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Ever since the NuvaRing completely jacked my hormones, I have looked for other means of birth control. My husband and I considered *all the options* including elective surgery for either one of us and ultimately decided on using the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). And while the FAM is a great way to both avoid and achieve pregnancy, it came with an added bonus: It allowed me to track my hormones without having to pay for expensive and lengthy lab tests!
How you might ask? Well if you are not familiar with the Fertility Awareness Method, I'll just sum it up. Basically you track three data points relating to a woman's fertility: basal temperature, cervical fluid and cervical position. Each of those data points are indicative of relative levels of various fertility hormones: Estrogen, Progesterone, Lutienizing Hormone (LH) and Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH). So by tracking the temperature and cervical fluid+position, you can get a pretty good picture of what is happening with your hormones each month.
While there are great lab tests out there that measure Estrogen and Progesterone throughout the month, typically through saliva samples, they are costly (~$250 each) and you have to collect saliva samples every other day for the full length of your cycle. I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of expendable cash to do this every month, nor do I really enjoy collecting saliva that often!
Of course I have apps that track all this, right? You bet! About two years ago, I stumbled on an app called Kindara that allows me to track everything associated with the FAM. This is really what made FAM work for us - both of us can run the app and see high and low fertility times. Kindara really made it easy, and after a few months of charting in this way, I started to understand my body - and my hormones - on a much more intimate level. Kindara plus the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility really brought the hormones into light. Plus, I can send my charts to my practitioner so she can review whats happening with my hormones too!
So what is the next best thing? A companion thermometer of course! Kindara has just announced Wink. Wink is a discrete compatible thermometer that syncs automatically to the Kindara app making it all that much easier to track your hormones. Plus, it doesn't look like a thermometer - so no one has to know I'm tracking, or think Im sick when they see it. Wink is now available for pre-order and each time you refer someone else, you get $10 off your order price!
Charting gives you insight to all sorts of fertility-related issues: PMS, PCOS, peri-menopause, menopause, difficult periods, and more. It does take a few months to get the hang of charting, and you may need to re-read a couple of chapters in the Taking Charge of Your Fertility book, but once you get the hang of it, its a very cost effective method of knowing your hormone status!
Any of you chart your cycles this way? Have you noticed a difference? Leave a comment below - would love to hear from you!