Today we hear from the lovely Naomi Gale who is talking fertility.
Hi Naomi! Can you tell us a bit about what a Fertility Awareness practitioner does?
Ah- thank you so much for having me on your blog Keira. As you know I am a huge Mama Designs fan. We have your sleeping bags, your quilt, your period pads and I loved using your breastfeeding pads so it is an honour to be on your blog.
A fertility awareness practitioner teaches menstruators how to track their cycle in order to avoid or achieve pregnancy.
Over the years, contraception has been focussed on the Pill… mainly… as that’s what we reach for in the UK on the whole. Of course, we use a range of hormonal contraception here but each country has a preference. As a result, we have in general lost touch with our beautiful, intuitive bodies because all contraceptives which involve some kind of interaction with the doctor allows you to carry on with your day to day without really giving our natural signs a second thought. Let’s face it, in a busy world when we are presented with the option of a coil or the pill vs taking time each day to monitor signs and learn to read our body (body literacy) the majority are going to choose the former.
I always joke that I sound like: “hey hun, hug a tree and you won’t get pregnant.” I do think there is stigma attached to fertility awareness on the whole. However, the method I teach has been studied and the stats prove success. No method is 100 percent unless you never look a sperm in the eye again but this method has a success rate that is high at 99.96% -when implemented and taught correctly.
Everyone has a choice. Isn’t that great to have these choices. We are extremely lucky, but there is also a risk with all the choices. The same with FAM- a risk of getting pregnant like all the others. People always comment on my FAM posts with “Babes- just get the hormone free coil fitted,” like whoever invented this answered all our prayers but again there are many risks associated with this one too. It’s all about research and working out what fits into your life best. In fact, there is now research to prove that ovulating each month is essential for our health.
There are also now the apps but no app is good enough to tune into your cycle perfectly enough- maybe one day. But not yet.
How did you get into this?
After going through IVF because my husband has Azoospermia, I realised that in actual fact there is a pattern that generally emerges through the fertility world. Let’s call this person Lottie. Lottie decides she wants a babe, they try but there are no positive test results. Months turn into a year and panic settles in- not useful when trying to relax into making a baby. They go to the doctor, they get tests, they are diagnosed with unknown fertility issues. They dive into fertility treatment- pump themselves full of drugs and either there is success or there isn’t. Lottie was perhaps on the pill for 15 years and thought nothing of it. When trying for a baby she didn’t have a clue when to have sex- in fact she didn’t even know what to call day 1 of her cycle. Wild right?! There’s many, many Lottie’s. The path may not be exactly the same but there are many of these stories around and it’s really upsetting. In fact, studies show that when someone hasn’t a clue around when they ovulate they do take a lot longer to conceive and the advice from drs isn’t always great around when to have sex which can include having a game of hide the purple parsnip every two days and hope for the best. Sounds like a game of darts in the dark right? Also sounds exhausting. Who said romance is dead.
I am also a primary teacher and having seen the education system and how it approaches sex ed there is a long way to go in homes and schools across the UK. Heaven forbid we mention cervical discharge *she says quietly behind her hand* or mention that we are *shhhh…bleeding*. I mean I went through school in the 90s and it’s polystyrene penises in the geography lesson with no lessons around body literacy.
Team lack of understanding and education around our fertile health, with declining sperm numbers, high pill and coil uptake and drs not really sure what fertility awareness is truly about then this is why I have decided to teach FAM to as many as I possibly can over my lifetime.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience?
So far my experience with FAM has allowed me to see how needed this work is. There is a lack of FAM educators in the UK and many of them have been doing it for years. We need a younger generation to come in and learn FAM as well as teach it to support the work that has been done by others.
I have shared pictures of mucus on Instagram which was met with some varied views to say the least and I will bring up all things cycle chat to anyone who will listen. I have decided it’s now on my list when chatting to potential new friends…do you chat about your period? OK great- let’s be besties.
What kinds of people do you help?
I have helped a range of people so far and that’s always going to be the case because everyone’s experience with their cycle is unique. I have helped someone who has finished their family and are looking to move away from constant condom use and was scared of FAM because they accidentally got pregnant with an app. Another person who has struggled with their relationship with mucus and wanted to finally learn about their body now they have finished having children and are struggling with headaches on any type of hormone contraception. Then there was someone who is diagnosed with PCOS and looking to try for a baby in the future- she is basically looking to avoid clomid which of course can result in multiples and just isn’t generally ideal if it can be avoided.
If someone wants more info?
Oh if someone wants to learn all things FAM I would love, love to hear from them. On my website there are more details and I even have a course around cycle tracking which is an extremely powerful tool that we should all implement…in my opinion.
Anything else to add?