Sarah Panzetta is a fertility awareness practitioner and works passionately to ensure women have access to all the relevant information they need to make informed choices about their method of contraception.
Fertility awareness (natural family planning) is not a contraceptive choice for the faint-hearted.
This isn’t because the method is difficult or ineffective. You need to know what you’re doing, and you need to be able to handle your fertile time, but it’s not rocket science.
The hardest part is probably telling your doctor (and your friends) that you’re relying on it to avoid pregnancy.
I’ve heard reports of eye-rolling and angry sighs from some doctors, or more dramatically “Well, don’t come back to me if you need an abortion”. [Not all doctors are like this, mine was lovely].
Then there’s those who think you might not have heard the joke: what do you call users of the rhythm method? Parents.
And those who assume that you’re against contraceptive choice and abortion rights, or you believe that everything that Big Pharma does is wrong.
If you say you’ve done your research and you know that fertility awareness can be a very effective method, some people will assume that you are incredibly organised and controlling and that you obsess over every last thing that your body does.
They won’t think that you’re secretly a bit of a slacker who just can’t be bothered to visit the doctor or family planning nurse if you don’t have to. Someone who likes how minimal one can be about fertility awareness once you have it sussed.
They won’t think that you’ve had such unpleasant experiences with other contraceptive choices that you’re left with the last option on the list.
No wonder some people just keep quiet and don’t tell anyone.
I’m proud to be a Champion of Choice for BPAS because I like to speak up for women’s right to choose their contraception, and for their right to choose fertility awareness.
Despite being a fertility awareness practitioner (though that isn’t my main job), I have no desire to oversell the benefits of fertility awareness or to overstate the problems that women have with other methods of contraception.
We should all be free to choose the method that suits our needs. I want fertility awareness to be a routine option, not the routinely dismissed option, or the only option. The only contraceptive target should be ensuring that a woman is satisfied with her choice rather than simply tolerating it.