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Basal Body Temperature / Fertility Awareness Method

Basal Body Temperature / Fertility Awareness Method

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This week’s Women’s Wellness series post (last week we discussed hormones) is about something I get asked about a lot, but something I’ve never really posted in depth about. When I was toying with stopping hormonal birth control (HBC), I was also trying to figure out what to do instead of HBC. The thing I kept coming back to was FAM - the Fertility Awareness Method. No, it’s not the “pull out method” (wow another thing I never thought I’d type here!) If I had to describe, I’d call it female body literacy. The truth is that most females don’t actually know how their bodies work. I didn’t 100% know until I learned FAM. I’m so thankful for it, because through it, I have been able to be more in tune with my body and notice / connect dots I may not have been able to do before.

Even if you don’t end up using FAM (I’ll admit it can be scary at first if all you are used to are HBC or condoms), I urge you to learn more bout your body and get in sync with it. It may sound “woo woo”, but I promise it is not. I’ve been using FAM for 2 years now and wish I would have started sooner!

Keep reading to learn more about FAM and resources I recommend!

Madewell Button Sweater (c/o) | Madewell Crop Jeans (c/o) | Braided Belt | Rebecca Minkoff Mules (old, similar here)


First and foremost, I’m not a doctor, nor am I pretending to be one. I first heard about FAM from people on Instagram, so I’m hoping that I can be that same eyeopener for you! Most of what I learned from FAM is from Dr. Jolene Brighten and the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. I HIGHLY recommend this book. I know that it is big, but if you aren’t trying for babies, you really only need to read the first half. I’m telling you I read that first half like I was studying for a midterm - by choice. Hah! I was like wait, this means that and that means this? It honestly made me kind of angry that body literacy isn’t taught in schools. Just the simple act of knowing what your body is saying to you is HUGE. One example is discharge. Did you know that your body goes through different discharges and what is occurring actually tells you where your body is at in your cycle? That’s not sex-ed, people. That’s just simple knowledge of knowing yourself.

You should for sure read up on FAM and all the specifics so you can learn it yourself, but it is basically built on these principles:

  • Tracking. All of this is based on keeping track of everything. I’ve been using the Kindara app for 2 years now and it is great! They have a premium / paid level, but I do just fine with the free version. Every single thing i’m about to discuss below is tracked here. I even track other things like workouts, alcohol, headaches, bowel movements, and more. Often times I will write things in the notes section so I can go back and read that too. you could track it on paper, but I love that it is always with me and has different views / ways to look at things within the app. There is also a community you can ask questions to, etc. Even if you don’t use FAM, tracking is a WEALTH of knowledge and comes in so handy. I would highly recommend it even if you aren’t taking your temperature every morning, though that provides a lot of information too. I have 2 years worth of data that is honestly invaluable to me and my doctors.

  • Basal Body Temperature (BBT): Yep. I’ve taken my temperature every morning for the past two years. Basically you know you are ovulating with you see a spike. You typically have lower temperatures from your period - right below ovulation, the hit 98 / above in the latter half of your cycle. If have you extended high temps (above 98, not talking fever here), this often points to pregnancy. Note it has to be taken when you first wake up, before you get out of bed. Any other temperature is not an accurate read. Other things can affect your temperature too - too much alcohol the night before, lack of sleep, and more. I use the Winc tracker thermometer that Kindara makes, but I used a regular thermometer before that. They were sold out of the Winc for about 3 months, so that’s why I didn’t use it at first. You can totally just use a regular thermometer, but I like the Winc because it is bluetooth, so it automatically syncs the time and temperature in my phone. I don’t have to struggle to read the temp in the dark, or manually type it in. It’s also easier to go back to sleep after I take it ;) But again their Winc thermometer is not needed to do FAM and you don’t have to have it to use their app. As of 2022 I really like this $10 thermometer on Amazon.

  • Discharge. I’ll let you read up on everything here / let the book go into more detail, but basically, there are 5 different discharge phases: none (right after your period), sticky, creamy, egg white, and watery. Egg white shows signs of ovulation, but your peak day / temperature spike should be watery, not egg white. Egg white discharge is actually made to keep sperm in, increasing chances of fertilization, as sperm can live for up to FIVE DAYS. Get to know this!!

  • Cervix Placement. So I actually don’t use this one, but it is part of FAM. I suppose I could, but I feel pretty confident with the two above / don’t know cervix placement well enough to use it. High level notes, your cervix moves throughout your cycle. For example, when you are fertile it sits high and is soft. When you are menstruating, it is low and hard.

This is a lot of information, but with most things, the more you do it, the more comfortable you are with it. Again I strongly recommend reading up on Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Using FAM you can tell when you’re ovulating (“normal” is day 14 of cycle, but everyone is different!) and therefore avoid sex or use protection when in those times. There are also ovulating kits (looks like a pregnancy test) or ovulating strips that you can use to help you determine this as well. Additionally, your healthcare provider can do a vaginal ultrasound that can tell if you’re ovulating at the time the ultrasound is occurring if you need more help.

I wish I would have quit HBC sooner, but my doctor in Dallas scared me out of it a couple times saying that it just wasn’t as effective as “the pill”. Even if you don’t plan on quitting birth control, knowing these things about your body is CRUCIAL. Note that if you are on the pill / most forms of birth control, it cuts off the communication from your brain to your ovaries. You aren’t actually having a period - it is a withdrawal bleed. You also aren’t ovulating. I started tracking everything a month or so before I quit HBC, so I could get the hang of it / help it become a habit.

Thanks to FAM, I feel so empowered and in-tune with my body and what is going on. I may not always like what she is telling me, but I’m trying to listen more. So many things are connected and the body is honestly SO COOL.

I started acupuncture at the beginning of October and my acupuncturist actually looks at my temperatures weekly to get a read on my body and what is going on. Also because I’ve read up on everything, I’m able to understand my doctor(s) better. I trust my doctors and everything, but it is nice to already know some things and prevent panic in areas where I can… if that makes sense at all.

I hope this encourages you to get to know yourself more. Take self-care to a whole new level. You can do this! XOXO

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably like last week’s post on getting your hormones tested. The week prior I introduced the Women’s Wellness series and explained my heart for it. This is my post about quitting birth control. Let me know if you have any questions!

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