I first began learning about fertility awareness last year. Contrary to what many women believe, we are not fertile all month. By tracking your basal body temperature and cervical fluid you are able to pinpoint when you are ovulating and know when you are most at risk of pregnancy.
Hormonal birth control methods suppress our natural cycles and pose long-term health risks, for the sake of a few days out of the month. Equally, methods such as the IUD are invasive and often with side-effects that some women find intolerable.
Fertility awareness (NOT to be confused with natural family planning) works as well as any contraceptive method, being aware that nothing except abstinence is 100% effective. You can begin by taking your temperature every day with a basal body temperature thermometer and plotting it on a graph to identify ovulation (characterised by a high surge in temperature). You also take into account the fact that sperm can survive inside the body for up to 5 days and bring that into your calculations as to whether unprotected intercourse is safe or not.
With fertility awareness charts you also need to monitor cervical fluid, which varies depending on where you are in your cycle (ovulation being identified with fluid that is reminiscent of egg-whites to enable sperm to travel up to fertilise an egg).
Introducing Daysy - the fertility monitor that does the calculations for you and has a simple light system. It is clinically tested at 99.3% efficiency (rivalling the IUD).
Bearing in mind with these statistics that Daysy is a computer, so user error is significantly reduced compared to other fertility methods.
How does it work? You have to take your temperature with the monitor before you get out of bed and it gives you a light.
Red - fertile
Green - Infertile
Red Blinking - ovulating
Amber - unsure (treat as fertile)
All lights flashing - pregnant
Once you've done that, you plug the monitor into your phone and sync the data.
When I began using Daysy I got all amber lights until my period started. Daysy treats the first five days of your period as safe. Ovulation for most women is typically 14 days after their period starts, but Daysy learns YOUR body. This is why the device will show you red days before ovulation is expected as sperm can survive and wait for the egg to be released. Once ovulation is confirmed (and 24 hours given just incase a second egg is released), Daysy will give you green days until the end of your next period.
On a red day couples MUST either choose to abstain or use a barrier method (ideally two!) to prevent pregnancy. It also does not protect from STDs.
This is my calendar so far. As you can see Daysy is already starting to 'look ahead' as to what my fertility status might be for the rest of the month.
And there's my graph. I've done a little arrow so you can see how Daysy has calculated ovulation.
So far I'm really happy with it. Daysy can take 3 months to learn your body and already I'm getting a significant amount of green days over red.
A good feature of the app is you can give your partner the login details and they can have their own version to keep up to date with your fertility status each day!
I was also really pleased that this was the first month since I had the IUD removed that I 'felt' ovulation which was great, it means my body is back to normal and I liked that I could confirm it with the monitor.
I don't believe that ANY contraceptive method can truly prevent pregnancy so if I did conceive I wouldn't blame Daysy, any more than I would blame the Pill if I conceived on that.
It's a bit pricey at £250 but it's an investment - if you did decide to try to conceive, you can use the light system in reverse. This device will last you for your fertile years so I thought it was really cost-effective. Now I really know how it works I'd be happy to use just a thermometer and paper charts too, but this way is just so convenient.
You can save money on pregnancy tests too - when you are about to begin your period your temperature will start to drastically drop. If this doesn't happen and your temperature keeps rising Daysy will identify the pregnancy and let you know,
It also has the added benefit of if I ever experienced any health issues related to reproduction, I have invaluable information about my cycles that can be used to help pinpoint the problem.