Pregnancy After Infertility

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Pregnancy After Infertility

As I sit staring at my screen, I'm not even sure where to begin. After two and half years of trying to conceive, I'm pregnant with my second child. Pregnancy after infertility has been an emotional roller coaster and I want to share my story for others who are in the same boat, or who will be in the future.

Unexplained infertility was a life-altering event that I never thought I would have to go through. I always imagined that if we ever conceived again I would be thrilled. In reality, when I saw the positive pregnancy test, I was overwhelmed with doubt and anxiety. I thought of all the reasons this couldn't be true or how it would probably end in a miscarriage. I was so used to having my hopes dashed every cycle it seemed dangerous to trust that everything would be ok.

With my first pregnancy, I immediately felt a bond with the new life growing inside of me, without a doubt, I knew I was going to be a mother. This time around I couldn't connect with the new little one in the same way. I had to keep any positive emotions for this baby at arm's length. I didn't want to tell anyone and it felt like a burden to carry this news (and nausea) by myself. As I got over my initial surprise my feelings transitioned from fear to grief over the ways my new pregnancy would dramatically change my relationships. Some of my closest friends over the last 2 years I had bonded with over our shared experience of infertility. And how would this change my relationships with my son? my husband? my body?

Even though I knew my pregnancy was progressing, I still felt the same old feelings of anger and loss at seeing other pregnant women and mom's pushing strollers around green lake. Then I realized I was going to become one of those people. I felt like a traitor somehow. When I finally told a few friends, I had to hold back tears when they congratulated me, I could barely put on a smile. Congratulations for what, I wondered? For betraying my friends who still can't conceive? For putting myself in a situation where I might have to go through more loss? For "achieving" something after two years of crying in the shower with every period? For forever altering our family with such a big change? And of course, I wondered "Why?" Why me? Why now? Why not others? Why not 2 and a half years ago? Why not after acupuncture and herbs? after cycle charting? after IUI #1 or #2 or #3?

Another unexpected impact was on my relationship with my "imaginary baby." I think other women who have experienced infertility can relate to this. After about 6 months of trying to conceive I started to imagine the baby I wanted and wasn't getting. I would daydream about being pregnant and having a beautiful infant in my arms and my son having a little sibling. I imagined the color of her hair and her smile. Perhaps most importantly I imagined the timing of this baby's entrance into the world. I knew what their birthday month and year would have been if we had conceived with the timing we planned. I wrote letters to this baby in my journal of how much I loved them and how I would go to any length to make a welcoming home for them. But the truth is, the little person currently kicking me while I write this post, is not the baby of my dreams. This is not the pregnancy I had envisioned or planned for and this new baby will not be the same as the one I created in my mind. I needed to say goodbye and grieve the permanent loss of my imaginary child so that I wouldn't hold this new flesh and blood person to the standards of perfection I had set in my daydreams.

Now that I'm almost halfway done with this pregnancy I'm not wrestling with the really tough emotions as much as I was at first. They're more balanced with some excitement and anticipation. Feeling little kicks and rolls brings a smile to the corner of my lips. I'm still open to the possibility of unexpected birth outcomes and I still haven't pulled the baby stuff out of the basement. I'm just starting to make eye contact with new moms and babies again. I'm feeling the emotional weight of my infertility gradually lightening, but I know it will always be there in some way, even as a scar in my memory.

Moving forward I know there will always be a part of me that will wonder why I had to go through the suffering of infertility. But I can say with certainty that it has shaped me into the person I am now. Someone who doesn't jump to conclusions so quickly about the lives and desires of others. A better person, with more empathy for the unspoken journeys we all take.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. If you experience pregnancy after infertility I want to share that it is ok to not feel positive and excited through it all. If you are looking for more resources RESOLVE has a wonderful page. Of course, if your feelings of depression or anxiety are interfering with your health or your ability to go about your daily life, don't put off seeking help. It may be beneficial to talk to a therapist who specializes in perinatal or maternal mental health. You don't have to go through this alone.

Sending love and positivity your way,


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Tis the Season for questions about your fertility

Tis the Season for questions about your fertility

While the holidays can be a wonderful time to gather with friends and family in celebration, let’s be honest, they can also be anxiety producing. This is especially true for people and couples who are struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss.  I speak from my own experience, as my husband and I are currently grappling with secondary infertility. If you’re looking towards the upcoming dinners and parties with a slight sense of dread, you're not alone.

How I'm feeling about dealing with fertility questions during the holidays.

How I'm feeling about dealing with fertility questions during the holidays.

When you’re grieving the absence of a child who was expected or hoped for, simply continuing to smile and chat while being around babies and kids can take an enormous amount of emotional energy. Not including being cornered by your in-laws asking when they’ll be getting grandchildren. Or being required to compliment your glowing pregnant relative. In my experience infertility is a straw on the camel’s back situation. It takes so much work to continue to “be fine” on the outside, but one more facebook post of a friend’s newborn, one more comment about “all you need is a relaxing vacation” and then the first gush of your period and boom, the “we’re good” façade collapses and it will take at least a week or two to rebuild. I recommend preparing yourself now for some of the inevitable situations you’ll encounter. Here are 5 things you can do.

The "I'm fine" mask collapsing after one more person says "all you need is to relax."

The "I'm fine" mask collapsing after one more person says "all you need is to relax."

1. It’s OK to say “Thanks for the invitation, I’m sorry to miss it. I’ve already got other plans.”

Take a peek at your calendar. Is it packed with social gatherings? Go down the list, consider each item and ask yourself, does the thought of attending bring you a sense of excitement or apprehension? If the latter, prepare your words for how you’ll bow out. You can also consider going to part of the event but not the whole thing. If you absolutely have to go, have your partner or supportive friend help you come up with a get away plan. Whether this means using a secret signal with your partner or texting a friend to call you, “What’s that, you need me to let your dog out?” This is about protecting yourself. Remember, saying “no” to one thing means saying “yes” to something else, even if that something else is a Netflix binge with hot cocoa. On the other hand part of dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss can include feeling isolated. Look at your schedule again and see if there are a few get togethers (maybe adults only) that will bring you around friends with whom you can share a good meal and a good laugh, without having to be on the defensive.

2. Prepare your answers for the question

Prepare your responses. Don't go out there without your armor.

Prepare your responses. Don't go out there without your armor.

Chances are, that without fail, someone will find a way to ask you when you’re going to start having kids. Think about your response now. Maybe even practice saying it out loud. If you’re not ready to talk about your situation you could say something as simple as, “We’ll see.” And be ready to switch to a different topic.  In my case I’ve started saying, “Well, I have secondary infertility so I’m not sure if we can have more kids on our own, we’re working on it, but I’d rather talk about our plans for …seeing the Christmas parade together.” For people who just won’t drop it I’ve had to say “Thanks for your concern, I’m not seeking advice right now.” If you’re ready to break the news, definitely share this “infertility etiquette guide” in advance and let it do some of the talking for you. If you find someone who seems like a great caring listener you might want to share some of your experience. I’ve been surprised to realize people sitting at the table with me are going through the same things.

3. Make time for the things you love

What do you enjoy doing in the cold weather? Long walks? Good books? Baking cookies? You don’t have to hide under a rock from the holidays. Think about your favorite parts of the season and make time for them. Put up lights with your honey; pull out your favorite holiday music, start heating up that apple cider, go ice-skating… This is all self-care!

4. Consider putting baby making on pause

I don’t know about you, but November/December is a crazy time for my family, where the stress and busyness go up a notch. Not only do we have to do life per usual, but also send cards, make phone calls, decorate our home, buy presents and travel. On top of that trying to time sex, do OPKs and chart my cycle, it just feels like too much. This can be a good season to take a short rest from focusing on conception, take a break from going down the research rabbit hole and just have sex when and if you feel like it.

5.     Allow yourself to feel the ups and downs

In my experience, infertility in a nutshell is constantly being on a roller coaster of the grief cycle: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. (I saw a diagram online that also included guilt and obsession, which seemed accurate).  Unfortunately unlike other types of grief and loss, there’s not necessarily a clear end in sight. Make sure to be checking in with yourself and with your partner and congratulate yourself on the little successes (eg making it through the day).

While it might be impossible to avoid tough questions about your family planning, I hope that this guide gives you a little inspiration. I hope you find time to do things you enjoy with people you love.

Happy Holidays!


Grace :)



Thank you to RESOLVE and the Fertility Authority for inspiring this blog.

9 tips for instantly healthier hormones

9 tips for instantly healthier hormones

First the bad news. We're inescapably surrounded by chemicals that are basically identity thieves, pretending to be our hormones. They're called endocrine disruptors and they're seriously jeopardizing our health. So why does this matter? Because our hormones are essentially the script for all of our bodily functions. They're created by the endocrine system, which is like, the man behind the curtain, the one keeping the whole show running. If you thought hormones were something you left behind with puberty, think again. They control just about everything: hair growth, acne, hunger, fatigue, metabolism, mental health, libido, and fertility, to name a few.

Our hormones are secretly running the whole damn show.

Our hormones are secretly running the whole damn show.

So what's the issue with endocrine disruptors? The truth is they're incredibly harmful and they can be passed down from parents to children. To give you an idea of their impact here are some of their effects: diabetes, thyroid disorders, infertility, deformed sperm, cancer, delayed puberty, obesity, birth defects, immunosuppression, abnormal brain development...yeah the list goes on and on. This is not some crazy conspiracy theory, but facts confirmed by decades of scientific research.

Now for the good news. While we can't avoid endocrine disruptors entirely, there are a lot of easy steps we can take to greatly decrease our exposure. By choosing to build a few simple habits, we can significantly improve our life long health and even the health of our future children.

Here are the top 9 things you can start doing today to avoid the endocrine impostors and improve your natural hormone balance:


1. Ditch plastics

Try reusable glass, steel or silicone instead.

Try reusable glass, steel or silicone instead.

Most of us come into contact with some kind of plastic almost every day. Unfortunately, it usually contains Bisphenols (think BPA. If a plastic product says "BPA free" it usually has another type of Bisphenol which is just as bad). Switching from plastics to more durable, reusable products like glass, steel or silicone, is a great place to start. Also try to say no to receipts, since the thermal paper is coated with BPA. :-/ Another place BPA hides in plain sight is the lining of canned foods. Choose fresh or frozen instead if you're able to. Bonus, by using less plastic you'll be helping out the environment too!

2. Say no to pesticides in your food and drinks

Pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides... these chemicals are designed to stop the growth, fertility, and life of living things. So it's not surprising that they impact the health of humans and animals too. The pesticide atrazine has been shown to change the sex of exposed fish and frogs from male to female and intersex. Organophosphate pesticides were originally designed as a chemical weapon during WWII and are still regularly used on our produce. They interfere with testosterone and thyroid hormone. Switching to organic foods when possible is a great way to decrease your levels of these endocrine disruptors. If going all organic doesn't fit your budget, try going organic with just the "dirty dozen" fruits and veggies which have the highest pesticide residues. Considering growing a few of your own veggies, even in a planter on your deck. Don't forget these chemicals also end up in drinks such as tea and wine.

Little did Snow White realize, the Witch had given her a non-organic apple.

Little did Snow White realize, the Witch had given her a non-organic apple.

3. Update your pots and pans

Look familiar? Say goodbye to teflon.

Look familiar? Say goodbye to teflon.

I don't know about you, but I grew up eating food cooked on totally scratched up Teflon pans. My family members still use them all the time. Sadly using Teflon puts endocrine disruptors called PFCs and PFOAs permanently in our bodies and our environment. These chemicals impact sex and thyroid hormones and they will literally be around forever since they do not biodegrade. There's no better time than the present to invest in steel or cast iron cookware.

4. Filter your water

A massive source of our exposure to endocrine disruptors and lots of other drugs is the water supply. Whether you live in the city or the country, whether you drink tap water or well water, consider investing in a good water filter. Check out this database to see what type of filter fits you best.

5. Buy second hand

Make the thrift store your new best friend. photo: PixelJones

Make the thrift store your new best friend. photo:PixelJones

There are so many benefits to buying stuff second hand! Obviously, saving money is a big one. If you want a cast iron pan or a steel water bottle, the thrift store is a great place to look. Also, when you buy something that's been used, you decrease demand for the manufacturing of new products (a process which puts tons of endocrine disruptors in the environment). When it comes to furniture, clothes, and bedding, buying second hand can decrease your exposure to toxic fire retardants. These chemicals love masquerading as thyroid hormone and are linked to abnormal brain development. Don't forget to send stuff you no longer need to the thrift store to find a new life instead of throwing it away.

6. Update your beauty products

Photo:  Manu Camargo

Two words, testicular death. Phthalates and glycol ethers, commonly found in perfumes, "fragrances" and makeup wreak havoc with hormones. These common endocrine disruptors can kill testicle cells, harm sperm, mess with sex and thyroid hormone levels and are linked to birth defects and diabetes. Take a look at your lotions and potions. Find safer makeup. Go fragrance-free.  

7. Go natural with household cleaning

Photo:  Nick Youngson

Again, shrunken testicles. Household cleaning products are also full of phthalates and glycol ethers. When you can, go natural with cleaning. Baking soda and vinegar go a long way! PS you really don't need that scented fabric softener or dryer sheets.  

8. Update your menstrual care products (and stop douching!)

Photo:  Wikimedia

Photo: Wikimedia

Since menstrual care products are considered "medical devices" they're not required to list their ingredients. Millions of us are putting these items in our most intimate parts every month and we have no idea what they're really made of. Many (or most) pads and tampons contain dioxins. Dioxins interfere with male and female hormones and they're carcinogenic. :( If you're using scented products (including douches), they'll also contain phthalates. The issue, particularly with tampons and douches, is that these toxins can be absorbed directly into the blood stream through the mucosal lining of the vagina. Consider getting organic tamponswashable pads, period panties, sea sponge tampons or a menstrual cup. (PS these are examples I found on google, not endorsements, so definitely do your research to find the best brand for you). Also moving on to sustainable products will cut back the crazy amount of wasteful packaging going into landfills. BTW, your vagina is awesome just the way it is! It is not supposed to smell like flowers! And douches can lead to yeast infections. If you really think your nether regions have a seriously bad smell, then you should see a health care provider.

9. Ditch hormonal birth control


If you've been thinking about saying goodbye to hormonal birth control (the pill, the patch, the ring, the shot, the stick, the Mirena IUD) here is some food for thought. Hormonal birth control is a purposefully designed endocrine disruptor. Its objective is to impair female fertility. Hormonal birth control does not contain estrogen and progesterone. In fact, it contains synthetic imitations called ethinyl estradiol and progestins, which are structurally very different from the sex hormones our bodies make. Unfortunately, these mimics impact much more than our fertility, they have far reaching effects throughout the body ranging from hair growth to digestion, from mood swings to blood clotting, to name a few. (Obviously for many people, the benefits outweigh the risks). By switching to a non-hormonal method (condoms, withdrawal, fertility awareness, diaphragm, copper IUD) you will be giving your endocrine system a chance to recover and restore its natural hormone balance. You'll also be helping out the environment by not sending your hormonal BC into the water and soil via your pee and used up devices. If you want to know more about the effects of hormonal BC I recommend this book. If you want a good layout of all your birth control options Bedsider is a great resource.

While you may hear the argument that any one of these sources of endocrine disruptors is "small" or at a "safe level," the inconvenient truth is that many of them accumulate in our bodies and our environment over time. While we can't avoid endocrine disruptors entirely, we can take small, significant steps to decrease our exposure. I hope you find a few ideas on this list that work for your lifestyle.


In good health,




P.S. If you're nerdy about this stuff like me and want to learn more about endocrine disruptors check out the books Our Stolen Future and the classic Silent Spring.



Seeking pleasure? Your clitoris is just the tip of the iceberg

Seeking pleasure? Your clitoris is just the tip of the iceberg

Have you ever gotten the message that female pleasure is complex rocket science and too much of a hassle for anyone to really understand? Like this meme I found for example:

Or have you ever heard that it's "normal" for women to fake an orgasm during sex or feel so bored that they're thinking about the grocery list?

"What do I need to get at the grocery store today? Bread, milk..."

"What do I need to get at the grocery store today? Bread, milk..."

It's time to upend the pervasive myth that female pleasure is an unsolvable mystery. So how can we lift the veil on our anatomy and embrace the knowledge of female ecstasy? The answer is simple: we need to know what parts we have, how they work and why they do what they do. Unfortunately this is something many people with vulvas are never fully informed about. While I'd love to go into detail about the wonders of the entire reproductive system, for this post I'm going to focus on the only human organ designed solely for pleasure, the clitoris! Before I jump in I want to make sure we're on the same page, so check out the lovely illustration below and find the clitoris near the top. (disclaimer: this is just one example of a vulva, in reality they come in all sorts of healthy colors, sizes and shapes!)

Do you see it there? That round, pink "button" below the pubic hair? This modest organ is the most sensitive part of the human body with over 8,000 nerve endings! (That's twice as many as the head of the penis). In fact the clitoris and penis have a lot in common, they even develop from the same beginning cells when a fetus is growing in the womb. Both the penis and the clitoris have a head or glans (that's the "button" mentioned above), a foreskin or clitoral hood, and below the surface the clitoris also has a shaft that becomes erect when excited.

This pic is way outdated and missing a few crucial parts, but it shows the general similarities between male and female.

This pic is way outdated and missing a few crucial parts, but it shows the general similarities between male and female.

What's really awesome is, below the clitoris we can see and touch on the outside, the majority of our clitoris is actually on the inside, waiting to be explored! In other words the clit is like an iceberg. The sensitive clitoral tissue that's inside the body is called the Female Erectile Network (FEN). Just like the penis, the FEN is formed of thousands of tiny blood vessels that fill and swell with arousal. Female and male bodies both have about the same amount of this erectile tissue, one's just easier to see than the other. This is really important information to know considering that a majority of women need some clitoral stimulation in order to achieve orgasm.

You or your partner may have noticed that when you're aroused your vulva "blossoms," and becomes more full and pinkish, red or dark, due to increased blood flow, that is the FEN at work. So how can we access this network and enjoy it to it's greatest potential? First we need to know how to find it and that means going beyond the clitoris we can see. You may want to find some privacy and follow along with the "guided tour" from here. :)

Even this image isn't showing the whole picture!

Even this image isn't showing the whole picture!

The Clit: First orient yourself one more time to the clitoris most people are familiar with, the glans near the top. Notice if you go a little bit above that there is the shaft that branches out into the dark pink clitoral legs, in this picture they're called the crus or sometimes, crura (fun side note, penises have "legs" too! You can see them in the comparative anatomy picture I shared earlier) These "legs" help to anchor the clitoris to the pubic bone. The shaft and legs of the clitoris can be touched, rubbed and "rolled" through the skin if you follow up just above the head and along the ridge of the pubic bone.

The Bulbs: Next you'll notice there are two "bulbs" of erectile tissue surrounding the vaginal opening. These are called the vestibular bulbs. It's almost like they're giving the vagina a hug. When they become full and erect they create a nice snug cuff for any visitor. :) You can actually find and feel your bulbs when you're turned on through the skin of your outer labia, on either side of your vaginal opening. It can be a nice progression to stimulate the bulbs before making your way to the clit. I encourage you to make sure they're invited to the party. This will also stimulate the bartholin's glands which make natural lubricant.  One easy approach is to make a peace sign with two fingers and rub the outer labia from the top down.

The G-Spot AKA The Urethral Sponge: There is also erectile tissue surrounding the urethra aka the "pee tube." This erectile tissue forms a spongy cylinder around the end of the urethra and it is the source of the infamous G-Spot. Mystery solved! To find the G-Spot insert a finger into the vagina and make a "come hither" motion towards the belly button. (PS This is the best spot to stimulate female ejaculation AKA squirting! The fluid comes from two glands tucked into the urethral sponge).

The Perenial Sponge: Now, that clitoris anatomy picture is omitting one crucial part of the Female Erectile Network, the perenial sponge, a little pillow of erectile tissue that connects the bottom of both of the bulbs, which can be found between the vagina and anus. To find this under acknowledged source of pleasure you could do the same "come hither" motion with fingers inside the vagina but instead facing down towards the bottom. This is also a source of excitement and enjoyment with anal play. When aroused and full, the perenial sponge completes the "hug" around the vagina. I would share a nice picture including it but all the complete images I know of are still copyrighted! (Bummer since I believe knowing our whole anatomy is the right of all people!) So you'll have to settle for my own home made drawing instead.

Below is something much fancier, a 3D MRI image of the clitoris from above looking down. The clitoris is yellow. Do you see the bulbs surround the vaginal canal, which is blue?

Wahoo! Now you know the basics of your erectile network and how to get in touch (pun intended) with all of it's parts! Arousing the ENTIRE clitoris, including the Erectile Network is, I would argue, an essential foreplay activity that can make penetration more exciting for both partners. If you're curious to learn more I highly recommend reading "Women's Anatomy of Arousal."

This book is wonderful and has easy to understand explanations on the full range of female sexual anatomy and how to enjoy it to the fullest! It really opened my eyes to the vast amount of knowledge most of us never receive about our sexual wellness and pleasure. It also makes a fun bachelorette party gift. ;) If you're really nerdy and love women's health and detailed anatomical diagrams, check out "A New View of a Woman's Body" This has a lot more specifics and is focused on overall reproductive health, not sex, but it has the best pictures of the clitoris and Female Erectile Network that I've ever been able to find.

If you're not so much into science but love art check out the amazing art work of Sophia Wallace who has decided to take on educating the public about the clitoris, helping everyone to "get cliterate."

I sincerely hope that this information will improve your relationship with your clitoris, increase communication with your sexual partner and lead you to many mind blowing orgasms! Have fun!

<3 Grace


The Top 12 Benefits of Charting Your Cycle (Part 2)

The Top 12 Benefits of Charting Your Cycle (Part 2)

There are so many benefits to charting your cycle with the Sympto-Thermal Method I couldn't fit them all into one post! (If you missed part one, check it out here). Whether you want to conceive quickly, avoid pregnancy naturally, or if you simply want to demystify your reproductive health, read on.

7. It works with irregular cycles (and you'll know when your period is coming next)

I have heard from so many women that charting sounds great but they have irregular cycles, so it just won't work for them. The awesome thing is that you don't need to have textbook cycles for this method to be effective. In fact, charting may help you get to the bottom of what's causing your irregularity in the first place. With the Sympto-Thermal Method you can pinpoint when (and whether) you're ovulating. After ovulation, menstruation will always occur 12-16 days later. Usually each woman has her own number in that range. For example, my period always starts 13 days after ovulation. I put it in my calendar and schedule a night to myself with netflix and a long bath.

8. It eliminates the "surprise pregnancy"

Once you build a habit of observing your fertility signs you can know whether or not you may get pregnant day by day. If you're charting correctly, you will be fully aware of where you are in your cycle and whether unprotected sex is risky at that time. Some women knowingly "bend the rules" and take calculated risks making love close to their fertile window. This may lead to an unwanted pregnancy, but for someone charting regularly, they'll know the chance they took and it won't come as a surprise.

9. It can improve your romantic relationship

Having a partner who understands and appreciates your charts can be an incredible relationship boost. Your partner can even participate by giving you the thermometer in the morning and writing down your observations at the end of the day. By understanding your charts they no longer have to be in the dark about where you are in your cycle. If they know you're close to ovulation they can lay on the charm for a night of baby making or put condoms on the nightstand. If they can see that your period is coming or that you had an early pregnancy loss they can be better prepared to give kindness and support (and massages and flowers and hugs...whatever you need).

10. It can boost your holistic healing

Fertility and menstrual health are important indicators of overall wellness. Imbalances in reproductive health can be symptoms of deeper systemic issues. Your charts can serve as a diagnostic tool to look more closely at root causes of health problems. Even medical professionals are starting to recognize the potential of using the cycle as a vital sign.

11. You can connect with creation, the seasons and thousands of years of women’s fertility awareness traditions.

For thousands of years women around the world have noticed the connection between their cycles, the moon, and the seasons. Gaining a daily awareness of where you are in your cycle can be a reminder of your relationship with the ebb and flow of the natural world. You can even take advantage of the different styles of energy in the "seasons" of your cycle.

12. You can impact the web of justice.

Practicing the Sympto-Thermal Method of Fertility Awareness touches justice on several levels: 

It empowers users to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, which touches reproductive justice.

It's a low-cost first step towards infertility and hormonal health analysis, which touches economic justice.

If you use the method to prevent pregnancy, you stop contributing to the pollution created in the birth control supply chain and you may be sparing the waterways and eco-system from the endocrine disruptors in hormonal birth control, these touch environmental justice.

As you can see, the benefits of building a daily charting practice are far reaching. I hope you've learned something new and gained food for thought.

Wishing you a happy, healthy uterus;-)



The top 12 Benefits of Charting Your Cycle (Part 1)

The top 12 Benefits of Charting Your Cycle (Part 1)

While we spend time and energy to work on so many aspects of our wellness: improving our diet, exercising or taking the right supplements, we sometimes willingly overlook our wombs and cycles. While many of us have been taught to believe they are an unsolvable mystery, the truth is they speak to us every day in a language anyone can learn. By doing something as simple as charting our fertility signs, we can gain a window into the inner workings of our bodies and make wiser choices for our health. Whether you want to boost your fertility, avoid pregnancy naturally or bring balance to your hormones check out some of the top benefits below.

1. It's rooted in science

As an RN this is one of the things I appreciate most about the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM), it's based on biological facts.

Fact #1 Sperm can live for up to 5 days in fertile cervical fluid.

Fact #2 An egg can live for 24 hours

That means there is literally only about one week per cycle that pregnancy is possible. This method is all about identifying that "fertile window" by checking your waking temperature and cervical fluid every day and putting your observations in a chart (there are tons of apps for that).

2. It's Affordable

There is an initial payment of time and learning to make sure you’re using the method correctly. This could cost as little as $20 for a Basal Body Thermometer and a used copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility. But we all know there's a big difference between teaching yourself from a book and getting professional guidance.

I recommend paying more for a Certified Fertility Awareness Educator (like me) to teach you the method and support you with one-on-one consultations. This can greatly increase understanding and effectiveness. Services from a Fertility Awareness Educator can range anywhere from $50 to $500 depending on their location and level of experience. While this might seem like a lot up front, consider that conventional fertility treatments can cost thousands. Once you learn the method you can reap it’s benefits for the rest of your life. (You can find a list of qualified educators here.)

3. It's a powerful diagnostic tool

When you make a habit of checking in with your body every day and looking for patterns in your charts, you can quickly recognize if something is out of whack. By using the STM you can identify: when you can and cannot conceive, whether you’re ovulating, whether you’re miscarrying, whether you have estrogen or progesterone deficiencies, and whether other symptoms (such as pain) are related to your cycle. Many charters have also been able to identify other endocrine issues such as thyroid imbalance and adrenal fatigue.

4. It improves communication with your health care provider.

Your doctor is highly trained to know the best diagnosis, treatments and outcomes for the average woman in your age range with similar health concerns. They have spent years reading studies and learning the data, but they are not the experts on you. You can be the expert on your individual health. Every body is different. By charting you can get to know your typical cycle and advocate for yourself early on if something’s not right.  With this knowledge you can create a strong and respectful partnership with your doctor and avoid unnecessary tests and procedures.

5. It can help you conceive naturally 5-7 times faster.

Charting your cervical fluid and basal body temperature can offer a clear picture of what’s going on with your hormones. With this knowledge you can time intercourse for your most fertile days of the month. Several studies have found that timing sex using Fertility Awareness techniques can significantly increase couples chances of conceiving naturally, up to 5-7 times faster than random timing! (find my references at the bottom of this page).

6. It's an effective form of natural birth control.

If you wish there was an effective form of birth control that didn’t involve putting hormones or devices in your body, I am so thrilled to tell you this is it! The most comprehensive study on the Sympto-Thermal Method found that with perfect use it's 99.6% effective at preventing pregnancy (about the same as the pill, the patch and ring). With typical use (real world with occasional mistakes) it was found to be 98.2% effective (better than the pill, the patch, the ring and condoms).

Having this level of effectiveness requires understanding basic female anatomy and physiology and gaining a solid grasp of the method's rules. In the study I mentioned above, all of the participants had been taught by a certified educator with one-on-one follow up. If you want to reconnect with your cycle and be in communication with your body day by day, this could be an awesome birth control option for you. If the idea of collecting data about your health excites you, if you’re looking for a method that’s environmentally friendly, I’d really encourage you to learn more.

Well, there are way more benefits than I can fit into one post so stay tuned for part 2 (teaser: eliminate the term "surprise pregnancy" from your vocabulary). You can learn more about what the method really involves here.

Wishing you a healthy, happy uterus ;-)