By Dr Carla Brion | Acupuncturist & Chinese Medicine Practitioner
Natural un-conception… it’s a thing!
Image credit: theodysseyonline.com
There is nothing more stressful than an unplanned pregnancy scare. We have all been there, at least once. The more you think and worry about, the more you convince yourself those PMT symptoms are actually early pregnancy symptoms (Boobs are big and sore, you’re bloated, more emotional and slightly nauseous!)… Well ladies, this is drama that can be avoided.
As a Chinese Medicine Practitioner specialising in Women’s Health, I spend a lot of time helping women fall pregnant, whether it be assisted natural fertility using TCM or supporting women through an IVF cycle. But what if you want to be a healthy, vibrant woman that’s not trying to fall pregnant? It might not be your time to put on your bakers apron and pop a bun in the oven. Perhaps children are just not on the cards for you at all? Well the good news is, you don’t necessarily have to take ‘The Pill’ made from synthetic hormones. You don’t have to shove a metal rod into your inner arm. You don’t have to insert a plastic device into your uterus. These methods are definitely not for everyone and are shockingly over prescribed with a lack of education around their side-effects and long term outcomes on your health. I speak from personal experience when I say the pill was not right for me. Hormones are sensitive and hang in a beautiful balance so when I tried to introduce the OCP (Oral Contraceptive Pill) I went cray-cray (yes, I am pretty sure cray-cray is a medical term now). I felt unstable, depressed, highly emotional and not myself.
I didn’t know there were any other options because no one taught me otherwise. Until I found TCM and learned there were safer, cheaper and effective means of contraception. Thousands of years ago, Women listened to their bodies more, tuning in and tracking their cycles to understand themselves and each other. Long before our time, before drugs and technology, they would use the moon to predict their periods by understanding lunar phases. You can get in tune with yourself and your femininity by combining ancient practices with modern, science based methods. Empower yourself by knowing your body and it will thank you.
Image credit: womenshealthmag.com
5 steps to Natural Contraception
1. Track your Cycle…
Use an app on your smartphone to keep track of when your periods start and end, as well as the symptoms you have (such as period pain, bloating, low back pain, breakouts). If you understand what your cycle is doing and when it is doing it, then you can feel more in control of your contraception and are less likely to slip up. This is particularly handy if you suffer from PMT as you can rationalise your emotional sensitivity as hormonal if you see your period is due.
‘Eve’ is a great app to track your cycle: https://glowing.com/eve
2. Tune in with Ovulation…
You’ll need to start paying more attention to your body and the subtle signs it gives you. They do exist, but we just haven’t been educated enough about them. There are two main ovulation ‘red flags’ your body gives you when you are fertile:
– Ovulation twinges; this may be felt as a tugging, dragging, or niggling pain or twinge in either one or both ovaries. Not everyone experiences this but generally you’ll start to notice some slight activity down there if you look out for it.
– Cervical mucus; this is the discharge that can be felt at the opening of the vagina and is seen in your underwear, fluctuating in appearance at different times of the month (described in more detail below).
You can track your fertility with the ‘Glow’ app https://glowing.com/glow
3. Know your Cervical Mucus…
I know, its a bit of a ‘sticky’ subject (pun!) but this needs to be said. To really know when you are ovulating or when your fertile window is open (aka the ‘dangerous’ time), you have to start paying close attention to your cervical mucus (CM). Keep in mind we women are all different and so your CM will vary too so get a feel for your own patterns:
- Infertile CM: dry or little CM that is gluey, lumpy or tacky. This environment makes it hard for sperm to travel through. This is your safe zone (grey days).
- Possibly fertile CM: damp, creamy and slightly sticky CM. This is a time to take caution as your likely to be fertile where ovulation is beginning (light blue days).
- Fertile CM = wet, watery, slippery, stretchy and egg-white CM. This is a danger zone and usually indicates an egg has been released (dark blue days).
Image credit: readytogroove.com
4. Be safe…
Once you’ve been tracking your cycle and your CM to understand exactly when your fertile window is, it’s much easier to make educated decisions when having sex. If you’re in the fertile phase, you should play it safe. Always employ backup and use a barrier method (like a condom). Remember, sperm are thrifty little guys and can live several days in fertile CM, so it is best not to take any chances during ovulation. And if ever in doubt, remember that old saying; “no glove no love!”
5. Basal Body Temperature (BBT) charting…
This is a method where you take your temperature first thing in the morning before even getting out of bed. It can be a little more hard work but it’s accurate and can tell you if you’re ovulating, due for your period or even if you are pregnant as your body temperature fluctuates when your hormones change. Once you’ve learnt how to read it correctly, it becomes a habitual, daily routine.
You can learn more about BBT charting and plot your own data to get a graphical view of your cycle using this website: https://www.fertilityfriend.com/
Women’s health is a big deal. We need to talk more about it more and educate others more so that it’s no longer a taboo topic of conversation. If we are more self aware and connected to our bodies, then we can feel more confident to be happy, healthy, strong women at all times of the month!
Dr Carla xx