Episode number 4 has just been released and is available for you to listen.
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In this episode I chat with Dr Kerry Hampton, a leader in the field of the Fertility Awareness Method. Dr Hampton is a natural fertility specialist in clinical practice where she provides counselling for couples who are preparing for pregnancy, having trouble conceiving or wish to use fertility awareness as contraception. As an active researcher, Kerry publishes on fertility awareness in peer review journals. She is also an education leader in her field, being the author of several professional development courses in fertility awareness for health care practitioners.
The Fertility Awareness Method is a process by which women can use the knowledge and understanding of their body to determine their ‘fertile’ and ‘non-fertile’ days. There are a number of different ‘schools’ in this method that all come under the umbrella of Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABM). This is a well-researched and viable method of contraception, although not as widely known as it perhaps could or should be. It is also used to support women with trying to achieve pregnancy by knowing their time of ovulation.
As discussed with Kerry, in order to use this method a woman needs to chart her cervical mucus. There is a lot of solid science, dating back to the 1950’s and the Billing’s Method, showing the changes in cervical mucus and how it is possible to identify the ‘fertile window’ and the actual day of ovulation. It is my very strong belief that as women, we should know this all important time in our cycle that is likely to be happening each and every month.
FABM are NOT the Rhythm Method, which is a method that counts days and finds an average to predict the most likely day of ovulation. Kerry makes the point that using an app to track ovulation is not accurate because they are predicting using an algorithm. Learning the signs our body shares for ourselves and inputting the data in to an app or on to a chart is the only way to really know exactly what is going on each and every month in terms of your fertility. An app cannot tell you this.
We also spoke about the enormous benefit that using this simple method has. It is a way to get to know your body. As Kerry says, your cycle is very dynamic. It is a reflection of your being and the way you are living. It is giving you lots of important information about your health.
The other marker used in some FABM is Basal Body Temperature (BBT). This gives us a marker of knowing when we have ovulated. Cervical Mucus informs us we are approaching ovulation and the shift in our BBT tells us when we have ovulated. The event of ovulation releases a hormone called progesterone and this warms the body raising the BBT for the remainder of the cycle.
Kerry reiterated that the 28-day medical model of a menstrual cycle is not as common as we are lead to believe! And yet we have been so trained to think this way and can often think there is something wrong with us if we don’t fall in to the 28 day cycle and ovulation on day 14 model. This is something we need to move away from and appreciate our cycles for everything that they communicate to us all of the time.
Stress is something that affects us all in very different ways and we can often see this in our cycle when we chart our CM and BBT. The changes make it possible for us to recognise when we are leading up to ovulation and when we are attempting ovulation but for whatever reason we do not follow through with it at that time, so it tries again. We can see this on a woman’s chart and this will usually coincide with a stressful event or time in that particular month. It’s extraordinary and yet so simple to be able to have this as a solid and accessible resource and window into our own health and into our very being.
Kerry has so much to share and is an expert in this field, so I hope you enjoy the episode.
Fertility Awareness really is just the tip of the ice-berg and an amazing way to get started on knowing your own body.
Details to contact Kerry & where to find her research publications -
Dr Kerry Hampton - https://wisewomanbusiness.com
Email – Kerryhampton@iprimus.com.au
Effectiveness of Fertility Awareness for contraception - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17314078/
Based on this data the symptom-thermal method (CM & BBT) is 99.6% effective for contraception with perfect use and 98.2% with typical use. Note that robust typical use data needs to come from a large population base and studies on FABM have not had this kind of reach as yet in the current research.