FABM Spotlight: Fertility Education and Medical Management (FEMM)
September 30, 2021
By Dulce Maria Miller De McCoy, DO
Editor’s Note: This creatively written interview describes the many benefits of discovering fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) for a young couple. This discovery led to a woman empowered with education, a growing family, and a new career in fertility awareness. It also impacted the physician in training who met Annie, whose growing passion for fertility awareness is clearly contagious.
I had the pleasure of speaking with a brilliant and amazing woman named Annie.* Her story begins after finding love and marrying her wonderful husband. At that time, she had been taking oral contraceptives (OCPs) for about ten years. When considering coming off the pill, she felt there must be a better way to track her fertility and understand her body. Since then, she has discovered a passion and drive for staying educated and up-to-date on the natural options for fertility awareness.
Annie’s interest in this topic grew after reading titles such as, “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler and “Beyond the Pill,” by Jolene Brighten. In the age of social media ‘likes’ and expanding friend networks, Annie found her way to FEMM (Fertility Education and Medical Management) when scrolling through social media.
FEMM stands for Fertility Education and Medical Management, a fertility awareness-based method (FABM) rooted in tracking several different biomarkers, including cervical mucus, bleeding, and urinary LH testing. Like other FABMs, the FEMM method is designed to help women observe their biomarkers to identify their fertility window and track their follicular and luteal phases better. This method could further aid in either pregnancy planning or pregnancy prevention.
Annie was intrigued, and figured she could begin using FEMM after coming off birth control to help her and her husband prevent pregnancy. She began using a self-guided approach but soon felt confused and unsure of her body’s signals. Annie turned to a trained FEMM instructor who started helping her decipher the patterns of her biomarkers. To place it all in a timeline, Annie began charting around May, sought help from her instructor in July, and by winter, she felt she was an expert of her own body.
Several months into her marriage, and after successfully avoiding pregnancy using the FEMM method, the couple decided it may be time to start growing their family. Annie felt highly prepared for this next step in her life. The FEMM method had taught her to predict her fertile window and helped build strong communication and connection between her and her husband. It only took the couple two cycles to conceive.
Annie was not only able to accurately predict her date of conception but also the date she would give birth! Her beautiful baby was born on the exact date she expected.
Annie’s love for women’s health, the FEMM method, and natural family planning led her to become a leader and a source of information in her community. She spent two years training to become a certified doula and is on the cusp of earning her FEMM educator certification. She promotes natural alternatives for women to take hold of their health and be the most educated in making decisions about their health. As for her family, Annie’s husband has always been supportive of her decisions and her new career path. As they continue to enjoy the early months of parenthood, Annie is excited and ready to return to her charting.
As a young female physician, I have learned from Annie the immense impact and responsibility of teaching female patients all the available, research-based women’s health information. Fertility awareness-based methods are another resource of empowerment, education, and understanding that women can utilize to align their life goals with healthy, self-aware mindsets.
Through our conversation, I also learned that today’s modern woman is already looking for this type of information. Through the filters and pages of social media, natural family planning is finding its way into the popular mainstream. I believe physicians should be at the forefront of this medically based and heavily researched information. Women deserve to have all the facts about their biology available to them from formally trained medical professionals. FABMs should not be laid aside as a “fad” but, rather, the new standard any woman should have at her disposal if she wishes to follow this approach.
* To protect privacy, names have been changed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dulce Maria Miller De McCoy, DO
Dulce Maria Miller De McCoy, DO is a psychiatry resident at Allegheny General Hospital. She completed this interview as a fourth-year medical student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She has an interest in reproductive psychiatry and the psychological issues surrounding infertility. As a future psychiatrist, she believes learning about FABMs increases her scope and understanding of women’s health and broadens the assessment and treatment plans she can offer patients. Having had no prior experience with FABMs, she is delighted to have taken the FACTS elective to learn more about female physiology, the psychology of fertility, and healthy intimacy.