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What is the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)?

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

These are ways to track your fertile window, or ovulation, so that you can try to get pregnant, or try to avoid pregnancy. This method is also sometimes referred to as 'natural family planning' or 'the rhythm method'.

There are four methods that are based on fertility awareness:

  • Standard Days Method

  • Cervical Mucus Method

  • Basal Body Temperature Method

  • Symptothermal Method

These methods are used to predict when you are in your fertile window. During this time, you are more likely to become pregnant. So if you are trying to conceive (TTC) this is a good time to have sex! If you are trying to avoid pregnancy, you should avoid sex or use another form of birth control, like condoms during this window.

The Standard Days Method

This method works best for women who's cycles are consistently between 26 and 32 days. Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of blood flow. The Standard Days method considers days 8-19 as your most fertile days. If you want to get pregnant, have sex every other day during this time period. If you want to avoid pregnancy, wear condoms or abstain from sex during this time period.

Cervical Mucus Method

This method requires you to check your vaginal discharge daily and to pay attention to changes in the mucus produced by the cervix. This involves recognizing how it looks and feels. This discharge changes throughout the month in response to fluctuating sex hormones. Leading up to ovulation, the amount of mucus increases and looks sticky, white, creamy, or 'lotiony'.

Around ovulation, it looks like egg-whites, slippery, clear, and/or stretchy. You will likely produce more at this time than any other time of the cycle. After ovulation, it will be sticky and dry.

When you notice the mucus increase leading up to ovulation, have intercourse if you are TTC. If you are not, use protection to avoid pregnancy until you notice a significant decrease in mucus and it is stickier.

If you are solely using this method, keep in mind there are things that can make reading ovulation signs more difficult. This can be altered by medications, hygiene products, douching, sex, breastfeeding, and/or a pelvic exam.

Basal Body Temperature Method

This method requires you to check your temperature daily in the morning before you get out of bed. The BBT is your body's temperature at rest, and this is why you should do it before you get out of bed. For most women, their normal body temperature will increase slightly during ovulation (0.5-1° F) and it will remain elevated until the end of the menstrual cycle. The most fertile days will be about 2-3 days before this spike in temperature.

BBT will only show when ovulation has occurred. So it's not the best method for preventing pregnancy. Using this method with other methods above can help increase knowledge around what your cycle patterns look like and can help you plan when to try to get pregnant.

Symptothermal Method

This method is a combination of the above methods. By recognizing patterns in your cycle by monitoring cervical mucus and BBT, you can increase your chances of getting pregnant, or have more knowledge on when to use protection with sex if you don't want to get pregnant.

Most women using this method will also utilize LH strips. Lutenizing Hormone (LH) is a hormone released from the brain to signal ovulation. It's recommended that you start collecting from about day 8 of your cycle until you see a spike, and then collect about 2 more days after. The spike in LH signals the ovary that it is time to ovulated. Once you see the 'peak' of LH, ovulation will occur anywhere from 12-36 hours later. If you are trying to get pregnant, you should definitely have sex in this timeframe!

Additional Methods for Tracking Fertility

If you're not sure about being able to interpret your cervical fluid and want something that's a bit easier to track, you can use Kegg Tracker. This device measures cervical fluid, BBT, and works as a kegel exercise ball. Since this doesn't need to be used as soon as you wake up in the morning, and is more accurate at predicting your fertile window, it is sometimes a preferred method for women. You can purchase Kegg here.

Pre-Mom is another great option and I recommend my patients to use it too. Pre-Mom is an app you can download that will read your LH strip results. This makes it easy to track patterns and it will help predict your fertile window- timing intercourse for pregnancy even more accurate. Unlike Kegg, it won't interpret your cervical fluid or BBT, it just measures LH. The app is free, and the strips are inexpensive and easy to use. You can purchase strips here.

If fertility tracking becomes overwhelming or stressful, there's no requirement to do it! Managing your stress when TTC can help increase chances of pregnancy.


Work With Me 👇

If you are looking for preconception counseling, are having difficulty conceiving, and/or have suffered from miscarriage(s) you can click here to sign up with a complimentary 15 minute phone call with me. We can discuss your goals at that time and determine whether or not we will be a good fit for each other. We will discuss necessary nutrients, dietary options, as well as lifestyle and exercise programs catered to YOU specifically to help you reach your health goals.

About Dr. Zaremba:

Dr. Zaremba received her bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University in Biomedical Sciences and minored in Chemistry and Psychology. She completed her doctoral training at Palmer College of Chiropractic. During her time in school, she took post-doctoral training through The Clinic on Disease and Internal Disorders (CDID) earning her a Diplomate from the American Board of Chiropractic Internists (DABCI).


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