So, now that you know you want to get off of your birth control, what should you do? Well, first go talk to your doctor. I went to my gynecologist and, honestly, it took some convincing for him to get on board with me getting off of birth control. Once I really sold it, he suggested that I finish the rest of my birth control pills for that month and then try the BBT method to prevent pregnancy.
BBT stands for Basal Body Temperature, which is your morning temperature before you get out of bed. Tracking your daily BBT allows you to track when your ovulation occurs. Here is an excerpt from the literature that my gynecologist gave me:
“Most people believe that there is a chance for conception whenever intercourse takes place. Actually, this is not true. Conception can follow only if intercourse occurs near the time when the egg (ovum) is released by the ovary (ovulation). Obviously fertilization is impossible if there is no ovum to be fertilized. As far as we know, ovulation occurs only once in each menstrual cycle. This means that a woman has only one opportunity for conception during her cycle.” – excerpt from “Instructions for Recording and Using the Basal Temperature Graph”
The goal is to avoid having sex, or to use other forms of protection, around when you are ovulating and are most likely to become pregnant. If the sperm is able to make it’s way past the uterus, into the fallopian tubes and there is cervical fluid present, it can live there for up to five days. So, just to be safe I’d recommend abstaining or using protection for 5 days before you ovulate. Once you ovulate and the egg drops it only sticks around for 24 hours, waiting to be fertilized. If it’s not fertilized, it moves through the uterus and disintegrates. I remain using protection for 1-2 days after I ovulate, just to be careful. So, I’ll explain how to figure out when you are ovulating. (source)
How to Tell When You’re Ovulating:
A woman’s body temperature is usually lower within the first two weeks, 10-14 days, after her last period and before ovulation. Her temperature then peaks during ovulation, usually above 98.0°, and remains higher for the last one to two weeks before she starts her period, when it dips down once again.
When you see a peak in the temperature around 10-14 days in, you are ovulating. This is when you should use protection or remain abstinent. Your temperature will remain higher until you start your period, at which point it dips down again. This is usually a nice indicator for me that my period is starting.
*Note: This method may not work for everyone. You have to have a reliable, consistent cycle each month to find your pattern. For example, the picture below shows a woman’s cycle who is not consistent and is unable to use the BBT method to prevent pregnancy.
How and When To Take Your Temperature:
- Take your temperature right when you wake up, before you get out of bed.
- Don’t drink or eat anything before you take your temperature.
- Take your temperature around the same time very morning.
How to Use the BBT Graph:
- When you start your graph, fill in the month and corresponding days into the available spaces at the top of the graph, as shown above. Start with the first day after the end of your last period.
- After you take your temperature in the morning, graph your temperature under the correct day and draw a line between the pervious day and today.
- When you have sex, circle the dot to chart when you were sexually active.
- When you are ovulating, draw an arrow to the exact day of ovulation, when your temperature peaks. From there, you know to use protection two days before that day and two days after. The trickiest part is knowing if you are two days before your ovulation. This is why it’s so important that your have a regular cycle. For example, I know that I usually ovulate around day 15, so I start to use protection from about day 10 to day 17.
- When you start your period, put an “X” on that day. You do not have to take your temperature while you are on your period. Use an “X” for every day of your period.
- Start taking your temperature again once you have finished your period.
Here’s a FREE printable of a BBT graph to chart your temperature. They look a little archaic, but they do the job! Just click on the picture and you can save the PDF to your computer.
- When you start the BBT method, chart your first few months before stopping other forms of protection to ensure that your cycle is regular. The doctor recommended that I chart my cycle for two months before stopping other forms of protection. If your cycle was not consistent while you were on birth control or you were taking birth control that stopped you from having your period, it may take longer for you to get back to having regular, dependable cycles. Also, it’s important to note that the BBT method may not work for you if you never have a reliable cycle. Although, I do think that if you are working to heal your body, your period will eventually get back in line and you will see regular cycles return. However, it may take time and you should continue using other forms of birth control until they return.
- You can also use this method to help you get pregnant. If you know when you are ovulating, then you can take the guess work out of getting pregnant and have sex on that day! Bam you have a baby!
Non-hormonal Forms of Protection:
- Spermicide – Encare was the brand my doctor recommended, but they didn’t have it at Target, so I got VCF a Vaginal Contraceptive Film. It’s a thin, little strip, just like a Listerine strip, that you insert 15 minutes before sex. It’s easy to use, did the job and is a good alternative to condoms.
- Diaphragms – You have to be fitted for one by your gynecologist and check on it regularly to be sure it fits well and has no holes. I haven’t gone this route, but it’s definitely an option.
- IUD – You can get a copper IUD that does not release hormones. However, they usually leave these in for long periods of time, up to 12 years. So, if you plan on having children sooner rather than later, this might not be the best option for you.
Before you start on this journey, it is always important to see your doctor first. It is common that we take birth control to deal with other issues, such as hormonal imbalances, painful cramps, irregular periods and heavy bleeding, just to name a few. These issues may come back when you get off of birth control. However, this is the first step toward dealing with the underlying issues that are causing your hormonal troubles.
I have found that a journey toward natural living takes a commitment and you may have to suffer through some unpleasant things on your journey. However, if you have made the decision to get off of birth control the BBT method has worked well for me. I’ve used it for over a year and have no babies!
What methods do you use to prevent pregnancy?
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