Fertility Awareness and How it Benefits a Woman's Overall Health
The Fertility Awareness Methods available today empowers women to know and take care of their unique body.
Fertility Awareness is tracking a woman’s menstrual cycle by recognizing and interpreting the physical signs of fertility that accompany the hormonal changes her body goes through during that cycle.
And it’s come a long way from the “Calendar Method” which perpetuates the myth that “every woman ovulates on Day 14 of her cycle.”
The Fertility Awareness Methods available today empowers women to know and take care of their unique body. It’s safe, it’s effective, and it can be used to improve a woman’s overall health.
What does the Church Teach of Fertility Awareness?
The Church promotes Fertility Awareness among married couples as an alternative to methods of contraceptives such as condoms and birth control.
Contraception has no place in a Catholic marriage because it eliminates a person’s ability to love fully and fruitfully within a marriage
Despite the language that is often used by secular sources, Fertility Awareness is not birth control. It doesn’t seek to control a woman’s body; rather it allows a husband and wife to discern their family size in cooperation with God–remaining open to His plan for their life and family.
Tracking a woman’s fertile time not only helps maintain the spiritual health of a marriage, it also benefits the physical health of the woman.
And the great news is that you don’t need to be engaged or married to use or benefit from Fertility Awareness; it can and should be used by women who want to better understand and take care of their bodies.
Dispelling the Myths about Hormonal Contraception
Hormonal Contraception wreaks havoc on a woman’s body and is completely contrary to women’s health.
Instead of offering wholeness to women, hormonal birth control suppresses a healthy body’s ability to function naturally, causing some dangerous side effects. Studies have shown that Hormonal Birth Control increases a person’s risk for heart attack, stroke, blood clots, liver tumors, HPV, breast cancer, and cervical cancer. ¹
Fertility is not a disease to be treated; it’s a valuable indicator of a woman's overall health.
Health Benefits of Fertility Awareness
Firstly, fertility awareness can help women and their healthcare providers identify potential gynecological issues, such as irregular periods, hormonal imbalances, or conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Your cycle also impacts many other aspects of a woman’s health, including:
For many years, researchers have believed that post-menopausal bone loss is caused by the lack of estrogen that occurs after menopause; however, new research has shown that progesterone plays an active role in maintaining women’s bone and in osteoporosis prevention. ²
Normal ovulatory cycles are necessary for developing bone mass that will last you past your reproductive years.
Estrogen and Progesterone play a major role in brain development. Estrogen creates plasticity in the brain and improves cognitive function; progesterone regulates glial cells (also known as the “glue” of the central nervous system) and helps to stabilize mood.
Estrogen and Progesterone levels in a healthy cycle also affect your heart health. Estrogen helps prevent heart disease caused by coronary artery calcification.³ Progesterone helps decrease blood pressure.
Other research suggests that “shorter total reproductive duration [defined as the time from menarche to menopause] was associated with a higher risk of incident total heart failure hospitalization in post menopausal women.”
Finally, fertility Awareness helps you work with your body, not against it. Reading your body’s fertility signs can help you make decisions that will enable you to make decisions more in line with your health and fitness goals.
As a woman’s body goes through several hormonal changes over the course of her cycle, the needs of the body–from nutrition to exercise–change too. Knowing where you are in your cycle can help you make decisions that maximize your health.
For instance, your follicular phase (or the weeks leading up to ovulation) when your hormones are at the lowest levels, is the perfect time for high intensity and strength training. During this phase, your body can better access stored carbs and more easily build/maintain muscle.
Then during your luteal phase after ovulation, your hormones are much more in-flux so lower-intensity workouts with more recovery time are ideal during this phase.
Adjusting your diet and fitness routine to your menstrual cycle can help you feel your best.
Resources to Get Started
If you want to begin tracking your cycles using Fertility Awareness Methods, Natural Womanhood and Managing Your Fertility offer a plethora of resources to help you feel informed and to direct you on the next steps.