When it comes to birth control , the majority of American women are on the pill. And the second most popular method is actually sterilization. But even with technology introducing a new slew of IUDs and variations of pills, a more old-school form of birth control is on the rise: fertility awareness methods** (FAM)**.
This natural family planing is typically associated with the Catholic church, but more women are turning to it simply to avoid the hormones and bodily changes associated with birth control. And FAM experts say don't confuse it with the rhythm method; the FAM method is more detailed and more careful.
"It's a process of becoming aware of the signals your body is giving you and keeping track of them," explains Ilene Richman, director of the Fertility Awareness Center. This means carefully analyzing and tracking your basal body temperature (your morning temperature before you get out of bed, which rises right after ovulation), your cervix position, and the consistency of any vaginal fluid.
Overwhelmed at keeping track of all this, and getting it all right? That's the problem with FAM; experts warn it's one of the least successful methods of birth control because few women are able to do it correctly. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that one in four women who use FAM to prevent pregnancy will end up pregnant. But what about when they do do it correctly? A German study tracked 900 women over 20 years who consistently (and accurately) used FAM methods. Only two percent of these women had an unintended pregnancy.
But why turn to something that's not easy to get right? CNN reports that side effects like multiple monthly periods, acne and fluctuating emotions are what prompted 29-year-old Kacey to ditch the pill and IUDs for FAM. And just the thought of those side effects was enough to keep 25-year-old Aisha away from birth control products. "I was literally scared of hormonal birth control. I didn't like the potential side effects," she told CNN. "I'm a healthy person. I try to eat healthy food, so the idea of being pumped with synthetic hormones didn't appeal to me, in fact, it was scary."
New technologies are helping to take some of the guesswork and complications out of natural family planning; apps like Kindara help you track your data — like basal body temperature and cervical mucus — and analyze it to better understand your body. Plus, there's a whole community portion, so you'll receive support and feedback along the way. (via CNN)