This post was originally published in the May 2006 edition of “Emma’s Journal”, the newsletter of the Women’s Health project.
The saga of the new edition of our Fertility Awareness booklets has been a long one. It started back in March of 2004, when we noticed that we were down to only our last few copies of the booklet. Thinking that it would be a project that would only take a couple of months, we decided that, rather than just reprinting the 1982 edition, we should go through the booklet, change things that may have become outdated, and possibly find some new and snazzy graphics. Little did we know that it wuld be two years beforewe could announce to the world that Fertility Awareness: A natural way to avoid or achieve pregnancy is now available for purchase.
Fertility Awareness is a method that has women monitor their cervical mucus and basal body temperature (which meas that a woman takes her temperature first thing in the morning and monitors its changes over the course of her monthly cycle). By using that information, women can determine when they are most fertile. Women who want to avoid becoming pregnant avoid sex during those times, and women wishing to be pregnant have sex more during those times.
Despite the fact that the Fertility Awareness method does not use any hormones, it is rated up to 98.5% effective as a birth control method when used correctly, similar to the perfect use rates of hormonal methods and condoms. This can be a very good birth control method for women who cannot use hormonal birth control, or others who do not wish to. This method is much less expensive than hormonal contraception and many members of religious groups that do not allow artificial contraception.
Staff decided that we needed to make this new edition of Fertility Awareness more accessible to women who would like to become pregnant, rather than it being mainly instructions on how to avoid pregnancy. This caused some chapters of the book to be moved around and others to be rewritten. In the course of all the rewriting, we decided to bring in some supporters who were unfamiliar with the subject matter. By involving these editorial volunteers, we could be sure that this new edition would be very understandable and user-friendly to our clients.
Finally, the book is printed, and it looks fabulous. As well as a new, full-color cover, Fertility Awareness now includes many helpful features such as sample charts to show women how to record and understand their mucus and temperature information. the chapter on getting pregnant has a lot of additions including dietary changes, sexual positions, and yoga poses that are known to aid fertility. We also expanded the section on using Fertility Awareness with other birth control methods, and we added a section on using this method with Emergency Contraception.