One thing I like to make clear to my clients is there is a responsible way to use the fertility awareness method that helps promote good sexual health and does not spread sexually transmitted infections (STIs) around.
Many people don’t know that the vast majority of STIs have NO SYMPTOMS so it’s important to take this into account when deciding to use fertility awareness or not.
The fact is that using the fertility awareness method (FAM) is all about making it safe to have unprotected sex, but pregnancy isn’t the only thing that needs to be considered.
I certainly don’t subscribe to the idea that everyone should be in a cis-gendered heterosexual monogamous relationship. There are a ton of different ways to be partnered up and so long as everyone involved is consenting and happy then that’s what counts.
But if you are going to use FAM you need to take your relationship configurations into account. Here are my suggestions:
If you are in a monogamous relationship then don’t use FAM until you have been monogamous for at least three (3) months using condoms and both have gotten clear STI check ups.
If you are in an open relationship with a primary partner, always use condoms with partners outside your primary relationship and use condoms with your primary partner until it’s been three months since either of you have had unprotected sex and both get STI check ups, after that FAM would be okay with the primary partner.
If you are in polyamorous relationships with multiple partners, and all parties involved have agreed to monogamy within the group then everyone should use condoms for at least three months until after STI check ups have been done, after which time FAM could be used.
If you are in any relationships at all where monogamy has not been agreed upon and clear STI check ups have not been confirmed then FAM should not be used. This is to protect both yourself and your partner(s) from STIs.
It’s true that some STIs will not be prevented by condoms, such as genital warts or herpes where the sores are on an area of the body outside where the condoms cover, but there’s not much that can be done about that and condoms do reduce the chances of infection even from these.
The key to success with this method, regardless of your relationship(s) configuration(s) is open communication with your partner(s). You need to be able to express your desire for either avoiding or achieving pregnancy, and then tell them what sexual activities are acceptable in order to meet your intentions.
If you feel like you can’t communicate this information, don’t want to, or are not able to ensure your continued sexual health, then FAM is not the right birth control method for you.
I would still highly recommend charting your cycles in order to learn about your body and your hormone balance and health. As I’ve said many times, FAM is not just about babies and it’s important to know what’s going on with your hormonal health for the best quality of life and health outcomes.
Speaking of STIs, World AIDS Day is on December 1. If you haven’t been tested lately get yourself to your local clinic; it’s your responsibility to know your HIV status to care for your own health and that of your partner(s). Call your local affiliated family planning helpline and they can tell you where to get it (Canada, USA, Australia, UK, everywhere else).