Fertility Awareness-Based Methods, FABMs
Did you know that you are not fertile every day of your cycle? Rather, there are 6-7 days per cycle that you are fertile and have a chance of conception if unprotected sex were to occur. You may have heard of the fertility awareness method (FAM) before, but did you know that this is an umbrella term for various fertility awareness methods? In today’s blog post, I will break down each of the 5 fertility awareness-based methods.
To learn more, listen to my podcast episode discussing the symptothermal method, the method that Dr. Mona (episode guest) and I both use and teach.
The 5 types of FABMs
- Symptothermal (single-check and double-check)
- Cervical mucus only
Fertility awareness based methods (FABMs, and also sometimes called natural family planning, NFP) consist of tracking a few, or all, of your body’s daily biomarkers such as basal body temperature (BBT), cervical mucus/fluid (CM), cervical position, and urinary hormones (LH testing). Tracking these biomarkers can help a woman/menstruator identify their unique fertile window. More benefits of tracking your cycle using a FABM are:
- Optimize conception when desired.
- Prevent conception if desired.
- No side effects of synthetic hormones.
- Become more in tune with your hormones, cycle, body, and mind.
- Understand and optimize total well being.
- Body literacy and empowerment.
To further break down the five methods of FABMs, they can be classified into two groups: calculation-based and observation-based methods.
These graphics were created by the queen, Dr. Mona. To read and learn more, click here.
These methods are usually less effective and what can give FABMs a lower, generalized efficacy rate, that may get you an eye roll with your gynecologist. This calculation, whether it be from an app or from your own, pen-to-paper tracking, may be based on a woman’s previous cycles or population averages, which does not account for a woman’s current and unique body, hormone fluctuations, and observations. However, lactation amenorrhea, when done properly, can be very effective.
These methods require you to observe and listen to your body daily, and tend to be more effective at managing conception as well as building a deeper relationship with the mind and body.
I use, and can vet for, the double-checked symptothermal method. When done properly, it has an efficacy rate of 99.6%. To learn more about this method, listen to my podcast episode with Dr. Mona here.
If you do not abstain from unprotected intercourse during your fertile window and/or use condoms during your fertile window, you are no longer relying on a FABM, but instead, on another method such as a barrier (condom) or withdrawal.
- Effectiveness of Fertility Awareness-Based Methods for Pregnancy Prevention: A Systematic Review, 2018
- Frank-Herrmann P, Heil J, Gnoth C, Toledo E, Baur S, Pyper C, Jenetzky E, Strowitzki T, Freundl G. The effectiveness of a fertility awareness based method to avoid pregnancy in relation to a couple's sexual behaviour during the fertile time: a prospective longitudinal study. Hum Reprod. 2007 May;22(5):1310-9. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dem003. Epub 2007 Feb 20. PMID: 17314078.
- Oliver R, Pillarisetty LS. StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing; Treasure Island (FL): Nov 3, 2020. Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Ovary Corpus Luteum. [PubMed]
- Steward, K., & Raja, A. (2022). Physiology, Ovulation And Basal Body Temperature. Retrieved 5 July 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546686/
- Wiggins, M. (2022). Types of FABMs: What are they & how do they work?” — Medicine with Mona. Retrieved 5 July 2022, from https://www.medicinewithmona.com/blog/types-of-fabms