You're already confused about Fertility Awareness vs. Natural Family Planning and now FEMM is a new acronym you've got to learn!? What in the....
Welcome, friend. You've come to the right place for an explanation.
So maybe you're new to the whole fertility awareness movement, or maybe it's old hat. Either way, you're not sure what the difference is between fertility awareness (based) methods (FAM/FABM) and natural family planning (NFP). Not to mention having no clue about FEMM! Let me explain...
Fertility Awareness (Based) Methods
“Your menstrual cycle is not something that should be shrouded in mystery.” Toni Weschler
#FAM or #FABM is simply a blanket term for natural methods of birth control that utilize a woman's normal cycle patterns to determine fertile and infertile times of the month. Underneath that blanket term fall many methods, some more complicated than others. The most basic methods of FAM simply use #cervicalmucus to determine fertility. Others include the tracking of #BBT (basal body temperature), while still others use #OPKs (specific, timed hormone testing) via urine as well.
Yes, it can make you feel like you're at a high school science fair... but that's not the point.
The point is all these methods have different protocols that must be followed in order for them to be their most effective.
Natural Family Planning
#NFP is yet another blanket term that covers a variety of methods, all with different protocols and rules to be followed. Many people associate NFP with the Catholic faith. One of the reasons is because the Catholic Church does not condone the use of artificial birth control (including, but not limited to, barrier methods, hormonal birth control, and withdrawal). Those that use the term NFP often presuppose that you use abstinence during the fertile window if you wish to avoid creating a cute little bundle of joy that pees and pukes and changes your world forever.
The effectiveness rates of NFP methods are based on the rules that promote this abstinence. Incidentally, those same effectiveness rates and rules apply to FAM as well. The term FAM is just more often used in the secular world whereas the term NFP is more often heard around religious folk.
Just remember, when you deviate from using abstinence during the fertile window and instead turn to other methods of birth control (barrier methods, withdrawal, etc), you are no longer relying on the effectiveness of FAM/NFP for avoiding a pregnancy (should that be your goal). You are, instead, relying on the effectiveness of whatever form of birth control you choose to use during that fertile time.
Finally, what on earth is FEMM?
“Fertility Education and Medical Management”
#FEMM is a comprehensive women's health program that promotes the dignity of all women by educating them on their #reproductivehealth so they can make informed healthcare decisions. After all, how can you be an advocate and a lead player in your healthcare journey, if you don't know what the heck your body is meant to do, let alone when something's going wrong?
FEMM has their own protocol and set of rules to use as FAM/NFP. They rely primarily on cervical mucus checks and LH testing during the fertile window to determine a woman's fertility and Peak Day (the day of assumed ovulation). It's an incredibly easy protocol to learn and implement in your daily life!
FEMM also does research, trains teachers and doctors, and provides testing and treatment based on their protocols. Not only that, but they have a beautiful app that stores all of your data and even reminds you to enter your observations at the end of every day!
By charting with FEMM, you can determine if you have a normal, healthy cycle; find your fertile window and day of ovulation; and fully understand the hormonal rollercoaster that is your menstrual cycle.
So what are you waiting for?!
Don't waste another minute wondering if your cycle is something that will forever scare the bejeezus out of you! Sign up to take a class and figure out your own cyclical patterns. Work with the incredible body you've been given, not against it!