By Susana Bustos (Eco Femme’s Graphic designer)
I started tracking my cycle one year ago with some reservations. I was used to using birth control pills to take care of my fertility but I knew that it would be difficult for me to continue this practice when I moved from Chile to Auroville (India), so I began preparing myself to take a big step to control my fertility naturally using the Sympto-Thermal Method. I remember the day that I took my last pill, I felt empowered. On one hand, I was excited about leaving something that I knew was making me feel like a zombie, yet I felt scared because I wanted to avoid pregnancy, which was my biggest fear.
Today, a year later, I can say that this is the best decision that I ever made! It is a huge change in my life and I feel free and aware of my body since I’m tracking my cycle. I’m connecting with myself in a deeper way and it is something that I enjoy. I can feel how, when I was taking the birth control pill, it was as if I was in a sleep mode: I stopped doing things that I enjoyed and I accepted situations that weren’t aligned with myself. After a year without taking the pill, I started to recognize all these situations. I started to remember who I was and I’m doing again the things that I like. Today, I’m feeling more myself, and through cycle tracking, I can notice the patterns more precisely – the times, when I feel more connected and more creative, also when I need to rest or sleep more.
When I started to track my cycle, I took a workshop and made big research into the Sympto-Thermal Method. I learned how to start to do it, how to recognize the different cervical discharges and how this is connected with the temperature, what it means when it rises and how different is each phase of my cycle. I learned that my cycle is sometimes long and that my ovulation is not on the 14th day but more like the 19th to 22nd day, sometimes even longer. Now, I’m more aware of when my ovulation is coming to avoid pregnancy. But what is important to keep in mind is that this method requires discipline and responsibility.
Practicing this method for a year, I can see more clearly the impact on my lifestyle. I observe how some activities impact my body, for example how my temperature rises when I drink alcohol the night before and how this can delay my ovulation. When I’m having a healthy life (eating well, drinking more water, not drinking alcohol at all, exercising, etc), my luteal phase is longer than when I’m not particularly taking care of myself. Having a long luteal phase is good for your health because we produce more hormones that help us when we are old and that is really a gift!! And it also helps to be conscious of the lifestyle you want.
This Sympto-Thermal Method is not only to measure the impact of your lifestyle. For example, last December I suspected that I was suffering from PCOS because my ovulation was delayed without apparent reason plus pain and another symptom. So I went to the doctor, and she confirmed my diagnosis. Learning to live with PCOS is a work in progress. For me, making the switch from the birth control pill to the Sympto-Thermal method really changed my life, not just because I know when I am close to ovulating or when my period is coming so that I can be prepared; it has been a gateway to greater self-responsibility. Before I was externalizing the responsibility of my fertility to the birth control pills and now I feel that I claim back the power of taking care of my cycle and fertility. The responsibility is 100% on me. With this method, I feel more aware and free about my period, my body and my life – tracking my cycle was the key. The good news about practicing the Sympto-Thermal Method is that you claim the freedom to choose conception or not without the contraceptive effects. It has been a liberating choice that has changed my life for the better!