If you’re like me, you hadn’t even heard of charting your cycle for fertility awareness until the last couple of years. Since I work in healthcare, I struggled to understand why fertility awareness based methods (FABMs) have not been integrated in healthcare systems at large. After all, FABMs are helpful tools for women to assess their overall health.

FABMs use different sources of the body’s data (such as waking body temperature, length of menstrual cycle, and cervical fluid) to assess menstrual cycle stages and various health conditions. 

I randomly sampled women in Facebook groups and my networks who were using a FABM to chart their cycle. Since most people only know about FABMs for family planning, I wanted to hear about their experience beyond that.

Here’s what these women said about how FABMs have supported their overall health.

Identifying Chronic Illness

Several women volunteered that charting using FABMs helped them uncover health conditions that were greatly affecting them:

“I found a NaproTechnology doctor who is willing to look at the whole woman; general practitioners and specialists often look at one issue and don’t consider the whole person . . . NaPro found my pituitary tumor that other doctors missed. It also helped significantly with hormone issues that were overlooked by other doctors.”

FABMs “helped me with stage four endometriosis, migraines, headaches, allergies, and autoimmune disease.”

“With charting and talking to NaPro doctors, I found hormonal problems and a vitamin deficiency, and was able to pinpoint major stressors and the effect they had on my body. This eventually led to me being diagnosed and treated for endometriosis. My NaPro doctors were the first to listen to me when I talked about my pain.”

“Mine literally saved my life. While other OB/GYNs recommended birth control, my NaPro doctor discovered a blood clotting condition that forbids me to take it. She was the first doctor to listen to my thyroid concerns. I would still be suffering from Hashimotos because while my TSH is still ‘normal,’ my T4 was on the floor.”

Health Maintenance & Preventive Care 

Women using FABMs expressed that it helped them keep their health in check and has empowered them and their families. Once these women embraced FABMs as a source of knowledge, they showed faith in its sustained use in their lives:

“NaPro works with me and has also valued my husband, which I appreciate.”

“NaPro did more than any regular OB/GYN I’ve ever had as far as listening to me and investigating things I knew I had that nobody could treat (low progesterone, for example). I spend more money with NaPro and Creighton, but it’s worth it because I’m getting results.”

“I think every woman should learn to chart. So much of our health revolves around our cycle and without the understanding of what my cycle is doing month to month . . . I wouldn't have learned about my own disease.

“I really love the way NaPro . . . empowers me to be an active participant in my health journey.”

“Charting won't help my medical issues, but it provides me with knowledge about my body. And it's information I can give to the doctor because they will find abnormalities, if there are any.” 

Need for Increased Awareness of FABMs

If charting is so invaluable for a woman’s health, why doesn’t this information seem more accessible?

One barrier to the use of charting is limited awareness of FABMs. For example, finding a NaProTechnology physician is difficult because it is a specialty OB/GYN fellowship only offered at Creighton University. Fortunately, groups such as Fertility Appreciation Collaboration to Teach the Science (FACTS) have made it their mission to educate medical professional about these methods so they may integrate FABMs into their healthcare practice.

Another barrier to using FABMs is that much of FABM education and care is not reimbursed by insurance. Fortunately, the leadership of FACTS, among others, have advocated for coverage of FABMs in health insurance plans in different states.

For continued adoption of FABMs in our health systems and throughout our personal peer groups, continued advocacy and education is needed to empower women as they care for their health.

If you’re interested in using a FABM to support your health, FACTS offers an overview of different methods.

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Molly Franzonello

Molly Franzonello is a full-time public service professional and part-time freelance writer living in Washington D.C. The majority of Molly’s career has been in the federal government focused on health system delivery innovation, administration, and policy. Molly and her husband are expecting their first child in January 2022.

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