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 ;-)