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My name is Kelly and I am 32 years old with 2 wonderful kids! I have had my Mirena in for almost 3 years and I was thinking of having it removed and trying NFP. I have been having lots of issues lately and I think most of them are due to having the Mirena.
Ok a little about my history. I have been on BC most of my life starting when I was only 15 on BC pills to regulate my cycle. I started having a menstral cycle when I was only 11 years old and I have never been regular and I would go months without having a period and then it was very heavy and painful. I was on BC pills from age 15 until age 27. When I stopped taking them and I got pregnant only 1 month after with my daughter who is now 4.5 yrs old. After I had her I was on the mini pill because it didn't affect my milk supply because I was exclusively pumping until my daughter was 4 months old. When my daughter was 10 months old I got pregnant even though I was taking mini pill daily! When my son was about 6 weeks old I got the Mirena inserted and had it ever since.
I would love to forget about BC all together and just do NFP but because my cycles are all over the place how would I know when I ovulate? I know I conceived my daughter on day 14 of my cycle and my son was conceived very late into my cycle around day 35. I am affraid I don't know my body and would get pregnant very easily. Any help would be much appreciated- thanks!
Kelly and John- Married: Sep 30th, 2006
Skyla Helen- Feb 2nd, 2008
Tyler Lyman- Sep 6th, 2009
Welcome to the NFP/FAM board! The ladies here are super helpful and friendly.
It's my personal opinion that if you can avoid hormonal BC, do it. I've just come off of the pill after 5ish years on and off, and I feel much better already. I read about charting and FAM-style birth control for a long time and then finally took the plunge and invested in the Taking Charge of Your Fertility book - it's a GREAT place to start if you're new to things. The author has a website too where you can read about some of the basics: Welcome to Taking Charge of Your Fertility
The book is useful whether you plan to use FAM as part of your birth control or to try to conceive. I would definitely recommend poking around her website and looking into the book, if you like what you see. I'll be honest and say that I (and others) have found it pretty overwhelming at first, but with a little bit of time it starts to make a lot more sense. It's just a lot of information all at once.
TCOYF approaches FAM from what's called a sympto-thermal FAM theory, which means that it talks about using a combination of waking temperatures and cervical fluid (your major fertility indicators) to identify ovulation (as well as cervical position, although this one many people find a little harder to interpret and the book considers to be an optional indicator). I (and a couple other members) use this type of FAM and feel comfortable with it.
We also have several ladies who practice (and a couple of whom are experts in) a method called the Billings Ovulation Method, which (to my understanding - feel free to correct me if I say this poorly!) only uses cervical fluid as a fertility indicator. There are other minor sub-categories of FAM out there, but those are the two that you'll find most commonly on this board. I'll let one of the other ladies leave a link or further explain BOM, if you're interested.
Personally, I think they both have a lot of merit and are both quite accurate if used correctly - FAM is definitely one of those things that you get out of it what you put in. Whatever you feel most comfortable with would probably be the best place to start, IMO.
Regardless of which method you end up using, a good understand of the ins and outs of the menstrual cycle and the fertility signs would be a great place to start. I found that TCOYF gives a pretty thorough (but concise) explanation, both on the website and the book. I would also advise that if you don't want to TTC, you should be very disciplined with birth control if you're comfortable with using it (condoms, spermicides, etc.) and use it ALL the time for your first cycle or two. The downside is that those things do alter your cervical fluid which makes it harder to interpret, which is a pain while you're first learning, but it's an option. Abstaining from any genital contact for a month or so is another way to a) ensure you don't conceive unexpectedly and b) keep your cervical fluid clear while you're figuring out what the different types/stages of it look like for you.
Expect some craziness post bcp. It's normal! Most women aren't 100% textbook even without having been on hormonal birth control. An actual certified instructor can be a huge help too, if you can find some nearby. We have a member who is an instructor, actually, and if you would be interested in that I'm sure she can help you figure out how to do that in your location. You certainly don't have to use one, but it's my understanding that they can be a fabulous resource, especially while you're first learning.
Be patient with yourself, have faith in your body and definitely make use of this forum and other resources while you're learning!
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I have nothing to add to what Kayla said, other than my personal experience. I've known the Creighton Model of NFP for 12 years, 9 years specifically using it for family planning reasons. I've never had a surprise pregnancy and there will be 6 1/2 years between my first and second child. It is quite easy once you get the hang of it.
The good news is NFP/ FAM is effective even with crazy cycles. The first thing you'll need to do is pick a method and learn it well. You can learn the symptom-thermal method by reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility, as Kayla mentioned, or there's several you can learn with an instructor. Whatever method you learn, follow it completely. Many babies have been conceived by cutting corners and not following all the rules all the time Also, this may seem obvious, but don't learn a method via google. I say that because I have two friends who were too lazy and/or cheap to learn a method from an instructor or from TCOYF and ended up pregnant very quickly from "the google method"
Welcome! Regularity is absolutely not necessary for NFP, but I do encourage you to take a class and let an instructor guide you through learning it all. Self-teaching is fine if you plan to TTC, but if it's very necessary to avoid pregnancy - learn from a certified instructor! There are several different modern methods of NFP, all are highly effective. We've used 3 different kinds and found the Billings Ovulation Method the simplest to use with my crazy cycles (I have PCOS).
If you find that your cycles are still a mess, there is lots of hope! A knowledgable NFP physician will be able to help you figure out what the underlying problems are. BC doesn't fix the root causes of cycle problems, it just deals with the symptoms. There's a good chance the problem is still there and NFP will give you a great opportunity to have it addressed once and for all!