The Fertility Awareness Method is a system of determining when a woman is fertile by charting the biological signs of her body.
FAM can be used as an effective form of natural contraception by combining a woman’s fertility signs with several scientifically-proven rules. FAM can also help couples who are trying to conceive know when the woman is most likely to become pregnant.
A necessary clarification: FAM is not the Rhythm Method. If you think it’s the Rhythm Method, you don’t understand how it works. What do you call couples who use the Rhythm Method? Parents. The End.
Who should use FAM?
FAM is an effective form of natural contraception for determined monogamous couples who don’t want to use barrier methods throughout the woman’s entire cycle. (And who would, really.)
However, FAM isn’t for everyone. FAM is effective, but it has to be practiced diligently and according to the FAM rules, and is not forgiving of mistakes. And because FAM allows you to have unprotected sex, it doesn’t protect against STDs.
What biological signs do you need to chart to use FAM?
- Basal body temperature. This is your temperature when you first wake up in the morning.
- Cervical fluid. This is the white fluid you may have noticed on your underwear but were never quite sure how to ask about. A woman’s cervical fluid is similar to a man’s seminal fluid.
- Cervical position. This sign includes cervix firmness, openness and height. It is an optional sign and isn’t necessary to practice FAM effectively, but many women find it helpful.
In the past, charting involved pencil-on-paper recording of your fertility signs, or using clunky PC-based software. FAMnerd frees you from being tied to a paper chart or computer by letting you chart your cycles on your iPhone.
How does FAM work?
A woman’s body goes through a series of phases each cycle. Charting your basal body temperature, cervical fluid and cervical position will help you determine when you are most and least likely to be fertile.
To use FAM as contraception, you interpret your chart with scientifically-proven FAM rules to determine your fertile and infertile phases. Have unprotected sex during your infertile phase, and use a barrier method (condom, sponge, diaphragm, cap, etc.) or don’t have sex during your fertile phase. That’s contraception.
To use FAM to get pregnant, plan to have sex during your fertile phase. Intercourse during the infertile phases of your cycle won’t help you get pregnant.
Why do you call the FAM rules “rules”? Aren’t they more like suggestions?
The FAM rules are hard and fast rules. If you break the rules, you aren’t practicing FAM correctly and it won’t be effective as a form of contraception. Just like using a condom isn’t effective if you open the package but don’t put the condom on, FAM isn’t effective if you aren’t diligent about charting your signs and following the FAM rules.
But how effective is it, really?
FAM and its older brother, Natural Family Planning (NFP), have been studied in scientific research for decades. Most recently the effectiveness of FAM was evaluated in a study which lasted 20 years and involved 900 women. When practiced correctly (aka – not breaking the rules), FAM used as contraception was found to be 99.4% effective – just as effective as the birth control pill.
How can I learn to use FAM?
If you are considering using FAM, you must read Taking Charge of Your Fertility. This book is the Bible of the Fertility Awareness Method and goes into step-by-step detail of how to use FAM effectively. It also includes very useful information about women’s reproductive health in general.
If you’d like one-on-one instruction on FAM, try searching online for a FAM instructor near you. If you are Catholic or don’t believe in using barrier methods of contraception, you can also search for a Natural Family Planning (NFP) instructor.
FAMnerd is also available for FAM instruction and consultation. Use our Contact page to get in touch with us and we’ll send you a quote.