‘More people need to know about this’: A mother wishes someone told her about FABMs sooner
By: Doree Morison, DO
Editor’s Note: Doree Morison, an Internal Medicine and Pediatrics resident and former participant in the FACTS elective, interviewed a woman who had been taking hormonal birth control since she was 14 but suffered negative health side effects. The patient knew there had to be a better option and finally discovered an effective alternative on her own: fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs). As always, FACTS recommends learning how to use an FABM with guidance from an educator or clinician trained to teach these methods. Calley Gober, another former elective student, makes a great case for FABM educators — read her interview here.
Laura* was frustrated after years experiencing negative side effects from oral contraceptive pills (OCPs). Any time she complained to her primary care physician about the nagging headaches, mood swings, and weight gain that accompanied her daily pill, she was offered another form of birth control — but never a fertility awareness-based method (FABM).
Laura started taking hormonal birth control at 14 to treat her acne and later continued using it for contraception. By 22, she was overwhelmed by the side effects. She desperately sought a different option. Eventually, through her own research, she found the Billings Ovulation Method®. Laura taught herself to chart her cycles through online resources and stopped taking hormonal birth control. Within three months, she finally felt relief from her prior symptoms and no longer suffered from the mood swings and physical symptoms that had plagued her for years.
Learning about her body and menstrual cycle felt incredibly empowering, and Laura said she was hungry for more knowledge. Using the resources on the Billings website, she was able to connect with a trained physician. “I finally found a physician who listened to me and was a partner with me in my health journey,” she said.
“I finally found a physician who listened to me and was a partner with me in my health journey,” she said.
Laura eventually got married and sought to become even more knowledgeable about her body and fertility. She began charting using the Sympto-Thermal Method and learned to accurately pinpoint her ovulation days. When Laura and her husband decided to try to conceive, it only took them one cycle. Having observed a prolonged temperature shift, she had a hunch about the pregnancy and surprised her husband with the good news even before taking an official pregnancy test!  She felt incredibly inspired and in tune with her body through charting regularly.
Two years after their first child was born, Laura and her husband again conceived on their first try using the Sympto-Thermal Method.
The couple now plans on using the Billings method for the foreseeable future to avoid pregnancy. Both Laura and her husband love the simplicity of the method, and the fact that it is easy and straightforward, as well as effective and reliable.
Laura has begun to spread the word about FABMs and encourages other women to take control of their health and fertility. Laura explained how using FABMs brought another layer and dynamic into her marriage. She and her husband feel closer to each other and more “in tune” since starting their charting and fertility journey together. It has given them both a shared responsibility over their fertility, with her husband taking on the role of “chart keeper” who places the correct stickers on their chart each night. Laura also said she is also more self-aware and can better take care of herself from an emotional and health-based perspective. She believes she is able to optimize her health by not having to rely on exogenous synthetic hormones.
“Laura explained how using FABMs brought another layer and dynamic into her marriage. She and her husband feel closer to each other and more “in tune” since starting their charting and fertility journey together.”
Overall, Laura voiced disappointment that more physicians do not recommend this method of family planning as a first line and expressed frustration at how early she was put on “the pill.” Laura has two daughters and plans to teach them early about the power of their cycles and how to chart using FABMs. Laura hopes that more physicians will educate themselves and offer these methods to their patients. Laura said, “Using FABMs is a no-brainer to me: It’s healthy, empowering, inexpensive, and reliable. More people need to know about this. I want to scream it from the rooftops.”
“Using FABMs is a no-brainer to me: It’s healthy, empowering, inexpensive, and reliable. More people need to know about this.”
*Name has been changed to respect the privacy of the interviewee, and all information is shared with permission.
 Steward K, Raja A. Physiology, Ovulation And Basal Body Temperature. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; July 18, 2022.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Doree Morison, DO
Dr. Doree Morison is a combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics resident at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. She completed medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine – Georgia Campus in Suwanee, GA. She participated in the FACTS FABM elective her fourth year. She has two children, ages 3 and 1. She looks forward to empowering her patients to take charge of their fertility and educating her co-residents about the power of FABMs.