I decided to write a Blog on the topic of conscious conception and fertility awareness after reminiscing over the charts that I compiled when trying to conceive my first daughter Ofelia in 2006/07.
I am now able to look back with such fondness and pride at, what was at times, an emotionally draining journey. I vacillated between enthusiasm and powerlessness, devastation and empowerment, on a monthly basis.
As a young woman, I knew very little about my body, how it worked and what it was capable of. Sure, reproductive education at school gave me a vague overview of the mechanics, but nothing prepared me for understanding the emotional and spiritual connection between my body and fulfilling my primal desire to have children.
I was raised in a culture that values avoiding unwanted pregnancies above the health, both physical and mental, of girls and young women in our society. I was encouraged to go on the pill, and was undermined when I raised legitimate concerns about its negative effects on my body and mind.
Working as the Teenage Pregnancy Worker within Social Care further highlighted how information is intentionally withheld in order to encourage politically preferable choices and behaviours. The long-term effects on the INDIVIDUALS concerned, be damned.
Women are encouraged to silence their bodies with synthetic hormones throughout their fertile lives, we are then led to believe our bodies are faulty and will require medical assistance to get the baby in there and to get the baby out!
Having a hereditary risk of various reproductive health issues, I grew up believing that I would probably have problems conceiving. Then a few years before trying for a family I had scans to confirm that I may be affected.
Having no clue what was going on inside my body, after 18 months of trying I felt completely out of control. So I decided to take charge and investigate for myself. I am quite a goal orientated person. I am used to deciding what I want, making a plan and then working hard to achieve my aim. I suddenly realised that I shouldn’t see this situation any differently.
I started looking at natural ways to enhance my fertility (along with my husband’s, much to his chagrin!) and manage the symptoms of PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome), with which I had been diagnosed.
While researching, I found a wonderful website called www.fertilityfriend.com and used all the online tutorials to learn about temperature charting. The basic concept is pretty simple, using a thermometer at the same time every day to record your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) upon waking and other fertility signals to identify patterns which indicate when ovulation may take place.
It was revelatory! I learned to connect with my body; I understood the rhythms of my menstrual cycle, saw the impact of the different phases on my moods, accepted that the different types of cervical mucus were normal and HEALTHY! My body was functioning perfectly well, if a little differently to the standard paradigm.
The fundamental premise is that a woman’s cycle is 28 days long, ovulating on day 14. So every month I was ‘late’, leading to excitement, then disappointment when I wasn’t pregnant – AGAIN. I had no faith in my body. it was failing me; my cycles were all over the place…but actually – they were consistent, just longer than most by about 10 days.
Armed with this new-found knowledge, I teamed the charting with ovulation tests and several natural remedies to further optimise our chances. It took 9 months of learning, but we got there! I would recommend for any woman who wants to learn more about herself to investigate plotting her cycles. Seeing it all laid out for you can really help you reflect on the bigger picture. Not just for people who are trying to get pregnant either.
There are so many things that I will take away from the entire experience (not least, a child or two), and these are things that I will most certainly be sharing with my two beautiful daughters when they enter into young womanhood.
I want them to embrace their femininity and be impressed by their awe-inspiring bodies. I hope that understanding their fertility will help them make responsible choices regarding their sexual health, reinforce a positive sense of self and pride in being a woman.
We should be educating our young men to be respectful of the female body. They cannot respect what they don’t understand. We should be encouraging young women to listen to their bodies, not to stifle them. To see their menses not as a curse, or an imperfection, but as a function that presents a world of opportunity.
I hope this has given you a little food for thought, and please do feel free to share those thoughts!
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