“Breath of life”





Privilege: How it plays into FAM


Shortly after being exposed to FAM, I began to question how privilege plays a role in the usage of Fertility Awareness Methods. Despite it being an absolutely amazing tool, it’s often only used and taught by upper/middle class, white, highly educated women. This is another example of how information like this can get stuck within this category, further perpetuating the very systems in place that prevent distribution of knowledge in under privileged communities. I am intensely aware that a lot of things I participate in as a white educated woman are inaccessible to a lot of people. It is a huge privilege to gain correct, in depth information on Fertility Awareness Methods, and have the time and space to partake in doing it correctly. While doing research on this, I had a skype meeting with Seattle’s Grace Uomoto a RN and Holistic Fertility couch. As a person of color working in this industry, she had a lot of resources and ideas on this topic. She explained to me that this is something the Association of Fertility Awareness Professionals is taking into consideration already. She also pointed me in the direction of several studies that are looking into these issues.

One study I looked into was on The use of fertility awareness methods (FAM) among young adult Latina and black women: what do they know and how well do they use it? Use of FAM among Latina and black women in the United States (Lina Guzman, Selma Caal, Kristen Peterson, Manica Ramos and Shelby Hickman).

This study was done on a group of 58 people of color in the United States. 28 of the people were Latinx and the other 30 were Black. The study was conducted to look at knowledge, the sources of knowledge and how it plays a role in the usage of Fertility Awareness Methods. Research suggests that 1-4% of women use FAM with a higher number among Latinx/Black communities. This could be due to many things, the main reasons being FAM is free or low cost, it involves no taking of drugs, it doesn’t require a visit with a health care professional, and it has no hormonal side effects. Black and Latinx people usually have lower levels of health care access and utilization, and have reported having more concerns about hormonal birth control. Fertility Awareness Methods require a high level of reproductive knowledge as well as greater individual effort to not only track cycles but to abstain from sex during one’s fertile window. The large number of Black and Latina women who were using this method were mostly performing guess work about when their fertile window was. Only 32 were accurately using FAM while 53 were guessing. 34 of these participants correctly identified their fertile window while 24 could not. This gap in knowledge could point towards part of the large number of unplanned pregnancies in black and latinx communities. The whole group was economically disadvantaged with 27 having some college experience, 18 having a BA, and 13 having a high school diploma or less.

Amongst this group, 19 reported having learned from family, professionals or the internet. Other mentioned sources were partners, marriage, religious counselors, or media. They took note of who had a basic understanding (that there was a fertile window in a cycle) or an in depth understanding. They found that this knowledge gap could be caused by many things including information missing from the medical community, lack of health care access, and issues with using incorrect information on the apps.

However despite lower levels of information, the majority of these women were still tracking and partaking in correctly abstaining during their fertile window. They also found that the quality and kind of information these women received was not related to the source of the information, with some women gaining in depth information on FAM through family members.


Privilege and oppression show up in all facets of this country, and birth control is one way that it’s been alive for a long time. Through studies like this people have started to explore how the systems in place have prevented access to information like this, especially around women’s bodies. (even more so with women of color). Part of this work is figuring out as a white person how to start deconstructing and unpacking my own role in this, and how I’m going to actively fight oppression without stepping in to communities with less privilege than mine with the mindset of “fixing” anything.

One of my ideas that was also presented in the study above is exploring how this information could be better taught in middle and high school curriculum’s. Maybe not as a form of birth control at first, but as a way of reproductive literacy, accessible way to understanding reproductive health/irregularities, and informed consent when choosing a form of birth control. Of course this wouldn’t fix the whole problem, but I think it’s a good start.

What do you think? ~


Lina Guzman, Selma Caal, Kristen Peterson, Manica Ramos, Shelby Hickman, The use of fertility awareness methods (FAM) among young adult Latina and black women: what do they know and how well do they use it? Use of FAM among Latina and black women in the United States, Contraception, Volume 88, Issue 2, August 2013, Pages 232-238, ISSN 0010-7824,
Keywords: Natural family planning; Nonhormonal methods; Reproductive literacy; Racial/ethnic minority women; Traditional contraceptive methods




How Do I Read a FAM chart?


Numbers at the top of the chart:

At the top of the chart you can see numbers labeled Week day, Month and Cycle day. These mark exactly that. They serve as a way to measure the length of  a cycle as well as what day of the month it is.

Left Column (Colored columns):

On the left side of the chart you can see colorful boxes labled mentruation, none, sticky, creamy, eggwhite, and watery. These are all phases that your cervical fluid can appear like. Like I said in a previous post, the common pattern towards ovulation is an increase in cervical wetness as you can see on the chart below. As the days of the cycle go on, the cervical fluid is logged each day showing up as color coded columns.

Blue Dots (Temperature):

The blue dots charted on each day signify your temperature and coinside with the degrees on the right side of the chart. They show degrees in Farenheit to the tenth and are within a normal temperature range. They follow the natural fertile pattern described in previous posts with a temperature spike after ovulation.

Below the chart this person has recorded the position of their cervix and as you can see it followed the fertile pattern as well.

This chart also has the follicular phase (pre ovulation), ovulation, and the luteal phase (post ovulation) marked to help you block out your cycle into helpful phases.


This chart is from the app Kindara, an amazing FAM charting app that can be used to keep track of all your fertility signs and more.

picture from:  www.appleseedfertility.comimage

Health Benefits of the Fertility Awareness Method

Another extreme benefit of connecting with your body through FAM is the ability to recognize what is normal for your body and what isn’t. Often times people show up at the hospital with concerns about their body which are nothing but natural, but they don’t know this because no one taught them about their natural body functions. Tracing this problem back to the root, if everyone knew the basic patterns of their own body, and were taught to observe them, we would have a better understanding of  when our bodies are naturally fluctuating through normal cycles or when something is actually wrong. We would then show up at the hospital far less. Unfortunately this isn’t the way our system is set up for many varies reasons including the economy, class system, and systematic oppression.

However, if you are starting the journey to tracking your fertility signs and you do have access to this information, this can be a pathway to tracking your reproductive health as well.

Your BBT’s can show your reproductive health in several ways. One thing that this can show is possible conception. Like I said in the previous post, if you experience 18+ high temperatures after ovulation, there is a good chance that the egg that was released got fertilized. The phase between ovulation and menstruation is called the Luteal Phase. Average luteal phases are 12-16 days long. If you experience a luteal phase that’s shorter than 12 days, this could also point to possible health problems and mainly this will cause difficulty getting pregnant. Another variation that could take place is a short pregnancy (18+) temperatures followed by a miscarriage. Miscarriages like this are often unnoticed and thought to be a later than normal period.

Your cervical fluid can also be tracked to gain information on your reproductive health. This may be an obvious one, but most people aren’t taught what “normal” cervical fluid looks like. I remember when I first started experiencing cervical discharge I thought something was incredibly wrong with me. As far as tracking this for reproductive health, you first need a base level understanding of what YOUR natural cervical fluid pattern is like. After you establish this relationship with your body, you are much more likely to notice if something wildly different is happening. Irregularities in cervical fluid can point to things such as a simple yeast infection to different STI’s.

On a personal level, tracking my fertility signs has helped me better understand that normal bodily changes during my cycle are healthy and normal!

All this information and more is found in the book “Taking Charge of your Fertility” by Toni Weschler, a life changing book containing all you need to know about your fertility, sexuality, and cycles all throughout different phases of life. Fertility

Cycle Two


Cycle Two

I had some weird BBT’s this cycle, possibly due to juice cleansing and traveling. I ovulated on day 17th of the cycle and my luteal phase was just over 16 days. Slightly shorter than last month!


Chart 2

Resources <3




The Three Fertility Signs 

The biggest part of the Fertility Awareness Method is learning how to observe three main fertility signs in your body that change throughout your cycle based on ovulation and menstration. They are each unique but important and the combination of the three can be used to cross check your observations and deduct if you are ovulating, about to ovulate, or have already ovulated.

  1. Basal Body Temperature

Your Basal Body temp is the temperature of your body when you first wake up in the morning. The basal body temperature is taken in the morning around the same time everyday and recorded on a FAM chart. Don’t worry, you don’t have to stick a thermometer up in your body. A good ‘ole fashion mouth or armpit temperature will do. However, whatever you decide, be sure to stay consistent. As you move through your cycle, your temperature changes based on a standard pattern that can vary slightly depending on the person. Typically, basal body temperatures will drop after menstruation leading up to ovulation. After an egg is released in your body, the BBT raises. This temperature shift after ovulation and before menstruation is called the Luteal Phase. For most people, the luteal phase is 12-16 days long. After this period of time, your temperature will drop again and you will begin to bleed. If you experience 18 high temperatures after ovulation, it may point towards pregnancy. This temperature shift serves to create a sort of human incubator for a newly fertilized egg if that was to happen.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your body temperature is effected by many things including how much you slept and what you ate and drank the night before. If you are experiencing temperatures far outside your normal BBT’s, be sure to record any possible reasons why.

2. Cervical Fluid 

Your cervical fluid is the second main fertility sign, and I would argue, the most important. Again, over the course of a cycle the cervical fluid changes based on a standard pattern. For most, the cervical fluid gets more wet over the course of the cycle towards ovulation with the wettest day while one is ovulating. This serves to provide a hospitibal environment for sperm to travel through the cervix and hopefully (or not!!) fertilize an egg. After ovulation the cervical fluid dries up in order to prevent more sperm from surviving the path through the cervix. The “typical” pattern may go- dry, sticky, creamy, egg white, watery, dry/sticky, menstruation. This simple act of checking your discharge can tell you when you’re ovulating, or about too, as well as other benefits such as reproductive health.

3. Cervical Position

The last fertility sign to check is the position of your cervix. If you’re like me, and had never done this before, squatting is a great position to reach it. Like the other two signs, when tracking your cervical position, you’re on the outlook for a standard pattern. As ovulation nears, the cervix becomes higher, more soft, and more open. This is also a function designed to let sperm travel through the cervix. During menstruation, your cervix is low, hard, and closed. When checking your cervix you’re looking for one of these two options, or something in between to cross check how accurate the top two signs are.

Cycle One



Cycle One

My first FAM chart after coming off of hormonal birth control. I was on a low dosage of Lutera, a pill that combines an estrogen and a progestin. I decided to stop taking it for many reasons including break through bleeding, effects on my sexuality, and a general sense of disconnect with my body because I wasn’t ovulating. As you can see, this cycle was 37 days long with ovulation occurring day 21. The blue markings are my BBTs (basal body temperatures), the colored columns are my cervical fluid and all other things I was observing about my body are recorded below. Ovulation was delayed until day 21 most likely because of stress due to regular life, being sick and traveling.

What is FAM?

The Fertility Awareness Method is the practice of tracking certain bodily signs throughout a female bodied person’s cycle to determine the fertile and infertile phases. The body’s waking temperature, consistency of cervical fluid, and cervical position are used to see when ovulation occurs. This method can be used to prevent pregnancy, to achieve pregnancy, and as a way to stay in tune with your reproductive health.


When I first heard of the Fertility Awareness Method I was confusing it with the Rhythm method. I thought that I couldn’t go off of hormonal birth control and start my journey with tracking my body because I had such irregular cycles. The Rhythm method is largely based on using past cycles to predict the fertile phases of future cycles. It often doesn’t work for several reasons. Firstly, Not every bodies cycle is 28 days long with ovulation occurring day 14. This is a myth and accounts for many unplanned pregnancies, as well as inability to conceive. Instead of basing your body on past cycles, FAM uses current body signs to track when ovulation occurs. This is helpful because ovulation can occur at any point during a cycle, and can vary between different women as well as between one person’s cycles. Ovulation can be delayed for many reasons including diet, work out routine, stress and travel. This will have an effect on the length of the cycle. By tracking these signs you can ultimately throw the 28 day model out the window and begin diving into the world of attunement with your body and your own specific cycles.