be mindful of fire retardants sprayed on clothes at department stores

-Throw out chemical cleaning products and use baking soda, vinegar or lemons

Charting Rules


Charting rules:

  1. Charting involves observing fertility signs. There are two types of fertility signs, the primary which include the cervical fluid, temperature and position of the cervix, and secondary which is unique to the individual or cycle. Some secondary fertility signs could include changes in breast size, headaches, sex drive, etc.
  2. The technique that should be used to observe cervical fluid includes:
    1. The sensation of your vulva without touching
    2. Test it three times a day to let gravity pull the cervical fluid out by the night
    3. The texture is more important than the appearance
    4. When measuring dry cervical fluid, you can compare it to the feeling of swiping a finger in the inside of your cheek.
  3. Your peak day is the LAST day of fertile cervical fluid
  4. Your post peak count is 4 days after your peak day and you must wait until the evening of your fourth day
  5. Your basal body temperature must be taken after three hours of uninterrupted sleep.
  6. Your thermometer must be a 30 second read

Hormones in the Cycle:

-The Hypothalamus in the brain is the power center sending hormonal messages to your organs all the time. It’s sending out orders and the pituitary gland carries them out.

– The beginning of the cycle is marked by the follicular phase and is characterized by the raise of estrogen before the release of an egg.

-Within this phase a hormone called GNRH is sent out to start the cycle. FSH is the message sent to ripen the eggs.

-At the peak of ovulation, luteinizing hormone releases the egg.

-The eggs are contained in follicles which are fluid sacks. The eggs need low temperatures to develop, just like sperm which is why the first phase of the cycle is marked by cooler temperatures.

-After the egg is released the cycle is taken over by the hormone progesterone.

-progesterone causes thickened lining, high body temps, and is what maintains an early pregnancy

-the broken egg follicle is called a “Corpus Luteum” which literally means yellow body. After ovulation, the corpus luteum is creating the progesterone for 12-16 days.

-once it drops again, we menstruate.

-If there is 18 high temperatures in the luteal phase, a pregnancy has started and an embryo is now helping maintain progesterone.

-Usually, there’s about a dozen egg follicles that prepare themselves for ovulation and one dominates while the others dissolve.

-ovulation is an POSITIVE inflammatory process. It inflames until the follicle pops.

-If a person hasn’t ovulated, the bleeding that follows is either withdrawal bleeding (if you’re on a hormonal contraceptive) or breakthrough bleeding.

-people can also experience bleeding during ovulation.

Reproductive Facts


Reproductive Anatomy:

Anatomy: Getting to know the map

Anatomy Of Female External Genitalia Anatomy And Physiology 2 Eportfolio Objective 79 Mommy What39s – Human Anatomy Diagram

-The female and male body have the same amount of erectile tissue

– The vagina elongates and expands upon arousal. Kind of like an accordion. They call this “tenting”

– The whole uterus raises as we near ovulation.

-Infertile Cervical Fluid is acidic and looks like a net under a microscope

-Fertile Cervical Fluid is alkaline and is fill of sugars.

-Fertile Cervical Fluid looks like a fern under a microscope

-Another type of cervical fluid traps sperm with mutations

What Is FAM and what is a Fertility Awareness Educator?

Fertility Awareness educators are the mythbusters of the women’s reproductive health world. They are the ambassadors of correcting misinformation. They focus in on the individual’s cycle and disregard the idea that everyone’s cycle is alike.  Doctors, in comparison are experts on the population and average, and not the individual.

When you look up the Fertility Awareness Method on the CDC website the results are dismal. Unfortunately this is the way most people discredit this method, allowing it to look like a poor form of birth control. What they don’t know is that on the CDC they combine all fertility awareness methods into one category including family planning and the all famous rhythm method. The rhythm method as I’ve mentioned before, doesn’t work. It assumes that every person’s cycle is 28 days with ovulation on day 14 which is not accurate and leads to unplanned pregnancies.

When you separate FAM from the rest of the fertility awareness methods, this accuracy is 99.6% effective with perfect use and 98.2% effective with human error. This is similar or higher than the birth control pill or condoms.

Unfortunately, FAM is only effective as the individual is at doing it correctly and doctors want something the user can’t mess up so it isn’t often talked about. The faith is not in the patient.

FAM History


The History of FAM

Uterus bodied people have been using fertility awareness methods for as long as we have been on this planet. The first use of these methods was in the indigenous peoples who used observations of their bodies to identify their fertile window. Many people used cyclebeads in a similar way as the rhythm method to track which day they were at in their cycles. Cyclebeads are beaded necklaces with different color beads for menstruation used as a calendar.

The Family planning method was birthed from the catholic church. Because it has religious connotations it also had to follow their values making family planning only available to heterosexual, married people who want babies and have to be abstinent during their infertile periods. Meanwhile in the 1800’s a European doctor noticed cervical fluid. (of course it was a male who “noticed” it)

In the late 50’s, John Rock invented the birth control bill. This was a huge revelation and shift for many people especially people fighting for women’s rights.

In the 60s and 70s second wave feminism brought awareness of natural methods back to American conscious from their catholic roots. They also wanted a natural alternative to synthetic hormones. Many people today still practice Natural Family Planning with the church and many people are starting to practice the Fertility Awareness Method. Many people also still practice the rhythm method but like I’ve mentioned before, the rhythm method is based off of past cycles to predict future cycles which isn’t reliable or accurate.