Normal fertility is a key part of good health as a woman.
Naturally, the definition of normal fertility changes depending on the stage of life you are in. If you are approaching menopause, then declining fertility is absolutely normal. If, on the other hand, you are a teenager, then normal fertility can take some time to develop, but is usually in place two years after your periods start. Whatever your life stage, understanding your fertility is important to understanding your health.
Luckily, the body gives us clear signs of normal fertility, if we are trained to look out for them. Unfortunately, most of us do not receive this training as part of our journey into womanhood. There is no rite of passage in our culture that teaches us the signs of normal fertility and how to work with them. However the onset of menstruation in young girls is approached, the approach rarely includes teaching the signs of fertility.
Understanding the signs of fertility is a very useful skill. Not only can it help us to manage our fertility (i.e. avoid unwanted pregnancies, and achieve desired pregnancies) but it can also be an important signpost to reproductive issues that need looking into, when we see an unexpected change that does not fit with what we would expect in our life stage.
So what is the most important sign of fertility?
Most people’s first guess would be menstruation; the regularity of our bleeding. Even many doctors would think this is the case.
However, bleeding (whether regular or irregular) is not a reliable sign of fertility. Bleeding can happen – in fact it can even be regular – without ovulation occurring. This is common in the perimenopause, where bleeding often continues for quite a time after ovulation has ceased. All that is required for bleeding is sufficient fluctuation in hormone levels. Another good example is when on the Pill, where bleeding occurs due to withdrawal of hormones, even without ovulation occurring.
So is it blood level of hormones, then, that is the best sign of fertility?
No, it’s not that either. Blood levels of hormones are a snapshot in time, and fertility is by definition based on cyclical changes. So while blood tests can be useful – and are sometimes essential – they are not the be-all-and-end-all of fertility awareness, by any means.
So again, what sign does the body give us that we can tune into for most reliable information about our fertility?
That’s right, it’s the moisture that you perceive at the vulva, which undergoes changes during different parts of a fertile cycle. When you are in a life stage where these fluctuations are not occurring – such as in the early breastfeeding period, or around the time of menopause – it’s this lack of changes that gives you important information about your changing fertility.
So where do we learn this important way of having insight into our fertility?
The best structured method is by learning the Billings Ovulation Method, a technique based entirely on observations of moisture changes at the vulva. The Billings Ovulation Method can be used contraception (with a 99% effectiveness rate, without drugs or chemicals); in can be used to help achieve pregnancy; or it can simply be used as a way of being aware of an important signpost of your health: your fertility, and your changes in fertility through your life. It has quite accurately been described as providing
“Knowledge of her body that every woman ought to have.”
The Billings Ovulation Method cannot be reliably learned from a book or the Internet. It needs to be taught by an accredited teacher of the Billings Method, which is inexpensive. You can find an accredited teacher in your area by phoning Billings Australia on the toll-free number 1800 335 8601800 335 860. You can find more information at http://www.thebillingsovulationmethod.org/. Beware of imitation sites, which often provide inaccurate information.
As an Accredited Teacher of the Billings Ovulation Method, I can teach you the Billings Method via a combination of face-to-face and Skype or e-mail consults.
If you need help with your fertility as a whole, you may be interested the unique combined approach to fertility that we use at Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition.