If you're looking at your birth control options and wishing there was something without synthetic chemicals or implants and without side effects ranging from lame to unbearable, you're not alone! I'm so excited to tell you that it's out there, it's simple and it's called the Sympto-Thermal Method. Don't let the long, technical name deceive you, this is a practice that any woman or uterus owner can learn to use (and, by the way, it has nothing to do with the Rhythm Method, and yes, there's an app for that).
How does it work?
By building a simple daily habit of taking your temperature first thing when you wake up (1 minute), checking your cervical fluid before you use the bathroom (10 seconds), and making sure to record your observations at the end of the day (2 min). With this information you can identify where you are in your cycle and whether you can get pregnant that day. Learn more here.
The most recent and comprehensive research on the Sympto-Thermal Method was published in the journal of Human Reproduction Today. It was a longitudinal study conducted with 900 participants. It found that, with perfect use, the method is 99.4-99.6% effective at preventing pregnancy. With typical use it is 98.2% effective. These results are comparable to other methods of birth control, including the pill, the patch and the ring. Like any type of birth control, not everyone is going to use it perfectly all of the time. The effectiveness of the method depends on the user receiving a high quality education, following the rules closely and not cutting corners.
*To ensure these high effectiveness rates you need to follow the same guidelines that were used in the study. This includes using the, "Minus 8 Rule" (pg 1311).
Is it the right method of birth control for me?
There is no one method of birth control that's right for everyone and the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) is no exception. Its effectiveness does rely heavily on the user's attention to detail and knowledge of the method and it's rules. It's a practice that you have to interact with every day. If you want to get to the root cause of your reproductive health problems; if you want to heal and reconnect to your body; if you love to learn; if you want thorough health data; this may be a good choice for you.
Using the Sympto-Thermal Method correctly requires an initial commitment to learning the basics of reproductive and hormonal systems and becoming comfortable with the rules. Once you lay this foundation of knowledge, the STM is a free tool that you can use for the rest of your life in less than 5 minutes a day. If you're interested in learning more, a great place to start is by reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. You could teach yourself the method practically for free by learning this book inside and out. But we all know there is no comparison between book learning and real life experience with professional guidance. I highly recommend, that you seek classes or consultations with a Certified Fertility Awareness Educator such as myself. The study mentioned above suggests that the effectiveness of the method as birth control is highest when users have been trained by a professional. I would be honored to support you in choosing whatever method of birth control is best for you. I'm also happy to offer recommendations on supporting your health while coming off of hormonal methods.
This initial consult is designed for women and uterus owners who are ready to finish using hormonal birth control and want to learn about cycle charting as an effective birth control option. This session includes a health history intake, hearing your goals for pregnancy prevention and sexual health, creating a personalized plan to support your body as you transition away from synthetic hormones and an introduction to cycle charting. In person in Seattle or on Google Hangouts.
- Frank-Hermann, P., Heil, J., Gnoth, C., Toledo, E., Baur, S., Pyper, C., . . . Freundl, G. (2007). The effectiveness of a fertility awareness based method to avoid pregnancy in relation to a couple's sexual behavior during the fertile time: A prospective longitudinal study. Human Reproduction, 22(5), 1310-1319. Retrieved July 9, 2015, from http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/22/5/1310.full.pdf html
- Guttmacher Institute. (2015). Contraceptive Use in the United States. Retrieved July 21, 2015, from http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html