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- Your Choice: Freedom From Your Physiology or Freedom To Be Your Whole Self
When hormonal birth control (HBC) became mainstream, it was hailed as women’s ticket to an equal seat at the table, alongside men. Today, this narrative continues. We’re told over and over again, from tv and radio advertisements, to magazine articles and university health courses, that THIS is the magic pill. This is what finally bestowed “true” freedom to women. You want complete control over your fertility? Let’s get you on the pill. You dream of being in a successful leadership position? The pill is your best choice. Acne? Irregular cycles? Painful cramps? Take the pill and your struggles will be over. If not, we will just try another pharmaceutical brand. It’s the one-size-fits-all-cure-all solution, the “gold standard” in modern medicine for most women’s health-related concerns. But is it? What is the pill giving us freedom from? Our unique physiology. Why the Pill Isn’t Really Healthcare At All You see, when women are put on HBC, we are stripped of our natural cycles and hormones. Nevermind the fact that this does not actually fix the concern it was diagnosed for, nor the fact that it was never intended as a cure all. The pill is toxic, carcinogenic, and negatively influences multiple major systems in the body. And the fact that it is not as effective as women are told is just marketing at its worst. I find it ironic that a woman’s fertility and ability to bear children are seen as an inconvenience, when a healthy man is fertile 24/7. The pill places responsibility on the female required to take it. It suggests that men (who are 50% of the equation) should not be required to alter their lifestyle or change their priorities in order to plan their family. The freedom that is quietly prioritized here, is the freedom of males to avoid taking part in responsible parenthood. Why The Pill Is Oppression “Ladies! Turn off this key feature of your humanity and femininity and you’ll be free. The pill is just a little ‘off switch’ for your reproductive system! Change your very nature, and then you can fit in and be successful. Now, you’re equal. This is female empowerment!” Or... Is this a symptom of a world that doesn’t support the feminine design? These lies are not only harmful to women, they are harmful to our culture and world as a whole. This is not freedom. This is oppression. Women are inherently equal to men in value and dignity. Equal does not mean identical, nor should it. Women are meant to be embraced whole, natural cycle included. Building a New Culture of True Freedom for Women A culture that truly values women’s freedom and health would support every aspect of feminine design. It would champion women having the freedom to be the most genuine versions of their humanity. It would champion our flexibility to live in alignment with your unique physiology, at home and/or in the workplace. True feminism is creative. True feminism advocates for the unique roles of women in their homes, immediate community, and globally. That looks like respect, honor, and support regardless of whether you choose to stay in the home, have a career or a mix of both. HBC has created this mindset that women can only contribute if they are able to do so in the same manner and schedule as a man. Newsflash: we do not all have to work in the exact same style or on the same schedule in order to achieve success or our desired goals. Honestly, I believe that men and women alike could benefit from creating more flexibility in society. The 8-5 hustle culture of working until you’re dead is toxic and unhealthy. But that’s a conversation for another day… True feminism values women for who they are, without comparison to men. This builds a culture that encourages complementarity instead of competition, dignity instead of degradation, and mutual respect. Education Empowers So, what are the action steps that make this kind of culture that embraces the full feminine design in all its God-given glory possible?! Education. Education. Education. Instead of offering women the Pill, what if we taught them about their cycle? What if we treated it like a second language that would help them navigate their life with clarity and purpose? What if we encouraged and equipped our sisters, daughters, and friends with the understanding that this is a gift to steward and care for, not a burden to repress, ignore, or be ashamed by. FEMM is the Fertility Awareness Method that I teach. It is a daily practice that allows women to monitor their reproductive biomarkers in order to determine their health and fertility. It does NOT rely solely on calendars, apps, or femtech. There are many methods that fall under the umbrella of Fertility Awareness Methods, each with its own rules and efficacy rates. The charting method I use and teach in particular focuses on cervical mucus as a primary biomarker with the addition of LH to support observations. Many women choose to add BBT or progesterone testing as well as a cross-check ovulation. Don’t worry, if some of these words sound like gibberish to you, you’re not alone. And, you’re in the right place. I break all of this down into easy to understand, actionable information in my courses. I also have a lot of free resources on my Instagram page and blog, and a free intro course to get you started on the right path! Start Charting Today Educating women on the female cycle puts the power of information in our hands. We are able to evaluate the risk/benefit and analysis based on our unique health, lifestyle, and beliefs. Charting provides an understanding of the differences between men and women, both for the sake of societal roles and contributions, but also health. I believe women have a place in the workforce and leadership positions. I also believe we shouldn’t be shut out from those positions simply because we desire to be a mother and run a household. This is an “and/both” situation. Remember: Your value does NOT lie in your gender, how productive you are, how many kids you have, or don’t have, how much money you make, etc. You are valuable because God willed you into existence. You are worthy of the freedom to be your whole self, cycle and all... no off button required.
- FAM: The New Language You Need to Learn in 2022
Let’s talk about language. I’m half Portuguese, but my quarter Irish heritage feels like a more accurate representation of who I am. My mum and family passed on the rich traditions to all of us and it is a heritage that is written all over my life’s trajectory. A few examples: I did competitive Irish dance for 15 years and performed all over the country. I drank tea with my breakfast and lunch and afternoon snacks. “A heap of sugar and a generous splash of milk, please!” Scones were a weekly treat, accompanied by more tea, of course! My first name (Mairead) is Gaelic for Margaret. I’ve spent so many magical moments in Co. Kerry, Ireland that it feels like a second home to me. (That header picture is from my most recent trip during a walk on the lovely grounds of Muckross House!) I think you get the idea. I’m a lassie through and through. The one thing that didn’t get passed on from either side though, was language. My grandparents on my dad’s side spoke Portuguese & my granddad on my mom’s side spoke Gaelic. My mom also knows shorthand, but never taught us. Now, what does all of this chit chat about tea with sugar, Irish dancing, and language have to do with this blog, you ask? In Order to Understand, We Must First Communicate Well, I’m passionate about understanding how things work. And communication is a critical part of that process. And the language used for that communication plays the lead role. I may not be fluent in Gaelic, but I was immersed in the traditions of my heritage. This gave me a deep appreciation and love for the culture, which equipped me with a strong sense of identity and understanding of who I am and where I come from. What if we passed down the knowledge of our womanly bodies with the same tenacity and pride we pass down our cultural and family traditions? What if we taught body literacy like a second language? One we strived to be fluent in? I want FAM to become a universal language spoken by all women. And I truly believe it is never, ever too late to learn anything. So, let’s dive in. Think of Fertility Awareness as a Language FAM stands for the Fertility Awareness Method, defined by ACOG as “knowing and recognizing when the fertile time (when a woman can get pregnant) occurs in the menstrual cycle.” I know that hearing the words just “knowing and recognizing” something as complex and carefully designed as your unique biomarkers and cycle can feel overwhelming. Or, a little bit like a language you don’t understand. This is why body literacy is important! Imagine how you feel going to a foreign country where you don’t understand the language, the traffic signs, or even the coffee shop menus. You might stumble through poorly pronounced words read out of a guide book. You might go the wrong way and narrowly avoid an accident. You might order something that you’d never consider appetizing had you known what it was. This is what it’s like living in today’s world as a body illiterate female. You don’t speak the language, don’t understand the posted signs, and don’t know what you’d like to order! Seems like a bit of a nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be. Why You Should Master the FAM Language When you think of mastering FAM like learning a new language, this big task of understanding your complex, unique biomarkers and cycle suddenly has tangible action steps. When you take these small steps, you’ll discover breakthroughs in your overall health and confidence navigating your life. Now, when you visit that foreign country you DO understand everything. You’re on a wild adventure where you’re the captain of your own ship. The language barrier broken down means you can understand what’s being said. The clear signs posted mean you know where you’re going. And ordering the right coffee or extra sugar with your tea? That’s the icing on the cake, baby! I believe that every female has a right to know and understand her body’s language, read her cycle signs, & order the right dang health choices off the menu of life! Let’s make FAM a universal language. It starts with charting, learning your body, and sharing the wealth with friends. Ready to become fluent?
- Finding the Right Fertility Awareness Method for Your Unique Goals
“Yes. No. Yes no, yes. No, yes!!!” Does choosing the right fertility awareness method (FAM) feel as impossible as finding the perfect pair of jeans? Don’t fret, I’m going to give you a framework to help you find the method that will fit you just right. The hardest thing about beginning a charting journey is knowing where to start. But what I’ve learned is that it really comes down to answering a few key questions. The answers about your unique life, goals, and health will help you find your perfect fit. Important Questions to Consider When Choosing a Fertility Awareness Method What are the main biomarkers of the protocol and how are they tracked? Cycle biomarkers are the specific signs your body gives you based on the different hormone levels of the cycle: cervical mucus, temperature, hormone metabolites. Each protocol relies on these biomarkers to determine what your unique cycle says about your fertility. The types of biomarkers prioritized vary by method. Are you going to be put off by tracking cervical mucus closely, potentially touching it? Do you want to incorporate a lot of cross checks to determine your fertile window and confirm ovulation? Do you want a method that tests hormones via urine so you can be your own lab rat? How much of an investment (time and money) is the protocol, from learning to implementing daily? If it’s not right for your clock or wallet, it’s not right for you. Some methods take many classes and follow ups with an instructor to learn. Others only a few. There are still others with self-paced options that you can learn on your own, but you’ll have no support from an instructor. What are your goals in learning FAM? Do you want to chart for health or natural family planning? Maybe it’s both, so you want a method with a medical management protocol. Are you trying to seriously avoid pregnancy? What stage of life are you in: postpartum, adolescence, pre-menopausal? Are you single or in a relationship? I believe EVERY cycling woman, regardless of her age, should be charting. But depending on your current relationship status, you might be drawn to one method versus another. Again, it comes back around to whether you are charting for health and body literacy versus family planning. Where do you find a certified instructor? Word of mouth, Google, FAM or NFP Facebook Groups (often have instructors listed in files), FAM instructor on Instagram, Catholic Churches, and method websites are all great resources. Discerning Which FAM Is Right For You FEMM, Creighton, SymptoThermal, Billings, Marquette, Boston Cross Check are some of the most popular FAMs. Fertility awareness methods cover a set of rules to monitor your cycle biomarkers and determine your fertility status every day. FAMs are based on rigorous scientific research. Most FAMs incorporate cervical mucus as the primary biomarker of fertility. Others include hormone monitoring, temperature checks, or cervical position. Regardless of the protocol's rules, the goal is the same: to determine YOUR daily hormonal activity and thereby your fertility. Remember, you aren't fertile 24/7 and can’t spontaneously ovulate! Once you find a method that helps you achieve your goal, you are able to monitor your health, plan a family, & cycle sync your life. Considering the questions I outlined above in relation to each protocol’s requirements will take a little bit of time and research, but are worth the upfront investment. A key piece of success across the board is consistency, so you’ll want to make sure the method you choose is the one that fits your unique rhythm of life. It should be as reliable and versatile as your favorite pair of jeans. This is also where the advice of an experienced instructor can be invaluable. Do You Need an Instructor? How does an instructor fit into this picture? Can't you read a book or blogs on the method you want to learn? Well, you could and I support self-teaching... But let me paint a picture of what might follow: Months of confusion as you try and interpret your unique biomarkers. Heartbreak as you try to conceive and find you’re unable to. Shock as you DO conceive, but were SURE you were following the protocol to avoid pregnancy. Concern as you look over cycle patterns and are unable to decode if you’re ovulating with normal cycle patterns.⠀ Dismissal from a provider with, "That's part of being a woman" as you explain that the symptoms you're experiencing are affecting your life. ⠀ Comments from friends & family who say, "That's the rhythm method and you'll be pregnant soon."⠀ Irregular cycles and symptoms post birth control that make you want to get right back on it.⠀ When you work with a FAM instructor, your reality becomes easier to navigate. You are able to feel empowered and equipped to face these scenarios and discern the next best steps. A trained FAM instructor will: Guide you through learning a FAM from start to finish. Review your charts. Help you reach health and family planning goals. Support you as you seek medical care. Teach you to understand your cycles, whether they're regular or not. Transition you through challenging cycles: puberty, postpartum, breastfeeding, premenopause, post hormonal birth control. A Free Intro Course Is the Best First Step Fertility awareness instructors are often certified in one or more fertility awareness methods. Some offer free intros as part of their services (I do!), so don’t be afraid to ask. They may also be able to help you discern whether their method is right for you or if you may be better off connecting with a colleague of theirs who is trained in another charting method. The main takeaway? Choosing the right FAM for your unique cycle and goals is a process. It may take some trial and error. But the sooner you connect with a professional, the sooner you’ll be able to find the FAM that fits you like your dream pair of jeans. My free intro course is a great first step to take to determine whether the FEMM approach is right for you.
- Courses | Luminahealthservices
Courses Charting for Health Learn to chart from scratch with the FEMM method to support regular, healthy cycles. $150 Enroll Now! 4 pre-recorded video presentations (1-1.5 hrs each) 2 complimentary chart reviews (30 mins) Handouts & Email Support Family Planning Learn to chart from scratch with the FEMM method for both health & family planning. $200 Enroll Now! 5 pre-recorded video presentations (1-1.5 hrs each) 3 complimentary chart reviews (30 mins) Handouts & Email Support Additional Offerings Sync Up! Exercise & Your Cycles Course Create an exercise routine that supports your hormonal health. Avoid burnout & choose exercise that fuels you! 5 comprehensive video modules Handouts & email support $97 Enroll now! "I really enjoyed my (NFP class) with Mairead. She really explained things well & the class really built on the info as we went through it. She also recommended some great references and books to refer to. . . I felt this class was very successful for me . . ." -Megan "I love that (Mairead's) material is well-organized, easy to follow, and comprehensive . . . I love that (Mairead) is knowledgeable about the class, provides lots of information/resources, and is passionate about wellness." -Emmilee
- Live Events | Luminahealthservices
Live Events Join us for virtual events to learn more about cycles and health! April 28th, 2021 8:30pm EST Chart the Basics 1 hour + Q&A Understand your cycles & get to the root cause of your period problems. Start charting your cycles right away. Recordings available to those registered Save my seat!
- Fertility Awareness Method | Lumina Health Services
Learn to chart your menstrual cycle & take charge of your health. Get the truth about your hormones & support your cycles with holistic lifestyle shifts. Enroll Now! Grab a free intro course! On-Demand Video Courses Private 1:1 Support Sustainable Lifestyle Shifts Your cycles do not have to be a mystery. Without knowledge of your cycles, symptoms like: painful cramps hormonal acne irregular cycles mood swings debilitating fatigue cause frustration and confusion Often the only solution offered is the pill. With knowledge of your cycles, you can: monitor your health heal your symptoms regulate your hormones support your body know when to rest vs push which leaves you in control You have many solutions available. Let's get started! Choose your course Charting for Health Learn to chart from scratch with the FEMM method to support regular, healthy cycles. Enroll Now! Family Planning Learn to chart from scratch with the FEMM method for both health & family planning. Enroll Now! In case you're wondering who runs this joint... Meet your guide That's me! Hi, I'm Mairead. I'm an allied health professional and fertility awareness educator, trained in the FEMM protocol. Since 2015, I have personally used and taught FEMM for holistic health, cycle awareness, and natural family planning. I know what it's like to be confused about your cycles and in pain on your period. That was me before I started charting with FEMM . . . More About Me Kickstart your hormonal healing I know you're the kind of woman who wants to listen to your body and trust that you can make the best decisions for your health. In order to tune in to your body, you've got to first understand how your hormones affect you mentally and physically. That's where charting your cycle comes in! The problem is that there's so much information, you don't know where to begin. It's overwhelming and confusing, to say the least. I believe you deserve the truth about your health and fertility, so you can make informed decisions without the overwhelm. You're capable of understanding and embracing your incredible God-given, life-giving design. That's why I started, Lumina! I became certified to teach charting so I could shortcut that learning process. You'll go from confused, frustrated, & hurting to illuminated, relieved, and healing in record speeds. Let me help you understand your cycle's signals! Start by learning the FEMM charting method to help you understand your cycle, get to the root cause of any imbalances, and begin to heal. Then , connect with a certified FEMM teacher to receive one-on-one support. Finally , make sustainable lifestyle shifts to support your health. No more pain and confusion coupled with pills you don't want. Instead, experience clarity and trust in your body. Learn to chart your cycles. Get the guidance you need to succeed. Implement lifestyle shifts to support your health. Enroll Now! WHAT CLIENTS ARE SAYING "Very helpful. Mairead is patient, well educated, great with answering questions. Professional. Glad I discovered this service and highly recommend the educational enlightenment to all women curious about taking more control of their cycle and overall health." — Lisa Enroll Now!