In a society obsessed with chemical-free everything, interest is growing in fertility awareness methods , which respect a woman’s physical “ecosystem” rather than disabling her fertility with chemical toxins . On September 30th, Fertility Care practitioner Melissa Buchan  hosted a webinar titled, “How to Manage your Menstrual Cycle without the Pill.” Buchan was a co-host of the first ever Cycle Power Summit  held in May of this year. During the webinar, she shared 3 Secrets to Tapping into Body Literacy for Self-Awareness and Health Advocacy.
Understanding your unique cycle is the foundation to confidently using natural birth control
Buchan spoke about how knowledge is power when it comes to fertility awareness. Each woman’s body speaks a “language” through the signs and symptoms of her fertility. Charting observable signs like cervical mucus and/or basal body temperature allows a woman to learn that language over time by identifying her unique body’s predictable patterns. Buchan stressed that confidence in using fertility awareness methods comes most importantly from learning an evidence-based  method of natural family planning from a certified teacher. “Drive-by” self-teaching of natural family planning from a mishmash of online articles is insufficient and could potentially put a woman at risk of an unintended pregnancy. Furthermore, ongoing contact with a certified teacher is necessary, both for accountability and to answer questions that the woman may have as she navigates various situations like illness, the postpartum period, etc.
Charting your cycle is the first step to identifying reasons behind unexplained infertility
Buchan emphasized that infertility is a symptom of an underlying issue, not the primary problem, as a prominent infertility expert concurs . Infertility is a sign that something is wrong in the woman’s body that needs to be explored, and hopefully managed successfully or even cured.
In September , Live Action News shared several stories of women who conceived after infertility  related to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) through Natural Procreative (NaPro) Technology. NaProTechnology  is a reproductive health science that utilizes charting from the standardized CREIGHTON Model FertilityCare System . This charting serves as a starting point for exploring the root causes of abnormal bleeding, irregular periods, unexplained infertility, and more by helping guide fertility care clinicians in their choice of diagnostic tools. Multiple days of brown bleeding at the end of a woman’s period, for example, would generally indicate that a clinician should run a blood test to check for low progesterone levels. Low progesterone is one of a number of causes of infertility, as well as recurrent miscarriage.
Living a charting lifestyle is a powerful tool for self-advocacy
Buchan referenced a 2015 bulletin from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called “Menstruation in Girls and Adolescents: Using the Menstrual Cycle as a Vital Sign .” So often, a teenage girl with abnormally heavy periods is simply counseled to go on the Pill,  which can have a whole host of dangerous and even life-threatening side effects . However, the graphic below shows a list of conditions that abnormal bleeding patterns in a teenage girl can indicate, which could be masked by the “band-aid” approach of going on the Pill to stop the bleeding.
Imagine the possibilities if a girl starts charting her cycle in her teens, learning her body’s unique patterns long before she needs to use them to navigate family planning. By the time she gets married and is ready to have babies, she is confident of how her body works (does she experience double-peaks? does she have little to no mucus on one hand, or continuous mucus on the other?) and if needed, has proactively sought medical help if she saw deviation from her norm, or if her charting instructor noticed abnormalities in her charting. She has already addressed any personal risk factors she has for miscarriage or preterm labor. This woman truly embodies every feminist catchphrase — she is empowered by knowledge, and free to make choices about her body that will benefit her and her whole family.