Taking Charge of Your Fertility:
The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control
and Pregnancy Achievement
by Toni Weschler, MPH
Harper Perennial, 1995
Outlined by Laura Bryannan
No, it's not the rhythm method!
- This material is so important, I've chosen to outline it and put it up. If this
information seems useful to you, I highly encourage you to purchase Weschler's book
and review it carefully.
- The following information is what I consider to be the most essential in terms of
using the Fertility Awareness Method to chart your monthly cycles, and monitor your
overall gynecological health.
- I hope it goes without saying in this age of AIDS that this method of birth control
should only be used by monagamous couples who have shown themselves to be HIV
The Primary Fertility Signs
- Waking temperature
- Using a glass or digital Basal Body Thermometer, take your temperature first
thing upon awakening, before any other activity such as going to the
bathroom, brushing your teeth, etc.
- Take your temperature about the same time every day, within an hour or so.
If the temp falls between two numbers on a glass thermometer, always record
the lowest temperature
- Record your temperature on your chart, connecting them with lines.
- If you think a temp is outside the normal range, wait until the next day to
draw the connecting line. Omit aberrant temps by drawing a dotted line
between the normal temps; note probable cause of abberant temp on your
chart. What can cause aberrant temp readings?
- alcohol the night before
- sleeplessness or less than 3 hours of sleep night before
- taking temp at a substantially different time than usual
- using an electric blanket or heating pad
- having a fever
- Drawing a coverline after ovulation. There are two ways to help you
differentiate between low and high temps in your chart.
- First way
- Identify the first day your temp rises at least two-tenths of a
degree higher than it had been the previous 6 days.
- Locate the highest of the last six temps before the rise.
- Draw the coverline one-tenth of a degree above the highest of
that cluster 6 days before the rise.
- Second way
- Draw the coverline one-tenth degree above the highest
temperature during the first 10 days of your cycle.
- However, if you have elevated temps during your period, using
this method may result in an artificially high coverline.
Charting your cervical fluid
- Cervical fluid functions exactly like seminal fluid. It provides an alkaline
medium to protect the sperm in an otherwise acidic vagina. In addition, it
provides nourishment for the sperm. Without fertile cervical fluid, sperm
will die within a few hours.
- After a woman has her period, cervical fluid typically starts to develop in the
- Menstruation . . . . . . . *
- Nothing/dry . . . . . . . . --
- Sticky . . . . . . . . . . . . .S
- Creamy . . . . . . . . . . . C
- Eggwhite. . . . . . . . . . . E
- Nothing/dry . . . . . . . . --
- Menstruation . . . . . . . .*
- Observing your cervical fluid
- Begin checking the first day after menstruation has ended.
- Try to check CF two or three times each day, either at your vulva or
internally. Either way, remain consistent.
- If checking internally, remember that generic vaginal moisture
is always present, but will evaporate quickly in the air. Do
not confuse this with CF.
- Be sure to check when not sexually aroused, since sexual
lubrication can mask CF (so can semen from the previous
- Note underwear during the day. Very fertile CF often forms a
symmetrical round circle on your undies, whereas non-fertile
CF tends to form more of a rectangular square or line.
- CF is insoluble. Take a sample and dip into a glass of water.
CF will form a blob that sinks to the bottom. Basic vaginal
moisture will dissolve.
- Menses. Red blood flow
- Spotting. Brown, pink or discolored
- Nothing. Dry. No CF present
- Sticky. Opaque white or yellow. Can be fairly thick.
May be crumbly or flaky like paste, or gummy
like rubber cement. May form small peaks when
you separate fingers.
- Creamy. Milky or cloudy, white or yellow. Creamy or
lotiony. Wet, watery or thin. When separating
fingers, doesn't form peaks, but remains smooth
like hand lotion.
- Eggwhite. Usually clear but can have opaque streaks. Very
slippery and wet, like raw eggwhite. May
stretch from 1 to 10 inches
Identifying your Peak Day. This is considered the last day you produce
fertile cervical fluid or have a lubricative vaginal sensation for any given
cycle. It is called the Peak Day because it is your peak day of fertility. It
most likely occurs either a day before you ovulate or on the day of ovulation
itself. Your Peak Day is the last day of either:
Cervical Position. For the purposes of this
outline, we will
not go into this aspect of the Fertility Awareness Method. It is considered
in any case.
Secondary fertility signs. Many women
experience other signs that signal impending
ovulation (or impending menstruation). Some of these may include
- Eggwhite-quality cervical fluid (which is slippery and usually stretchy)
- Lubricative vaginal sensation (which is wet and slippery, but may not
be accompanied by any cervical fluid)
- Any midcycle spotting
- midcycle spotting
- pain or achiness near the ovaries
- increased sexual feelings
- fuller vaginal lips
- abdominal bloating
- water retention
- heightened sense of vision, smell and taste
- increased sensitivity in breasts and skin
- breast tenderness
Natural Birth Control
- First 5 Days Rule. You are not fertile for the
first 5 days of the menstrual cycle if
you had an obvious temp shift 12 to 16 days before. For most women, the
combined risk of ovulation occurring on Day 10 or earlier and sperm living long
enough to fertilize the egg is extremely rare.
- Dry Day Rule. Before ovulation, you are
infertile the evening of every dry day. If
you make love in the morning, check the cervix to insure there is no fertile CF
present beforehand. Sperm cannot survive in a dry vaginal environment, and the
lack of cervical fluid indicates that estrogen levels are too low for ovulation to
- Temperature Shift Rule. You are infertile the
evening of the third consecutive day
your temperature is above the coverline. The rise in temp due to the release of
progesterone indicates that ovulation has occurred. Waiting three days allows for
the remote possibility of two or more eggs being released over a 24-hour period,
with each one living a full day.
- Peak Day Rule. You are safe the evening of
the 4th consecutive day after your
Peak Day. The last day of wet cervical fluid or vaginal sensation indicates the
imminence of ovulation. Allowing for 4 days for drying up assures that any eggs
released are already gone, and the return of a dry vaginal environment
to sperm survival.
- If there is a discrepancy between the Temperature Shift Rule and the Peak Day
Rule, always wait until both signs indicate infertility to be most conservative.
- If trying to avoid pregnancy, please remember that you must either abstain
your fertile days, or use some form of contraception, in order to insure you will
conceive during lovemaking!
How do I do this?
- Basal Body Thermometer. Do not use a standard fever thermometer, as the
calibrations are not fine enough. Call local drugstores before going shopping, as
all stores carry them.
- Glass Basal Body Thermometers. Easiest to find. They run about $7-10,
are considered the most reliable. However, they require a full 5 minutes to
register an accurate reading.
- Digital BBTs. Nice because they
usually require only a minute to register, and will beep when it is
ready. For charting, be sure it has a memory capable of storing the last temp
until you can record it. It is imperative that it is accurate to .1 degree F
(fever thermometers are only to within .2 degrees).
- If your local drugstore does not carry these beasties, you can
ask them to order you one from Becton Dickenson Consumer Products, Franklin Lakes,
NJ 07417-1883, 800/316-1611. The cost should be aproximately $15.
- Ear Thermometers. Not considered reliable enough for these purposes.
- Charts. The book provides three types of charts you can use. I wish I could
duplicate them for this page, but I have not found a way to.
Menopause, Premenopause and Breast Feeding
- Classic signs of impending menopause
- menstrual cycle irregularities
- hot flashes
- vaginal dryness
- While it is true that premenopausal women are less fertile than younger
fertility signs shift more quickly than usual. As a result, the body may progress
faster toward ovulation than in earlier years.
- Women who are breast feeding may mistakenly believe they are infertile during
They are not, unless they are feeding every 3-4 hours around the clock and
other subsitute to breast milk. Women who are not breast feeding regularly must assume
can become fertile at any time!
- There are two rules to follow when charting cycles during premenopause and
- Unchanging Day Rule. If your 2-week Basic
Infertile Pattern (BIP) is dry
or the same-quality sticky cervical fluid day after day, you are safe for
unprotected intercourse the evening of every dry or unchanging sticky day.
- Patch Rule. As soon as you see a change in
your BIP, you must consider
yourself fertile until the fourth consecutive evening after your Peak Day.
The Peak Day is the last day of the more fertile patch of cervical fluid or
lubricative vaginal sensation.
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Last Updated: 25may09