Hey guys! Welcome back to my channel. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Caty, and on this channel we talk about everything to do with fitness, food, lifestyle, and health. And in my opinion, one of the most crucial and important things to be talking about in the health atmosphere is birth control. Today, we are gonna be talking about the birth control method that I have been using for the past… eight years now? I had no idea it had been that long! We are gonna be talking about the fertility awareness method of birth control. The specific fertility awareness method that I have been using for nearly a decade now is called the sympto-thermal method of birth control. It is extremely effective, and it is completely natural. So if you are at all curious about going down the natural birth control rabbit hole, then keep watching. Okay, so a couple disclaimers before we really get started: first of all, I am willing to bet that YouTube is not gonna be a big fan about me talking about sex and birth control and everything in between. So because of that, I feel like there’s gonna be a rather high chance that this video is gonna be demonetised. So if you find this video at all helpful or informative or anything like that, I would appreciate it so much if you could maybe consider buying me a coffee. There’s a link provided in the description bar below where you can do that, as well as the pinned comment in the comment section. Zero pressure either way, I just thought I’d throw that out there because I know that YouTube is not gonna like this. Disclaimer number two: I am not a doctor, I’m not a health professional. To be totally honest, I am just somebody who is fascinated by sex, by sexual health, as well as somebody who just loves researching a lot of stuff. I’m kind of a nerd, so that is something to keep in mind as you are watching this video. Number three: this is just gonna be a very brief overview of this method of birth control. There is a ton of information to get through, there’s a lot of ground to cover, so just keep that in mind: this is just an overview of everything. Now a couple of quick disclaimers about this specific method of birth control. Number one: this video is intended for two groups of people: one of those groups of people are people who are interested in learning about effective natural forms of birth control. The other group of people are people who might just want to learn a little bit more about their bodies. Number two: this method of birth control will not work for people who cannot commit to learning about and diligently implementing the rules that this method requires. If you are somebody who cannot commit to doing something consistently or who maybe like skirts the rules a little bit every so often, this method is not gonna work for you. It is so important that you guys realize that you cannot use this single video as an overall guide for how to do this method. Like I said, this is just a brief overview, and it is so important that you do not take this video and run with it. You have to do a lot of research. I’m gonna provide a ton of resources in the description bar below if you’re curious and want to do more research. I’ll commonly see people comment on videos like this saying something like “everybody reading this comment right now: don’t listen to this video, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, I got pregnant doing this, don’t do it, etc. etc.” And more likely than not, to the people who experience those things, even though they thought they did, it’s much more likely that they just didn’t follow the rules correctly. So it is extremely important that you read about it, you research it, and you follow the rules to a tee, otherwise this method isn’t gonna work for you. The fertility awareness method does not protect you against STDs and STIs, so if you have multiple partners, this method probably isn’t gonna work for you. And finally, I do not support and I cannot condone anybody using this method of birth control if you have not read “Taking Charge of your Fertility.” It’s a book by Toni Weschler, and it is kind of the Bible when it comes to fertility awareness methods of birth control. I’m gonna leave a link to that book in the description bar below, as well as all resources that I’m gonna be discussing in this video, so like I said, if you want to research more, if you want to dive into the world of fertility awareness, please check out the description bar for more information. I was on hormonal birth control for pretty much all of high school and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like how I felt on it, and I wanted to find a non hormonal alternative. I was originally going to get the copper IUD, however my doctor at the time basically said I wouldn’t be a good candidate for it. I ended up having a slight mental breakdown because I felt like I was trapped. I wanted something that was non hormonal, but I also didn’t want to have to rely on condoms for the rest of my life until I wanted to have a baby. So I started to do more research, and I eventually came across the book Taking Charge of your Fertility. I ordered the book and I read it pretty much overnight. It’s this thick, it was a lot of reading, but it completely changed my life because until reading that book, I thought I knew what was going on in my body. And I highly highly recommend anybody who has a uterus, who has ovaries, to read the book Taking Charge of your Fertility. Again, I’ve linked it in the description bar below. You can get a pretty cheap on Amazon, that’s where I got mine. I actually have a paper version, a physical book, and I also have the Kindle version so I always have it with me. It’s completely enlightening if you are wanting to have a baby, if you’re trying to conceive, if you’re trying to prevent pregnancy naturally, or if you just want to know what the heck is going on inside your body every single month. So what is the fertility awareness method of birth control? The fertility awareness method of birth control is actually an umbrella term that refers to a lot of different birth control methods that are designed to basically allow you to answer the question: “Am I fertile today? Can I get pregnant today?” Just for the sake of this video, if you hear me referring to the fertility awareness method, I’m using that term to refer to the sympto-thermal method of birth control. There’s a lot of different methods that fall into this umbrella term, and some of them are not effective at all. Based on the information provided in Taking Charge of your Fertility, the sympto-thermal method specifically is 98% effective, and there’s even a German meta study that put it at 99.6% effective, which means it’s basically right up there with hormonal methods of birth control in terms of effectiveness. Typical failure rates are a lot harder to pinpoint for kind of a couple reasons. A lot of couples might “cheat” the rules a little bit. Some of them might cut corners a little bit, and unfortunately, a lot of couples find themselves dealing with the consequence of an unintended pregnancy because they weren’t following the rules as they should have been. The other issue that is really common that you might run into when it comes to reporting failure rates is that studies will often times lump all fertility awareness methods together in the same bucket, which isn’t an accurate way of describing how effective the sympto-thermal method specifically is, because in that instance you have people comparing the rhythm method and calendar method and cycle beads all together to the sympto-thermal method and the billings method, both of which are very highly effective methods of birth control. They are all technically fertility awareness methods, but some of them are way less effective than others. There’s actually an entire chapter dedicated to the effectiveness of fertility awareness methods in Taking Charge of your Fertility: it’s in appendix D, and the title is “The Contraceptive Effectiveness of Natural Birth Control” if you want to do a little bit more reading and research for yourself. So let’s get into the basics of what we learned in health class. I don’t know about any of you guys, but I was taught that it is possible to get pregnant every single day you have unprotected sex. I was terrified in high school because obviously I wasn’t in a position to have a baby, and that’s what eventually led me to hormonal birth control at the time, because I thought I could get pregnant every single time I had sex. But it turns out, that’s not actually true. There are only about six days in a typical cycle when a person can get pregnant. This is because an egg is released from the ovary and the egg will survive between 12 and 24 hours. Only in that 12 to 24 hour period can that egg be fertilized. So where do the other five days come in? Well, it turns out when a woman is in her fertile phase, sperm within semen can survive for up to five days inside a woman’s body. So you add that all up together and there’s approximately a six day window when somebody can get pregnant. That was one of the first things I learned reading this book, and that by itself blew my mind because I felt lied to my entire life. And that little nugget of knowledge made me so much more confident and comfortable with what was going on with my body. So getting back to the subject of the fertility awareness method: how can you tell when you’re fertile and when you’re not fertile? As it turns out, there are actually several cues that a woman can pick up on, and patterns that change throughout the month that can help somebody determine whether or not they can get pregnant. The two primary cues that can be observed and recorded are the consistency and amount of cervical fluid, as well as the differences in her basal body temperature. There are also a couple other cues that can be picked up on, however, those are the two main ones that we’re gonna be talking about in this video. So let’s first talk about the cervical fluid changes. I’m sure that a lot of us have experienced this, but sometimes when you’re out and about, you might feel a little bit more slippery down there, or sometimes, TMI, you can feel some things gushing out of you a little bit, and you’re like “What the heck is happening to me?!” and then other times nothing happens at all. Throughout a woman’s cycle, there are changes that can be observed in the consistency of cervical fluid. Usually these changes start with dry cervical fluid, aka it just feels like there’s nothing there, and then as days go on, as you head toward ovulation, it’ll get a little bit sticky or gummy, then it’ll get a little bit more lotion-y or creamier, and then right around the time you ovulate, you have a lot of it, and it’s more of an egg white consistency than anything else. Then you might dry up again and you might not notice your cervical fluid at all until you get your period again. This is actually a pattern that can be observed and written down and used to help you determine whether or not you’re fertile or not. Contrary to what you may have been taught in health class, sperm cannot actually survive within a uterus or vaginal canal unless there is fertile cervical fluid present. Semen provides a little bit of it, but the sperm need a medium that they can swim through in order to reach the egg, and as it turns out, that egg white cervical fluid is the best medium out there in order for the sperm to reach the egg. Another observation that somebody might notice about their body in order to help determine whether or not they’re fertile is their basal body temperature. The basal body temperature is actually the lowest body temperature that a body experiences within a 24-hour period. Usually, the basal body temperature is experienced in the middle of the night when we’re sleeping, and most people have to sleep between three and five hours on a nightly basis in order to experience consistent basal body temperatures. However, the cool thing is right when you wake up first thing in the morning, before you roll out of bed, before you get your coffee, before you even speak to anybody, if you take your temperature right then with a basal body thermometer, you can record that temperature. And the typical pattern that the basal body temperature presents itself in is it starts out very low in the follicular phase of a woman’s cycle. (By the way, there’s gonna be definitions and diagrams that you can research in the description bar below.) During the follicular phase, the basal body temperature is low, and it stays low until ovulation occurs. Once ovulation occurs, because of the huge spike in progesterone in a woman’s body, the basal body temperature actually spikes as well, and it remains high until the woman gets her period. So how can you interpret this information to use as birth control? A woman begins her fertile phase when there is the first presence of fertile cervical fluid in her body, and the fertile phase actually lasts until a few days after the temperature spike. The temperature spike indicates that ovulation has occurred, and the fertile cervical fluid indicates that ovulation is coming. Once you know this information, and once you know and understand and internalize the rules that I’m about to lay out for you, you can use this information to have unprotected sex when you’re infertile, and a backup method when you’re fertile. Does that make sense? Okay, let’s move on. So how do you actually keep track of these fertile signs within your body? People who follow the fertility awareness method actually do this thing called “charting,” and charting is literally taking a chart, and on that chart, they record their basal body temperature every single day, as well as the changes that they experience in their cervical fluid throughout their cycle every single day. Okay, so now we are going to get into the rules that you have to follow if you want to use the fertility awareness method of birth control. Again, please do not take these rules and run with them. Use this information and research it further. The first rule of fertility awareness is called the “First Five Days Rule” and that rule basically says that you are generally considered safe to have unprotected sex the first five days of your menstrual cycle if you notice a temperature shift 12 to 16 days prior. So what this basically says is if you notice a temperature spike in the previous cycle, that’s an indication ovulation occurred in that previous cycle, and therefore you can have unprotected sex the first five days of your menstrual cycle, only if that happened. There is a caveat to this rule however: if you have ever had a cycle that is less than 25 days long total, it turns into the three-day rule. In that instance, you are only safe to have unprotected sex the first three days of your cycle. Again, only if you observed a temperature shift 12-16 days prior. The second rule of the fertility awareness method of birth control is called the “Dry Day Rule” and this rule says that you are generally considered safe to have unprotected sex the evening of every dry day. “Dry” is referring to the lack of cervical fluid that you experience that day. Something that needs to be considered in relation to this rule, however, is that the following day needs to be considered potentially fertile if there is residual semen in your vaginal canal, because residual semen can sometimes block or mask fertile cervical fluid, so just something to keep in mind. So those first two rules both have to do with the beginning phase of your cycle. This is before ovulation occurs in your follicular phase. These next two rules have to do with after ovulation, or your luteal phase. The third rule is called the “Temperature Shift Rule” or “Temp + 3” to make it easy to understand. This rule states that you are generally considered safe to have unprotected sex the evening of the third consecutive day that you have a high temperature, as long as the temperatures remain high. If the temperatures have dropped back down again, you need to start the count over again, so that is something else to keep in mind. And the last rule is called the “Peak Day Rule” or “Peak + 4”. The peak day is the last day that you observe fertile cervical fluid. Not the day that you observe the most cervical fluid, but the last day that you observe cervical fluid. That day is considered your peak day, and this rule states that you are generally considered safe to have unprotected sex the evening of the fourth day after your peak day. And just to be extra conservative and safe, there’s actually an optional fifth rule that you can follow that I personally follow, that’s called the “Double-Check Rule.” The double-check rule essentially says you need to wait until both your temp + 3 day and your peak + 4 day are both indicating that you’re infertile again. Not one or the other, but both of them together. How do you implement these rules? So I’m gonna walk you through what I personally do. Every morning, I have an alarm set on my phone for 6:30 in the morning. Even on the weekends, even on events that I might be going through, I have an alarm to wake me up at 6:30 in the morning. When 6:30 rolls around and I’m woken up, I immediately take my temperature. I wait for my thermometer to tell me my temperature, and I go back to sleep. My thermometer actually remembers this temperature so I don’t need to record it right away, I can record it when I’m ready to get up for real for the day. There’s actually two apps that I use, which is really helpful just for added recording, and those two apps are “Kindara” as well as “Natural Cycles.” Natural Cycles is being talked about a lot on the internet right now, but they’re not paying me, nobody’s sponsored this video. I actually prefer the interface of Natural Cycles more, but on Kindara you can record more information. Natural Cycles is nice because when I take my temperature, it can immediately tell me if I’m fertile or not. However, Natural Cycles does not have a place where it can also take into account your cervical fluid, and because also knowing your cervical fluid is incredibly necessary and needed if you want to abide by the sympto-thermal rules, I take their predictions a little bit more conservatively. If it tells me on Natural Cycles that I am okay to have sex that day unprotected, I’m gonna check that information against the information that I also have on Kindara, just to double-check. The Kindara interface is a little bit more clunky, but like I said, you can record a lot more information on it. So I’m gonna leave a link to both of these apps in the description bar below if you’re interested in both of them. Highly recommend checking them out. I love them and it’s really nice when you don’t have to write on a paper chart. Once I’ve recorded my basal body temperature, I make a note of my cervical fluid all throughout the day. This might get TMI, but just so you know, every time I go to the bathroom, I look at my underwear. Is there any cervical fluid on my underwear? How are things feeling down there today? Is it slippery? Does it feel dry? I’m not gonna go in-depth in this specific video about the consistencies of cervical fluid and ways that you can look at it and observe it, but if that’s something you’re interested in, definitely let me know and I can turn that into a video. I also talk with my partner about what is going on. We always have a conversation before we have sex. Do we need a condom today? How are your charts looking today? What kind of information is going on with your body and how can we interpret that information as a couple to figure out whether or not we should have unprotected sex today? I’ve actually loved this method of birth control because this method encourages my partner to also be equally as included in what is going on in my body. He likes to look at my charts, I like to show him the information, he reminds me to take my temperature, all of these things make my partner feel a lot more involved, which is really incredible because so many birth control methods out there are super one-sided. So, that is about all the information I have as a brief overview of the fertility awareness method of birth control. A couple notes to end on: like I said do not rely on this method of birth control until you have at least read Taking Charge of your Fertility. If you have any specific comments or questions on this method of birth control, be sure to leave those in the comments down below and who knows, I might make dedicated videos specifically talking about those things because there are so many things to talk about. In the comments down below, tell me what your preferred method of birth control is. What are you using for birth control? How do you like it? Would you recommend it to anybody who might be reading the comments? Let me know in the comments down below, and I hope you guys enjoyed this video, if you did make sure you give it a big thumbs up and subscribe if you haven’t already, and I will see you next time. Bye!