Posts filed under ‘Moontime’

I am woman.

I can’t count how many times I have asked somebody, or somebody has asked me “Women ovulate on day 14 right?”  I can’t count how many times I said “yup, I think so. around there.”  Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  There is a learning curve to life, of course, that’s nothing new or shocking.  We’re always on it, and I feel like with each experience we endeavour on, that curve just keeps getting curvier and curvier.  It’s sorta like the beauty of life, as frustrating as it is sometimes.  Human beings are know it alls, we want to grasp information, take a hold of it by its reigns, and run with it.  We like the tangible, and the intangible, we question and ponder and philosophize over.  We love the intangible, as crazy as it can make us.

So questionable ovulation the desire to further the connection to my body and my soul, and this guest post over at The Feminist Breeder inspired me to give my own readership a dose of Fertility Awareness Method.  An emotional crash course, if you will.   And then I stumbled across these amazing once in a lifetime (probably) photographs of ovulation actually TAKING PLACE.  Unbelievable.   A sign from somewhere, somebody, something, that this long overdue post had to be written.

After our lovely boy was born and I had healed well enough, physically and spiritually, to even begin thinking about the process of birth control and all it entails, I knew I didn’t want to go the hormone route.  I was done da-done-done with that one, but as for my other options, I was clear on them, but not certain at all which would be right for us.   I had done the birth control pill thing, and was not at all satisfied with it, despite being on it for about three years.  A social work course regarding human sexuality, and an incredibly inspiring and empowering instructor to boot, motivated me to look at other options.  I wanted to run far away from hormones, but I wasn’t quite sure to what else.  I did a lot of Google’ing about IUD’s, because it seemed like an appropriate option for us.  After a couple freak-outs about the process of having it “installed” (I use that term satirically, now) and reading about all the backlash against it, Kyle and I decided together that that would be a good choice for us.  Ha.  But really, I read a lot of good too, but I mostly just chose to hyperfocus on the bad.  I had that sucker chillin’ out in my uterus for about two and a half years… until it decided to gently fall out of my uterus, which resulted in unknown zero protection, which resulted in our beautiful son.  Yup, I was one of those who got preggers while having an IUD in.  So fast forward throughout the pregnancy, and the post-partum period until it became a reality that we aren’t necessarily into abstinence and we aren’t necessarily into hormonal or mechanical birth control.  There had to be another option.

Hence where FAM (we’ll shorten it up) comes into the picture.  Some might say I don’t have a filter, and some might say I’m just really open about things that some people aren’t comfortable talking about, but obviously birth control is a huge topic of discussion among most of my friends and myself, especially given that a lot of my friends were in the same boat – not feeling satisfied with their chosen method of birth control.  A couple of my friends had read Toni Weschler’s book, or just practiced something similar in the past, and so of course I had to check it out.  Another option?  You’re kidding me, I’m sold.  I borrowed the book from a close friend, and off reading I went.  I was fascinated from page one, and a sarcastic comic suggesting that the only form of birth control you need is to wear Birkenstocks?  SOLD.

There’s SO much to the FAM but I obviously am not going to get into it all, mostly because I can’t do Toni justice, and because you really just need to read it.  First and foremost, this book should be required reading for everybody, and especially every female.   It’s important, critical information that we need to know.  The title of the book can be misleading to some, but that’s only because when we think of fertility, too often we think of it in such a narrow scope, when really, the essence of our cycle is generally based on some sense of fertility, whether we think of it like that or not.  But it’s so much more than that.

So I present to you The Nutshell FAM and How it Changed My Life

  • FAM relies on charting your fertility signs – the primary ones being basal body (waking) temperature, cervical mucus and the variations throughout your cycle, and cervical position (which is optional).
  • Don’t let the charting thing overwhelm you!   It takes a bit of figuring out, but not long, and it’s so fascinating and empowering that you don’t think of it as work.  After a short time, it just becomes routine.  And if you get the Fertility Friend app for iPhone or Android, it’s that much easier and it does the “analyzing” for you, for the most part.  The electronic stuff anyway, and then you assess on your own and go from there.
  • It is NOT the Rhythm Method!
  • My basic routine is: wake up, take my temperature with a digital basal body thermometer before I get out of bed (I keep it on my night stand so I always have it handy), and throughout the day I keep mental tabs on my cervical fluid as well as other feelings within my body, including but not limited to my moods, energy levels, irritability, fatigue, any sort of cramping or other pains.
  • To check your cervical fluid, you can either do it with your fingers or with toilet paper.  Egg-white cervical fluid is the noteworthy stuff, for the most part.  If you’re charting to avoid, this is when you want to be REALLY careful (use protection or avoid intercourse all together), and if you’re charting to achieve, well, go at ‘er!  Sperm needs an “agent” to stick to and travel to meet its bestie, the egg, and so this particular consistency of cervical fluid creates the perfect little journey-carrier.
  • You can use this method as a way to avoid pregnancy, achieve pregnancy, to include your partner in your fertility and overall health, and to gain an empowering level of control over your gynecological and sexual health.
  • It is incredible, amazing and (I keep using this word) empowering to be so on top of and connected with your body, to know what is happening nearly at any given time, and to be able to share this information with all of your loved ones, so they too can realize the benefits in charting their own fertility.
  • I have charted, every cycle for the past 5-6 cycles,  a very unique twinge of pain that happens at approximately the same time every month.  Prior to charting, I never even noticed this, let alone knew what it was.  But now that I’ve been writing it down every single month, I can go back and realize that yep, this happened last month too.  Mittelschmerz?  Potentially, actually… likely.
  • I have NEVER felt SO connected to my body as I have within the last year.  Bringing my son into this world, and recognizing the absolute intense need for me to be a strong, spiritual and healthy mother for this tiny little precious being motivated me to do anything I could to create that bond within myself, so that I could share it with him.  FAM has helped me to do that significantly.  And while this is another post for another day – I have had a tumultuous relationship with my body.  Ups and downs like ca-razy and certainly not always healthy, in mind, body or spirit.  But we are on a new path now.  We’ve got a lot of work to do, but gosh damn, we’re doing it.  I can’t believe I am charting my body and my cycle.  It seems so primitive and natural.  So common-place.  But it’s not.  I feel overjoyed, excited, and blessed by the notion that I can go with what my body needs, put my trust in it, and for now, avoid ‘external’ birth control methods.  They’re just not for us, and if they are for you, that’s okay too.  My whole motive is doing what works, but even more complicated than that, branching out – learning – putting trust in your womanhood, in your body, and in your brain.  We’re more powerful than we give ourselves credit for.  Women are in-friggin-credible, for reals.
  • Kyle is 100% into this too, as much as he can be without actually charting.  He’ll remind me to take my temperature if I am about to forget, we’ll talk about my fertility signs and what they mean, and we’ll, err, accommodate if need be.
  • To reduce the pregnancy risk to below 1% per year (if trying to avoid pregnancy),  a couple must abstain from intercourse during a potential 13 day fertile period, which could be a disadvantage to some.  If that is not desirable, then a barrier method must be used during the fertile window (which is determined after charting a few cycles and recognizing your typical patterns), at which point the effectiveness of the method would essentially be as effective as your barrier method of choice.
  • I know I’ve said it before, but this is what we should be teaching our young girls rather than some of the other garbage that is mainstream.  Now hold on a second, I’m not saying it’s all garbage, but this stuff is important.  If we ever have a girl, she will be getting gifted this book very early on, and we will be going through it together.  Toni Weschler also wrote a book for younger girls that is just more health/cycle-focused rather than pregnancy achievement/avoidance focused, called “Cycle Savvy.”  I’ve yet to read it, but it’s definitely on my list.
  • The book has a LOT of great information in it.  I have merely skimmed the surface.  There is information on using the method while breastfeeding, while on the Pill, for couples with fertility issues (she talks about how so often there isn’t an issue, but merely, the misconceived notion that ovulation is on day 14 doesn’t happen for a lot of people and this results in a medical “problem”), and women who have PCOS issues.
  • I would love to talk FAM with anyone that is curious.  I’m still learning, but would love to help others learn as well It is phenomenal and a really powerful way to learn more about our bodies, and become more intimate with a very important person – ourselves.

December 7, 2011 at 8:38 pm 3 comments

DivaCup: A Review.

So I feel like I can’t really do up a legitimate review of the DivaCup because I have only used it for 4 days, and not even for 4 full days, but I am just that impressed with it that I can’t stop myself.


*photo borrowed from jess.anne.o*

I’m maybe jumping the gun a little bit, but like I said, I just wanted to share the word as soon as possible.  I hope it sticks, because so far so good.

First things first, a little history.

I’ve wanted to try a menstrual cup for a few years, but just put it off and put it off.  Using cloth diapers has really fuelled forward my desire to live greener, simpler, and more financially efficient as well.  After talking to a few people about using a menstrual cup, I decided that I had to make the switch and that was that.  I actually tried cloth pads while I was waiting for my cup to be shipped and absolutely loved them.  They’re so soft and comfy, and well, I guess that’s another review for another day.  (NOTE: You can often find the cup in stores, however I found a really great deal online and well, as much as I love to support local, I had to support my bank account in this instance.)

Basically, the DivaCup is made of top-quality silicone, and is an eco-friendly alternative to pads and tampons.  It is reusable, sanitary, healthier than the disposable products on the market, and… believe it or not, comfortable.   The reason I say believe it or not is because I am sure there is at least one person reading this that is squeamish about the cup, or at least cannot understand how such a contraption can be nice to insert and leave there for 10+ hours.  Hear me out, my friends.

(Before I go any further, I really encourage you all to check out the DivaCup website, linked above.  And also, I appreciate their section of the website which speaks to worldwide menstrual health, and the issues that using a menstrual cup can have when there are not sanitary conditions, etc.)

Ok, so, for starters: there are different types of menstrual cups, however the DivaCup is the only cup approved by Health Canada for sale in Canada.  The different types are made of different materials.   There are also two sizes of the DivaCup, 1 and 2.  Size 1 is for women who are under the age of 30 who have never had a baby vaginally or by c-section.  Size 2 is for women who are over 30 and/or have had a baby vaginally or by c-section.   However, I have known women who have used size 1 and been over 30, and women who have used size 2 and been under 30, that sort of thing.  Size 2 is a tad bigger so it is probably best to do some research, check out both cups, and make your decision from there.  I think if size is questionable, going a bit bigger might be better in terms of leaks, but I am no expert.

There are different folds you can do when you insert the cup.  And if I haven’t been clear, you insert the cup into your vagina, but not that high up, and not in the same manner that you would a tampon.  That part confused me the first time, and is one of the reasons why it was quite the err, production (?) the first time I ever attempted to use it.  Also, it really helps if you can relax your muscles.  All of them.  It makes a big difference if you are tensing up, and this can happen without you even being aware of it.  Here’s a diagram (also from jess.anne.o) that shows two folds.  I prefer the Push Down fold myself.

Oh, and two really awesome things about using a cup are 1) you can leave it in for 12 hours!  I have a friend who, the majority of the time (aside from maybe 1 day) empties the cup in the morning when she gets up, and then once again before bed.  That’s peanuts!  However, this will of course vary from each day of your cycle to each individual woman, but the average is 12 hours.  The cup can hold 1/2 an ounce of liquid, and the average cycle is about 1 – 1.4 ounces in total, so there you go.  Because it is a hygienic product, it is recommended to empty it at least every 10-12 hours I do believe.  I had mine in for 8, 12, 11, and 10 hours respectively and things were totally fine.  The fourth day I noticed that something seemed weird in terms of leakage (VERY VERY minor, like… VERY minor) but it felt comfortable, so I’m not sure what went on there.  Sometimes if the little holes at the top of the cup (there’s 4 tiny suction holes) aren’t completely clear of liquid or anything, they can result in a weird fit.  That’s something to double-check, too.

So while the first day of using the cup was a bit… hectic, the following days were easy-peasy.  I notice that for about 5-10 minutes after I inserted the cup, I’d have to move around and do weird aerobic moves in my bathroom so that the cup could shift into place properly.  I’ve heard this is normal and so I am okay with that, it just threw me off for a bit.  And doing funny dance moves really is not a problem in my books, so that’s cool with me.

I am kind of a nerd (some might use the adjective f’ing disgusting interchangeably there) and was pretty anxious to see what the cup contained at the end of the day when I went to empty it.  And really?  It’s pretty neat to see how my cycle varies from day to day, and really, what is going on in my body.  I’m constantly on a journey to become more in tune, more connected with myself (it only makes sense, right?  it’s me, for gosh sakes!) and so, this helps.  It’s also friggin’ amazing for keeping track of my cycle (which I’m doing anyway via Toni Weschler’s Fertility Awareness Method) and also for future reference in terms of what happens with my body during my menstrual cycle.  You definitely have to be okay with bodily fluids and sort of, exploring, in order to get used to and like/appreciate the cup, I just want to put that out there.

In terms of cleaning, basically you are supposed to wash the cup out at least twice a day with water and a mild soap.  I just use baby soap, and wash it after I empty it.  It comes with a little draw-string storage bag that you can store it in easily, so that’s handy too.  It is also advised to boil the cup for sterilization purposes at the end of each cycle.

The website states that the cup is good for 1 year, and they state this recommendation because it is used for hygienic purposes, however, most people I know have had their cup for several years and it’s just fine.  The cup runs at about $40, so if you do the math, you know you’re saving big bucks, and who doesn’t like to save money?   There’s so many perks to the cup and I love that I have already experienced them and it’s only been 4 days.  There’s still some kinks I have to work out, like being quicker at insertion, and what not, but it’s coming and it’ll continue to.  Even in terms of emptying it in public, since you only have to likely empty it 1-2 times a day, you may not even run into that issue.  And if you do, they say that it’s okay to just wipe the cup out with a tissue, insert again, and clean with water and soap at the next convenient time.

Basically, so far I love the cup and am so happy with my purchase.  I’m doing better for my body, better for mother Earth, and better for our bank account.  Three top notch things that, what can I say, I love to do good for.  I hope that this little love affair continues to grow, and that I don’t have to come back here and be all, err, remember what I said about the cup and how much I loved it, um, yeah… about that…

I will keep you posted.  That is, if you want to keep reading about my insanely awesome connection with a friggin’ menstrual cup.  Oh, I’m just so weird.  Really guys, it’s not that weird at all.  How come Always and Kotex and Playtex and all the big guys can go on TV and talk about the menstrual cycle (and even use that stupid silly blue dye!) but I can’t cuddle up in the privacy of my little corner on the Internet and blather on?  I mean, no one said I can’t, but I’m sure some of y’all wonder.

Any questions about the cup?  Any other tips/advice for me or other new cup users, or others thinking of making the switch?


September 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm 5 comments

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