Taking charge of your fertility

If you told me I would be reading and enjoying a book that is always referring to cervical fluid, I would have laughed in your face. But that’s what I did. I finally picked up a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility after noticing people mention it here and there in the health-o-sphere. It seems many people discovered it while on a path to hormone-free birth control. The book itself covers two opposite requirements for women, birth control and help to get pregnant.

After reading the book my strongest emotions were towards how little I as a woman really knew about my reproductive organs and how they worked. While I knew that a female fetus already has all of the eggs she will have in her lifetime I didn’t know that once released at ovulation the egg only survives around 24 hours before disintegrating. And that even if you have released an egg, in absence of cervical fluid sperm cannot fertilise it. I was fascinated.

As a woman, I have definitely felt the frustration of the birth control conundrum. I wanted the ability to choose whether I get pregnant or not. The problem for me is the options on the market are far from desirable. I tried the pill when I was younger but in retrospect, I felt it was too closely linked to my periods of depression. Then there was the foolproof (joking here) withdrawal method, condoms. Recently I tried the copper IUD for a year after hearing good things. It did not sit well with me, and terrible cramps riddled me throughout the month. It affected my mood and I felt the chronic inflammation caused by the device left me feeling weak and nervous. While experiencing these symptoms I did a lot of googling and found many women with the exact same experience. The most saddening comment of all stated that she put up with the constant pain because it was the only hormone-free option.

iud

Copper IUD before insertion. Yes, I took this picture during the procedure!

The author Toni Weschler also covers reproductive health topics like endometriosis, cysts and PCOS in an easy to read manner. As a woman, in my lifetime I will either be affected by one of the conditions or know someone who is. The book details how the female body shows signs of being fertile or ovulating through 3 key signs. Temperature, cervical position/feel and cervical fluid. When I read the details it made complete sense to me, and at first, I wasn't necessarily reading the information as a way to practice contraception but I’m convinced it’s not as complicated as I thought. What is frustrating is knowing men are fertile 24 hours a day, every day; but women, on the other hand, can only get pregnant a few days out of an approximately monthly cycle. The key rebuttal is that if there was a contraceptive option for men that wasn't a barrier method, would women trust men to take it? But honestly, I can’t imagine myself in a monogamous relationship where I couldn't trust my partner in such a fundamental way.

The next step is charting my cycle and then deciding what to do with the information. To trust it for contraceptive purposes or not. But either way, I’m excited to find out because it really feels like I suddenly have all of the information regarding my period and ovulation. I guess this story is to be continued.