Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ladies only

"Being in tune with your body" these days has the connotation of sending little scrubbing-bubble cartoons through your body and getting the inside and outside completely "clean". I won't deny that a few days' fasting or near-fasting makes you feel damn good, and hypes your brain up to almost-supernatural speeds (hey, you try writing a grant in a week), but frankly I think there's some point at which you're only deluding yourself. Alas, that point happens only after you've sent in your $39.95 for the acai/apple cider vinegar/green tea pills.

But apparently there is another type of "being in tune with your body" that actually works, unlike the promises of less-than-slick adverts in Parade. The Fertility Awareness Method of birth control requires that a women recognize the biological markers of fertility, and abstain or engage in sexual activity during and a few days after.

I've never really liked the idea of hormonal birth control, but that's mainly due to the fact that I am gifted (or cursed?) with a liver that might as well not exist, for all that it fails to metabolize. The pill is certainly one of the most reliable methods of birth control, but frankly the slight increase in strokes, which is minimal to begin with, makes me nervous about taking them (I am quite aware that the statistics say my chances are minimal--but still, this is a stroke we're talking about, something that could damage you for the rest of your life in a very real way, that I don't want the odds improving, as it were). Furthermore, seven days every four weeks seems rather excessive to me--I'll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that I do not follow the average twenty-eight day cycle. I have yet to meet a woman who did, for that matter.

The main difference between FAM and the Family Planning method (sanctified by the Catholic Church) is that FAM doesn't require you to count days and divide by two and add three before get the picture. Besides, FPM assumes that you are absolutely regular, and that is something almost no woman is.

What FAM requires is that you know your body. Inside and out, literally: keeping track of the state of one's basal body temperature, vaginal secretions, and cervical position. All of these change when you are ovulating, and if you really, carefully, listen to your body, it is a simple matter to figure out when you are most likely to be ovulating.

All the same, I can't see it catching on. For starters, while "being in tune with your body" sounds great as a catchphrase for gluten-free diets, it gets robbed of the holistic-touchy-feely aspect once you start measuring basal body temperatures to the tenth of a degree. Yet this kind of scientific probing is, oddly, what enables things like perfectly natural birth control to be effective.

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