My, oh my – I left you hanging about one of my favorite non-food and fitness topics!  Where did we leave off?


  • Part I (February) – I began to have concerns that I’ve been on the Pill for “too long” and feared I won’t get my period if I go off of it after hearing horror stories from my girlfriends and other bloggers.
  • Part II (July) – I begin to educate myself about the Fertility Awareness Method and went off the Pill.


I wrote Part II of the Big Birth Control Question series on a Monday, my first day without taking birth control pills in over TEN YEARS.   I had done some research and was a little concerned about going through “withdrawal.”  Every medical article I read said that it was statistically unlikely, but I spoke to dozens of women that said they experienced horrible headaches, nausea, and bloating as their body adjusted.


Going off the Pill was like the longest, worst hangover of my life!  The sensations hit on Wednesday (48 hours after I stopped the Pill) and lasted for another three days.  Honestly, it was pretty miserable, but I knew it would pass.  Exercising seemed to make me feel better.  The Husband also gave me several “women’s specific” acupuncture treatments that really helped.


I immediately started to chart my basal body temperature (BBT) per the Fertility Awareness Method.  I first tried charting on a sheet of paper.


Because we were just starting the FAM method, we immediately began to use a back-up form of birth control (condoms).  We do NOT (NOT, NOT, NOT) want to get pregnant right now so we’re being extra-careful through this whole process.


Tracking on paper didn’t work for me.   I was too sleepy in the morning to write down my basal temperature (a shift in temperature indicates that you’re ovulating/can get pregnant).  And I kept forgetting to take my temperature until I got out of bed.


Within a few days of tracking on paper, I decided to try an iPhone app.  I downloaded FemCal for a few dollars.


I actually really liked FemCal for several reasons.  It would create a little bar graph with all your temperatures and clearly label days GREEN (you don’t need to use back-up birth control, although we still did for the first two cycles) or RED (you’re fertile).


Throughout the entire first month, I was very worried that I wasn’t going to get my period.  I had heard SO many horror stories from other friends and bloggers who didn’t get their periods for months or even YEARS after going off birth control. 


But on Day 13, I experienced signs of ovulation (and trust me, you know when you’re ovulating, especially if you’ve been on the Pill for 10 years) and cried tears of happiness!  I felt really blessed, as strange as that sounds.  And on Day 27, I got my period, right on schedule… the first month I was off birth control.


I think it’s easy to get wrapped up into this whole mentality of “there is something wrong with my fertility” because other women, unfortunately, go through it.  And people who have problems talk about it, of course.  Women who are blessed enough not to have issues don’t usually blab about it. But… don’t stress out until you know there’s a problem.  It’s just not worth it.  I guess I’m hear to say that being on the Pill doesn’t necessary screw up your “normal” periods.  It IS important to be aware of potential issues, though!


After about a month, I realized that I wasn’t being very good about the FemCal app.  I would wake up late or too early or drink too much wine (which all impact your temperature).  That’s when the representatives of Lady-Comp (Naturally For Her) stumbled upon my blog series about birth control and offered to send me one of their electronic fertility monitors to try out and review on the blog.


Lady-Comp is 99.3% effective when used correctly, according to clinical trials.  The machine uses the FAM method and relies on the following facts:


  • The BBT method is the most reliable measurement for determining fertility.
  • After ovulation, the egg can be fertilized for a maximum of 18 hours.
  • If you ovulate twice (rare!), the double ovulation will occur within 24 hours.
  • Sperm remains active and fertile inside the female body for 120 hours (5 days).
  • That means there are 6 days in every cycle when a woman can get pregnant.


As mentioned, the FAM method relies on pinpointing a slight temperature shift (as well as other indicators; check out Taking Charge of Your Fertility) to determine ovulation.


Using your temperature reading (+ storing and comparing it to a database of other women’s cycles), the Lady-Comp will give you a RED light (don’t have unprotected sex unless you want to get pregnant), a YELLOW light (basically, the machine is in a “learning phrase” about your body and you should use protection), or a GREEN light (you’re infertile).  The more you use it, the less red days you see because the computer adjusts to your own cycle.



Now, Lady-Comp is expensive ($484 on the Naturally for Her site), BUT – I think it’s worth it and would have bought it with my own money if it wasn’t a sample.  I love, love, love that there is no pen and paper involved and that I don’t have to stare at my temperatures trying to figure out if I’ve ovulated (it’s like seeing the forest through the trees).  The lights take out all the guess work (we’ve begun just to rely on the Lady Comp now) plus it allows me to see my fertile status for up to 6 days, or review my past temp readings.  Also, it wakes you up with an alarm so there’s no more forgetting to take my temp.


Also, it’s much better than the FemCal application because I still had to deal with two pieces of equipment (the thermometer + iPhone).  The thermometer is attached to the Lady-Comp and does all the work of inputting the data for you.  Plus, my birth control was $30 a month so the machine pays for itself in 16 months, and it lasts about 10 years.


The coolest thing about the Lady-Comp? When we do want to get pregnant, we have unprotected sex on red light days, and hopefully, we’ll get preggers right away!  So you can use it to avoid pregnancy or achieve it.  Naturally!


All in all, so far I am really pleased with the FAM method.  We’re not pregnant (yay!).  And I have to say that after the initial BC withdrawal, my body definitely evened out naturally and I feel more normal than I ever did on the Pill.  I had my second non-Pill period last week and for the first time in my life, I did not experience ANY PMS symptoms.  NOTHING!


I know the Pill isn’t evil – it’s a great option for many women, and I know it has helped women with PCOS, etc.  And I definitely wouldn’t have gone off the Pill in college or marriage (and obviously neither method protects against STDs).   But it was no longer a good choice for me, and I’m so glad the blog world opened me up to the FAM method.  I had so many misconceptions about it (I didn’t think it was grounded in science at all!).  There are lots of alternatives out there to explore as you enter different lifestages.


Anyone else out there using the FAM method?  Do you rely on pen and paper, iPhone apps, or something more sophisicated like the Lady Comp?  What concerns do you have about birth control?



  • Amy @ The Nifty Foodie September 9, 2010, 12:17 pm

    I’ve actually been considering the FAM method. Like you, I’m really afraid of birth control messing with my natural cycle (after hearing from friends about trouble TTC). FAM probably won’t happen for a while though, since we aren’t in the “it’s ok if we get pregnant but we really would rather not get pregnant” right now phase.

  • Lindsay Perrone (goodiesgalore) September 9, 2010, 12:18 pm

    I went off the pill last October because after years I felt it had turned me into a zombie. Now I get my period every 7 weeks but still expect if after 4 weeks– this means 3 weeks of PMS, even if it’s mental. What a great tool that LadyComp gadget is. I just wish it was cheaper bc I’d be all over that!

  • Angharad September 9, 2010, 12:19 pm

    Interesting! I’m very intrigued because I kind of hate the pill. So, you said that sometimes you drank too much wine which impacted the temperature…is this not effective for women who drink regularly? Thanks Caitlin!

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 12:20 pm

      I don’t know if it renders it ineffective necessarily (maybe the Lady Comp rep can jump in here) but drinking does impact your temperature so I think you should just be aware of the temps changes when you do drink. If you were charting by pen, this would be the kind of thing you would note as a special circumstance.

      • Angharad September 9, 2010, 7:55 pm

        Awesome, thank you!

      • Emily October 5, 2010, 2:17 pm

        I’m not the Ladycomp rep, but as an owner, I can say that yes, drinking even a couple of glasses of wine DOES affect your temperature quite a bit, pretty much rendering the Ladycomp useless for that day. So if you drink on most days, I wouldn’t recommend the Ladycomp. But again, I’m not an expert.

  • Tiffany (Stuffed with Fluff) September 9, 2010, 12:22 pm

    How interesting. Like you, I’d been on the pill for years and am slowly weaning myself off them. Right now, the only baby I’m able to be responsible for has fur, so I was trying to rely on old school pen and paper methods…and of course was horrible at actually doing it.

    I’ll have to look into apps. I WISH I could try something like Lady Comp, but that’s too rich for my blood haha.

  • Erin September 9, 2010, 12:23 pm

    We’re trying for a second child, but I’ve never felt more “normal” than I did when I stopped taking my pills a few months ago. It was a huge relief to find that the issues I’d had since childbirth were being exacerbated by my pills. It goes to show that pills are not for everyone, and that none of them are magic.

  • Maria September 9, 2010, 12:23 pm

    Oh I’ve learned so much that I really did not know before from this post! BC to me has always seemed so unnatural, but like you, I really don’t want to go off of it until I am married (next year). We become so dependent on it and I really think it’s my clutch and would be scared to death to go off of it right now. How did you get over the fear (or is it that you’d be OK if you did happen to get pregnant?)

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 12:24 pm

      I’m still a little nervous about it. We used condoms religiously and are only starting to go FAM-solo when I am 100% SURE I am not ovulating. I think it comes with using the method for a few months and just becoming comfortable and confident in it (for both you and your fiance).

  • Nicci@NiftyEats September 9, 2010, 12:23 pm

    Thank you for sharing this information, I find this method of birth control very interesting. No babies are needed over here just yet LoL, but I would like to go off the pill. I will have to check out the book and the app you found.

  • Jazz September 9, 2010, 12:23 pm

    Wow, I never knew you did this too! I started taking my temp before I got married so by the time we were hitched (I’m old school) I didn’t have to chart anymore, could just tell by my temp in the morning what was going on down there! Love it.. never been on the pill .. never been prego.. Dr’s are always amazed that I don’t take anything ‘not even the pill?’ haha.

    Also, since we’re on the subject, I use a diva cup (menstrual cup) which rocks my period… I don’t even remember I’m on it half the time!

    Thanks for posting this, I think a lot of women should consider what they are putting in their bodies and how it can effect them..

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 12:25 pm

      Everyone talks about the Diva Cup and loves it!

      • Jazz September 9, 2010, 12:37 pm

        Best purchase of my life!

        • Kattrina September 9, 2010, 2:35 pm

          I bought the Diva cup and LOVED it. However, it actually gives me bacterial infections EVERY time I use it. No matter how many times I boil the sucker and use the special Diva cup wash, my body just doesn’t seem to like it. Very annoying.

      • Janene Giuseffi September 9, 2010, 3:31 pm

        yup, I’m a diva cup believer! Love it!

        • Andrea September 9, 2010, 4:13 pm

          Love it almost as much as the Hubs… 🙂

        • Jazz September 9, 2010, 4:51 pm

          Lol Andrea…. if only the hubs appreciated it as much as I do!

    • Alison November 12, 2010, 1:46 pm

      I love the FAM method! I’ve never been on the pill so I can’t compare. It’s so wonderful to be aware of what’s going on with your body. =)

      Also a diva cup user–will never go back. =)

  • Maissa (Run, Rant, Realize) September 9, 2010, 12:24 pm

    I have been thinking about going off the pill since they reformulated mine in January and it’s sent me into an emotional tailspin… But for now I just switched to another one with lower hormone levels and it seems to be working.

    The boyfriend and I are really young, don’t have any kind of stability yet (both in that we’re just out of school now what phase) and any kind of pregnancy would just be impossible right now, so I’m just not willing to take any risks.

    I am really enjoying hearing about your experience with FAM though, in a few years when we’re more stable I’ll probably move towards FAM as I’m not a huge fan of messing around with my hormones the way the pill does.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    • Katie November 19, 2010, 9:16 pm

      I realize that this is a late post – but I’m in exactly the same place that you are! My boyfriend and I just graduated in May from college and are in NO WAY WANTING A CHILD RIGHT NOW.

      Hormones/ birth control make me really moody and I had to try 4 different ones before finally settling on the one I’m on now – which is okay. I’m anxious to get off the pill ASAP but don’t really feel like that is an option right now.

      Thanks for posting about FAM and your experiences — really inspiring.

  • Chelsea @ healthsea September 9, 2010, 12:24 pm

    I just like that you talk about having mis-conceptions about family planning. Ha ha. 😉

    All very interesting! I plan on discussing my birth control options with my gynocologist

    • Chelsea @ healthsea September 9, 2010, 12:25 pm

      Whoops, I clicked “Submit” too soon. I plan on discussing this soon, so it’s good to have this additional information.

  • eatmovelove September 9, 2010, 12:25 pm

    Wow. That’s alot of information. Thank you. I’m so iffy on all this…the Pill is good in many ways, and sucky in other ways…and you hear something different all the time so I have no freaking clue which is right or wrong!

  • Leanne @ Radiant, Balanced & Fit September 9, 2010, 12:25 pm

    I love how you’re educating your readers on this topic! I think each of us individually are so different & as you learn about your body, you have to adjust how you treat it. I decided to go off birth control 1 year & 3 months ago after feeling like my body was outta whack… I seriously felt like I was going through puberty again!

    I feel much better then I ever have. I just don’t think there is enough research on long term effects of birth control… that makes me nervous!

    That Ladycomp thing is really neat 🙂 it’s too bad it’s so expensive!

  • JessicaR September 9, 2010, 12:27 pm

    I am so happy to hear that things are going well for you! 🙂 My experience coming off was the opposite — absolutely AWFUL, but I have finally turned a corner about nine months later.

    I want to throw out there that natural hormones can be very helpful for women who have gone off the pill and whose hormones aren’t regulating naturally. My naturopath put me on Chaste Berry (sometimes called Vitex) supplements as well as bio-identical progesterone cream for one week out of every month. I was only getting my period every two to three months after going off the pill and they were unlike anything I had experienced — extreme bloating, lethargy, insane mood swings (to the point of feeling nearly suicidal), etc. Two months after starting this new regimen from my naturopath, my periods are almost regular and I just had one last week with NO bad symptoms. (Oh, and my hormone levels were coming back in the “normal” range on my blood work, so most regular doctors would have said I was “fine” — in fact, I did have one tell me that!)

    • Emily September 9, 2010, 9:06 pm

      I would LOVE to find a naturopath in my area…do you have any recommendations on how to find one? (websites, etc). I know we’re probably not from the same area, but thought I’d check. Thanks!

      • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 10:06 pm

        Where do you live?

        • Emily September 9, 2010, 10:47 pm


  • Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) September 9, 2010, 12:27 pm

    I would love, love, love to talk to you more about all this. I went through the same thought process you did (I’ve been on the pill for 10 years-eeek! wonder what would happen if I went off?)
    But I have yet to be normal. I’m convinced the pill is evil (although I know every doctor out there will disagree with me) but I was normal before the pill and feel like it wasn’t good for my body. I lost 10 pounds immediately after going off bC and feel so much better, but I’m not regular by any means and have had to take medication occasionally to help my body.
    Anwyays, HUbs and I are NOT trying to get preggers now either and I’m trying to figure out now to learn this body temp stuff.
    I would love to try out the LadyComp, but $500 is out of the budget and I don’t even know if it would work for my situation.
    Holy longest comment ever… but it’s a topic I am very interested in… guess I’ll look more into LadyComp to see what it is all about and if it could help me.

    THanks for the info!

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 12:30 pm

      Are you coming tonight? We can discuss then!

  • Jeni September 9, 2010, 12:27 pm

    I am so happy to see your review of the Lady Comp. I went off birth control this week (after being on it for over 5 years), and I’ve been debating for weeks about whether or not to pull the trigger on something as expensive as the Lady Comp. (My husband and I are in a similar place — it would be ok if I got pregnant, but we would prefer to wait awhile.) Charting on paper seems like such a pain, so maybe the investment is worth it? Anyway, thank you so much for your review — please keep us posted about how it is working out!

  • Penny September 9, 2010, 12:28 pm

    Okay. That gadget is very cool.
    I have 2 kids, but getting pregnant with my second was a long, difficult process. I have some medical conditions, and because of them, I tried for about 4 years to concieve my second baby. It was a very emotional time for me, and I would have loved to have had the LadyComp during that time to.
    (On a side note, once I gave up and accepted the fact that I was only meant to have one child, I was pregnant about 2 months later. 🙂 That is always the way it works. :-))
    Love this post.

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 12:31 pm

      Yay for babies!!!

      • Penny September 9, 2010, 12:34 pm

        🙂 Yes. Definitely yay for babies!!!

    • Penny September 9, 2010, 12:33 pm

      Hmmm. I kinda messed that comment up. I have no idea why I added the word “to” after I said “I would have loved to have had the LadyComp during that time.”

      Oopsie. 🙂

  • Amanda @ Eat to Live, Live to Run September 9, 2010, 12:30 pm

    When we decided to get pregnant I used a website called Fertility Friend. It is also based on Basal Body Temperature measurements and creates a graph for you when you input your temperature (plus other ovulation symptoms you can track if you desire). I actually ended up getting pregnant on the 2nd month after I started using it, but I’m definitely looking forward to using the same method again. At the time I used it was a free service, but I’m not sure it if is still free. There is also a message board area and I’ve made some lifelong friends from the FF girls that had April ’08 babies as well. Overall it was a great experience!

    I sound like a commercial. LOL

    • Alexandra September 9, 2010, 3:13 pm

      They also have a free Iphone app! 🙂

  • suki September 9, 2010, 12:31 pm

    I use the iP app to keep track of my period, but I hadn’t thought of using it to record temperatures and what not, but it totally has those functions too! Definitely worth the money I paid for it, but I do understand what you mean re: not having the thermometer attached. 😉

  • Jessica September 9, 2010, 12:31 pm

    I actally stopped taking the pill around the same time you did and I agree I could not be happier! At first I was really worried that I would get horrible cramps again like I had before I went on the pill but to my surprise no cramps at all this time! I have read that you can kind of out grow the cramps. Also for as long and I can remember I have gotten horrible migraine headaches. I’ve gone to the doctor so many times about this and nothing seems to help. Well I am happy to say that after being off the pill for 2 months I have not had one headache! And thankfully, like you, my body has had no problems adjusting!

  • Charlie September 9, 2010, 12:32 pm

    For now, at 18, I am staying on the pill, especially since it doesn’t have any side effects on me (I don’t have PMS on the pill). Still, I think that the Lady Comp is really a great idea and it is the type of birth control that I would definitely use in a situation where I would not want children but could still afford to have one if I ended up getting pregnant.

  • Lindsay J September 9, 2010, 12:35 pm

    Pen and paper for me! Then when I get into work, I chart it in Excel. Still confusing though. That gagdet is perfect!

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday September 9, 2010, 12:35 pm

    That contraption may be cool but that price is outrageous. To go from paying $20 a year for the pill I better use that thing for the next 25 years!

    • Laine @ Beets, Butter & Mountaintops September 9, 2010, 12:48 pm

      Still cheaper than a baby! ; )

    • Charlie September 9, 2010, 1:50 pm

      It isn’t that expensive compared to the pill since without insurance, 18 months on the pill is the same price.

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) September 9, 2010, 12:36 pm

    i would, but my hubby doesn’t feel comfortable with it yet. i’m taking my temps and everything, but we don’t rely on it for the main source of birth control. but i would love to have a baby right now, so that makes a little bit of a difference 🙂

  • AngelaOSG September 9, 2010, 12:37 pm

    Do you remember what your PMS symptoms were like before you went ON the pill?

    I have heard that when you go off the pill (and after the adjustment phase) your PMS is supposed to revert back to what it was like prior to the pill.

    I found this to be true. before I went on the pill, I had bad PMS and irregular periods. ON the pill I had very regular periods and virtually no bad PMS. Well when I went OFF the pill, I complained that I had all this bad PMS + irregular cycles (sometimes it is every 60 days sometimes every 30), but in reality my body just went back to its natural state (i.e., how it functioned before the pill). So I think that sometimes ppl can assume that the pill ‘made’ them have all these bad withdrawals when it could just be your body going back to how it used to operate. It was for me anyways!

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 12:38 pm

      Hmmm! Interesting. I think I had bad PMS before I went on the pill, but I can’t really remember (I was 16). Now I don’t have any PMS so I do think it was actually withdrawal. It seriously felt like I was coming down from a drug binge. It was horrendous.

      • AngelaOSG September 9, 2010, 12:40 pm

        Yikes…that is crazy! I’m glad I didn’t experience that…but then again it took me a year to get my period again so I had a whole other can of worms to deal with. :\

        • Sabrina September 9, 2010, 1:13 pm

          I had serious withdrawal symptoms when I got off the pill, and for me it lasted a couple of weeks. I was extremely moody, exhausted, and bloated. It was bizarre but eventually my body evened out and went back to the same way it was before I ever went on the pill. And as I’ve said a thousand times to my husband, I feel more myself now than I ever felt on the pill, especially emotionally!

        • AngelaOSG September 9, 2010, 5:07 pm

          God I wish I experienced that…I had the reverse. But still, I am much happier being hormone free regardless. I am just happy to know my body is functioning on its own now!

    • Stacey September 9, 2010, 9:09 pm

      I had the same thing with the irregular periods and PMS when I went off the pill. (And OMG THE CRAMPS! They are seriously bad enough to where they wake me up at night, make me curl up in the fetal position and cry) It’s awful. I’ve been off of it now since January 2009. Sometimes it’s almost enough to make me want to go back on. I miss my pain free, 4 day periods, but I don’t miss poppin a pill everyday.

      • AngelaOSG September 9, 2010, 10:18 pm

        I get really bad cramps off the BCP too…I think that is how I was before I went on the pill as well if I remember correctly. The pill really minimized everything for me, it was great for that aspect.

  • Kim September 9, 2010, 12:38 pm

    I agree with you — don’t stress about infertility until there’s a problem. I was anorexic, which can create huge fertility problems, and I was also on the pill for 7+ years. I went off of it over a year ago and got my period naturally the first month. I’ve been regular (every 28 days, to the hour) since then (with the exception of a couple weird late months). The body is very amazing and knows what to do 🙂 Thankfully, I didn’t have any side effects with going off the pill. Sounds like you’re past your “hangover,” so that’s good! Unlike you, my PMS (moods, bloating, etc) got way worse off the pill than on. I’ve heard it’s different for all women. Like most things, it’s very individual 🙂 Thanks for sharing on this topic! I know it’s important to so many women 🙂 My husband and I don’t want children so he got a vasectomy almost a year ago now. That’s our birth control 🙂

  • Marina September 9, 2010, 12:38 pm

    I went off pill two months ago, but still no period 🙁
    And I didn’t experience any symptoms of getting off pill, at least I think so. I would so love to get back in-sync with my body!

  • diana @ i can eat, can't i September 9, 2010, 12:44 pm


    i have PMS for years. i cried too. my whole body aches. gynocologists for years have told me that i should get on birth controls but i never did up until last month. i was on for 2 weeks, but then i had angioedema and a complication of anaphylasix. doctors told me not to take it anymore, it could be that i’m allergic to birth control. in fact i have an allergy appt in 20 minutes so i better get going!! so happy that you got your period back! p.s. are we going to be seeing little caitlin running too?! (:

  • Kortney September 9, 2010, 12:45 pm

    I am 21 and just got married Aug. 7th. Three months before the wedding I got on Yaz. Since my husband and I waited to do anything till after the wedding birth control was never a concern to me before. Now that I am on it I have had the most awful experience with it affecting my mood, weight, giving me headaches, and many other things. I love that you have written this, but I dont know how comfotable my husband and I would be trying this method. Were you always on the pill or had you tried other options? Do you know of any other options that would not affect me so badly? I plan on going to the doctor again once all of my insurance is finished transferring to his job, and asking the doctor about it. Last time though my doctor was just getting me in and out and not really caring what I wanted in the process, so it was difficult figuring out what was best… Now I am just doing my own research online so I can be better informed, and tell them what I think before they just prescribe me something I might not want again…

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 12:46 pm

      You could try an IUD. Lots of woman have had good experiences with it (go back to my previous two posts and do a control+F search for “IUD”).

      Try another doctor, too… you deserve good medical care.

      • Kortney September 9, 2010, 12:57 pm

        Thanks! I am reading it all now. I plan on getting a different Doctor. That one was just not my type. =)

      • Jenn Sutherland September 9, 2010, 12:57 pm

        I’m rocking the IUD right now, after 17 years on BCPs…I definitely feel SO much better without the hormones in my system (I went with a copper-T), but the cramps have returned with force…the first year on the IUD I had horrific cramps, but now that I’m in year 2, it’s dropped down to minimal levels, and I take a Chinese herb from my apothecary that makes any cramps I do have go away, without having to take pain-meds.

        I don’t love the idea of the IUD in my body either, but I don’t want kids & the hubs isn’t ready for the snip yet either, but I do wish I had known about this gadget earlier…it’s about the same price as an IUD, and all natural is always preferable for me!

        • Lindsey @ SoundEats September 9, 2010, 2:34 pm

          I’m not a doctor or anything, but I’m most likely going to be getting an IUD in the next couple months, and from what I’ve researched, the copper IUDs can really make your cramps worse, which if you are already prone to lot of cramps/ backaches, will be even more likely for you. This is the reason I’m personally looking at Mirena – not the same amount of hormones as BCP, but I already get absolutely terrible menstrual sysmptoms, and would literally have to take off school and work if it got any worse. Plus, Mirena lasts 5 yrs, which is pretty much the exact time frame I’m looking at. 🙂

      • Amber September 9, 2010, 9:34 pm

        This is a late response….but those who have not had children may want to do research the IUD further. I considered this after having my second baby, but I’m pretty sure the effectiveness goes down if you have not had a baby previously.

        • Courtney B. September 16, 2010, 11:51 pm

          The effectiveness is the same – but they are usually easier to insert after a woman has given birth. Which is why you hear them recommended for women who have children. Though that’s mainly in the US. In Europe they are used A LOT more – and can actually be used as emergency contraception.

      • SarahKatherine September 10, 2010, 1:16 am

        Not to get all political on you, but please learn more about what IUDs can do before you jump. One of the ways they work is by stopping implantation of a fertillized egg. So, if you are a believer that life begins at conception, with an IUD you could effectively be aborting a baby every month. Just thought I’d put that out there.
        And I sympathize with going off the pill. I was on it for over 10 years and it took me 7 months to get a period (and that with a hormone boost!).
        My hubby and I use Natural Family Planning. It’s easy, natural, and very effective. Like anything else, though, you have to make the (small) effort, in this case, self-control.

        • Caitlin September 10, 2010, 6:48 am

          Did some research re this statement:

          “Both types of IUDs work primarily by preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg. They do this in a few different ways. First, they stimulate an inflammatory response in the uterus, causing changes that damage or kill sperm and that may damage an egg as well. In the unlikely event that an egg does get fertilized and survives, an IUD makes it harder for it to implant in the uterus.

          The progestin IUD may also thicken cervical mucus, making it more difficult for the sperm to enter the uterus. In addition, the progestin may keep some women from ovulating.”

    • Candice September 9, 2010, 2:00 pm

      Just wanted to add that I went on the pill a few months before getting married (we waited also) and had terrible symptoms – nausea, dizzyness, mood swings etc. I immediately decided to try the nuvaring, and that’s what I’ve used for the last 4 years. It’s so easy to use and I haven’t experienced any symptoms like I did with the pill. As far as birth control goes, I love it!

    • Cindi September 9, 2010, 2:06 pm

      OMG – Yaz is the WORST!!!!!!! I had all of those same symptoms! I went on Ortho Tri Cyclen Lo – but when my insurance stopped covering that (although I LOVED it!) – I went on the nuva ring. While that was great – I could always feel it (not everyone can though) – so I switched to the Mirena IUD. I just had that removed after 3 yrs bc I’m now ready to start a family. I think the Mirena is beyond fantastic! No periods, very little hormones, NO PILLS! But it’s not for everyone – so check w/your dr. It depends on the size of your uterus if you can have one put in before having babies. Good luck!

    • Lindsey @ SoundEats September 9, 2010, 2:36 pm

      Kortney I feel like I was reading something I could’ve written when I saw your comment. 🙂 I was very similar — got married at 21, we waited until marriage, had been on Yaz, had a lot of the same crap come up with Yaz, and so much more. It’s been a long journey, so if you ever want someone to chat with/ share stories, you can find my email through my blog. 🙂

      • Kortney September 9, 2010, 4:24 pm

        Yaz has been just awful to me. I am so glad I am not the only one who experienced these symptoms. I go psycho crazy and can’t even handle myself sometimes. The crying and loss of patience has really made life hard here lately.. And feeling sad all the time doesn’t help. All of these suggestions and comments have really helped. My only thing is everywhere I read for the iuds say they suggest you being 25 or already have kids, so how hard will that make it to get one?
        Lindsey I will defiantly be checking out your blog and swap stories with you…
        I am so glad though that I realized it was the b.c. that made me feel this way. I bet there are women or young girls that suffer symptoms of b.c. and never realize what is going on..

        • Sammi September 9, 2010, 5:36 pm

          Yaz made me absolutely psycho! I actually punched a wall over a reason I can’t even remember now it was so frivolous. It was ruining my relationship with my boyfriend because I was so moody and awful. I didn’t realize it was Yaz right away so it took almost a year to put two and two together. I switched to a lower estrogen pill.. Loestrin 24E. It works the same as Yaz with the same amount of placebo days but I am completely normal on this pill. It might not work for everyone.. I hear it takes a few to find the right one but this one only makes me irritable when I “should” be..(few days before). Plus the placebos have iron in them which is good for blood loss 🙂 Hope you find something that works for you!

  • Olivia @ Blissful Runner September 9, 2010, 12:47 pm

    I suprised that more of your readers don’t seem to be in my boat — when I’m training my periods are few and far between (as in I’ve had ONE in all of 2010). I’m usally very regular, but when I bump up my milage it’s bye bye cycle. This makes me wonder how runners get pregnant at all!

  • Jen September 9, 2010, 12:52 pm

    Everyone I have ever known who was on the pill for more than a few years has been amazed at how much better they feel after going off it – me included! I honestly think part of the problem is that doctors encourage us NOT to take a break from the pill so we stay on it for too long (I was on it for 15 years with no breaks). I think the pill is probably fine if you use it for a few years and then go off it, but I really think staying on it for years & years & years is a big part of the problem.

    I’m glad you’ve found a birth control method that’s working for you guys! I would love to try something like that (hubs & I have used condoms since I went off the pill) but we absolutely do not ever want children so condoms it is. If only we could find a doctor to either snip him or tie my tubes but apprently it’s pretty much impossible to get done if you haven’t had children 🙁

  • Katherine @ Left Coast Contessa September 9, 2010, 12:52 pm

    Kudos to you for making the right choice for you. And your totally right about the birth control hangover. I went off of birth control for one month (moving/didnt get a new doc in time = one month off bc) and it was the WORST! I was glad you had the same symptoms because some people raised an eyebrow when I said I felt hungover but its true! I’m back on birth control and I don’t worry too much about it. My mother was on it for 17 years before she had my bro and I and she got pregnant quickly. Plus, it kills all my period symptoms. It works for me right now but good for you for making a choice you feel good about!

  • Holly @ couchpotatoathlete September 9, 2010, 12:53 pm

    My sister uses the FAM method — I still take birth control. I think once Jason and I are more open to the suggestion of having kids we will give it a try because I HATE taking a pill every day and it makes me wonder what I’m doing to my insides.

    I still need to pick up that book and see what its all about!

  • Sophie September 9, 2010, 12:54 pm

    Hi Caitlin! First of all, thank you so much for writing about this and being so honest and open. You have already answered a lot of the questions I have wondered about.

    I have been on birth control pills for about 5 years now and am starting to wonder how much of the changes in my body are from the pill and which are just natural.

    The two things I am wondering about are body weight (my boobs grew a lot and I gained about 10 pounds on the pill) and also libido. I seem to remember that my sex drive was in tune with my cycle (higher when ovulating), and now that I’m on the pill, it is usually about the same (unfortunately slightly less than before I started BC).

    Have these two things been effected since you have stopped taking the pill?

    Sorry if those questions were too personal! I am just curious and fascinated by this subject.

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 1:02 pm

      Obviously I don’t mind personal questions! 🙂

      1) My weight didn’t change but I do feel less bloated. This could totally just be in my head though. I don’t think the Pill made me gain or lose weight.

      2) Re: libido, I’m not sure. There are too many factors at play (moving, the book, the husband’s clinic) to tell if I’m more or less into it than before. I’m simply exhausted all the time! I would say it’s prob roughly the same.

  • chelsey September 9, 2010, 12:55 pm

    Awesome! Birth control totally messed me up. I went off of it in February, got my period once, and haven’t gotten it since. I’ve been experiencing PMS symptoms and cramping as if I were going to get my period, but no avail. Ugggh time to go to the doctor!

  • jord September 9, 2010, 12:56 pm

    When I went off hormonal birth control it continued to affect my cycle for 6 months (they stayed at 28 days, then went from 26-33 days for 4 months) before it self-regulated to 27 days. I talked to my OB/GYN and she said that is a typical response. I’ve been using the FAM method for about 3 years now.

  • Stacy September 9, 2010, 12:57 pm

    Thank you for this awesome information! I have been on the pill now for almost 8 years. One of my biggest fears is that it is going to cause infertility. I know that is not usually the case but.. I worry that when the hubby and I do decide to start trying we won’t be able to get pregnant or have major difficulties. This is one of my biggest fears in life, ranking right up there with death. Morbid I know.
    It’s great to know that there is an effective natural method of birth control. I don’t feel I am quite ready to give up my BC pill, since we are no where near ready to have a baby. But I think this would be a great method to start on when we get closer to the point of wanting to start trying. I especially like with the LadyComp usefulness for not only monitoring your ovulation as a birth control method, but it’s ability to be used when you want to try getting pregnant. I am extremely appreciative of your openness of how you felt and your openness about your personal life, especially on what can be a sensitive topic.

  • Carly (Swim, Run, Om) September 9, 2010, 12:58 pm

    I was just thinking about this the other day, and wondering if you’d be posting an update anytime soon. I’m glad you did! While I have no desire to get preggers, I find the whole topic fascinating.

    A friend of mine has been trying to get pregnant for a long time. They have some fertility issues, but one of her biggest complaints is that planning seksi time is now just a chore, and it’s taking the romance/desire/fun out of the whole act. It just seems like an awful lot of paper work (or iPhone work, or LadyComp work.)

  • Christina @ Food.Fun.Fabulous September 9, 2010, 12:58 pm

    I’m still on the pill, 6 yrs and counting, and don’t plan to go off until after I get married so this post really relieved some of the worries I had. Thanks!

  • Christine @ Grub, Sweat and Cheers September 9, 2010, 12:58 pm

    I used FAM to conceive my two girls. I did the basic pen/paper method and after only a few months the pattern became pretty clear and I was able to read all the ovulation signals more clearly. With my second baby I was actually able to feel implantation which was pretty damn cool.

    I also became quite addicted to the cheapie ovulation sticks/preg sticks (what can I say, peeing on stuff is fun).

    • Scargosun September 9, 2010, 1:00 pm

      I laughed at your comment ‘peeing on stuff is fun’. 😉 Thanks for the giggle on a slow lunch hour.

      • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 1:03 pm

        hahaha! me too.

    • Sarah September 9, 2010, 1:59 pm

      I have to ask…what did implantation feel like/how did you know that’s what was going on? Fascinating!!

      • Christine @ Grub, sweat and cheers September 9, 2010, 4:40 pm

        It was a very distinct inner pinching feeling, quite unlike anything I had ever felt before. After 2 ectopic pregnancies and a miscarriage I was very aware and in tune with my body and its ovulation patterns and this was so different. I clearly remember going ‘woah, what was that?’

        When they did a few very early ultrasounds this ended up being the very spot where the baby implanted. I never would have thought the body could register something so small (yet monumental at the same time) happening – but it did!.

  • Aj September 9, 2010, 12:59 pm

    I have had 4 surgeries for ovarian cysts and had to have one of my ovaries removed. Starting when I was 8. It is not PCOS, however. Although being on birth control has slowed the growth of these cysts drastically, it has not eliminated them. I would not go off BC right now, it’s the only thing that keeps me from having multiple surgeries (most recently I had two within 13 months and I had to drop out of a race – horrors!). With each surgery there is the risk I will have to have the remaining ovary removed completely and go into early menopause. Also, each time there is a risk I have cancer. Not fun. The pill is not evil for those whose lives are greatly enhanced by it. I have been on it for 11 years without complications.

    However, I also have no interest in ever being pregnant and my partner and I have no plans for biological children. Being a lesbian is the best form of birth control! We joke that my pill is our “back up.”

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 1:03 pm

      <3 I am sorry about your cysts and surgeries.

      Haha and yes, being a lesbian is a great form of birth control. :)

  • Scargosun September 9, 2010, 12:59 pm

    Since we probably will not be having children, I have opted to stay on the pill. I have been taking the same on (or a generic formulation of the same one) for 18 years. Yes, that is a long time. The fear of an unplanned pregnancy is was more scary than to me than being on it too long. Now…if someday I find out that I was not able to have children anyway…I will be royally mad that I spent all that money. 😉

  • Kelly September 9, 2010, 1:00 pm

    I hate taking the pill every day, and would really like to go off of it but I don’t think I’m at the right point in life right now.

  • Angela September 9, 2010, 1:01 pm

    Thank you for this post!!!! I’ve been wanting to go off birth control for so long but I’ve been too scared to do it. I know that FEM works but it seems so inconvenient to me. Hearing your experience with this monitor has me rethinking my bc method. Even though $484 seems expensive, i spend that much in 12 months on the pill ($40/month). This something I definitely plan to look into – I even forwarded the post to my boyfriend. He’d love for me to stop the pill. Thanks again!

  • Laura September 9, 2010, 1:01 pm

    After reading all of your posts on BC, it has really made me think about my birth control and use of the pill. I unfortuantely feel like I “have” to stay on the pill for the unforseeable future due to my thyroid. I have hypothyroidism and one of the symptoms is a completely wrecked menstrual cycle. Sometimes I would go 45-60 days in between periods, other months it was 20 days. I have horrible PMS and cramps that keep me in bed. EVEN with being on the pill for the past 4-5 years, I will still have weird periods sometimes. I’ve had a period that lasted 10 days straight and then a few months later, my period lasted one day only. Even being on the pill, my cycle is not always predictable.

    I’m not sure if there is anything else alternative that I could use to control these symptoms (like the pill does), but I think I will check with my doctor at my next appointment just to think about my options. Thank you for sparking that idea for me!

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine September 9, 2010, 1:02 pm

    This is really really interesting stuff! I’ve been on the Pill for awhile now and definitely won’t go off it until I’m married, but it’s definitely not something I want to stay on indefinitely so I’m glad the FAM method has gotten simpler due to technology!! It’s not so intimidating when you have something to back up your own calculations!

  • Sarah for Real September 9, 2010, 1:02 pm

    I’m on my iud now but I love this as an option for the transition after I’m done with it. I especially love the idea of using it to help get pregnant. As for the cost, my iud would have been that expensive if not for insurance. I wonder if there are ant enlightened insurance companies that would cover that device?

  • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 1:03 pm

    I am really interested in the fertility awareness method, but I don’t see my bf proposing in the next 8 years, so the pill it is. I almost went off due to cost reasons, but was too nervous about NOT having the hormones in my body. I rely on the pill for many things now, which is not good.

  • Nicole September 9, 2010, 1:03 pm

    This has been a very frustrating topic for me. I have a genetic issue that makes me at a higher risk to get blood clots so I have never been able to take the Pill. I thought about getting a copper IUD for a long time, but ended up reading one too many horror stories online. I’ve thought about the FAM method, but I have extremely irregular cycles, so I was worried it wouldn’t work for me. At this point I generally use a “natural” method that makes me get really nervous each month that I’m pregnant- not fun!

    I am going to try charting my temps for a while to see how it goes! Thanks for the info, and thanks for discussing other types of BC in general for those of us who CAN’T do hormonal therapy!!

    • katie September 9, 2010, 1:29 pm

      I hear you. I actually had blood clots develop in my legs and lungs (ack! heart attack!) because I had this condition, never knew it, and was on bc for years! And I’m not even a smoker. For a year or so my fiance and I were not really using any method and I was worried each month just like you.

      I got a copper IUD and I really like it. A bit crampy, but nothing some advil can’t fix. If you have the money and want a long-term solution (5-10 years), I highly recommend it.

      • Nicole September 9, 2010, 1:36 pm

        Hmm, good to hear from someone who has had a good experience with it. I really thought I wanted it until I started hearing things about people getting their periods for 10 days, being in pain, and then having it removed before they had to. I don’t want kids for about 7 more years and I’m married, so otherwise I think it would be a good fit for me. Maybe the horror stories are just really rare?

        • katie September 9, 2010, 1:55 pm

          The stories scared me too, but the risk of getting blood clots from pregnancy is waaay higher than the risk of getting them from birth control pills. I figured the complications from an unplanned pregnancy outweighed the risks of the IUD. I think just like anything, there’s an adjustment time, so people probably have the bad symptoms right away and don’t take that into account.

      • Jenn Sutherland September 9, 2010, 4:02 pm

        I’m satisfied with my IUD. Yes the cramps are more than when I was on BCPs, but not taking the pills is worth it, and the cramps are lessening over time. My naturopath also recommended Chinese herbs for cramping pain, and they are absolute magic and make all cramping go away, without taking a heavy duty OTC like advil that hits the liver pretty hard, since I’m allergic to all pain meds.

      • caronae September 9, 2010, 6:34 pm

        Thanks for sharing! I had massive pulmonary emboli this summer and have a clotting disorder so obviously can never take the pill again! I have been looking into IUDs and was unsure, but am glad to hear you had a good experience with yours! I think I might try it now. 🙂

  • Tracey September 9, 2010, 1:04 pm

    3 words: I need this! I can’t take any form of traditional birth control because I go crazy (for real). And it really sucks to be married and have to use condoms!

    I wouldn’t be good at remembering to take my temp every morning because it’s hard enough for me to just wake up (more of a night person). Love the concept of the machine and the alarm to alert you to take your temp.

    The machine looks good but I think I would still be scared of getting pregnant. I guess I need to do some more research on all this to better understand how it works.

  • Sara September 9, 2010, 1:09 pm

    Oh, I love your posts about The Big Birth Control Question! In fact, I even checked out Taking Charge of Your Fertility from the library and read it, after your first post. My hubby and I are planning to start “trying” around next May, so I think I’ll go off the pill around February. Lucky you, that you got back on track right away…I’m worried that I won’t get my period for months after I go off the pill.

  • Lisa September 9, 2010, 1:10 pm

    i didnt have sex till I got married so only in the last 2 years have I had to deal with this.I was only on the pill for about a 3 month window (Twice) It made me SO sick! I was consistantly nauseated.
    I’ve been charting my ovulation on my iphone for the last 18 months or so….and no baby yet!(I either dont do it or use a back up method on those days)
    It works 😉
    I’m SO glad you stopped putting synthetic hormones into your body!

  • krista September 9, 2010, 1:11 pm

    You must have sex a lot! 😉 I’ve never been on the pill and I had my first planned child at age 30, 10 years after meeting (and doing, LOL) my husband. I have SO many friends with fertility problems all masked by the pill, it is crazy! I am glad you found something that works wonderfully and NATURALLY! Do you find that you ovulate about 14 days after your period, with a 28-ish day cycle?

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 1:12 pm

      Sex is good 🙂

      Yup – ovulate on Day 12 or 14 and period on Day 27.

  • Katherine September 9, 2010, 1:12 pm

    I’ve been using the Lady Comp for over a year now and love it! So effective. I think it’s pretty awesome that you got that sample – that saved a boat load of money. It was expensive, but when I thought about how much I would spend over a lifetime of potentially taking the pill and with this investment could go all natural for good I was sold. It was such a good decision and I feel so connected to my cycle now. The longer you do it the more you become in touch with the rhythms of your own body. My hubby and I are planning to start trying for a baby soon and this connection to my body is so valuable! I commend you for writing about this and getting everyone thinking about their method of birth control!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman September 9, 2010, 1:16 pm

    I give you major credit. It sounds like a lot of work but I think it’s great if you can put in the effort. I like the pill because I have horrible knock-me-out cramps, which are lessened by the pill. Before I went on it, I almost couldn’t function for a week and a half while I had my period.

  • Lindsay September 9, 2010, 1:17 pm

    oh my gosh I don’t think I could bring myself to pay that much for a gadget to chart my fertility! That being said, I LOVE NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING and “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” and charting and all that, saved my life from birth control, I wish I had been taught it in high school. Instead, I got the Catholic “don’t have sex ever!” And so when I did I went to birth control. My girls (if I have any) will totally be educated with this when they start their periods, it is just so freeing to know your body! I am a huge advocate for it, I just love it so much! AND it was so nice when we were ready to conceive, within two months I was pregnant! 🙂 I use with my iPhone and could sing it’s praises all day long…and it’s free!! Using the temperature and the cervical mucus evaluations, you get more freedom, because it is more accurately pegged. All you have to do is your temps and pay attention when you wipe, not hard at all. And it’s charted clearly, and you can compare months, like I said, I love it!

  • Paige (Running Around Normal) September 9, 2010, 1:17 pm

    That’s awesome it’s working out for you so well! It took me 3 months to get my period after I quit taking the pill. If I could afford to buy the LAdy Comp, I definitely would! It sounds awesome. However, I think I’m just going to start taking the pill again sometime soon.

  • Taysa September 9, 2010, 1:19 pm

    I wish I could go off birth control, but I also have a history of ovarian cysts. I’ve been on the pill for 12 years. Not fun.

    I have to say, though…$424 is completely outrageous.

    • Taysa September 9, 2010, 1:19 pm

      Oh wait…$484. Even more so.

  • Amanda September 9, 2010, 1:22 pm

    After I went off the pill I had 3 normal cycles and then didn’t get my period for 8 months. It was nerve racking! Since then though I have gone back to my “natural” state. My cycle is now the same as it was before I went on the pill.

  • Lisa (I'm an Okie) September 9, 2010, 1:29 pm

    I have found your series on birth control so interesting and I have loved learning more! I hope to learn more about the FAM and start deciding if I want to do it or not!

  • leanne September 9, 2010, 1:31 pm

    I love this series! I’m completely new to both methods but very interested.

  • Katie @ Healthy Heddleston September 9, 2010, 1:32 pm

    I’ve been following along with your FAM updates.. and I’m not sure if I’ve asked/mentioned this yet… but has anyone told you yet that it sounds like FAM is exactly like NFP (Natural Family Planning) ?

    My husband and I do NFP and it’s the same process.. monitoring for basal temperature, looking for the temperature shift and vaginal secretions. Since we don’t want to get pregnant (yet) as well.. for the first few months we used condoms and even now we will use condoms if I’m fertile and we can’t wait (ha!).

    Anyway, just was curious if anyone else picked up on the comparison of the two methods!


    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 1:34 pm

      I think the difference is that NFP is rooted in the Roman Catholic Church. But yes, it’s basically the same thing!

      • Bree September 9, 2010, 2:00 pm

        The biggest difference is that the Catholic Church teaches abstaining while fertile and that it’s “wrong” using any kind of contraception. So in the case of FAM it teaches using a backup method i.e. condom while fertile where as NFP does not involve any back up method.

      • Laura September 9, 2010, 2:17 pm

        I recently read TCOYF and I believe it said the difference is the Catholic roots as Caitlin mentioned; but also that with FAM you use a barrier method of birth control during the fertile phase and with NFP you totally abstain during the fertile phase.

    • Sarah September 9, 2010, 2:20 pm

      I think the main difference is that NFP “requires” that you abstain from sex during your fertile days (I say “requires” because I think that is the official stance of the Catholic Church) while FAM provides you with the info & lets you do what you want during that time (abstain or barrier method to prevent pregnancy). I found it interesting that so much of the research about conception/natural birth control/reproductive cycles was funded by the Catholic Church as opposed to the medical community!

  • Katie @ Healthy Heddleston September 9, 2010, 1:36 pm

    Oh yes NFP defintely has Catholic roots.. but the method seems the same! I’m glad you are experiencing such a positive experience — I think it’s wonderful!

  • Val @ Balancing Val September 9, 2010, 1:38 pm

    I have to just thank you for putting all of that information out there. I’m glad your one of the bloggers that ‘go there’ 🙂

    This info was very helpful and came at a great time for me.

  • Chari September 9, 2010, 1:39 pm

    I use Fertility Friend because it’s free. Plus there is a free app for iPhone and blackberry (I have a blackberry). Most thermometers have a memory so if you take it you can go right back to sleep then turn it back on later when you are ready to register your temp.

    I’m now pregnant and I’m proof that you can have sex 4 days before ovulation and get pregnant! In fact I will warn some of those doing FAM: I’ve been doing FAM for a few years, but I actually ovulated later than I usually do (that is why we hadn’t had sex in 4 days even though we were TTC) and it was a good 3 or 4 days until Fertility Friend changed it’s mind when I actually did ovulate. I’m always regular on ovulating, but I think just the stress of TTC for some reason threw me off that month. I’ve had an ultrasound to confirm that the second date was the accurate one that I ovulated on and not the one 4 days prior. I was just shocked I actually got pregnant still! 🙂

    • Chari September 9, 2010, 1:42 pm

      I just want to clarify my statement above lol: FF showed I ovulated on the first day then after 3 or 4 days had passed and I entered in more temps/info it changed to the accurate day (4 days later). So if someone thought they did ovulate then they would have been having sex within 48 hours after ovulation (if they weren’t wanting to get pregnant) and would still get pregnant bc they hadn’t ovulated yet!
      I don’t want to scare anyone- like I said I’ve been doing it for years and I have always been regular on ovulating, etc.

  • ida September 9, 2010, 1:40 pm

    I think FAM is great, and once I’m married I would totally be up for it.
    $484 may seem like a lot, but the copay for the pill every month adds up too. I’m sure i’ve spent well over that since i’ve been taking the pill.

  • ida September 9, 2010, 1:40 pm

    I think FAM is great, and once I’m married I would totally be up for it.
    $484 may seem like a lot, but the copay for the pill every month adds up too. I’m sure i’ve spent well over that since i’ve been taking the pill.

  • Ella September 9, 2010, 1:41 pm

    That seems really interesting! I haven’t ever really heard of temperature for monitoring fertility and all that, when my school told me about birth control it was like pills, condoms, abstinence! okay, thats it! Haha.
    I want to go off the pill really badly, I’ve only been on it for 2 years but the idea of taking hormones is kind of freaking me out. My mom told me that she was on birth control and when she wanted to have me stopped taking it, got pregnant that month, went on it after I was born and when they decided to have my brother she got pregnant the month she stopped taking it again! So while there are all these horror stories that always keeps me feeling a little more reassured.

    I’m only 20 though, still in college and plan on getting my masters degree and my boyfriend is going for his doctorate so I don’t want to take any chances and the pill seems to be the most effective. But thats totally something I’d be more interested in when I’m older (and more responsible..and not making poor decisions after too many beers at 2 AM haha). I’m glad everything is working for you (:

  • Espie September 9, 2010, 1:41 pm

    what an innovative product! I also love that it unintentionally empowers us, but maybe that’s just the inner-feminist in me talking.

    Thanks for the info!

  • Joanne September 9, 2010, 1:48 pm

    I only took birth control for 16 years of my life and it was the mildest form possible because my body reacted badly to most of the pills.
    When I went off it, there were no withdrawal symptoms. I just felt SO MUCH better. No more mood swings, no more depression. It was great. The draw back: I get pretty bad cramping 10 days before and sometimes quite sick the day of. But I can suffer that if it means no chemicals in my body. 🙂 Good luck with the FAM method. The Lady-Comp sounds great.

  • Dee September 9, 2010, 1:49 pm

    Thank you so much for this series Caitlin. It’s been so helpful and informative. I have been toying with the idea of going off of BC for the past couple of months now but like someone said above, I’m become so dependent on the pill, so I’m stalling.

    I think I will read the above book and go chat with my doctor. Hearing the positives of going of off BC has almost solidified my decision though. 🙂

  • McKella September 9, 2010, 1:50 pm

    That thing looks so cool, but it’s a little steep.
    I read Taking Charge of your Fertility after seeing it on your blog and it was a little ray of hope. I’ve had an implanon (a time-release, match-sized stick inserted into the upper arm) for almost three years and I haven’t felt like myself since I got it, and my cycle is doing wacky things. I haven’t gone off it yet because we haven’t had money for anything else and we don’t have health insurance, but it FINALLY comes out in December and I plan to use FAM. I’m glad you’re having success with it, it makes me feel a lot better!

  • Amber K September 9, 2010, 1:54 pm

    I have never been on any form of birth control, but I have found your blogs about it to be very interesting. My husband and I have been trying for three and a half years to get pregnant and we have been unsuccessful. Now that might actually be getting health insurance through his job (after four years of not having it!) I can hopefully go see a doctor seen to find out what’s wrong!

    • Amber K September 9, 2010, 1:56 pm

      Wow, I have no idea what I was trying to type there.

      “Now that WE might actually be getting health insurance I can hopefully go see a doctor to find out what’s wrong.”

      There that looks better 😉

  • Whitney @ Whitinspired September 9, 2010, 1:57 pm

    Holy crap! I need that little machine! I’ve been too nervous to start the FAM method. I’ve got the book an thermometer, but I don’t trust that I will read it right. That thing takes all the guesswork out of it!

  • J September 9, 2010, 2:00 pm

    I’ve been on the pill for pretty much 2 years now, and even in that time period, I have considered going off of them. I have a few minor side-effects, though I’m not sure really what’s causing them — headaches after running, and perhaps the reason why I can’t seem to lose 5 lbs (or maybe not, lol).

    Mainly, I have concerns about fake hormones and my future fertility. I’m 25 right now, so a baby is not really in the immediate future, though hopefully before I’m 30.

    Unfortunately, I am not yet married. I told my boyfriend that I was reading up on FAM, and he was open to anything I wanted to do with my own body. He DID note, however, that he’d have to be really careful around me, and we are already pretty careful as it is (don’t rely on the pill alone).

    I think I will probably try FAM once I get married. That way, any oops moment won’t be as tragic as it would be now.

  • Erica September 9, 2010, 2:02 pm

    Thanks for posting this!

    I find that birth control is something not very many bloggers are comfortable with talking about. The natural method of birth control is fascinating to me and I think if more people were aware, they’d definitely look into it & see it as a way of making their lifestyle much more natural and healthy!

  • Bree September 9, 2010, 2:06 pm

    I really appreciate your candor about this topic!

    I have been doing FAM for over a year now. Going off BCP’s was the best thing I ever did! I was very lucky to have a regular cycle right away, too.

    I don’t think I could use the Lady Comp because my temperatures seem to be affected by a lot – alcohol, intense workouts the night before, how well I slept…not by much but enough that I want to track the other signs all in one place. I use the TCOYF software and like it. I think it was $40?

  • Remaining anonymous for now September 9, 2010, 2:08 pm

    FAM is awesome. But, knowing your fertility symptoms so intimately definitely increases your chances of getting pregnant on the FIRST TRY. We tried once, on a whim, about six months before we were going to give it a real go….and you can probably figure out what happened 🙂

  • BethT September 9, 2010, 2:09 pm

    Just to offer another side of the debate, since I would be freaked out reading people’s horror stories when trying to conceive…

    I was on the pill for 14 years and never had any side effects during or after. My period came back right away (on its own) and I never had bad PMS or horrible periods when trying to conceive. I also got pregnant within six months. Kudos to anyone trying natural family planning – and it’s a great idea to get off the pill sooner rather than later if you’ll be conceiving within a year or so – but keep in mind that not everyone has ill effects.

  • Jen September 9, 2010, 2:22 pm

    Now I really want the LadyComp! At first I thought it was way too much money especially for someone who knows what their light color would be all the time (I have pcos). But then I thought about how many pregnancy tests and ovulation predictor kits I’ve peed on over the last year, and how many blood tests I’ve had at the Dr’s office to see if I’ve ovulated. I think it could save us infertiles money! I do worry about its efficacy and effectiveness though.

  • Tina September 9, 2010, 2:22 pm

    I’ve never heard of that little device! How nifty. I always used the website for tracking temps. I loved it. We used the FAM method practically our entire marriage. It worked whether we were trying or not trying for kids. So important to know your body!

  • Jessica M September 9, 2010, 2:22 pm

    Thank you for writing this post. I just realized a few months ago that Lady Comp existed and was very interested in it. (I actually send you an email to see if you had tried it). I really wanted to get one (and still probably will in the next year or so) but my husband was a little skeptical. He wanted me to find a doctor who could suggest it. I feel like a lot of doctor’s frown on the FAM method. I am glad you like it.

    I don’t like the idea of taking the pill, but it is easy and effective. I have been on it a couple of times before, and the first time I went off it, it took about 4 months to get my period back! It was nuts.

    I just need to do some more research and get the husband on board.

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 2:26 pm

      The book talks a lot about why doctors frown on FAM and the reasoning is simple: Most doctors do not believe women are responsible enough to track their own fertility. Seriously. They don’t think we’re willing to put in the time and effort to wake up and take our temperature everyday and they don’t want to recommend it and get us knocked up. 🙂

  • Laura September 9, 2010, 2:23 pm

    Thanks for this series, Caitlin! I bought TCOYF a few weeks ago and recently finished reading it. My husband is intrigued as well and we may give it a shot!

    Since you seem super open about your body and experience with NFP…In the book it talks about charting your cervical fluid in combination with charting your temperature to get a very clear picture of where you are in your cycle. It says you can check your cervical position as a third measure, but frankly the though of that weirds me out a little. Even though you use LadyComp to check and “chart” your temps, are you keeping track of cervical fluid as well? Have you read anything (pros/cons/”safety”) of just relying on temps? (Sorry if this is too personal! You don’t have to answer…just thought I’d throw it out there.)

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 2:27 pm

      I don’t think I can do the cervical position (I am not a fan of sticking my fingers in my vajayjay, it freaks me out). BUT I do have to say that the cervical fluid is a great indicator and really easy to spot, especially for ovulation.

      I think the BBT is the primary way to track it; TCOYF lists fluid and position as secondary trackers.

      • Cait September 9, 2010, 3:54 pm

        I haven’t heard much about the cervical positioning method! Combining fluid monitoring with body temperature is supposed to be much more accurate than BBT alone, and is slightly less labor-intensive to check. It’s also extremely helpful when you WANT to get pregnant.

  • C. September 9, 2010, 2:24 pm

    I’ve been on the pill for ten years, and actually got pregnant WHILE on BC. It was unplanned (obviously) and I’m still not sure what happened, but nothing is 100% effective. I ended up having an abortion, which is not as traumatic as it sounds, and went back to the pill. Four years later and I haven’t had any problems, but we also use the pull out method as a back up.

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 2:28 pm

      Yup – pregnancy on the pill can happen!!

  • Candice September 9, 2010, 2:25 pm

    Thanks for posting on this. I just went off birth control 3 months ago after being on it for 4.5 years. My period never even skipped a beat fortunately. I will say that my cramps have been worse and my face has been consistently broken out since then. Did this happen to you at all? I’ve had super clear skin for four years and now all of a sudden it’s like I’m 15 again. Not cool.

    Anyway, I’m just now starting to really think about tracking my cycle so I’ll know when I’m ovulating, and the Lady Comp would be a dream come true. Since I just went off birth control and therefore am no longer shelling out money at all, I don’t think I can pay that much for it (can’t make a case that it’s cheaper than birth control over the long run). Too bad it isn’t a little more affordable! I feel like I’ve leaned a lot that I didn’t know before from this post and comments, and I definitely need to go buy Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

    Thanks again for bringing up this topic – I’m glad you have found something that works for you!

  • Amanda September 9, 2010, 2:25 pm

    Hi! Just be careful to document any symptoms you have that may seem out of the ordinary. I went off the pill 5 months ago after being on the pill for over 5 years. Since then I have had a terrible time losing weight (it comes on like wildfire despite all working out and eating right), hair loss, exhaustion, and we haven’t been able to get pregnant. I now have to see a specialist to see if the pill is whats causing all my symptoms or if there is something else wrong. So happy I’m off the pill, but discourage that it made my situation worse. Hope things work out for you!

  • Morgan @ Healthy Happy Place September 9, 2010, 2:30 pm

    that machine is amazing!! i need one!! I plan to go off the pill next summer and start trying to get pregnant then. I’m nervous about how my cycles will be since I’ve never been normal with that stuff, but I guess only time will tell!

  • natalie September 9, 2010, 2:31 pm

    I know someone who uses ladycomp and LOVES it! I’ve heard its so much easier than tracking yourself but it’s just too expensive for me! If I could ever justify the expense I would certainly do it!! 🙂

  • Megan (Braise The Roof) September 9, 2010, 2:36 pm

    Interesting post! I definitely can’t see myself shelling out that much cash for the machine, but I like the idea of natural birth control. I think I would be more likely to invest in something like it if I was trying to conceive rather than prevent pregnancy. I just think it would be difficult to take your temp every day…forever!

  • Sarah September 9, 2010, 2:47 pm

    Caitlin, thank you so much for this series. After the first installment, I thought “Wow, I’d never do that” since I am not really wanting kids any time soon. By the time you wrote the second installment, I’d starting running and realized how my body is affected a lot but how I fuel it. Naturally I thought about how the hormones of the pill were affecting my overall health and started considering getting off the pill. I had recently ordered another three month supply of the pill but kind of didn’t want to start a new pack. I just wanted to be done! I talked it over with my husband and he was all for it. I struggled with how I’d just spent a lot of money on that three month supply but he told me to get over it (the money was already spent whether I decided to take the pills or not) and make my decision based on what I thought was best rather than the money. Well, that sealed the deal. I bought TCOYF and stopped the pill. Now, I will say that I am in a position where I would be ok if we got pregnant but we’re not trying and I’ll be using the FAM method to a T. The book was so good at minimizing my fears while educating me about how our bodies work and why the method can be effective.

    I have learned so much from your birth control posts AND all of the comments from other women. When I talked this over with a friend of mine (who had been on birth control and then stopped it a number of years ago), she warned me that it might take a while for things to even out or that stopping the pill might throw your hormones into overdrive. I told her that I knew all of that…I’d read about it on a blog (YOURS!) and that so many women had chimed in with their own experiences that I felt prepared for nearly anything. She was shocked. When she’d made that decision, she didn’t know anything and basically had no resources to tell her about what to expect. Yay for Healthy Tipping Point!! I am so grateful that you have been willing to tackle this topic and share your thoughts and that so many other people have done the same. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 3:31 pm

      <3 your welcome!

      • Marie September 9, 2010, 4:08 pm

        you’re, Caitlin, you’re 🙂

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair September 9, 2010, 2:47 pm

    I am on the pill but I go off of it for 7 days every month and get my period. I tried stacking and it did NOT work for me. I stacked for a year and when I went off I had my period for EIGHTEEN DAYS straight! That was torture. So now I just let myself get it every month.

    I think this is a very cool natural way to keep from getting pregnant, but I’m way to scared to go off the pill. We are in NO position to have a baby so I would not want to risk it!

  • Mellissa September 9, 2010, 2:53 pm

    We use FAM and have been since March and it has been a pretty easy transition. It can be hard to find a good routine if you travel a lot.

    Pen and paper is pretty easy, I figure it takes about the same time to go dig through my purse to find my pill pack as it does to take my temp and write it down.

  • Eliza September 9, 2010, 2:56 pm

    Caitlin, I really appreciate the topics that you post about and the open forum you have created for women. You include many aspects of a woman’s health, not just food and exercise, and I respect that holistic view.
    I stopped taking the pill a year ago, and although I’ve read “Taking Charge of your Fertility” we’ve found that condoms work best for us. The pill worked really well for me for a long time, but I’m glad to give my body a break from medications (I was on antibiotics for acne for several years, and took SSRIs for a few years). Now I just take prenatals and calcium, to prepare for growing a tiny person soon!

  • Sara September 9, 2010, 2:57 pm

    This is really awesome, thanks for posting! 🙂

  • Lauren @ September 9, 2010, 3:01 pm

    Thank you for the review! I have been on BC for a while and have been wanting to take a break. I will take a closer look at Lady Comp!

  • Laura September 9, 2010, 3:09 pm

    Thanks for the review – the Lady Comp seems very high tech and intuitive.
    I currently use Mirena (IUD) and like it a lot. At first, I experienced haphazard spotting, mild acne flare-ups, headaches, etc. (all typical of when you switch hormonal birth control methods). Things took some adjusting, however now that I am a year into it I have pretty much ceased to have periods and have very few side effects.
    While I like the Mirena, I am thinking I will try FAC next. I’ve got four years before I will need to make a decision on that.

  • D September 9, 2010, 3:16 pm

    I had perfectly regular periods from ages 11-17, went on the pill at 17 years old, and off it at 19. I’m almost 21 now, and I haven’t had a period in nearly 2 years. I dropped some weight around the time I went off, and I think the combination of the two factors caused some serious problems, which is terrifying to think of at age 20. My doctor simply said “must be nice not having that hassle” – it was horrifying. And even 2 years later and 15 pounds gained, I still do not have a period. Has anyone experienced anything like this? I’m simply hoping that by treating my body as well as possible, things will even out eventually, but it’s scary.

  • Jillian@ ReshapeYourLife September 9, 2010, 3:16 pm

    This is such an interesting post! I’m definitely interested in the FAM method. I will definitely look into it when I’m married (whenever that is).

  • Kate September 9, 2010, 3:17 pm

    I am torn between totally agreeing with you on this topic (which I do – I haven’t used hormonal bc for years and I think everyone has a right to make that choice for themselves) and worrying that this will be too much of an influence on younger readers that find this through operation beautiful’s website.

    I am personally going to try an IUD soon.

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 3:32 pm

      Well, I say that I wouldn’t do this unless I was married + monogamous. 🙂

  • Claire September 9, 2010, 3:21 pm

    Oh my god I am so glad that you wrote this post. I just went off BC a few days ago – and have been dying of headaches ever since. I TOTALLY didn’t make the connection! Phew, I getting worried!

  • Kattrina September 9, 2010, 3:24 pm

    I have been on and off the pill for a few years (on with a steady boyfriend, off when we were long distance, on for a week when we saw each other, off for a few months, on for another week, off for a few months, then on when we got married) and I’ve never had any serious problems. I notice my hair fell out a bit (nothing drastic, just more than normal) every time I went on or off, and my libido definitely goes down when I’m on (the pill completely dries me up inside) but I just don’t trust myself with FAM. You mentioned in an above post about doctors not trusting women to take control of their fertility, but a lot of times I think it’s very true. I can barely be trusted to remember my pill (thank you scientists for EC), let alone having to track my basal temp. I can’t even track my running. Also, although this is unfortunate, many women do not have understanding husbands when it comes to sex and they may refuse to use condoms or abstain during ovulation, so in this case BC can really be empowering to women – to have a say in when and if they want to get pregnant.

    I think it’s really all about the individual and her circumstances. I really liked reading your post as I don’t know anyone who uses FAM. Thanks for sharing!

    • Chrissy (The New Me) September 9, 2010, 5:41 pm

      Yes! I haven’t had any problems with the pill personally, but I think the real bonus is the power it gives women, especially those who are in relationships or situations where power is hard to come by.

  • Candice@ Baby Beluga September 9, 2010, 3:25 pm

    I was on the pill for about two years in college. But I was already thinking about going off of it due to not wanting anything unnatural effecting my body’s cycles but before I could actually go off it I was pregnant with my daughter! I was that 5% apparently that get pregnant on the pill lol. But though we weren’t ready for it at that time it was the best thing that happened to us.

  • Christine September 9, 2010, 3:28 pm

    I’ve been using the FAM method for almost 2 years now. Most of the time it was to avoid pregnancy, although we recently started trying to get pregnant. I used to use the pen and paper method, but recently found You log in your temp and other information every day and the program predicts your ovulation and period, then confirms when you do ovulate – all based on the history of your cyles and other women’s cycles. It gives you all of the information that you’d normally have to figure out on your own if you were using the paper chart. It’s actually a really great website and I highly recommend it. Plus, if you ever had to see your doctor concerning getting pregnant or whatever, you can print out all of your charts. Also, my thermometer saves the last temp I took so if I don’t want to get up and write it down, I know it will be there later.

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter September 9, 2010, 3:31 pm

    Great post. I didn’t know all about when you can get pregnant and when you won’t. I recently went off the Pill, but I had only been on it for 9 months. My body just couldn’t handle the hormones. We tried 4 different pills and each had their different effects. One I was basically having full fledged periods for two weeks (the doc said it was just spotting–whatever if I’m changing a tampon every two hours, it ain’t spotting), then another one made me super aggressive and mean, another made me have panic attacks and sent me into severe mood swings and the last one was just bad.

    Anyways, I’m off it now. I’m back to my normal routine of sometimes getting a period, sometimes not. Its annoying because I never know when it will strike 🙁

  • Nicole, RD September 9, 2010, 3:32 pm

    I have to get that book. It is all I hear about lately! As someone who has been on hormonal BC for the past 13 years, I am READY to be off…but not ready for a baby. Thanks for covering this issue, Caitlin! Glad to know it can be done! I have trouble trusting my body…hope it goes as smoothly as your transition!

  • Anne @ a daily slice September 9, 2010, 3:38 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote about this! I’ve actually wanted to switch to a more natural method of birth control, but I don’t know if it’s the right time in our life to do it. Maybe within the next couple of months.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Stacey (The Habit of Healthy) September 9, 2010, 3:42 pm

    This is really interesting. As naive as it sounds, I didn’t even realise you could do this kind of natural birth control stuff.

  • Cait September 9, 2010, 3:43 pm

    Glad you’ve found something that works for you! I’m curious about whether you considered the Billings or Creighton methods during your research, as I’ve heard these are among the most effective methods. For some women it is too unappealing to monitor vaginal secretions, but for others it’s a great way to understand the body’s natural cycles.

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 3:46 pm

      Haha see comment #82 re: sticking fingers up my vayjayjay

  • Caitlyn September 9, 2010, 3:51 pm

    First off, Caitlin, thank you for this post. I’ve read a few comments which mention PCOS, and I just wanted to take a moment to talk about my experience with the pill and PCOS. Because of PCOS, I never got my period, so starting at a very young age they put me on ortho-tri low. I’ve basically been on the pill ever since, but about two years ago they put me on a drug called Metformin (often prescribed for diabetes) to treat my PCOS. They briefly took me off the pill to see if the Metformin would successfully treat my PCOS, and in about three months I got my first ever real period! So many women don’t know about Metformin because PCOS is still not a huge priority in the medical world, but this drug can successfully regulate your periods (and your hormones) without having to be on the pill. Because I didn’t want to get pregnant, I went back on the pill, and for the past two years have taken the pill WITH the metformin every day. Coincidentally though, I started having major complications with being on the pill, so they are taking me off of the pill at the end of this cycle, and like you Caitlin, I will be doing the FAM method and using back-up with my long-term boyfriend. If anyone struggles with PCOS and ever wants to talk about it, feel free to email me. It took years and several endocronologists to finally learn about Metformin, so if anyone has questions or needs encourangement, I’m here for you!

    • Marie September 10, 2010, 7:01 am

      Cool, I’m going to have to email you! I’m on the pill because of my PCOS. My doctor said that the pill would help regulate my periods (they were non-existent before) and also help the cysts in the ovaries stay under control. I would like to learn more about Metformin. 🙂

  • caronae September 9, 2010, 3:54 pm

    This post came at a perfect time! I just went off birth control about a month and a half ago because I have a blood clotting disorder and can’t ever take hormones again. Ironically, in the four years I was on BC, I never had sex. A month after going off, I started having sex. Irony for you! At this point in my life, I wouldn’t do FAM, but maybe someday. For now, there are non-hormonal options like condoms and IUDs.

    Good luck!

  • sarah September 9, 2010, 3:56 pm

    I used FAM to get pregnant with my second son. I don’t have an iPhone but I used the Fertility Friend website to track everything. They also color code. The only thing I didn’t like about was they gave you a percentage chance of being pregnant which can kind of make you crazy when you’re actually trying and get your hopes up.

    I love TCOYF and will use it when we want to get pregnant again – it’s cool to see how well your body works!

  • Diana @ frontyardfoodie September 9, 2010, 3:58 pm

    I’m so glad you’re doing this on your blog because I really want to stay off the pill. I got off it and am just finishing up my pregnancy (five days overdue right now, yikes!) I don’t want to go back to the pill after and will definitely look into this method and get that book!

  • Ellen@FirednFabulous September 9, 2010, 4:05 pm

    Wow, this seems kind of stressful to me! I’ve been off birth control for a year, and I actually haven’t noticed much of a change in my body either way. I need to get back on it (my bf and I recently had a “scare’!), but until I have health insurance again, I just can’t afford it!

  • Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker September 9, 2010, 4:20 pm

    Hey. I also went off B.C. pills this year — back in February. I was fine for a while. Got my period normally for like three or four months . . . and then it delayed. The first time, 30 days late. The second time 90 days late. The last time, 15 days late. Just as something you MAY experience . . . I don’t exactly know why it happened . . . but also the longer I’ve been off pills, the stronger my cycle has become. Haven’t tried the FAM method — doubt I ever would ever try the Lady-Comp with that outrageous pricetag. Just using condoms. But we’re not super worried about getting pregnant. if it happens, it happens.

  • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul September 9, 2010, 4:37 pm

    Just wanted to say thanks for covering this topic so openly. You’ve definitely answered many question and probably minimized many fears with this post and the last two!

  • elaine! September 9, 2010, 4:41 pm

    Thank you for following up on this!

  • Shannon September 9, 2010, 4:44 pm

    so glad people have started talking about this! i went off the pill last may for various reasons and haven’t had my period since… i’ve had things checked out, and it’s ok for now, but it’s scary to think of what bpc must have been doing when i was on it :/

  • Allison K September 9, 2010, 5:20 pm

    I so wish I had the time to read through all of the comments right now!

    I just went off the pill (thanks for answering my email about FAM by the way 🙂 ) two days ago. I finished up my most recent pack of pills, and then when my period started, I started charting. I’m currently using the chart from the back of Taking Charge of Your Fertility, but this contraption you have intrigues me. Too bad insurance wouldn’t cover it, they covered my hormones.
    I’ve only been charting for a few days, so I think I want to try it on paper for at least one full cycle.

    Our plan is use condoms no matter what until I can tell that I am truly ovulating.

    I haven’t had any withdrawl symptoms yet… fingers crossed!

  • Liz September 9, 2010, 5:31 pm

    I went off the pill almost a year ago and I didn’t get my period for 4 months and then have only gotten it 4 times. I have a doc appointment in two weeks with the gyno to ask about this. I was incredibly regular before going on the pill and haven’t ever missed a period until now. I don’t like it! Hopefully the doc will be able to help me. Otherwise, I think I’ll hunt down a naturopath.

    We used condoms even when I was on the pill (my boyfriend is super paranoid and has to see the barrier to believe it). When I told my mom, she yelled, loudly, for all around to hear “ARE YOU CRAZY? WHY WOULD YOU USE CONDOMS AND THE PILL?” That was a fun day. 🙂

  • mm September 9, 2010, 5:49 pm

    I’ve been off the pill for 3 years, and using the FAM method for a little over a year now, and love it. We also supplement with condoms on fertile days (and a lot in the beginning when we were extra nervous about it). My body is so regular I can tell you down to the hour when I will start my period each month, so it was pretty easy to determine my fertile days right off the bat. I do the old school thermometer/paper tracking, but I might look into the Lady-Comp, I love technology that makes my life easier. 🙂

  • Marisa September 9, 2010, 6:01 pm

    Hi caitlin, first off I have to say I love your blog, it’s definitely my favorite.
    I also love that you’re raising alternatives to the pill.
    I just had to share my story though.

    I was relying on FAM however I fell pregnant anyway, conceived 4 days before my period and over a week after ovulation.

    I also had 2 pregnancy tests return as negative, before going to my doctor because I knew something just wasn’t right.

    I was very surprised and shocked. Perhaps I’m just a freak of nature (my doctor was also very shocked- we almost didn’t even do the blood test!) but I think all women should take the belief that there are “only” 6 possible days you can fall pregnant with a grain of salt

    This is just my experience though and of course everyone is different.

    Unfortunately the relationship was quite toxic and already in breakdown so it wasn’t welcome news.

    I thank you again for raising the issues which affect all women, and thank you for bringing to your blog a beautiful positive attitude, it is truly inspiring.

  • Laura September 9, 2010, 6:03 pm

    These are all great comments. I would just like to say that I worked for obgyns who researched contraception methods for a few years. While I believe that every person is UNIQUE, especially with how birth control effects her, I would also like to point out to those who use the FAM that you a woman can ovulate twice during 1 cycle. And please keep in mind that the pill and lots of other hormonal methods have positive health effects (ie, lowering risk of ovarian cancer,etc…). I’d highly recommend checking out this blog and emailing Dr. Kate for any BC questions! It’s all about finding which method is right for you.

  • Ashley September 9, 2010, 6:03 pm

    great post! Thank you!

  • Heather September 9, 2010, 6:05 pm

    Good post, thanks for the info. I’d love to get off the pill, but I really don’t want to take a chance of something happening using another method. This is something to look into and consider though.

  • Arianna September 9, 2010, 6:15 pm

    I’ve never commented but I am a huge fan of your blog and soooooo appreciate the open forum for discussion you’ve created here by your willingness to share your story! Thank you! I recently went off birth control because it gave me yeast infections repeatedly (does that happen to anyone else? Both times I was on the pill yeast infections were a problem. The last pill I used stopped my period altogether. WTF? It said it could cause “shorter, lighter,” periods, but that is very different from NO period whatsoever, and it felt unnatural not to have my period. It also decreased my sex drive. I have to agree with an earlier poster that gynocologists will often sort of throw any which pill at me and say ok try this, instead of taking the time to discuss all options.

    • Sally September 9, 2010, 7:18 pm

      When you are on the pil, even when you bleed you are not having a regular menstrual period. Your body is reacting to the lack of hormones but there is nothing “natural” about the bleeding that may or may not occur. It’s okay – the pill isn’t natural but that’s how it prevents pregnancy.

      • Arianna September 9, 2010, 11:56 pm

        Right. I guess the whole “fake period” thing freaked me out a bit, and then to get no bleeding at all was even weirder, though I guess no different? I much prefer to have a “real” period…I never understood the appeal of those pills that eliminate the period all together, or limit it to once a year. I guess my period has never been too much of a pain in the ass, more a reminder that I’m healthy and a woman.

  • Sally September 9, 2010, 7:16 pm

    I’m curious as to if there may be some placebo effect with regards to birth control withdrawal. I don’t know the specifics of the pill you were taking before, but most pills have a week of inactive pills, which is when you bleed. Did you ever experience withdrawal symptoms during those weeks?

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 7:22 pm

      I thought about that!

      I did experience really bad PMS (similar to the withdrawal symptoms but worse) during the sugar pill week, but it was NOTHING compared to the feelings I had when I was suppose to be taking regular pills again and I wasn’t. I REALLY don’t think it was in my head – it was terrible!

  • erica September 9, 2010, 7:28 pm

    Like Sally mentioned above, BC withdrawal must be very, very uncommon and not that bad for most women considering the pills were designed to be taken for 21 days then not taken for 7 days. Some women do take them constantly, though. BC pills also have much lower doses of hormone than they used to because doctors realized you don’t need much estrogen to suppress the ovulation, so withdrawing that amount of hormone is unlikely to make you feel like crap. Luckily, I do not experience any side effects from BC. It’s so easy for me to take and I don’t feel like it’s unnatural at all. Even the times when I have had to use Plan B (which is the equivalent of 8-10 BC pills at once), I get a little queasy in my stomach but that is it! I don’t think I would try natural family planning until I wanted a baby and needed to know when I was fertile.

  • Faith September 9, 2010, 7:53 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this update!

    Your experience has pretty much convinced me to not take the pill. I wasn’t sexually active (still not) when your first blog about going off the pill came out, but I knew I’d probably be getting married soon, and I needed to think about my options.

    I never understood/knew/thought about all the complications or side affects that can occur when you take the pill, but I’ve never been 100% comfortable with the idea since I’m not big on traditional medicine in general. Thanks to you(!), I now have a birth control method that I feel could work for me.

    Looking forward to trying it out next year 😉

  • Kim @ Kim Lives Healthy September 9, 2010, 8:05 pm

    SO glad you kept the topic going – I’ve been reading a lot about FAM and it helps so much to read about other women going through it. I’m getting married in May 2011, and afterwards I’m going OFF THE PILL (WOO!) – but don’t want to deal with the not-knowing-when-the-period-is-coming for the wedding & honeymoon.

    When I told my OB/GYN I wanted to go off the pill, he gave me a nasty look and tried to tell me it wasn’t effective and that I should just stay on the pill. Needless to say, I’m switching doctors to someone who understands alternatives to taking pills.

  • Brie @ Brie Fit September 9, 2010, 8:15 pm

    I went off BC on the same day as you…and I still haven’t ovulated or gotten a period. Even though we’re not trying for a baby yet, I’m still nervous and freaked out! I guess it’s nice to know I may have issues NOW so I can get them taken care of before we want to have kids…but yeah, it sucks and I’m scared.

  • Emily September 9, 2010, 8:52 pm

    Thank you for this post! I’ve been on BC for 2 years now, and I hear all these stories of women not getting their period back for years and years after going off of it. It is so good to hear some good news from someone who took BC for a decent length of time. This post is bookmarked for when my husband and I feel ready for me to be off BC.

  • maria @ Chasing the Now September 9, 2010, 9:06 pm

    I’m not at a point where I am ready to go off the pill because we are in no position to get pregnant, but it is something I find interesting and wouldn’t mind exploring if we ever decide that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it happened.

    I like this series a lot, Caitlin!

  • Clare September 9, 2010, 9:09 pm

    I think I made this comment on one of your other BC posts but I have been on and off the pill for years…every time I went off it (to have my three children) it took me between 6-12 months to get my period back again. The first time it happened, I was totally freaked out and thought that I had “ruined” my body and fertility with the pill and that I would never get pregnant. The second time I knew that it had taken a while for my cycle to return the first time so was less worried. The third time I didn’t worry at all; I knew my period would come eventually and that it wouldn’t affect my ability to get pregnant. I think for some reason, it just takes a while for my body to realize that it’s off the pill and for my cycle to get back to normal. Obviously, everyone is different but hopefully this is reassuring to anyone out there who’s going off the pill and is worrying if their period will ever come back…I’ve been there! I should add that I’m only 33…I had all my babies before turning 30–I know that is not ideal for everyone but I do think this situation would have been more worrisome for me if I was worrying about my age as a factor too.
    Sorry for the long comment. Just thought I’d add my two cents since I was where you all are at just a few years ago 🙂

  • Jenny September 9, 2010, 9:10 pm

    I use FAM and as a note, I use the Clear Plan fertility monitor. It was only about $100 on Ebay (used once by the previous owner) and the monthly sticks you can by on Amazon. The monitor is great because it measures your hormones and charts fertility based on the levels. You just pea on a stick when the monitor tells you, along with charting your own mucous production. I LOVE it!! I feel like I know my body so much better now!! Nothing artificial! You can use it with temp taking also.

  • Wendy @ Seriously Sassy September 9, 2010, 9:27 pm

    Hey Caitlin, so you’ve probably gotten a couple dozen already but I gave you a Cherry on Top award cuz you totally rock.

    PS – That book helped me get prego after only two months of trying. LOVE it.

    • Caitlin September 9, 2010, 10:07 pm

      yay thanks!!

  • Meghan September 9, 2010, 10:10 pm

    Caitlin, thanks again for tackling this topic. I actually went off the pill right around the same time you did (I had a blood clot from it) and am using FAM now. I track on paper and pay attention to vaginal secretions but I am TOTALLY with you on not wanting to be all up in my vajay…so totally skip the cervical position part. While it would be really cool to have a device, I am doing fine with paper and I feel a million times better than when I was on the pill (I was on for 10+years) I also love being so much more in tune with my body. I learned so much reading the book that I was pissed they never taught us in health class! I just don’t want people to get discouraged if they cannot afford this device. It’s still worth trying this method on paper to see if it works for you–you only have to spend money on a thermometer and the book.

  • Lee September 9, 2010, 10:24 pm

    I was on the pill for years but I didn’t like it and got off it recently. Now we use condoms 100% of the time, but something that I do miss about the pill is knowing exactly when my period is coming. My natural cycle is extremely irregular, something that I totally forgot about.

  • Catie September 9, 2010, 10:33 pm

    Just had to say that you are AWESOME for sharing all of this with us :). Thank you!

    • laura September 9, 2010, 11:24 pm

      Agreed! Thanks so much for your willingness to share this openly. I’ve only been on the pill about two years but share many of your concerns.

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit September 9, 2010, 11:17 pm

    Wow, I had not idea such a contraption existed! That seems like it would make it a lot easier to take your temp. every day and then figure out what it actually means! Thanks so much for this post, I am thinking about going off BC pretty soon.

  • Sana September 9, 2010, 11:32 pm

    Ahh birth control!!! I just watch teen mom and get terrified!

  • Tami September 10, 2010, 12:16 am

    Wow! You mentioned PCOS….I’ve been diagnosed for a year and a half now and rarely know anybody that knows that it exist. I’ve had to stay on birth control, and other medications, because of PCOS. It keeps my hormones in check. Without it I either became a raging bitch or a cry baby (seriously, would cry for 24 hours straight). Anyway thanks for the recognition, I really wish more people would talk about it.

    • Caitlin September 10, 2010, 6:50 am


  • Amanda September 10, 2010, 12:20 am

    That is a wicked cool contraption! I’ve never been on BC, as I am a blood clot risk. Less risk than my mom BUT I don’t play games with blood clots….. plus screwing with my hormones seems odd. I know it works for tons of women and thats great for them. I’d definitely look into this…. thanks for putting this out there. I’d never have thought there was such a good alternative to BC pills.

  • Lea @ Healthy Coconut September 10, 2010, 1:11 am

    Thank you so much Caitlin for writing this series and all of the commenters who added valuable information. This is very informative and I think if I had this information at another time in my life, I wouldn’t have been so interested as I am now. I am getting married soon and will start a family soon after so I’m glad I can come back to this post and read all the feedback.

  • Marieke September 10, 2010, 4:03 am

    $30 a month for birth control? Hurray for Britain, we get free birth control. I think this has also to do with high teen pregnancy rates, but I’m sure that America is the same in that or if not higher.. I suppose the NHS is good in a lot of ways even though everyone complains a lot about it!

    • Caitlin September 10, 2010, 6:50 am

      and that’s WITH insurance. without it, it was about $50. the american healthcare system blows.

      • Kortney September 10, 2010, 11:27 am

        My Yaz was $79 a month without insurance…

  • Foy Update - Cook. Garden. Write. Repeat. September 10, 2010, 9:05 am

    Okay so now that you have tackled the birth control perhaps you should look at alternatives to disposable feminine hygene. I’m serious. It’s one fo those things that sounds strange and yucky but the diva cups are wonderful. I never have to worry about whether or not I have enough tampons.

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers September 10, 2010, 9:41 am

    I use it casually- I wanted to go off BC, so I learned about my cycle & signs of ovulation. I chart my period on a calendar but don’t take my temp, just use it as an estimation, and only don’t use backup when I’m 150% positive I don’t need it. Plus I’ll be using it for the exact opposite reasons soon!

  • Luna September 10, 2010, 10:39 am

    I have been using for a while in the past, and it was accurate but… buying sticks every month ( and pipi on them every morning!) was annoying. I won’t ever go back to BC though …

  • Sara September 14, 2010, 12:28 pm

    I think my gyno would go psycho if I went off anything! I’m terrified of getting pregnant but the pill does kind of freak me out. But it did clear up my acne that nothing else seemed to “cure.” Thanks for the info (I’m just now catching up on posts 🙁 )

  • Kate September 14, 2010, 5:38 pm

    Have you thought of the copper paraguard IUD? I can’t handle hormonal birth control and this is the only non-surgical, hormone free birth control available. It’s also the most effective form of birth control. I just got it in last month and I LOVE it. No side effects, nothing. Just awesome birth control! They have some info on planned parenthood site in case you’re ever interested. It’s cool. Good luck!

    • kim February 11, 2013, 11:06 pm

      Iv’e heard you can get severe cramps and extra heavy bleeding because of the copper interacting with you’re natural chemistry, but definitely better than the hormone methods if that is what you are trying to avoid.

  • Emily October 5, 2010, 2:15 pm

    I just realized that I meant to reply to this post and never did. I hope you keep posting about this topic because I’m really interested in it. I use the Ladycomp too, and while I think it’s a great idea for women whose cycles are regular, my cycles are (and always have been) all over the place. My cycles last anywhere from 30 to 60 days, which really confuses poor Ladycomp. I still use it because it’s really easy to track my cycles, however irregular they are, but in terms of birth control… not so useful.

  • Natalie October 12, 2010, 10:18 pm

    I just stumbled upon your blog and love it!

    My husband and I use the temping method too. We actually used it to get pregnant. The lady comp sounds cool but very expensive. I use the website fertility friends. I keep my thermometer by the bed with a pen and notebook. The alarm goes off and my hubby hands me the pen so I don’t effect my bbt. I love having the notebook because then I don’t have to worry about immediately recording my temp on the web site. It worked out great to prevent pregnancy and achieve it. I am due in February!

  • Marie January 24, 2011, 12:58 am

    Just a thought, but it may be that birth control isn’t an entirely “personal” decision. I have read a good deal lately on how estrogen from birth control pills can leach into water supply systems. The amounts are small, but significant because consistently present. The constant exposure to these hormones can affect the population of women that wants to get pregnant. I have several friends and acquaintances, none of whom are on birth control who have lost baby after baby because of estrogen dominance and progesterone deficiencies. Those with these hormone imbalances have only been able to keep their babies by taking painful progesterone shots throughout their pregnancies. Not only do birth control pills poison your body, they can harm others around you, including unborn children. Keep in mind, too, that most birth control pills will work as an abortifacient as well if they fail to prevent conception. When we toy with God’s natural plans, the effects ripple beyond our personal lives. I have used NFP and have been charting for a decade. I have used this method to conceive three children, and have used it for the past two years to avoid pregnancy. We abstain during the fertile time because I would never want to “reject” a part of my husband’s sexuality by putting a barrier between us. Our bodies are made to have the rhythm of a natural cycle and sex during the fertile time of the month is designed to result in a sweet little baby. If I don’t think I should have a baby, I don’t get on the train to babyville. My husband deeply respects this cycle in my body, and because of our awareness of each other’s sexuality, our relationship is empowered. Fertility awareness puts your body and your spirit and your relationship back in tune, and it is respectful of each individual within an entire community. It can be some work, but it’s value is huge!

    • kim February 11, 2013, 11:08 pm

      Yup, we’ve got hopped up salmon here in the Pacific Northwest due to the amount of hormones running downstream.

  • Marie January 24, 2011, 1:03 am

    To add, I can’t of course be certain that estrogen from BC pills can affect pregnant women or those not on BC, but it seems like a viable theory. If there’s any truth to it, it’s a frightening “side effect” to be sure!

  • AmandaonMaui July 26, 2011, 4:20 pm

    Your fertile time definitely doesn’t come at the same time each month. I JUST finished my period, and went to the gyno and was told that my body was very fertile at the moment. I was stunned, because I always thought it was around mid-month. Nope, the doc said it can show up at ANY TIME! Be careful, be aware.

  • kim February 11, 2013, 11:04 pm

    Whelp, I have been married for almost ten years, and was on the pill for the first few years. I hated how it made my PMS worse, but the part that got me off of them was the blood clot in my lung. Yes, I could have died from the pill. Needless to say, my doctor has stated that I should stay off any hormonal birth control, and I have been using the FAM method for the last few years. Paper and pen style. I have been looking into the LadyComp, but the price has got me debating it. Looks like I should start saving up?

  • Elsabe May 31, 2013, 3:59 am

    Hi, I have been of the pill for 3 week and we DON’T want to get pregnant. I have started to do some research about what is the best natural way to prevent pregnancy as I want to live more natural. I found that the pill gave me lots of side effects as moon swings, gaining weight and just feeling like a zombie. These pas 3 weeks I already can feel the difference. But now the problem is I looked at the Lady Comp and I can’t find a way to get one. No body in South Africa uses it ( so I think ). I don’t know how to get one. I don’t know how to work it out by myself and I’m to scared ill do it wrong and then … Pregnant.

    • Rochelle December 19, 2014, 4:01 pm

      Hi Elsabe, this comment is waaaayyyy late, but you can purchase a Ladycomp at I am considering one too! Just nervous, because “mainstream” doctors mostly say “use BC”! I don’t like the pill idea at all, especially with blood clots etc!

  • katie June 20, 2013, 9:39 pm

    Hi Caitlin! I remembered reading this post a long time ago, and wanted to try the Lady Comp, after reading your positive review. Do you know if Naturally For Her is still selling the Lady Comp? It seems to have disappeared from their website and I can’t find another product like it. It’s allllmost time for my husband and I to start trying for baby #1, so I’m looking for a highly accurate basal body temp thermometer initially for birth control and then eventually for fertility purposes. Help!


    • Caitlin June 21, 2013, 7:28 am

      I am not sure. Youncould def just track your temp by hand. Good luck!

  • Martha August 23, 2014, 4:11 pm

    Hi there,

    I just got my lady comp today. I actually just had my first BC prescription filled, but found this wonderful invention a few days ago and finally felt like I had the right tool to help me go all natural without being too much of a hassle (explaining why my BC is in in a box somewhere). I still have the BC as a back up in case I keep getting all red days since I am getting married November 8th, and will be honeymooning in Italy. Obviously, I’m worried my lady comp won’t have time to adjust to me before the honeymoon, and I’m going to end up having red and yellow days. Also, I’m a little worried that traveling overseas will delay my ovulation (which it has done before) and then I’ll definitely get red and yellow lights. I’m considering using my prescription until after the honeymoon, and then going back to lady comp (obviously that will be a big adjustment after birth control). So I guess what I am wondering is, how long did it take lady comp to find your day of ovulation, and basically give you predominantly green lights (I really would rather NOT use condoms on my honeymoon…)

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