I used to feel like I was vulnerable to becoming pregnant. As if my fertility was a weakness which would be exploited by sperm. I felt like it could happen at anytime, and my life would be forever changed. I needed to shut that part of me down. I needed to know it was all 'under control'.
So I took the contraceptive pill diligently. But as I entered the world of natural living I analysed everything that I did, from the food I ate, to the beauty products I used. So, when a friend told me she didn't use hormonal contraception, I was intrigued, but also, scared. I assumed she must be in a place in her life where an accidental pregnancy was no big deal. You can imagine how shocked I was to find that even the NHS website rated this method as more effective than male condoms. In fact, male condoms were 98% effective, caps and diaphragms 92-96% the pill is more than 99% and the fertility awareness method (the one she was using) up to 99% effective.
Why was it, that this method, was as effective or more than all the others but I had never heard of it? With all the other methods I still felt vulnerable. I still felt ultimately out of control. All it took was a minor malfunction in the contraceptive I was using. I also felt somewhat in the hands of the gynaecologist who provided the contraception. It was like my vagina was a mysterious cave that only they could possible understand and I should take their advice because, how could I possibly understand it better than they did?
CUE F.A.M. (fertility awareness method)
It's hard for me to describe how discovering FAM felt. Its effects on me are so far reaching, so all-encompassing. How can I summarise such a thing? I've chosen two of the most pertinent socio-political things it has changed in me to try to hint at how amazing it has been.
It raised two questions in me.
1. Should we always be switched on, energetically and sexually? The pill made me feel sexually available 100% of the time, with no baby-side-effects. But it robbed me of any natural down-time, any natural alone-time, any natural me-time. It made me ask; if women are expected to always be sexually available and socially extroverted no wonder all the men feel like that too. No wonder we, as a society, work and work till it makes us sick. No wonder we beat ourselves up over sick days off. No wonder we feel a sense of pride when explaining that we're just so busy busy busy.
2. How does removing women from their natural cycles remove us from the natural world? I was robbed of my natural cyclisity. When half the population (women) lose connection to their natural ebb and flow of extroversion and introversion, fertility and sub fertility, energy and rest, is it really surprising we are also losing connection with the bigger cycles, like the seasons, or even just night and day? I live in a country which thrives to work all the time. In London, the night tube has just been introduced. It operates 24/7 on two of the train lines on a Friday and Saturday. Great for people going out in town, as many do. Most people think it's a wonderful thing. I personally, like it just the way it is but it's only a matter of time before they role it across all the train lines every day of the week. I fear this is just the beginning of a 24/7 London. Another excuse to expect people to work through the night. Which is incredibly bad for our health.
I'm not saying that the way we approach sexuality is the start of the modern worlds problems. It is likely just a part of it. One that, I know, I can help change. I know FAM won't be a practical contraceptive method for many women for a variety of reasons. But while it's simply not being taught in our schools, we can't fathom how many more long women there are in the world who, like me, think it's the best thing ever. How many young women, would love every minute of learning the technique. A technique that has changed my life for the better.
It can also be used to help you get pregnant and help you understand your hormone imbalances if you have an illness which affects them.
NOTE: My anti-pregnancy stance has really changed over the years but the language I chose to use for this article captures how I felt as a young teen towards it.