TIRED OF TAKING HORMONES? - Learn about a natural, safe and effective way of birth control!

Our innate body wisdom

FAM

One of the things I feel most passionate about in life, is helping women reconnect to the innate wisdom in their bodies. Many of the women I have met doing this work struggle with the same issues: fatigue, stress, feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and a general struggle trying to balance the demands of our daily life with our own needs of relaxation, connection and pleasure. 

When we are disconnected from our body, we cannot feel (let alone communicate) our boundaries. We cannot feel what nurtures us and when we need to recharge. Feeling our body is a key to becoming healthier and being able to experience a deep sense of wellbeing in our life.

Are you hormonally challenged?

Initially, starting to better sense and feel the body does not actually lead to a sense of wellbeing. When you’ve been disconnected for a long time, it might even be uncomfortable to tune into yourself. Since you’ve missed the early and more subtle signals, your body has been trying speak louder to you. Often the first things you encounter are tension, numbness, pain and in a lot of cases: PMS!

Many women experience feeling emotionally unstable, having low energy, feeling overwhelmed, depressed and losing their lust for life (and sex) in the period right before and during their menstruation. Somehow we’ve come to think that this is normal and we just have to deal with it. These symptoms might be common, but they are not ‘normal’. I believe they indicate something is out of balance.

When I experience menstrual cramps, I feel it is a signal that I have somehow overstepped my own boundaries. It is my womb whispering: “Hello, I am here! Listen to me!”. When I do not honour my natural cyclical rhythm, my symptoms get worse. In this cyclical rhythm there is a time for work & play, and a time for rest & reflection. Due to my commitments in work, family and social life I often compromise on the rest & reflection part. Conclusion: the balance is tipped off and my battery is empty. My body will give off increasingly forceful signals that it is time to change this balance and come home to myself.

 

Synthetic hormones suppress your symptoms (and body wisdom)

I feel that our menstrual cycle holds a very important key to regaining our vitality and wellbeing. Tuning in to this cycle and honouring our time to rest, regenerate and heal, can alleviate many symptoms we have come to accept. Our cycle has different phases like the seasons in nature: growing and blossoming in spring and summer and then shedding the old and conserving energy during the autumn and winter time.

Often women start using hormonal birth control and use painkillers to get a handle on their symptoms. These synthetic hormones suppress our natural cycle. You can regulate your hormones to get your bleed at a more convenient time or maybe even totally skip it. There are some nasty side effects to taking hormones though. One pretty important side effect women suffer from is low libido; unfortunately as sexual pleasure can be so nurturing and relaxing for our system. Hormonal birth control might suppress some symptoms but it does not provide any real solution for being disconnected from our feminine body and innate feminine wisdom.

Sometimes there are medical indications for taking hormones, and we can be grateful that we have these options when needed. I do wish for women to get more in tune with their bodies and I feel taking hormones and painkillers is supporting some unhealthy aspects of our lifestyles. I would much rather see us as a society adapting changes that actually support a woman’s needs for a different approach in working and relating. I have seen many examples of women resolving most of their cycle related symptoms by learning to set clearer boundaries, taking more rest around their menstruation and inviting more (sexual) pleasure into their lives.

 

Safety first!

So, I strongly feel women benefit from having a natural cycle and making some deeper, more durable changes in their life regarding the work/rest balance. But there is of course another obvious reason to be on hormonal birth control: to avoid unintended pregnancy. Being able to choose in what way we direct our creative potential (children and/or life purpose) is a gift that The Pill has contributed a lot to. It has empowered women in many ways.

Most of the women I see in my practice would love to quit hormonal birth control. There is a growing awareness (in my perception) on the topic of femininity, hormonal issues, hormone balancing foods and getting more in tune with the body. But having to use barriers all the time with your partner can be a real pain in the ass (or pussy). This can feel like too much of a sacrifice on top of having to go through a period of making possibly uncomfortable adjustments. I can totally relate to this and have been searching for non-hormonal options for myself too.

 

There is a solution!

Did you know there is a natural, safe and effective method of birth control? It is called many names, the most common ones being Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), Natural Family Planning (NFP) and Sensiplan (in Holland, Belgium and Germany). These are the most common names for a method medically described as the sympto-thermal method. It combines tracking your body’s fertility signs with taking your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) hence the words ‘sympto’ and ‘thermal’. 

Over the last 30 years thorough research and refinement has been conducted on this method proving it to be up to 99.6% effective in preventing unintended pregnancy. This is the effectiveness when the method is used perfectly, tested on couples that have received training in how to perform this method accurately. In everyday use, given the fact that people can make mistakes, the method still proves to be 98% effective.

These rates of effectiveness (for us that love statistics: Pearl index 0.4 and 2.0) are actually the same as The Pill and much better then the rates for condoms. Some people (including doctors) dismiss this method as a serious option because it is associated with the old ‘calendar method’ that probably got your parents pregnant. The calendar method is very unreliable in preventing pregnancy and has no relation to the sympto-thermal method. If you use an app to predict your fertile days it is probably based on this calendar method too. Don’t rely on it for birth control! 

Whilst learning how to apply Sensiplan, I have exclaimed many times: “Why wasn’t I taught this in biology class during high-school?!” It would have made such a difference for me as a young woman to learn about my body and fertility.

As a pretty wonderful side effect, applying this method has given me many insights into my menstrual cycle and my body’s signals. It has strengthened the connection I had with my body, my womb and my cycle and has therefore supported me in making the lifestyle changes required to transition to a much more gentle and comfortable bleed. 

 

How to get started:

The effectiveness of this method relies for a large part on having received proper training in learning to apply it.  Although this method can be highly effective, it is very very unforgiving when making mistakes in the interpretation…

You can start learning about your cycle using these tools:

  • Read the book: Taking Charge Of Your Fertility by Toni Welsch.
  • Buy a BBT thermometer (sometimes called ovulation thermometer).
  • Download an app like Kindara, Fertility Friend or MyNFP (one that is made for this method allows you to chart your Basal Body Temperature, Cervical Fluid and Cervix Position).

To acquire the high rates of effectiveness, search for a Sensiplan, NFP or FAM instructor. According to my personal research, Sensiplan (by NFP) has the best statistics for effectiveness (often quoted by the other methods) and is the most thoroughly researched strain of sympto-thermal methods. 

 

Beware:

-Using only selfstudy proved to be significantly less effective!

-Fertility computers (like LadyComp) advertise with the same rates of effectiveness but actually are NOT using the sympto-thermal method as it is intended and tested. There is no research that can confirm their effectiveness is as high as the sympto-thermal method.

 

I hope this information can serve women in tuning to their innate body wisdom and natural cycle. Dare to share!

Much love <3

Annemarie

Annemarie Reilingh