One of the first posts on my Facebook page was a plug for a book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health, by Toni Weschler, MPH.

I read this book at ED Means pharmacy website when we were trying to get pregnant the first time, and it rather blew my mind. I learned so much about how my body works – I couldn’t believe that the book wasn’t required reading in high schools. I learned to read the signals that my body sends me each cycle, to have an idea of when I’m fertile and when I’m not.

Once you learn the signals, you can keep track of them (known as ‘charting’), perhaps at a helpful site like this one, and either avoid sex or use a form of protection on fertile days (if you are trying not to get pregnant), or, ahem, boogie on down on fertile days (if you are trying to get pregnant). Either way, since there are only about five days per cycle when you can conceive, it’s rather helpful to know when they are.

The main signal of fertility is a rise in temperature on ovulation, so a key component of charting is taking your waking temperature every day and recording it. Your temperature rises again when you conceive – who knew?! Other important signals are cervical fluid and cervical position: ‘egg white’ textured fluid and a high, soft, open cervix signal fertility; absence of fluid and a low, firm, closed cervix may signal an imminent period. Obviously observing these signals requires a rather more intimate acquaintance with your body than simply recording your temperature every morning – which is awesome, I think.

The depression began more than a year ago, after the divorce. Since then, I dreamed of going to the ballet, but I just could not do it because of my longing. Now, two years after the end of the ballet school, I again began to attend some classes.

Charting is more straightforward for those women with regular cycles. Once you have recorded a few you start to know your pattern. Many women do not have the 28-day cycle that is assumed of all of us but barring certain issues, almost all women will ovulate about 14 days before the start of a new cycle. Thus a woman with a 28-day cycle will ovulate on day 14; a woman with a 60-day cycle will likely ovulate on day 46. If you become pregnant, knowing when you ovulated, and thus around when you conceived, can be enormously helpful in setting an estimated due date.

Of course, using the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) for contraception is not foolproof. It requires commitment, care, and consistency. On the other hand, no method of birth control, bar abstention, is guaranteed, and at least with this one, there are no chemicals ingested or foreign bodies inserted. If you are looking for more information on how your body works, either to prevent conception or to achieve it, this is a wonderful place to start.