Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health

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by Toni Weschler

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060937645
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/28/2001
Edition description: REVISED
Pages: 504
Product dimensions: 7.38(w) x 9.18(h) x 1.36(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Fertility Awareness:
What You Should Know and
Why You Probably Don't

How often have you heard that a menstrual cycle should be 28 days and that ovulation usually occurs on Day 14? This is myth, pure and simple. And yet it is so accepted that it's sadly responsible for countless unplanned pregnancies. Furthermore, it has prevented many couples who have desired a pregnancy from attaining one. Much of this fallacy is a legacy of the dangerously inaccurate Rhythm Method, which falsely assumes that individual women have cycle lengths that, if not precisely 28 days, are reliably consistent over time. The result is that Rhythm is nothing more than a flawed statistical prediction using a mathematical formula based on the average of past cycles to predict future fertility

In reality, cycles vary tremendously among women and often within each woman herself, though most cycle lengths are 24 to 36 days. The myth of Day 14 can affect individuals in the most astounding ways:

Ilene and Mick were virgins when they got married on May 21. They wanted to start a family soon after their wedding, so they had their joint medical insurance start on May 15. When they discovered that Ilene had gotten pregnant on their honeymoon, they were pleasantly surprised that it happened so fast. Imagine their shock when the insurance company refused to cover the pregnancy and delivery, claiming that since her last period started on April 19, she must have gotten pregnant about three weeks before the wedding.

"That's impossible," she insisted, "we were both virgins until our wedding day." She tried to explain to them that her cycles had become quite long and irregular since she started jogging and dieting in order to be a "picturesque bride."

The insurance company wouldn't hear of it. They adhered to the frequently used pregnancy wheel, the calculating device that doctors rely on to determine a woman's due date. It is based on the assumption that ovulation always occurs on Day 14. As Ilene lamented, "We were sunk. How does one prove virginity in a courtroom? And why should it be anyone else's business?" Needless to say, the Day 14 myth had very expensive consequences for Ilene and Mick. The only consolation they took from their experience was the fact that their son was born just when they expected, three weeks after the insurance company 's due date! He was, in the words of Ilene, "worth all the trouble anyway."

Luckily, with advances in our understanding of human reproduction, we now have a highly accurate and effective method of identifying the woman's fertile phase: The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). Fertility Awareness is simply a means of understanding human reproduction. It is based on the observation and charting of scientifically proven fertility signs that determine whether or not a woman is fertile on any given day. The three primary fertility signs are waking temperature, cervical fluid, and cervical position (the last one being an optional sign that simply corroborates the first two). FAM is an empowering method of natural birth control or pregnancy achievement, and it is an excellent tool for assessing gynecological problems and understanding your body

Why the Fertility Awareness Method is Not Better Known

As you read in the introduction, probably the greatest resistance to the acceptance of FAM has been its dubious misassociation with the Rhythm Method. Unfortunately, just the phrases "Natural Birth Control" or "Fertility Awareness" inevitably conjure up jokes along the lines of "What do you call Rhythm Method users?" — "Parents." Given the prevalence of this type of joke and the confusion of Rhythm with Fertility Awareness, is it any wonder that FAM is so misunderstood?

Furthermore, because the Rhythm Method is still practiced by people morally opposed to artificial methods of birth control, FAM tends to be falsely perceived as used only by such individuals. But in fact women from all over the world have been drawn to FAM simply because it is free of the chemicals associated with hormonal methods such as the Pill. Just as important, it allows them to minimize the time they need to use the devices that make other methods unpleasant, impractical, or unspontaneous. Many of these people tend to be oriented toward leading a natural and health-conscious life in other ways besides taking control of their fertility and reproduction.

It is true that many religious people have discovered the benefits of Fertility Awareness, though they may technically practice "Natural Family Planning" (NFP). The primary distinction between FAM and NFP is that those who use NFP choose to abstain rather than use barrier methods of contraception during the woman's fertile phase. But regardless of the differing values that often divide users of FAM and NFP all are drawn by the desire for a natural method of effective contraception.

FAM's Conspicuous Absence from Medical School

If FAM has so many benefits as a method of birth control (and as an aid to pregnancy achievement, as you will later read), why, then, is it not better known? One of the most critical and mystifying reasons that people have rarely heard of it is that doctors are still seldom taught a comprehensive version of this scientific method in medical school. It is amazing to think that women who practice the Fertility Awareness Method are often more knowledgeable about their own fertility than gynecologists who are trained to be experts in female physiology!

Years ago when I taught at a women's clinic, the entire staff except one doctor took my seminar to use FAM as a method of contraception. One day, the one who had never attended pulled me aside and whispered, "Toni, I'll be honest with you. I don't refer my patients to your classes." "Oh really, why is that?" I casually asked, trying not to act surprised. "I got pregnant using your method and haven't trusted it since," she replied. "You're kidding! What rules did you use?"...

Taking Charge of Your Fertility (Revised Edition). Copyright © by Toni Weschler. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments    ix
Introduction   xiii
   
Part One BREAKING FERTILE GROUND: TOWARD A NEW WAY OF THINKING     1
 1. Fertility Awareness: What You Should Know and Why You Probably Don't     3
 2. Taking Control of Your Reproductive Health    11
   
Part Two REDISCOVERING YOUR CYCLE AND YOUR BODY   31
 3. There's More to Your Reproductive Anatomy Than Your Vagina   33
 4. Finally Making Sense of Your Menstrual Cycle   44
 5. The Three Primary Fertility Signs   52
 6. How to Observe and Chart Your Fertility Signs   67
 7. Why Women Don't Always Ovulate or Menstruate   94
   
Part Three  NATURAL BIRTH CONTROL 103
 8. Fertility Awareness in the Age of AIDS 105
 9. Natural Birth Control Without Chemicals or Devices 110
10. Shortcuts: Minimum Charting with Maximum Reliability 124
   
Part Four PREGNANCY ACHIEVEMENT 129
11. Maximizing Your Chances of Getting Pregnant 131
12. Practical Tips Beyond Fertility Awareness 153
13. Lovemaking Versus Babymaking 167
14. What Next? Tests and Treatments That May Be Necessary to Achieve Pregnancy 172
   
Part Five BEYOND FERTILITY: PRACTICAL BENEFITS OF CHARTING YOUR CYCLE 195
15. Maintaining Your Gynecological Health 197
16. Appreciating Your Sexuality and Nurturing Your Relationship 212
17. Choosing the Sex of Your Baby 219
18. Premenstrual Syndrome: It's Not All in My Head? 228
19. Demystifying Menopause 236
20. Enriching Your Self-Esteem Through Knowledge About Your Body 250
   
APPENDICES 253
A. Troubleshooting Your Cycle: Expecting the Unexpected 255
B. Using FAM During Special Circumstances 294
C. Using FAM While Nursing Your Baby 302
D. The Contraceptive Effectiveness of Natural Birth Control 308
E. The Menstrual Cycle: A Summary of Events Through the Use of a 28-Day Model 317
F. Most Commonly Asked Questions 325
G. The Difference Between Natural Methods of Birth Control 333
H. Optional Coverline 334
I.  Optional Cervical Fluid Symbols 335
J.  Drugs That Can Affect the Cervical Fluid 336
K. Optional Master Charts ( for Recording Exercise, PMS, or Internal/External Cervical Fluid ) 338
L.  Offensive Terminology in Women's Health 342
M. Fertility Awareness Resources 344
N. Recommended Books 348
Glossary 350
Bibliography 362
Index 373
Master Chart 383

Customer Reviews

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Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
tundra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was really fantastic. I was completely unaware of the charting and observation techniques this book spells out and it has been really useful.
SnoopingBunny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A must read for every female! Explanations of the female's role in fertility and conception that makes the reader go, Ohhh! So that's what's going on there! Full of information about the female body that most women aren't even aware of.
sarahtar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absolutely must have. Such a great reference, recommended for any female to get a detailed yet easy to understand explanation of how fertility and hormonal cycles work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a must have for all women in their childbearing years. This book gives you the information to empower yourself and gain the knowledge you need to know regarding fertility, whether trying to conceive or avoiding pregnancy. Never have I received so much information on fertility, and it has truly changed my life. My book is very well worn, I have read it so many times. This book is a must read for all women. It gives you the formula you need to obtain birth control naturally, without hormones, and how this method is drastically different from the antiquated 'Rhythm Method.' This same information will help you acheive pregnancy faster, alerting you to the signs indicating the best time for conception. I wish I had this book when I was younger. If I have a child, I want to be sure that my child has this knowledge to gain control over her reproductive life. If one intends on using this book to avoid pregnancy, you'll find that this is the cheapest way to avoid pregnancy. The only cost to you is a) this book b) pencil and paper (although software that accompanies this book is a true asset) c) the cost of a basal thermometer, and d) a few minutes each morning to look for fertility signs and taking your temperature. If you compare that cost vs. monthly prescription for birth control pills, this is the hands down winner. You will receive so much from this book. The author uses a wonderful sense of humor to convey the knowledge of this book to the reader. I can't say it enough: a real 'must have' for every woman.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This guide book helped me design a birth control plan which was in HARMONY with my body, beliefs, and desires. It is now helping me on the enjoyable path of pregnancy acheivement! I recommended it to a friend, and it helped her get pregnant after over a year of trying. The lady who recommended it to me has had 2 successful pregnancies in her early 40's. Thanks!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Can I rate this as 6 stars? This has been THE BEST book I have read about reproduction and all it's facets. I have been using this as my method of birth control for 4 years now, and have had NO regrets whatsoever (versus friends who have hated their methods). This book does not get dusty on my shelf: it is incredibly informational (all the things we never knew but should have been taught!), it is a fantastic reference, especially during 'odd' cycles, (I have felt more informed than my gynocologist at times). I have recommended this book to all of my girlfriends, my sister, grad-school-mates, even some co-workers! Now I plan to use it to get pregnant. I cannot say enough about this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the absolute bible for getting pregnant or preventing it. I totally recommend this to anyone and everyone out there, it's worth every penny!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone interested in getting pregnant or preventing it. The book is detailed enough to keep your attention, but not be over your head. When you have further questions regarding charts and how they look you can always visit the website and see some real life example.
Guest More than 1 year ago
By utilizing the techniques in this book, I got pregnant after first attempt. I have also used the natural birth control techniques in this book, it really works. I will use the technique again, when I have my second child. I always recommend it to all my friends. Every woman should read this book, it has great resources about a woman's body that your mother won't tell you because she does not know it herself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My friend's sister is a midwife and recommended that I read this book. After reading the first chapter, I was hooked. It is an excellent resource - easy to read but technical enough to keep one's attention. It contains invaluable information that should be available to all women regardless of their reproductive goals.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book. Whether you are trying to get pregnant or not, it will teach you how to read your body's signals to know where you are in your cycle. If you are comfortable with and cognizant of your body, this is a great tool. It helped me get pregnant on the first try!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was astounded by the information that I did NOT know about my own reproductive health. After reading this book from cover to cover, my husband and I tracked my cycles, and conceived our first month of trying. We have also NOT gotten pregnant using the same techniques in the last two years. I buy this for all my girlfriends when they say they're ready to start a family (or not!)
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an infertility survivor, this book helped me so much in the beginning; it educated me! I am so grateful for having it as my first resource.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book below covers uterus sparing techniques that are of critical importance for women with fibroids that want to perserve their fertility
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so informative! I always thought that I was very intuned with my body, but I can't believe that I'd never learned these things before. The book includes an outstaning overview of fertility, with very clear specifics, such as diagrams, pictures, charts. Very helpful and I would highly recommend to all women of child-bearing age.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book -- eye opening. I understand my body so much better now! I am trying to get preganant and refer back to this book frequently. I also recommend this book to women not trying to get pregnant.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. I followed the birth control part for quite a while and then we decided we would try for a baby. We had sex twice, which I learned how to detect and understand what my body was doing from the book so I knew the best time to try. Needless to say, 2-1/2 weeks later we knew for sure it worked. It was just astonishing. With the charting, I really knew within 8 days that something was definitely amiss. All I can say is THANK YOU to the writers! :-)
Guest More than 1 year ago
All girls should have to read this book to find out exactly what happens in their bodies each month. While I don't know if I would practice FAM, this book is great when it comes to understanding your cycle and what goes on. I couldn't put it down to the point where my husband was amused. I know of several women who have used the techniques in this book to successfully acheive pregnancy. I don't feel that this book is at all feminist, rather that it will help women's image of themselves. This book takes apart so many of the myths that women are taught from an early age about their fertility
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I'm familiar with the hormonal and physiological changes that occur during the menstrual cycle, I never gave much thought about how that knowledge could be put it to use to prevent pregnancy. We know the rhythm method doesn't work. This book takes the basic idea behind the rhythm method and enhances it by incorporating a few key principles - namely that women are NOT 28-day-clocks, and that menstrual cycles can easily vary in length from cycle to cycle. Although keeping track of your cycle takes slightly more time than taking a pill each morning, I think that many women would consider the extra time well spent. I have a comment about one of the reviews below, the one from the Catholic homeschooling mother. With all respect due to her, I honestly don't believe that she read this book. I found very little in the way of feminist rhetoric in this book, and certainly nothing that I would consider radical. If anything, this book repeatedly stresses the risks and consequences of sexual intercourse (even when using other forms of birth control) during the 'fertile' phase of one's cycle. It also stresses the ubiquitous warning, 'abstinence is the only 100% effective method of birth control.' Weschler goes as far as to suggest that couples choose abstinence or non-intercourse sexual expression during the woman's fertile phase. Whether you choose to practice natural family planning for moral or practical reasons, this book is very useful, informative, and enjoyable to read. Above all, it Weschler writes with clear respect of the reader. Some more conservative readers may be initially put off by the idea of physically examining themselves for signs of ovulation, but otherwise I find nothing objectionable here.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really think this is the best thing out there! If only we all learned this when we were in school. After I read this book I realized I knew nothing of my own body. I used to get pregnant and then to prevent it. I am going to definitely give it to my daughter when she is a teenager so she will know from the beginning.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is exciting that an apparent feminist would support the counter-cultural idea that natural family planning is just as EFFECTIVE and HEALTHIER than artificial birth control. Since most health care professionals still know little about this method, and tend to lump it in with the ineffective "rhythm method" of the past, this book might serve well in the medical community as an introduction to natural family planning. However, the downfall of the book is that it still clings to the mistaken notions of the "birth control culture," namely that fertility is something to be CONTROLLED, that I SHOULD BE ABLE TO HAVE SEX WHENEVER I WANT TO, and that THERE SHOULD BE NO CONSEQUENCES (i.e. pregnancy). This "me-first" perspective will not likely appeal to couples who would like to practice natural family planning for religious or moral reasons. Such couples will find much better guidance in "The Art of Natural Family Planning" by John and Sheila K. Kippley; here they will get all of the same scientific methodology without the feminist rhetoric.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have always considered myself an educated person, however, this book is so rich with information I did not know. I read it over a few days and was completely engrossed and I continue to refer to it even now. This book is good for any female who wants to truly understand what happens to their body, whether or not she is sexually active and whether or not she is trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid it. I bought it when I was trying to get pregnant (and it worked!), but I wish I had read this YEARS ago.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Seriously, this book is so important for women, I can not stress it enough. I am telling all my girlfriends about it. It's so important to be aware and educated about your body and cycle. It affects so many aspects of your life. This book is easy to understand, yet facinating and enormously informative. I read it in a matter of days! I will never sell or give this book away. It's a keeper!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Every female over the age of 12 should have this book. It really should be 'required reading' in high school health classes. TCOYF teaches how to easily understand the female body and what happens throughout a menstrual cycle. It does not stop there though. This book teaches, using plain english, how to avoid pregnancy without using hormonal birth control or barrier methods if you choose, as well as how to increase your chances of conceiving quickly. I have used both successfully. I got pregnant quickly when I wanted to, and I have also successfully avoided pregnancy. All women should empower themselves by reading this book!