UPDATED on July 7, 2019
I’m really excited about life right now! The life changes I’ve welcomed over the past couple of years have brought me such joy, self affirmation, and sense of completeness!
My latest ‘sticking it to the patriarchy’ move is taking control over my body- and more specifically my uterus! Until recently I wasn’t the most acquainted womyn with my reproductive organs and cycles. I thought I had a solid foundation, but when I honestly thought my cervix was a tumor and went to my gyn freaking out a year ago, I realized I could get know my body a little better downstairs. Sadly I’m not alone, many womyn have never felt their cervix, leaving our partners to be more acquainted with our lady parts than us! Naturally I was not having that - learn some magic things about your cervix! For me using a menstrual cup was a game changer in starting to explore and learn more about my body. Anatomy was one thing but deciding on the right birth control for me was another challenge - also with many outside factors and stigmas. Since college, I’ve used hormonal birth control a couple of times, but never for longer than a couple of months. Even back then, I could sense my body did not vibe with the hormones (yes, even the lo loestrin pill). I quickly knew “traditional” birth control methods weren’t for me.
Now as a feminist, holistic, and eco-conscious woman the impact “traditional” hormonal birth control methods wreck on the environment (causing high levels of estrogen in fish populations in coastal water bodies from our urination...yep I’ll let you sit on that one for a minute) to the laundry list of side effects disproportionately affecting female bodies - not to mention the lack of control and free will over our reproductive organs thanks to social stigmas and medical access.
Although these methods we’re not suited for me, birth control is NOT one size fits all. Every womyn has different circumstances, comfort levels, and standards to ensure their piece of mind for reproductive health. My experiences have led me to yearn for a birth control option that is hormone-free, holistic, and ties to what traditional people practiced in the beginning of time. Fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) are as effective as the pill and determine your fertility window based on collecting personal biometrics, like your basal body temperature (BBT), the dates of your menstrual period, and cervical fluid, giving you the information to avoid unprotected sex on fertile days. It’s amazing to discover there are so many more bodily responses and activities you can track, like cervical height, spotting, cramping, and physical activity, to tune into our natural patterns and lifestyle impacts on our reproductive cycles. I was entranced by the personal nature of this natural option and the simplicity - all I needed was my body, some education, a thermometer, and paper and pen! Talk about sustainable, holistic, eco friendly, and EMPOWERING!
There are a variety of FABM methods to choose from based on which biometrics they collect. I decided to do a consultation with a teacher from one of the most common FAM methods - the Billings Ovulation Method, which tracks cervical fluid (CF) to determine fertility. As I’ve gotten more accustomed to describing and noticing my cervical fluid changes through its cycle, throughout my twenties my cycle has had some irregularities that I wanted another parameter to track along with my CF, which lead me to the symptothermal method lead by the Kindara and Daysy. Both Kindara and Daysy use a bluetooth syncing thermometer that sends your basal body temperature (BBT) straight to a user friendly app. Below is a sample chart once you have inputted the necessary biometrics (shown as the colored bars and line graph) and additional parameters listed on the bottom. The cervical fluid color legend is on the left ranging from light pink to darker pink as you near ovulation. The line graph is your BBT synced directly from Kindara's Wink thermometer as you take your temperature first thing in the morning before you even get out of bed!
As I was deciding between these two options I wanted a practice that was cost effective, allowed me to input other parameters outside of BBT (i.e. exercise, stress, cramping, nausea, etc.), and was hands-on, growing with me as I learned the basics to charting to feeling more in control of using my information to determine my fertile and infertile days. Femme Head’s reviews on both products were a great help and I ultimately went with Kindara as it hit all of my main goals. I do think Daysy is a great option for someone who wants a super simple practice that requires very little effort and education to get started. Currently I’m getting acclimated to charting for the first time, so I won’t be using Kindara solely as my main contraception just yet. Right now I’m doing more reading and exploring, then I have a consultation with a professional at the Fertility Awareness Center to ensure I’m charting correctly in which I can be ready to use FAM as my natural birth control in the next 3 months.
Y’all I’m SO siked about this journey I’m starting! It’s about time I got more acquainted with my uterus and better understand my extremely painful, irregular, nausea-filled periods - which of course every gynecologist I’ve seen prescribes the pill as the solution (lol jokes). And tells me time and again there’s no explanation for my pain even though I’ve had them test for endometriosis and every imaginable explanation numerous times. Through the education I’ve already started I learned my cramps were often ovulation cramps (mittelschermz) and that my irregular cycles are anovulatory cycles and are completely normal due to stress I won’t even get into big pharma and the US’s high rates maternal malpractice right now, but know that your doctor may be knowledgeable about science and medicine, but they are not an expert of YOUR body. Your voice matters, your concerns are valid, you deserve the same level of medical care as our white counterparts. I hope sharing my experiences navigating finding a natural hormone-free birth control and research I did to come to my path helps someone else looking for the same option. The moment is ours ladies, create the space you need to make decisions toward the lifestyle that brings you joy, comfort, and self-affirmation. We only live once right? :)
UPDATE: I ended up being beyond extremely disappointed and had to return the defective thermometer, after numerous back and forth with one of their reps. I ended up going forward with Femometer by BongMi and have been using it for the past 3 months! I honestly have very little complaints about this device ESPECIALLY with the sub-par service from Kindara. The femometer has ALL the pros about the Kindara I was super siked about at a MUCH lower price point (on sale for $40 right) and more features on the free version of the app. The only cons I have are that I wish it could have vaginal sensation as a biometric data point and the ability to share with your doctor or partner in the free version (but it's available on the premium plan). The Vinca model of the thermometer is also a bit clumsy in my mouth, but it wasn't so bad to be a deal breaker for me!
Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert nor a medical professional. I encourage you to find explore your options and choose the path that fits you. This blog post is completely written from my own personal experience and I was not in any way endorsed by Kindara, Daysy, Billings Method, FemmeHead or any other source in this post.