Questions about FAM/NFP

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proverbs_31_30

Questions about FAM/NFP

Postby proverbs_31_30 » Tue Oct 14, 2008 8:53 am

First of all, is there really a difference between FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) and NFP (Natural Family Planning), or are they essentially the same thing? I can't find any good websites to do research on. Any good ones you know of?

A friend of mine and her DH, who use condoms for BC, are probably going to a NFP 'class' in November that teaches people how it works, what to do, etc. I would really like to go with my DH. Has anyone taken this class? Was it helpful, or was reading the book [Taking Charge Of Your Fertility] enough? This same friend has the book, and I flipped through it; it looked confusing enough that I may need someone to explain it to me!!

Anyways... why I am asking all of this is because I am on a BCP right now [Tri-Sprintec, a generic version of Tri Ortho Cyclen Lo] and have been for at least 12 months [been married for 8]. For the last 8 months, there have been points in time where I have been "okay" with taking a pill, and then there are times when I just don't have the peace about it anymore. I am terrified by the fact that I MAY cause an abortion by taking the pill. I've been stuck on these thoughts for a while.

Let me back up a bit...

I started out on the pill because it greatly reduced the pain that I got during my periods. I would faint, throw up, have terrible cramps, bleed excessively and for an entire week, etc. The pill has DRAMATICALLY reduced all of these symptoms; I don't miss work during my period anymore at all. But to what cost am I willing to reduce the pain? If I am even taking the RISK of aborting a child, I don't want to take the pills any longer.

I have been doing a bit of research on BCP [to make up for what I should have known before I started the pills-- stupid, ignorant me...], but it seems like all the resources I go to [that are reliable] conflict each other. I'm not really sure what to do now. Some Christians say it is okay, some Christians don't. I'm being told that I don't have enough faith in God [which I know isn't true], but by others, I'm being told that God gives us wisdom and resources to use for circumstances. I'm not trying to 'figure this out' to make others 'happy'-- I'm doing this because my soul is not at rest about something, and I can't figure out what. DH and I have been praying for wisdom and clarity on what we should do. I feel that, because I am so wary and without peace, that maybe God is trying to tell me something. My feelings, like anyone else's, though, are so unreliable compared to what God may be saying.

I don't know if any of you understand my struggle. If any of you have been here, or are here, or just have some thoughts to share... please, if you have insight... I would appreciate your thoughts and wisdom. This is eating away at me and sometimes makes it difficult to sleep because of the thoughts in my head.

Thoughts/comments on the pros/cons of FAM/NFP would be awesome and SO appreciated. Also any ideas on how, if we decide to go off of a BCP, how I can relieve my periods in other ways, would be fantastic. And obviously I am JUST starting out on even THINKING about this-- so when writing about it, please remember that I'm a beginner and you will need to explain things clearly :)

4everfree

Postby 4everfree » Tue Oct 14, 2008 10:26 am

I applaud you for looking at alternatives to BCP that are not chemicals being put into your body. We started using FAM 4 months ago, with the understanding of just learnign about me and have conceived. I read the book thoroughly and did have to read a few sections over again, but it made sense when I took it slow at times. I also found a site that helped with basic information (fertilityfriend.com). I used it for a little, but have heard much better things from the TCYOF website/software.

After baby I will be switching to that software. We like the idea of FAM because we dont' at this point want permanent measures for either of us, although we think this will be our last.

All in all, FAM has increased my amazement at our Creator and His handiwork in creating each of us in such detail. If we only paid more attention to what He designed we can learn so much about our bodies.

swedishmaiden

Postby swedishmaiden » Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:18 am

From what I understand,
NFP = abstinence during the fertile period
FAM = having the option to use a barrier method during the fertile period

We've been using FAM for a couple months since I came off the pill. I felt like I was able to get a good understanding from reading TCOYF, but it took some time to get comfortable (I charted for about eight months before we were married, before I was on the pill). I'd definitely recommend using a barrier method all the time, while you're getting used to it.

I love it, because the pill killed my sex drive and I get aroused a lot easier now. Plus, I was having awful breast pain on the pill. I was also beginning to have some doubts about using it, kind of like you mentioned.

But it would be harder, considering the pain during your periods. And I don't have long term experience with it, so it's harder for me to speak of the cons.

proverbs_31_30

Postby proverbs_31_30 » Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:59 am

This is exactly the kind of advice/wisdom I am looking for! Thank you, and keep it coming!

Specifically, to swedishmaiden; I had no idea that was the difference between the two. I figured there was some difference, but not something like that. There's no way NPF would work for us then. I don't like the idea of not being able to be spontaneous! :) You recommended using a barrier method all the time when I am getting used to charting-- about how long do you think that should be? Just until I am completely comfortable with the process and able to understand how it works? I have been having breast pain, too, a lot more than normal. In fact right now, they hurt just while I sit here typing. That's not normal for me. I do notice more tenderness the week[ish] before my period... that's about now... but it still feels worse now, than it did before.

4everfree, thanks for your insight and words of encouragment. I appreciate it! I really would like to read more thoughts from anyone else that has to contribute :)

runningwife

Postby runningwife » Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:23 pm

Dh and I had the same concerns about the BCP and never could feel comfortable with it after we learned how it could work. I also felt like a mad woman with the hormones, and always had breakthrough bleeding.

We went to an NFP class after our first was born and it was very helpful. For the first few months we charted we brought our chart into our teacher and she went over it with us, it took a lot of the guess work out of it and I highly recommend a class. But, do make sure the class is the method of NFP you plan to follow. I didnt' know anything about it before we took the class (I thought NFP was the rhythm method) and we took a mucous only method class (called Creighton method). We eventually switched to a sympto/thermal method which includes taking temps and watching for mucous/cervical position, etc.

It is correct the difference between NFP and FAM is the use of barrier methods during the fertile phase. We did try FAM for awhile, but didn't care for condoms and I'm allergic to nonoxyl-9 and most spermicides. Also remember that you are only as "safe" as your method, and that the failure rates of condoms, other barriers are based on ALL users, but once you are using them only during ovulation, you put yourself in a different bracket. If you are going to have a condom failure its can only happen during ovulation, KWIM? We gave up on using any type or method of BC, a year of trying to abstain during the fertile phase of my cycle caused us to rename it the UN natural family planning method :lol:

swedishmaiden

Postby swedishmaiden » Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:44 pm

proverbs_31_30 wrote:You recommended using a barrier method all the time when I am getting used to charting-- about how long do you think that should be? Just until I am completely comfortable with the process and able to understand how it works?

I think the other reason is that when you are coming off the pill, your body's "signs" can be somewhat confusing. For example, my first cycle off the pill, my cervical fluid was all over the place without any sort of pattern and I couldn't tell when I was fertile. Your body has to get back to normal. Mine did in a couple months, but a friend of mine had seven months before she ovulated again.

We tried condoms, too, and hated them. :lol: Right now we're using the FemCap and I like it. He can't tell it's there and it's not terribly hard to get in and out. It is definitely true, as runningwife said, that the method is only as safe as you make it. I.e., take the failure rate of the barrier and add in the potential failure rate of your or my judgment and you have to add them together. For me, it means better safe than sorry - always erring on the careful side.

I'm hesitant to give much advice, because I haven't been doing this as long as others have. But I can say that I LOVE charting my cycles! It makes me feel incredibly confident about my body and what's going on. I like the visual and being able to get an idea for what day I usually ovulate, how long my luteal period is, etc.

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Postby Princess_Bear » Thu Oct 16, 2008 3:10 pm

Adaya--Thanks for noticing my FAM posts!

proverbs_31_30--Try Red Raspberry Leaf tea for cramps. You can get it at health food stores. It's delicious with a little bit of sugar added! :D

swedishmaiden is right, FAM is really only as safe as you make it. It's really important to be dedicated about taking your temperature, and remembering the condom.

Last summer (07) I started using FAM to avoid pregnancy, and we successfully avoided for nearly a year. I was having some annovulatory cycles mixed in with my more normal cycles, so we decided to stop trying to avoid and let God be God.

The Taking Charge of Your Fertility website is a great place to find help when you're starting out with FAM or NFP. I'm actually the founder of a network of about 50 women on those boards who are all using FAM to either avoid pregnancy, achieve pregnancy, or used it to get pregnant. Let me know if you want the link to our avoiding group.

Yanubi
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Postby Yanubi » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:28 pm

Can I jump in here with a question?

Most of the time I'm a lurker and a gleaner, but this time I really need some feedback.

My husband and I got married in July (we're both 27). I was a virgin when I got married and started BCP about three months before the wedding. Long story short: they did wonky things to my system, and I switched to Nuvaring. While the symptoms are a bit relieved with the Nuvaring, they are still there. We've decided to try to find a non-hormonal method of birth control, so I bought and am reading TCOYF.

Here's where I'd love some help: What should I expect trying to switch off of hormonal birth control to the FAM method? Will my body and cycle do strange things? Will it take a while for my system to get back to normal? I was not on any birth control before the three months before the wedding, and reading the book, I can recognize signs of my fertility pre-birth control, but I'm wondering how long it'll take for my body to get back to that place.

I hope all that makes sense and thanks in advance for any responses!

swedishmaiden

Postby swedishmaiden » Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:24 pm

^Yanubi, I was on BCP for about as long as you have been and it only took a couple cycles for me to get back to "normal". My first cycle off the pill, as I said, my cervical fluid didn't have a regular pattern - it was pretty random. Additionally, my temps didn't have as much of a clear pattern - I still could sort of tell when I ovulated, but I wasn't certain. That's why we always used a barrier at first.
I would guess it varies a lot between women, though, just like our reactions to BCP differ.

Princess_Bear, what do you mean by network - is it like another discussion area? I'd be curious for the link, if that's all right. :)

Princess_Bear
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Postby Princess_Bear » Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:37 am

Swedishmaiden, we've got 5 different groups of engaged/newlywed women who are using FAM either to avoid, get pregnant, or have gotten pregnant using the method (as an oops or on purpose). I'll PM you the link to our Engaged/Newlywed Trying To Avoid (TTA) group.

PrettyRedHead

Postby PrettyRedHead » Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:51 pm

I've been doing NFP for almost a year now and I have a lot of good insight to share as at first this method was very difficult for me to get the hang of. Yes! You DO NEED an instructor--if you try to wing it on your own with a book (I did that for two months) you will not get anywhere with it--and if you are trying to avoid pregnancy, you run a much higher risk of ending up pregnant.

I started off with the Billings Ovulation Method. There is a great website for this at www.woomb.org. I did that for nearly 7 months when I got in contact with an instructor for the Creighton Method--I had so much frustration using the Billings Ovulation Method as it was the original NFP that was actually effective (not the "rhythm method" which was a total disaster, actually) but it is kind of out-dated now. The BOM focuses a lot of very subjective observations such as sensation at the vulva and because of the difference between our diet now as opposed to what people ate when the BOM came "on the market" (1940-1950s) we eat a lot more processed and refined foods which have a tremendous impact on these subjective observations. Anyway, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the Creighton Method. Here is the website for the Creighton Method: http://www.creightonmodel.com/

Dr. Creighton took what Dr. Billings did with his method and brought it up-to-date, throughly studied and researched it and now not only can this method be used to manage fertility, it can also be used to help diagnose womens' health problems! It is so amazing! And, unlike the BOM, it is standardized so if you chart using the Creighton Method, any instructor of the Creighton Method can look at your chart and know EXACTLY what you mean--whereas the BOM is very vague and you are forced to make up your own "code words" and descriptions and then try to explain them to your instructor who may not get what you are saying--which is the constant struggle I had with the BOM.

Also, based on what you said about your periods, I think you may have PMDD--which is what I am currently seeking treatment for as well. For the past 10 years about 1/2 of the month I am totally out of commission for similar reasons that you described. Using the Creighton Method it is possible to identify hormonal fluxes in your cycle and then use a very targeted method to treat them with hormones (not synthetic but natural and not overkill like taking the pill all month long--just taking them for a week after you ovulate at the end of your cycle). Here is some really fascinating information about PMDD and the Creighton Method: http://www.naprotechnology.com/pms.htm

I could literally go on all day about this because it has made such a huge difference in my health and life! My husband and I are a young couple and we are still learning more about this method. It does take an initial act of will to get into the method as you do have to abstain from having sex for at least one month (or one cycle) in the beginning and it does take self-control to abstain during fertile times--but it also helps you learn to communicate better and express non-sexual love better. It is a challenge but I really think this is a great method.

If you want more information you can contact me! Hope you go ahead and take that class--that is the right place to start--you really can't do it on your own--as you will need instruction, follow-up, encouragement and accountability to make the method work.

swedishmaiden

Postby swedishmaiden » Fri Oct 24, 2008 8:13 am

^Creighton doesn't use temping, though, does it? That's what I prefer about FAM, because my temps are such a huge part of my charting and helping me understand where I am in my cycle. Correct me if I'm wrong, though.

And not to argue... :wink: But personally, after reading TCOYF, I didn't feel the need of an instructor. I'm sure it differs from person to person (and maybe FAM is different than Creighton, anyway), but the book is very detailed and besides all the foundational material, has a lot of "troubleshooting" advice and I can look up just about anything I want to. My other big help was my friends who are also using FAM - we bounce questions and ideas back and forth, which is really helpful. :D

Fleur

Postby Fleur » Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:19 pm

We successfully practiced FAM for almost four years before getting pregnant (on purpose!) and never had an instructor. We both read Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, which I highly recommend this book.

So while it might very well help you to have an instructor, I don't believe it's necessary for everyone; it wasn't for us. But then we're both total researching nerds and I don't have a particularly baffling cycle as some women do.

PrettyRedHead

Postby PrettyRedHead » Sun Nov 09, 2008 12:57 am

swedishmaiden wrote:^Creighton doesn't use temping, though, does it? That's what I prefer about FAM, because my temps are such a huge part of my charting and helping me understand where I am in my cycle. Correct me if I'm wrong, though.

And not to argue... :wink: But personally, after reading TCOYF, I didn't feel the need of an instructor. I'm sure it differs from person to person (and maybe FAM is different than Creighton, anyway), but the book is very detailed and besides all the foundational material, has a lot of "troubleshooting" advice and I can look up just about anything I want to. My other big help was my friends who are also using FAM - we bounce questions and ideas back and forth, which is really helpful. :D


I think that because FAM does use contraception it's not as in-depth, maybe (???) I mean, with Creighton or Billings, you don't have the barrier method to fall back on so you have to know, that you know, that you know what you're doing in order to have any hope of avoiding pregnancy (if that's your goal). Also, I think for me the encouragement is quite necessary--plus there is a lot of information to cover including very detailed photos of what mucous is supposed to look like etc. Also helps to get both partners on the same page. It helps with a sort of "accountability" as well.

Creighton doesn't use temperature as one of the core symptoms but that is so easy to add in there and doesn't go against anything Creighton teaches (I asked my instructor and she was like, "Sure, you can do that if you want.")--so if you wanted to do the temperature measurements you can also chart those--just get a bit of extra info on it (which you can print off the web very easily). However, in the case of people like me who have young children and thus have interrupted sleep patterns the thermal part isn't as reliable if you use that as a main marker. I know other ladies who also measure the height of their cervix. All of this can literally be graphed and one can see the correlation between all the signs. The more signs you use, the better chance you have at seeing a pattern.

PrettyRedHead

Postby PrettyRedHead » Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:02 am

As I responded elsewhere, FAM and Creighton and Billings are quite different in their approach. With FAM you have a barrier method to use--with Creighton and Billings you don't (if you follow those methods precisely) so you really do need that extra coaching to establish what you're looking for as well as to get both people on the same page (Because it's not "when in doubt, wear a condom" it's "when in doubt don't have sex" which gets tiring after awhile if you don't know what you're looking for)--that was our experience--so it's not just the wife knowing what's going on and the husband just sorta following her lead--it has been super helpful to have the instructor as a sort of medium to help dialogue with--that has been invaluable. Not saying you can't do it without an instructor--but I think it is helpful to have one--also it connects you to a greater community of people within your community who are doing the same thing which is helpful especially when most of your other friends (in our case) are on the pill and don't really get why we chose NFP.

proverbs_31_30

Postby proverbs_31_30 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:10 pm

I'm in the process of reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I'm not very far into the book, so what I have to say may be completely irrelevant... maybe I should read the whole book before posting questions... but that's like 300 more pages :P

I had no idea that I'd have to check 'cervical fluids' in addition to taking my temperature! This might be a silly question, but is there a 'natural birth control' where I can just take my temperature and not have to check cervical fluids? It's not that I'm uncomfortable with it... I'd do it if I HAD to... but I'm just afraid that that's where I would mess up! lol. Or is the checking of the cervical fluids [ how many times can I say that in this post? :) ] absolutely necessary to ensure that pregnancy is prevented?

I don't want to have to do anything where DH and I *have* to abstain for any amount of time. Condoms are fine; but we won't be able to manage on a 'plan' where we absolutely have to abstain [even for 10 days... no way... lol].

Any suggestions/recommendations? I'm going off the pill in one month, maximum. I don't feel like I have much time left to 'figure everything out!' Ahhh.

Fleur

Postby Fleur » Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:28 pm

Actually, checking the cervical fluids is the easiest part, IMO! Taking temps is MUCH more tedious and much more work. You just check when you wipe after using the restroom. Honestly, the past couple of years I didn't chart my temps but just relied on cervical fluid and other signs I had learned to recognize as my body's ovulating. That said, skip any one part of FAM at your own risk! :lol: It worked for me, not for everyone. Oh, and I never checked cervix height, even at the beginning.

proverbs_31_30

Postby proverbs_31_30 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 1:47 pm

That's why I was wondering if it was necessary; I didn't want to 'skip' it if vitally important!

I guess I also didn't know that you can just tell by wiping after going to the bathroom. I do notice it, though, now that I think of it... extremely stretchy today :P I just kind of assumed that you had to check it by inserting your fingers into your vagina or something. I guess I haven't gotten that far in the book yet :]

So here's another dumb question :] DH and I frequently ML in the evenings before we go to bed, and I often wake up in the morning with a lot of 'leftovers' in my panties, as well as I usually have to wear a light pantyliner during the day after [which is like every day, lol] because of the semen that drips out and gets my panties wet. How do you tell the difference between semen and cervical fluid, when the cervical fluid is in it's 'milky' stage? I suppose it's not as important to know when it's 'milky' as opposed to when it's stretchy [because the stretchiness means ovulation soon, right?], but I'm not sure how I am supposed to know the difference, or if it is even important!

What other signs did you notice around ovulation?

proverbs_31_30

Postby proverbs_31_30 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 2:10 pm

swedishmaiden wrote:Right now we're using the FemCap and I like it. He can't tell it's there and it's not terribly hard to get in and out. It is definitely true, as runningwife said, that the method is only as safe as you make it. I.e., take the failure rate of the barrier and add in the potential failure rate of your or my judgment and you have to add them together. For me, it means better safe than sorry - always erring on the careful side.


I was just re-reading through the posts and finally looked at this link. It says that it has to be inserted 15 minutes prior to sexual arousal... is that difficult to do? How expensive are they? I don't have insurance [other than major medical] so it would be an out of pocket expense. I read that they are re-usable; but have not been able to find out for 'how long they last.'

I was also looking up the 'difference' between Natural Family Planning and the Fertility Awareness Method. This one page I'm looking at right now is basically saying that if you use the FAM method [using a barrier method during fertile times], you are not being faithful to your wedding vows by showing that you are really 'committed to one another.'

It also says that you "can't trust a spouse that says that they 'can't wait' 7-12 days for sex!" :shock: Are they serious?! Read this quote...

Consider this - if you're partner tells you that they can't 'wait' 7 to 12 days to have sex - how can you trust them? If they're telling you that their sexual urges are so strong that they can not control themselves - they are more interested in using you than loving you.

... they are more interested in using you than loving you...

You are merely the most convenient way for them to relieve themselves of their sexual urges. How can you really trust someone like that? What if you're out of town for a week and not available when their sexual urge strikes? A relationship like this depends on you being available for their sexual relief. If you're not available - you will be replaced with someone who is. This is not love. It is use. Using someone is the opposite of loving them.


"Decide today - what is more important to you? Being faithful to your wedding vows - or being able to get 'relief' from your sexual urges?"

What do you guys think of that? :|

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Postby Princess_Bear » Sun Nov 16, 2008 2:27 pm

Proverbs31_30,

I'm going to take a stab at answering your questions. I think you've probably seen in my previous posts where I've mentioned that I'm the leader of a network of 58 engaged women/newlyweds who are all using FAM in one form or another to avoid or achieve pregnancy. My DH and I used FAM successfully to avoid for just about a year, and now we're just waiting to see what God has in mind for us. We stopped avoiding in July.

I agree with Fleur, checking CF (cervical fluid) is pretty easy. It doesn't take much time at all, but it CAN be tricky to figure out. Especially if you're coming off hormonal birth control, your CF may be messed up at the beginning, making it harder for her to see when she's "drying up". I can't remember if you're on hormonal birth control or not, so that might not actually apply to you.

As I charted, I discovered that I actually got a much more accurate picture of quality and quantity of my CF if I check internally, right at my cervix. When I checked externally, I would only see sticky, but when I started checking internally, I found egg-white CF (EWCF).

On to your second post...

You've talked about ML in the evening. There is a rule that states that you are safe the EVENING of every OTHER dry day. If you had any cervical fluid at all throughout the day, you would need to use protection. HOWEVER, some women (myself included) have a Basic Infertile Pattern (BIP) of sticky CF. Using the above "Dry Day Rule" with a sticky BIP may lead to an unexpected pregnancy. We do have one woman that happened to in the Network. She's about 7 weeks along now, I think. I can give you the link to her chart if you would like.

So, leading up to ovulation, you could go without protection every other night until you see sticky CF, assuming that you have a BIP of dry. If your BIP is sticky, you could have unprotected sex every other night until you see creamy CF, but you would need to accept that there is a higher rate of failure for using the rule in that way. There are other, more accurate rules that help to extend the low-fertility phase at the beginning of your cycle, but they're only recommended for use after you've charted about six full cycles, and are not mentioned in TCOYF.

After three temps above your coverline, and four days of dry-up, you would not need to use protection. If you see creamy or stretchy CF AFTER you've confirmed ovulation through your three high temps and four days of CF dry-up, it's probably a secondary estrogen surge, and you don't need to use protection.

Let me know if you have any further questions!

*ETA* I cross-posted with your latest post. Sounds very NFP to me. We use FAM, so we did use a barrier when I was fertile, until we stopped avoiding. There are some different views out there, so just be aware of that...


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