Feb. 17, 2023

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) and Birth Control with Nathalie Daudet Part I (Episode 3)

Nathalie:Fertility awareness is not this like woo, natural hippie thing. It's very much based on the science of our physiology and our hormones. And it's very common sense. It doesn't require you to change anything about your body or fertility. You are simply observing your fertility signs and then choosing when to have unprotected sex and when not to.

Nicole:Hi everyone. Welcome back to the Multitudes Podcast. I'm Nicole, and today we are talking about FAM, also known as the Fertility Awareness Method, and we'll be talking about the practicalities of implementing FAM, to the wider conversation around birth control. And my guest today is Nathalie Daudet. Nathalie is a fertility awareness instructor and educator, and also creator of the Fertility Awareness Project.

This is a bit of a longer episode as we get into topics such as her background in social work, influencers in the online space that are shaping and polarizing the narrative about birth control, other birth control methods, and ideas for how to involve your partner and how to talk to your OBGYN or doctor in your birth control decisions.

If you are here to learn a little bit more about the technical practicalities of FAM, you'll find that later in the episode around the hour mark, and you can also check out the show notes and the chapter notes listed. (Depending on where you're listening for specific chapter markers that speak best to what you're interested in learning about FAM and birth control.)

And I also encourage you to consider the whole episode as a resource if you're curious about FAM, and if you're considering this method or other birth control methods, it's definitely worth listening to. And Nathalie is also so warm, wise, non-judgmental, and just real about approaching FAM and I think that shines through in our entire conversation.

Please be sure to subscribe to follow Multitudes as we will have plenty of new content coming out soon, and I will see you on the other side. 

Nicole:Hi Nathalie.

Nathalie:It's so good to be here!

Nicole:I’m so excited to have you here! And thanks so much for joining. And Nathalie Daudet is a certified fertility awareness educator, social worker and menstrual cycle coach. She discovered fertility awareness after searching high and low for a non-hormonal method of birth control.

And after learning the magic of fertility awareness and the gift of body literacy, she decided to pursue formal fertility awareness training, and the Fertility Awareness Project was born. And hundreds of people worldwide have learned to chart their menstrual cycle for birth control with her online course Cycle Love. So welcome, Nathalie. Thanks so much for being here.

Nathalie:Thanks for having me, Nicole. I'm so glad you asked me to be on your podcast. I'm really excited about your new project and I can't wait to chat about all things FAM.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. We'll definitely get into all things FAM - fertility awareness method, and first I would love to talk a little bit more about your story and how you became interested in being a fertility instructor.

Nathalie:So, I discovered fertility awareness when I was searching for a method of contraception. I was doing a lot of research on all of the available methods, as someone who didn't come out of high school sex ed, feeling like I was empowered with all of the options. 

It was only something that once it became relevant to me, I dove in and looked into what was available, and I did a lot of research on hormonal contraception and then the available non-hormonal methods and came across a lot of books and articles, and blog posts as I did my research and eventually decided on wanting to pursue something that was non-hormonal. 

So, I went to my nurse practitioner and asked if I could be fitted for a diaphragm, and she told me that diaphragms were hard to access in Canada, hard to get fitted for. I know a little bit more about diaphragms now, but in the moment, I was kind of just going off what she was telling me, and she recommended that I look into the fertility awareness methods and referred me to a fertility awareness educator in person. 

And so, I didn't really know a lot about fertility awareness, but when I went to the class, once I learned kind of how it worked and what fertility awareness meant as birth control, it made a lot of sense to me and it fit really well with how I wanted to relate to my body and the choices that I wanted to make. 

And I didn't want to feel constrained by taking medication. And so, fertility awareness just kind of fit really well for me personally, for my relationship. And I took the class and then started charting my cycle, and then it kind of took off from there. And since then, I believe that was seven years ago. 

I've been charting my cycle ever since and have really immersed myself in fertility awareness, body literacy, empowered and informed decision-making around contraception. And just really wanting to educate people about their bodies and really help people feel like they're making basically empowered choices about their contraception.

Nicole:Thank you so much for that introduction and talking a little bit about educating people about their bodies. You also have a background in social work and can you talk a little bit about that and also what you were doing before you became a fertility instructor?

Nathalie:Yeah, thanks for asking Nicole. I don't think anyone has asked me that on a podcast, so I’ve always wanted to talk about the field of social work and kind of how I came into this work and also how a lot of what I'm doing still is really connected to social work philosophies. 

Basically, what I was doing before I had my undergrad degree in social work and I went on to work in, I guess family and teenager and youth work. And following that I worked in mental health with adults mostly, doing a lot of traveling. I live in Manitoba, Canada and there are a lot of remote communities, so I would fly to and drive to remote communities and provide service in those communities. Basically, yeah, basically in the field of mental health, I would say.

But it was pretty overarching and touched a lot of different areas of social work and I really loved the social justice aspect of social work. It's a huge pillar of the field of social work. And I found at the same time the work that I was doing to be really demanding on my own mental health ironically.

 I felt like I was not maybe as supported in my role as I could have been, or maybe I was pretty green and being thrown into some situations that went in over my head. But I found that the longer I was working, the more I felt my mental health was taking a hit, and also like my psycho health too, and my physical health. 

And so, I decided to quit my job and pursue further education, before my business had really taken off and before I could really only teach fertility awareness. So, I decided to do my master's in social work. I started that in I believe, 2019 then finished in 2021. And while I was doing my master's, the pandemic happened, and that was kind of happening during the time that I went back to school. 

So, as I went back to school, my intention was to think about menstruality and how that connected to mental health. But in the end, I really have incorporated that into my work a little bit more subtly. 

I'm still teaching fertility awareness as birth control primarily. But at the same time, a lot of the ideas and philosophies that underpin social work still continue to inform the work that I do.

Even though I feel quite separate from the field of social work, I don't do the same type of work that I did before. But I would say in the terms of education and informed choice and creating accessibility and focusing on justice and feminism and all of these different areas, still, what I feel that I'm doing is still very connected to social work, if that makes any sense.

Nicole:Yeah, absolutely. And I'm curious, so you started your fertility awareness instructor business before you went back to school? 

Nathalie:Yeah. I would say I kind of slowly started sharing about my own charting journey on Instagram and started sharing about my own teacher training journey on Instagram, and that is kind of how I dipped my toe into the water. I started taking on clients as I was finishing my FAM teacher training, which is what I trained to be a FAM instructor. And then once I had enough clients that I was able to quit my job, and at the same time I was going back to school, was when I really kind of dove headfirst into teaching fertility awareness. 

I would say I kind of slowly made the transition over time. And I was taking courses on the side and it was very much a side hustle while I was still doing social work. And then eventually it kind of transitioned more into a full-time gig.

Nicole: Got it. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. And, before we get into more of your full-time gig and more about charting what you've mentioned, I'm curious about when you were more traditionally in social work. You mentioned kind of, that you were burning out. And I imagine that this happens a lot in social work.

And I'm curious if you could speak to that or anyone who's working in social work and social justice, and like how you think about the burnout and managing your business and that sort of thing.

Nathalie:That's a really good question. I think what I can speak to most is my own experience in noticing where I was seeing signs of burnout, and that was really strong in my cycle. And noticing that I was having longer and longer cycles and more delayed ovulation is something that's been really typical for me when I've been under stress.

So that was kind of the first clue for me that there was something in my life that was out of balance or needs weren't being met. 

And, that really kind of prompted me to take a closer look at what was going on and finding that I didn't have the capacity to continue the way that I was. I think people who are in helping professions are generally really empathetic and put their whole heart into the work that they do, which is a really admirable thing.

And at the same time, I think it can be really easy to give everything away and give your whole self away and not keep any for yourself and not have those boundaries. And you find yourself thinking about clients when you're not at work or you are losing sleep over things that are happening at work, is not a sustainable way to stay in the field for a really long time.

And then I also think it's really important to evaluate the work culture that you're in. And a lot of work cultures in this field don't have the resources or aren't adequately funded and can't support their employees the way that they should be supported because there's so much vicarious trauma that happens in that field. So much that social workers are exposed to and see, and then are expected to just go back to work and like nothing has happened because that's their job. 

But we are all human, we all have capacity. We all have like this window of tolerance and when things become too much and they are outside our window of tolerance, it can really take its toll on our health. 

So, it's kind of tricky because the system is not caring for employees the way that they should be. And yet I don't think that's the employer's fault. I think it really is a wider issue and especially, I mean, this will be different wherever people live, but especially here, I feel like the need is so much greater than the resources.

And so, it can feel really helpless to be confronted with all these problems and not have the resources to figure it out.  I don't really know what the solution is. I just know that we can't be good helpers if we are not taking care of ourselves. And it's okay to have boundaries and limits, even when we're working with people who are in really tough situations. It's a hard thing to navigate.

Nicole:Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for sharing that because I feel like it's something that's overlooked. And I know we've heard about burnout a lot in the medical community during Covid 19, the pandemic. But I think it's also important to remember that it expands to a wider network of people who are providing support to others in various forms. 

Nathalie:Totally. Absolutely. Yeah. And I think the pandemic really highlighted that. And there were certain professions that were sounding the alarm bells, and it kind of comes to consciousness and then it fades away. But for people working in the field, it's not something that ever goes away. It's something they have to deal with every day. Yeah, it's really tough.

Nicole:It's hard to kind of turn your brain off, especially when your heart is open in that way, so.

Nathalie:Yeah. Absolutely.

Nicole:Yeah. Well thank you for sharing about your time in social work, and I would love to talk a little bit about your experience now as a fertility instructor and could you tell us a little bit about what a fertility instructor does and also a little bit about the FAM method or FAM in general.

What is that fertility awareness method?

Nathalie:Yeah, so FAM, as we've been throwing around FAM, FAM stands for the fertility awareness method. You can also talk about broadly fertility awareness-based methods, which include multiple different ways of interpreting fertility biomarkers and using that information to avoid pregnancy, or to conceive, or just to monitor reproductive health. 

We have all of these body signs that occur that we can pay attention to, and they tell us where we are in the cycle relative to ovulation. So, people have heard of the symptothermal method of fertility awareness. It's a method under the umbrella of fertility awareness-based methods. We track basal body temperature. We track cervical mucus and basal body temperature rises very slightly after ovulation. So, it's a way of tracking progesterone, the progesterone response that happens after ovulation and to know that ovulation has occurred. And then cervical mucus changes throughout the cycle. But it really tells us our levels of estrogen.

It tells us where we are in our fertile window, and it tells us when ovulation might happen by changing in its color and consistency, and sensation. So, fertility awareness-based methods can use basal body temperature, cervical mucus. Other methods will also use hormone testing like LH testing. And we really just get a picture of observation and awareness of ovulation. Really, I feel like a lot of people are familiar with their periods, with menstruation, but between one period and the next, there is a lot of hormonal change that happens that's centered around ovulation, which is a very brief event, 12 to 24 hours that would be alive for in the cycle. And huge hormonal shifts happen around that single event.

And so, with fertility awareness methods, we track those hormonal changes. And I'm super passionate about using fertility awareness as birth control. Basically, avoiding unprotected sex when conception is possible and enjoying worry-free unprotected sex when it's the reverse; when pregnancy is not possible because there's no egg to fertilize. And a lot of people will also use the same information to conceive.

So, it's really just about observing our bodies and reading our bodies' signs, which is an incredibly empowering practice. Because you'll notice your period, but unless you're paying attention to it, you're not necessarily gonna know that you're ovulating. So, once you learn how to read the signs of ovulation, you open your eyes to this whole new world that your body is showing you. So, fertility awareness instructors basically learn a method of fertility awareness. 

There are many, many methods of fertility awareness that all vary in the biomarkers that they chart, but they're based on similar science. And fertility awareness instructors will teach how to interpret those signs, those ovulation signs. They'll teach a very specific way of charting those signs on either a paper chart or an app with specific symbols and a standardized way of observation. And then the third piece, is, they will teach and interpret the chart that the client has collected their data on.

So basically, clarifying what's on the chart, interpreting what's on the chart, and making sure that that client is charting correctly, which is super important, especially if someone is avoiding, to have someone to reflect back what they're observing and to fit that into the method that they're learning.

And then you can apply the rules of that method. Basically, how to interpret the biomarkers if you are avoiding, when it's safe to go unprotected; when you want to stay protected or abstain. All of those types of things come in when you're teaching fertility awareness. And then you're also really as a fertility awareness educator, working with people across their entire reproductive lifespan. 

So, I've had clients who I worked with three years ago who were avoiding, and are now coming back. And they use that same information to conceive and now they're wanting to avoid postpartum or plan their next pregnancy. You have people who have struggled to conceive for a really long time and you're working with them through the highs and lows of that.

And so, you really, in that way, it does connect very much to social work, in that, you are very intimately in someone's life in a very precious, vulnerable piece of their life; sexuality, conception, contraception, body literacy, all these things that are so personal, walk people through in a really non-judgmental and open and informed way.

So that's the best way I can describe the work that a fertility awareness educator does. It's more than just education. It's also helping someone apply that information to their own bodies and also open up the doors for more learning and more information about their bodies.

Nicole:Yeah. Wow. Thank you. That is a super holistic explanation of what FAM is and what a fertility instructor does, and I love that you talk about it as an empowering practice and you're showing up in a time in their life, that is really important and for making important decisions.

 I captured that there are three main things that you can help with. It's reading the signs that your body is telling you through changes in your hormones during your menstrual cycle, and then how to chart that either in an app or on paper, and then clarifying what that means, reading off the chart.

And I would also love to talk a little bit about other methods that people might have heard of, and they might be thinking, how is this connected to or adjacent to FAM? Before we dig a little bit more into FAM itself. And I'm thinking that people have heard of natural family Planning and the pullout method.

And can you talk a little bit about how that's connected? How it's different?

Nathalie:Yeah, that's such a great question. There is a lot of misconceptions swirling around fertility awareness and still, even though it's becoming more mainstream, I think with social media, there is still a lot of misconceptions. 

And I think people will tell, maybe their doctors that they're thinking about using FAM or maybe a parent or a sibling, and there are all sorts of responses that you can get because if you don't fully understand what fertility awareness is, you could mistake it with the rhythm method.

You could also think that it is someone loosely charting their fertility signs, but not actually sticking to a method. Also, people have probably heard of natural family planning, which has a lot of religious associations. So basically, fertility awareness-based methods include both secular and religious forms of fertility charting. And natural family planning typically refers to religious methods of fertility charting.

So, in a lot of Catholic circles, people will avoid the use of hormonal contraception and will also avoid barrier methods. So natural family planning was created with this idea in mind that people could avoid pregnancy, but not use barrier methods or hormonal contraception. And so, there's a lot of teaching around abstinence in the fertile window, as well as maybe some teaching around marriage, sexuality and that sort of thing. 

Fertility awareness methods that are secular will include methods other than abstinence in the fertile window, like barrier methods or perfect withdrawal, which we also call the pull method or alternative sex. So, there is a big difference between the two. 

Not all natural family planning instructors will include religious elements in their teaching. It just depends on the instructor. In some schools, teacher training institutes will require that their educators speak to religion. So, it really depends person to person. I'm taking a teacher training right now with Billings, which is a method of natural family planning, and yet I am a secular instructor. 

So, there's a lot of kind of nuance and crossover and it really just depends on the instructor. But a lot of people are surprised when they realize that there is this religious element to fertility awareness-based methods. Basically, the origins of those methods, it's largely [religious].

And then we have the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility written by Toni Weschler. Kind of like this opening of, I would say, more secular. I'm sure there was other openings and secular instructors before then, but I feel like then, a secular approach to fertility charting became more widespread. And now there are many instructors who will teach a secular method of fertility awareness. So, that is one huge piece. 

The other thing people will mix up FAM with is the rhythm method. And the rhythm method basically says that everyone has a 28-day cycle and everyone ovulates on day 14. So, if we can track our period, we'll know that ovulation will be 14 days later and we'll avoid unprotected sex around day 14.

But the reality is that very few people have 28-day cycles every cycle, and not everyone ovulates on day 14. So, it's accurate if you have that cycle, but for most people, they don't. And fertility awareness relies on your real-time indicators of fertility, which change from cycle to cycle. It's normal to have some variation of ovulation and your cycle length each cycle. 

And then you also mentioned the pullout method. And the pullout method in fertility awareness speak - we would refer to it as “withdrawal”. And withdrawal can be effective, but there are some practices or rules around withdrawal to make it as effective as possible. So, if pullout is being used lazily or it's not being used properly every time, it’s not going to be as effective. 

And when I work with my clients, we talk about making the pullout method or withdrawal as effective as possible. So, pullout, withdrawal, however, you want to call it, is an option in the fertile window. There are some caveats or things to know about it that goes a little bit more in-depth, but it is an option along with barrier methods like condoms or diaphragms, and then alternative sex in the fertile window.

Nicole:Got it. Thank you so much for that overview. There are so many different methods, and they are really interesting in terms of the minor differences. 

And yeah, I would love to talk a little bit about what you mentioned in terms of social media and also in connecting to this idea of misconceptions and myths out there. And when I'm thinking about social media, we were talking earlier about this idea of these influencers on TikTok who are encouraging women to not use birth control.

And I'm actually going to read a little bit from these two articles. One is from Wire and one is from Vice and I will put these articles in the show notes.

“There's a corner on TikTok encouraging women to get off birth control and try natural contraceptive methods that's become even more dangerous at a time when millions of people across the US are no longer able to access abortions. 

On TikTok, videos with hashtag natural birth control have been viewed nearly 3 million times. Some of the content creators advertise themselves as holistic healers or hormone coaches - euphemisms for not a doctor. And they stare into the camera and call hormonal birth control, toxic or unnecessary while saying the pill causes cancer and other illnesses.

They share their own stories about getting off hormonal birth control and encourage other people to do the same. And another TikTok viewed 1.1 million times and pops up in searches, says in quotes, ‘The birth control industry isn’t going to like the fertility awareness women uprising’ while claiming natural methods are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy.”

And I bring this up because, in the article, it also mentions and sums up this idea that a birth control backlash could result in increased unplanned pregnancies. And the consequences are made more complicated by America's political climate and unsatisfactory healthcare. And I would love to just touch on this and unpack it a little bit. What you are noticing, how you're responding as a fertility instructor to this idea of people encouraging people who menstruate and have uteruses to get off birth control.

Nathalie:Oh, my goodness Nicole! There's so much to unpack here, there's like so many thoughts running through my brain!


Nathalie:And I think I love that you brought this up. Because I think it offers a really rich conversation around the nuance here, around fertility education, around access to contraception and abortion, around media influencers. I think the first thing that I just want to say when we read articles like this is that there are a lot of wellness coaches out there or hormone coaches or naturopaths, anyone who's in kind of the hormone health space and has rare take in fertility, I'm just generalizing here, not everyone will fall in that camp. 

But there are a lot of people who will take a little bit of fertility education and claim to essentially teach fertility awareness or coach people to use natural birth control. There are also a lot of influencers who are paid by companies like Natural Cycles and Daisy, which are algorithm-based, temperature-only method. And these people who have really large followings and have some content around hormone health or wellness will share a lot of information on natural birth control. And the main thing is that these people are not trained in fertility awareness education. 

Maybe some of them are, but the majority aren't. And, they, I think, do a disservice to the work that fertility awareness educators do because it's not simply about tracking your temperature and putting it into an app. There is a lot of information and education that goes into using a method of fertility awareness properly, and it's not to gatekeep at all.

It's just to understand the weight that is involved, that it's not just about ditching the pill and tracking your temp and everything is super easy, an uphill from there, like using FAM is harder than taking hormonal birth control. It does require a level of commitment outside of just taking a pill each day.

And I think that's where the nuance is lost in TikTok videos about natural birth control. And it does give fertility awareness-based methods a bad rap because you'll have articles that don't fully get what FAM is and that it can be an effective method of birth control, but you have to be charting properly and thoroughly.

Like, it's not about picking and choosing or just charting a little bit here and there. You do have to commit to the method. And I've talked recently on my page about how I don't think everybody should use fertility awareness. I love fertility awareness. I'm so passionate about it, and it works really well for me and a lot of people I know. But it's also not for everybody. 

And it requires that level of commitment. Your partner needs to be on board. You can't be in a state of crisis when you're learning it like it does require a little bit of a learning curve and it's not hard to learn at all. And there are lots of resources that people can use to self-teach, but at the same time, it isn't for everyone.

So that's the first thing that I want to mention about that. And the other piece that's kind of come up recently on TikTok, because I am on TikTok and consume a lot of TikTok and I also do post on TikTok, but I mostly just watch TikTok. There is like, out of this, like from the article that you read and out of that conversation, there are a lot of people critiquing this content as anti-birth control.

 And there's a little bit of that language in this article as well, that now suddenly we are in a space where there are pro and anti-birth control camps. And I also have a problem with that as well because I think we can point out the problems with birth control. I think we're in a place now where we can recognize that there's a lot of data to support the issues, the side effects of hormonal birth control, and that is indisputable. 

And at the same time, we can also talk about how, [for] some people, birth control is lifesaving and FAM isn't for everyone. And so, I do talk about the harms of birth control, the risks of birth control. But ultimately, I want people to feel like they are really excited about the method that they choose, whether that's hormonal birth control or fertility awareness. 

I want people to feel like they have all the information going into that decision, that they know the side effects, that they understand how birth control works, and that they can monitor their health on hormonal birth control and see if it is impacting their mental health, their physical health, and make a decision. 

So, it's not about being pro or anti-birth control. Even though that's kind of popped up and cropped up on the internet and people are being critiqued for being anti-birth control and how problematic that is. I don't know. I think we should be able to talk about the risks of birth control that are really well documented, and also help people feel really empowered with the methods that they choose.

Nicole:Yes. Thank you for speaking to that. I think it is a reminder of the way that people can take misinformation both about anything hormonal birth control and fertility tracking and have ulterior motives such as capitalizing on ways that you can make money or gain followers in the social media space through fear-mongering and also just the sense that things do not have to be polarized and it just kind of like, yeah. 

Nathalie:Yeah. Why does everything have to be polarized?

Nicole:Yeah, absolutely. Right. Just this idea that different things work for different people and I love that you are aware of the idea that what you teach is not for everyone. It might not be for everyone at a particular time in their life, and that's okay.

Nathalie:Yeah. I do, I really do believe that. Like, especially now, I haven't taught fertility awareness for very long, but I have taught long enough to have clients come into fertility awareness and go out of it and then come back to it. And so, you're right, it really is a lifelong thing and there might be times in your life where you're really diligently charting and it's working really well. And there are other times when it might fall to the wayside. 

I want to touch on one more thing about this article. Is that like the fertility awareness, that is the education, is at odds with the Western medical system. Because in this article, it really does try to kind of pit the two against each other. 

 But fertility awareness is not like this woo, natural hippie thing. It's very much based on the science of our physiology and our hormones. And it's very common sense. It doesn't require you to change anything about your body or fertility. It is simply observing your fertility signs and then choosing when to have unprotected sex and when not to. 

And I think that people are really sensitive to that conversation. Also, talking about the harms of birth control and feeling like they're at odds with one another, and that fertility awareness is not effective, which is why it does FAM a disservice because fertility awareness-based methods are really effective when learned properly and with an instructor. 

And so, a lot of articles won't fully understand that nuance and unfortunately will misconstrue the facts about fertility awareness and contribute to more misinformation. And then there's also, like you were talking about capitalizing on people's desire to come off birth control.

You'll see that with Natural Cycles or Daisy. Accounts of huge followers that use influencers’ marketing and really try to simplify fertility awareness almost too much to the point where I wouldn't recommend it for people who are avoiding. 

Because people want this like really simple. They want a simple [solution] and so it's not. Sometimes it can be simple if you're loosely avoiding, but if you're really strictly avoiding, I would learn a method thoroughly instead of choosing bits and pieces.

Nicole:Yes. Thank you for pointing out that nuance and I definitely have gotten that sense, from this article and from social media about almost pitting it against science when it is rooted and based in science. 


Nicole:And yeah, I'm curious about like, one thing I'm thinking about with that is like when I went to my OBGYN, and I asked them about fertility awareness method, I feel like they were not really aware of it or they knew about it but they didn't have enough to like, tell me where to go or tell me like what to do. And I am wondering like why that is? And why, or if you've thought about like, how can we push these conversations more with the medical community? 


Nicole:Or just even the sense of like when we were learning about sex education in high school, we were not taught that this is like an option.

Nathalie:Yeah. I think you're right. I think there's a lot of misinformation on people. Doctors don't know where to send their patients, or it takes more time to teach a fertility awareness-based method than to prescribe birth control and doctors don't... if someone doesn't want to get pregnant, that's probably going to be more effective if that's all that the patient is going to do, is be there in the doctor's office for the appointment.

It makes sense with what doctors are given and with the education doctors are given. But it would be really cool if they were able to kind of assess and have a conversation with someone about whether they'd be a good fit for fertility awareness. 

And then if they are, they could have places to refer clients or refer patients to. I think that would be really, really cool. And there are organizations that are connecting with doctors, facts about fertility. FAM also, the training that I did, trains doctors in a FAM protocol for more hormonal and reproductive health. So, I think there are organizations that are connecting with doctors, but for the most part, like your OBGYN or your general practitioner probably doesn't know what you're talking about when you talk about fertility awareness or thinks maybe it's the rhythm method or natural family planning. 

There was an article in 2016 that talked about fertility awareness practice and education in general practice and found that general practitioners, compared to fertility awareness educators had less information around fertility. So, if you are a fertility awareness educator, if you've even taken a class with a fertility awareness educator, you probably have a better grasp on fertility than your general practitioner does, or your doctor does, and it's just the reality of the training that they get. 

And so, I think what I tell my clients to do is to not go into a doctor's appointment searching for answers. Instead go with a purpose. Don’t go in expecting to be validated to switch to fertility awareness because you're probably not going to get that validation. Instead, go in with your own research and go in with an intention.

And in terms of sex ed, that's a whole other thing too. Hey, like, when I think back to my sex ed, I wish I had learned about ovulation, but I also don't know if I would've really been receptive to it. I think it came to me at the right time, and I think there is some liability in teaching teens fertility awareness. I don't know if teens have the prefrontal cortex development to use fertility awareness to make decisions around fertility like the general population would.

Some might, but that comes with like a lot of kind of, yeah, sticky liability stuff. I think it would be really cool if young women and men were taught on menstruation, were taught about fertility from that early age and were really aware that other options exist outside of birth control.