Thursday, October 7, 2010

The G Spot
Your Questions, Real Answers

Dear G Spot,
What's your opinion on the Fertility Awareness Method?
All Natural in Newark

Dear All Natural in Newark,

What's my opinion on the Fertility Awareness there is a loaded question. I have a fairly strong opinion on it and I'm not sure that it's one you're going to like but since you ask, I think that it's a big fat waste of your time and you could be having a whole lot more fun making whoopie anytime you wanted to with a more effective form of birth control. You asked.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Fertility Awareness Method, let me give you a brief rundown. The essential ingredient is being very aware of your body and subtle changes that occur cyclically. You track your basal body temperature, your vaginal secretions, the position of your cervix and your periods. Your basal body temperature is your temperature first thing every morning, same time every morning, before you get out of bed. A change in temperature of just a few tenths of a degree can indicate ovulation or the beginning of your more fertile time.

Your vaginal secretions also change cyclically as well and typically women have a dry spell after their period that is then followed by an increase in thin, watery secretions that coincide with ovulation and increased fertility. Your cervix also changes positions cyclically and doing regular manual exams (yes, with your own finger) can help you track the rise and fall and feel of your cervix. During ovulation, the cervix is at it's highest position and is more soft than it is during other times.

The easiest part of this method is tracking your periods from day one, which is the first day of any kind of bleeding, to day one of the next period. The total number of days from day one to day one is the number of days in your menstrual cycle. The idea is that you take all of this information, put it together and identify your most fertile times and avoid sex during that time in order to avoid pregnancy.

Okay, now let's talk about why all of that is a really bad idea if you're seriously interested in preventing pregnancy.

First of all, in order for this method of birth control to be effective, you have to have done your homework. You need to spend eight to ten months tracking your basal body temperature, your vaginal secretions, the movement of your cervix, and your periods. It's important to do this over a long enough period of time to establish averages. If you take info from just one or two months, you don't have a clear picture of your own cyclical changes and you could be putting all of your money in the wrong bank. Who wants to wait eight to ten months to practice safe sex!?!?!? If you are a virginal bride to be, you should be getting to know your in-laws, spending quality time with a good premarital counselor who can help you prepare for a healthy marriage, and you should be sampling cake at every local bakery even though you know your Aunt Ida will be making yours. You should not be spending your time graphing your vaginal mucous and reaching your fingers into your poor vagina to see if you can track the travels of your cervix!

For the record, most women cannot reach their own cervix. It's a tricky little devil to find and bent all the way over, twisted into some sort of pretzel shape, with your arm fully extended is not the best way to feel it.

Second of all, who wakes up at the exact same time every day, including weekends? Who slumbers peacefully every night and wakes up with their hair tossed on the pillow and their bladder calmly waiting for them to take and record their basal body temperature? For that matter, who has a thermometer and a pen on their bedside table that did not get knocked off or carried away by a small child? If you get out of bed first, the temperature that you record is null and void - it may be elevated by all of the exertion you put forth going to the bathroom and finding your pen.

Thirdly, let's talk vaginal secretions. While it is good for all of us to be aware of our body and the secretions that come from it - good and bad - I'd like us to take a look at how much time is appropriate to be devoting to the study of vaginal secretions. Do you exercise every day? Do you floss every day? Do you spend time in God's word every day? If you answered no to any of those questions, I think that you should think long and hard about committing to daily study of your vaginal secretions. Personally, I would rather get on the elliptical machine every morning than rub my own vaginal secretions between my fingers every day in order to determine if they are stickier than the day before - and I work in healthcare!

Fourthly, tracking the travels of your cervix is absolutely insane! If you eat steel cut oatmeal every morning, milk your own goat, and have harnessed the illusive power that it takes to feel your own cervix, good for you. Personally, I don't see the need to know when my cervix is coming down into the vagina for a quick peek at the sun and when it is moving back up into the highlands for a spiritual retreat. I do not want to know if it is hard like an apple or soft like a peach, I just want to eat my fruit.

Tracking periods, now that's something that I can get behind - finally! It's good to know your own menstrual cycle. It helps you know when things are normal for you and not normal for you. When planning a sunny vacation, it helps to know when you can expect your Aunt Flo and plan around her. And, it's easy. All you have to do is make a marking of some kind on your calendar the first day you have any vaginal bleeding. Next month, you do the same thing and then count the number of days from day one to day one and bam - you know how long your cycle is.

I'm not a hater of all things natural and I do believe that most natural things in life are better for us. But, I also believe that more sex is good for us too and a birth control method like the fertility awareness method asks you not to have sex approximately one third of the month - you can spend the next eight to ten months plotting your graphs and charting your rising and falling or you can just take my word for it. I also believe that orgasm is hard to achieve for a lot of women and putting so much thought into your birth control keeps your head in a linear, concrete, logical place that is kind of hard to get out of and isn't conducive to the head space you need to be in to achieve a really great orgasm. I also believe that you should be able to initiate or respond to your husband's invitation to sex any time the mood strikes. I also believe that there are lots and lots of other safe and effective options out there that are more reliable and require less of your time.

There may be those of you out there who have been taught that any form of birth control is morally and Biblically wrong and something like the fertility awareness method is the only thing between you and a full-sized club wagon. I would challenge you to read the scriptures for yourself. Find a passage that condemns birth control, I don't think that you will but lots of good research time in the Word is always good. When you come to Revelation and still haven't found what you're looking for, let me know - I would love to introduce you to a loving Father who calls you to live in ponder that.


Jen said...

Back in the day when I was having babies and seeing my OB/GYN more than I cared to, I asked her what she thought of the "rhythm method" - which sounds strikingly like the fertility awareness plan described here - her response: "You know what we call people using the rhythm method? Pregnant."

Anonymous said...

I have to respectfully disagree, I don't think it is better to use chemicals and I don't think it is hard to take temps. Mixing a little temping and a little graphing and a little awareness and a barrier method when you are fertile can work just fine. My two cents. - Cary

Jorel said...

Your commentary on the vagaries of daily life are funny, fascinating and certainly not anything I remember being discussed in class or on the bus .. at least not within ear shot!