Firstly, I’d like to say a hello to my beautiful readers and offer an apology to not having posted in a wee while- I promise I will be on a roll with creating blog posts and videos to Youtube over the summer!
Now, this will be a big post! After all, it’s a massive topic and one of the biggest changes I’ve ever made in relation to my body/lifestyle. If you would rather watch me chat about this topic, I have linked it down below. If you would rather read, then continue onwards my friend. Or do both!
Yes, this is a very personal blog post. But I am comfortable with it, because I want to empower women and give them the knowledge of my experience. I don’t believe it should be a taboo subject.
Let’s start with what natural contraception is, shall we?
“Fertility awareness methods help you track your menstrual cycle so you’ll know when your ovaries release an egg every month (this is called ovulation). The days near ovulation are your fertile days — when you’re most likely to get pregnant. So people use FAMs to prevent pregnancy by avoiding sex or using another birth control method (like condoms) on those “unsafe,” fertile days.” – Planned Parenthood.
Now, you may be confused. You may had not heard of ovulation before this, or didn’t know there were only a certain amount of days you could get pregnant in a cycle. Don’t feel bad if so; I didn’t know what ovulation was a couple of years ago. From all of the sexual health classes I took in high school, I still thought women could always get pregnant and that every woman needed to be on hormones to stop the risk of pregnancy. One of the reasons I’m writing this blog post is to give them a side of something they might not know anything about. Most doctors prefer young women to just go on the pill- so they don’t need to think about their natural rhythms and they can be constantly protected. I’m not going to delve into what I agree with re our health and education system because this isn’t the time for that- but I will say that it’s extremely important for women to know all about their bodies.
Natural contraception is non hormonal and an amazing way to be in tune with your body and recognise what’s happening within.
Basically, in this blog post I’m NOT going to delve into too much detail about HOW to use natural contraception, but rather my experience of it. When I went off the pill I would’ve loved to read a blog post like this, and I could barely find any. The info I did find was purely informational, so if you do want to learn more about how to track ovulation then visit this site:
The reasons I wanted to get off the pill
The main reason I wanted to hop off the pill wagon was because I wanted to get natural periods! I wanted to ovulate then have a period. On the pill, I liked to have the withdrawal bleeds each month because it’s what felt natural to me. I could never imagine not getting my period, but many women enjoy not having their period so it’s very subjective.
I also wanted to make sure my body was working as it should, and I wasn’t having any issues with ovulating. Even though I’m still young being 22, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t having any fertility issues relating to ovulation for when we do decide to have babies later down the track.
I wanted to be more in tune with my body. I didn’t care about controlling my periods; I wanted to be on my own natural course and for me to embrace that.
I still wanted to be on contraception. We’re not ready to have a baby yet, so of course I couldn’t just get off the pill and not be on contraception. There are many myths out there relating to natural contraception in that it’s not reliable, it’s only for religious people, or that it’s very complicated. Once you have the hang of it it’s easy, but I can see where people get these ideas from. Many women jump into natural contraception without the proper info or care and get pregnant.
I will be honest, natural contraception takes WORK and PATIENCE. It can take months for your body to ovulate from going off the pill, and it takes effort to recognise when you are ovulating.
The fertility awareness method also works best for women who are in committed relationships— because it requires a lot of communication to your partner and support from them when you need to abstain from sex. Some men may be too immature to understand this method of contraception, and if your man is not into the idea of it, it’s not going to work. It requires efforts from both ends, which can make your relationship even stronger!
My methods of tracking ovulation
How I track ovulation is a combination of 3 main things:
- I use ovulation predictor sticks to tell when I’m going to ovulate in the next 24 hours, and it’s either a positive or a negative.
- You can tell when you ovulate and are fertile because you have a wet, slippery cervical mucus which you wouldn’t have had while being on the pill. This is so sperm can swim up and knock us up (thus, having sex with this mucus is a big no no, or a big YES if you want a baby). The vagina is a really acidic place and usually kills sperm when you aren’t fertile, it’s quite interesting.
- Your temperature will rise after you’ve ovulated, so you’ll notice a shift if you take your temp each morning.
Out of these options to track, I find the predictor sticks and noticing my body changes most helpful but that’s personal preference. Once your body gets into a rhythm it will become much easier to predict ovulation.
My experience getting off the pill
Just a little background info of my contraception; I started my period at 15 and had very regular, normal periods. I then had a great experience being on the pill— which I went on at 17 purely for contraceptive reasons. I didn’t have side effects such as mood swings, weight gain, breakthrough bleeding or break outs. I never fell pregnant and I never missed a pill, it just became part of my life! However, being on the pill for five years was definitely enough for me, and like I said above I wasn’t comfortable with putting hormones in my body anymore and I wanted natural rhythms.
I spent months researching natural contraception before I went off the pill, and my partner and I were both in it together. I was a little nervous when I finished my last pill packet, but part of me knew I would never go back on it.
After taking my last pill, I got the normal withdrawal bleed. That first cycle off BC (birth control), I assumed I would ovulate as every woman does when they aren’t on hormones. I took my temp every morning so I would notice a change in temp, yet around day 30 in my cycle I knew I hadn’t ovulated and that I probably wasn’t going to. I felt disheartened, as every day I waited for it and nothing happened. I knew it took some women awhile for their body to go back to normal but it was still frustrating trying to track something that wasn’t happening. I ended up getting my period on day 39 which felt like forever to me. Considering a cycle is on average 28 days, 39 days is irregular and meant I didn’t ovulate. The bleeding I had simply meant my lining had to be shed but it wasn’t due to ovulation.
My 2nd cycle off BC lasted 52 days… and it was the worst. On one hand, I wasn’t on any contraception because I was trying to track something that wasn’t happening, yet on the other hand I wasn’t even fertile so pregnancy isn’t a possibility. This cycle I was so SO frustrated at my body and I was wondering how long I could keep this up for. I took a couple of pregnancy tests (negative), then talked about ovulation to death to those around me because it was on my mind so often. Don’t even get me started on how much research I did into not ovulating 😂 I didn’t regret going off the pill, but I was not having a good time. Finally I got my period at day 52, which was a relief.
During the 3rd cycle off BC I bled during sex. I had my period a week prior, so I knew it wasn’t related. It worried me so off to the doc I went! They did the normal tests for cervical cancer etc, but my doctor told me he thought my body was simply very confused from being off birth control. It was at this point where I was so glad I had gotten off the pill and I willed for my body to return back to normal! My doctor offered me medication to kick start ovulation- I believe it was called Clomid. I never take drugs besides from the occasional antibiotics, so I said no thanks but that I would keep it in mind. If I hadn’t ovulated for another 6 or so months I probably would have taken the medication.
I then became really worried that it would perhaps take a year for me to become fertile again and for me to be able to track my ovulation, which seemed like a lifetime since I had only had two cycles that felt like an eternity.
Luckily, I didn’t need to be so worried. Because that cycle I ovulated!! Matt and I were in Australia and I suddenly got all the signs. We were in a line at Movie World and I had a sudden sharp pain in one of my ovaries. It lasted around half an hour and I wasn’t sure what it was at the time. The next day I had the clear, slippery cervical mucus that I had never had before. It’s best described as like egg white consistency (hopefully you aren’t having eggs on toast whilst reading this 😆). There was no second guessing I was ovulating, and I was ecstatic 🙆 14 days later I got my period which confirmed that I had indeed ovulated! My natural periods were quite abit heavier than the ones I had on the pill, and I had cramps that made me curl up on the couch for the first day, but nothing I couldn’t handle (I don’t take pain meds).
My next cycle, my 4th off BC, was a little tricky. I assumed I would have all the big signs I did as the last cycle, but I only got a small bit of wet and slippery cervical mucus on the morning I ovulated. I had used predictor sticks but only every 2nd day or so, and you need to use them every day for it to be predicted properly. That cycle I wondered whether I had even ovulated or not, but 14 days after that morning I had the mucus I got my period.
I learnt two lessons from that cycle- sometimes the signs for ovulating won’t be that big. I need to focus a lot on what my body is doing, and I need to use the predictor sticks every day if I want to pick up a positive result for an impending ovulation.
One thing I’ve learnt in this experience is that if I really focus on what my body is doing, I will know for sure whether I’ve ovulated or not. I just have to trust my intuition!
I’ve really enjoyed being off hormonal contraception and being on natural contraception. Yes, it’s sometimes been a battle, but once you know your cycles it becomes much easier. I know for sure that I’ll never go back on hormonal contraception. I love learning about my cycles and having close communication with my partner. I also know I’m giving my body the best chance at being natural and performing what it needs to do.
If you want to chat with me about natural contraception but you feel awkward- you can chat to me anonymously on jaimeerachinger.tumblr.com
Love and light to you, beautiful soul xx