Back on 8 October, I shared an Instagram post and a blog post sharing that I had withdrawn from the Justisse College HRHP program, and that I would be completing my FAM education with another organization. I wanted to choose an organization that is based exclusively upon the beautiful and amazing science of our female bodies and cycles, without pushing any ideologies or agendas.
My vision for my work, and the way in which I currently interact with the women I work with, is that I want to be a resource for scientific information about cycles, hormonal health, women’s nutritional health, pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding, and menopause and beyond. All of these issues tie into my core work of supporting and promoting natural cycling in women – uninhibited by harmful and disruptive synthetic pseudo-hormones (aka contraceptive endocrine disruptors). Perhaps one day I will also have the joy of expanding my offering out into birth-related work as well (whether through doula work, midwifery, postpartum doula services, and/or lactational support), but in the meantime I just strive to graft all of these related concerns together into the information I provide, so that the women who are in my community (both physically and online) can feel supported through all these different life stages.
Hopefully some part of all of this has impacted you in a positive and helpful way. That is my hope and desire – and inspiration (besides the mere geeky passion side of things)!
In an attempt to stay true to my vision and work and ethics, as you know, this program switch was a vital change that needed to happen. And I’m so glad I made that choice, all the while continuing to admire all of the many different women who contribute to this area of work in women’s health in their own particular way.
So…what program did I switch to? I will be completing my certification and internship through FEMM, which stands for Fertility Education and Medical Management. They are an organization which has both secular and religious supporters and educators, thereby representing and having space for a wide range of women.
[Some in the FAM community have unfortunately denounced FEMM because they accept support from Catholic groups, and some of those FAM educators who are pro-abortion feel that FEMM shouldn’t be a part of the FAM world because they don’t actively promote a pro-abortion agenda and they accept funds from explicitly anti-abortion groups. This saddens me, because in my view, Fertility Awareness is for every woman regardless of her beliefs, and cycle charting is not an abortion service, so one’s views on abortion should not affect or limit one’s ability to teach cycle charting accurately and effectively! However, I know both religious and secular women (who have a variety of convictions regarding abortion) who have trained with FEMM and who teach using their name, and they have no problems doing so because they view their work as separate from their personal views on abortion. As you know, while I am religious and do not support abortion, I teach from a “secular” perspective, meaning that I teach the science without any ideologies or agendas (my own or others’). For me, it’s all about the science, and so I have no qualms with being associated with an organization that does not teach any ideology regarding abortion, but only the physical effects of abortion insofar as they may affect a woman’s fertility or physiology in some way, and thereby affect her particular charting approach.]
But moving on! FEMM has a network of doctors that can provide further assistance if and women desire referral after learning to chart their cycles, however many educators also have a referral list to a variety of practitioners (including naturopaths, chiropractors, and the like), which I certainly intend to do as I support and encourage more natural and non-invasive approaches whenever and wherever possible!
FEMM is a unique organization because they promote women’s health beyond abortion and hormonal birth control to the United Nations, thereby drawing attention to the need for actual women’s health promotion and education, and not just internationally promoting pharmaceutical and (at times) eugenist interests. Along with this, FEMM teaches Fertility Awareness to women and girls in rural Africa, as a free and empowering method of birth control, and for body literacy! This aspect in particular really drew my interest and respect, because it seems like a beautiful and much-needed contribution to the world, both for women and the families with whom they live and share their love and care. To me, this is evidence of putting care for women into real, tangible action, and I’m happy to support an organization who prioritizes this in this manner.
So, as you’ll know, I teach and promote the Symptothermal method of Fertility Awareness, which involves the observation and recording of the two main indicators of fertility status – cervical fluid and basal body temperature. More secondary symptoms may also be tracked to fill out the hormonal health picture for women if they so desire to add that in, but those are the basic essentials. FEMM teaches what is called a Symptohormonal method, whereby women chart their cervical fluid and use hormonal home urine tests to assess the fertile window to either achieve or avoid pregnancy. However, many FEMM educators expand their offering such that they teach a combination of these two approaches – where the woman charts cervical fluid, basal body temperature, and hormonal home urine test results. The science is the same, and there are just different ways of using that science to track the body’s fertility.
In my programs, I will be teaching the Symptothermal method + hormonal testing (if women desire) + a double-check rule (if women choose to incorporate this). Why? Because the Fertility Awareness methods with the highest efficacy rates are Symptothermal, and the very highest of them all (according to the scientific research) is the Symptothermal Double-Check method, whereby a slight calendar calculation using the previous 12 cycles is added on top of the basic Symptothermal requirements. This is usually associated with a method called Sensiplan, and it is the one that is cited in studies as being 99.6% effective. Other Symptothermal methods usually are known to be around 99.4% effective. A slight variance, but it may be desirable for some women to have this extra component.
Do I expect all my clients to employ all three of these components? Nope! It will be up to them. But I want to provide them with all the tools they may need to use Fertility Awareness to effectively achieve their reproductive goals, and they can decide what elements will best suit their needs.
A few other exciting things are developing in the world of Fertility Awareness which I am excited to incorporate into my offering once I start opening up programs for enrollment. Firstly, Jess @fertilitycharting will at some point be (hopefully!) releasing the second edition of her beautiful, customizable Fertility Awareness charting journal, which I have enjoyed using myself. Secondly, we now have the TempDrop (@tempdrop) device, which is an amazing alternative option for temperature charting, when women are unable to do oral BBT tracking (which is my first and highest recommendation if possible) – such as for those who are shift-workers or who are postpartum and breastfeeding. This tool opens up the accessibility to using Fertility Awareness to more women. Thirdly, sometime in the next few months an all-new Fertility Awareness charting app will be released (currently in development), called Read Your Body (@readyourbody). This app is the first of its kind, because it will be fully customizable to all major methods of Fertility Awareness, and will allow women to track two different temperatures on the same chart (for example if someone is tracking temperature using both a TempDrop and an oral basal body thermometer).
I have been excited and happy to promote these three things over the past year and more, as I believe them to be invaluable contributions to the community of educators and women who teach and use Fertility Awareness.
Aside from these things, I’m looking forward to adding a few pages to my website. These include a recommended book library page with links, a directory to other Fertility Awareness educators, and resource pages for related health topics like nutrition, women’s health herbalism, birth, postpartum, and breastfeeding. I also hope to eventually add a shop page, which will include both my own resources as well as links to products I recommend. It’s a bit tricky figuring out how to add these elements to my website, so these may take a little time (and I may need to upgrade my web hosting…) but I can’t wait till I have some or all of these on my website.
The final thing I want to add is that FEMM also offers training to Fertility Awareness educators to add on a TeenFEMM certification, which is just a little bit of extra training around teaching cycle health and charting to girls and young women. As you can probably guess, I am so excited to add this credential to my services as some point, because I believe strongly that all girls should have body literacy about their cycles from a young age – because they have cycles too, and should learn how to care for their health! I know a lot of women who follow me would appreciate this as well, because I have received so many messages from mothers asking for advice on how to share this information with their daughters, as well as from some international groups who would appreciate some group lectures for the women they serve in their countries.
So there you have it – my new program, and all of the exciting things that are to come. I sincerely hope you continue to benefit from the work I do and the services I provide, and that this training I’ve been investing in will broaden the ways in which I’m able to support you as you care for your health and your whole person.
My classes with FEMM will take place during January, February, and March. After classes end in March, I will be taking a short break. After this break (which I expect to be about 40-60 days long), I will take on my clients required for the internship portion of my FEMM certification. And then – oh joy! – I’ll be done with my formal FAM educator training and will be running my programs and taking on multiple clients at a time and just doing the exciting work I love. All in all, I’ll be finishing all of this before or around the same time as I would have been finishing my Justisse HRHP program, so the timeline also works out perfectly, thankfully.
That’s all for now!
If you’d like more information about FEMM’s research and international work, check out these videos: