Heading back to Germany...

In case you haven't heard it through the grapevine... this time next week I'll be at the Hufeland Klinik in Germany for another 4 weeks of alternative cancer treatment. I'm really excited to go!

I most recently met with my oncologist in April and all of my lab work continues to look good. Based on that, my all-clear PET/CT scan results, and alternative cancer testing results, the doctors I work with at Hufeland recommended that I come back for 4 weeks of treatment... so I'm following their advice. I'll be receiving treatment there from Tuesday, May 24 to Tuesday, June 21. Because it's still within 2 years of being given the diagnosis of breast cancer, I consider this to be initial or primary treatment. I think once we get to June 2017, then we can consider any treatment I do more like "maintenance."

While I'm there I won't be checking any email (or this site), but I'd love to get snail mail from any and all of you! And if after all of these months you're still praying for me, please let me know! Here's the address:

Hufeland Klinik
Löffelstelzer Straße 1-3
97980 Bad Mergentheim
Germany
(with "Attn: Colleen Flowers" on the bottom left)


Thank you again for all of your love and support throughout the past 11 months. I've done quite a bit of writing and talking with people also given the diagnosis of cancer and look forward to doing more when I return. A few days ago I launched my Holistic Cancer Education website... www.ColleenFlowers.com... I recommend starting with this blog post "Newly Diagnosed with Cancer? 5 Things I Wish I Had Known."

Avoiding Pregnancy Naturally while Breastfeeding

A common question I often receive is if a person can use Fertility Awareness to avoid pregnancy after giving birth. The answer is... yes, absolutely!

What a cutie-pie!

What a cutie-pie!

Whether you're breastfeeding or not, you can keep track of the changes in your fertility to answer the question at the end of every day, "Am I fertile? Yes or No?"

I know it can be really confusing... some people say, "Oh, you can't get pregnant while you're breastfeeding" and then other people say, "You can TOTALLY get pregnant while you're breastfeeding." Both are a little bit right and both are kinda wrong.

It all depends on the person's body returning to fertility after giving birth. Lots of things impact this like frequency of nursing, use of a pacifier, sleeping through the night, and introducing solids. By charting your fertility changes, we can see if you're not fertile or if your body is beginning to become fertile again.

For women, couples, and individuals who are interested in using Fertility Awareness to avoid pregnancy during this season of life, I'd love to teach you how to accurately and confidently use it. Feel free to contact me to schedule a time to meet.


What did you use to avoid pregnancy after giving birth?

Do you think you would use Fertility Awareness?

Why or why not?


Fertility Awareness Colleen Flowers

Colleen Flowers is a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner who loves teaching individuals and couples about their bodies from a natural and holistic perspective using the Fertility Awareness Method... to avoid pregnancy naturally, to increase their chances of conceiving, and to better understand their bodies! See what others have to say. Feel free to contact her or subscribe to her newsletter.

Breast Cancer Journey

On June 1 I was giving the diagnosis of aggressive breast cancer. Hence the reason I've been MIA. I've updated family, friends, colleagues, and clients via this Caring Bridge site (you can catch up with all the details of my journey there if you'd like). There's also a YouCaring/LoveForColleen Crowdfunding site to help with medical and treatment costs.

The summary with my BODY is that the invasive poorly differentiated ductal carcinoma was Estrogen Receptor negative (ER-), Progesterone Receptor negative (PR-), Her2 was most likely positive, Ki-67 was 91% (super-duper aggressive), and BRCA mutations were negative (there's no history of breast cancer in my family). So... it's a fine-line about Triple Negative status. On June 24 I had a single right mastectomy with no reconstruction and 1 of 5 lymph nodes tested positive; I was staged at IIA. In August and September I spent 6 weeks in Germany receiving alternative cancer treatments.

The summary with my MIND is that it's getting better and better! I used to operate at 1,000 miles per minute and now it's at about 4 or 5 miles per hour. The fear, worry, worst-case-scenario thinking, anxiety, stress, and panicked way of living life this way for the last 30+ years has totally stalled out. This result has been achieved through daily work to be free of "thought addiction" in addition to God's grace. Keeping my mind still is of utmost priority and this happens when I laugh, color, paint, sing, dance, meditate, talk with friends, and do lots of other wonderful things.

The summary with my SOUL is that I now know, believe, and accept that my heart is good and my soul is good and I'm working toward unconditionally loving myself. Freedom regarding this came through guided visualizations on a deeper level and theological understanding on an intellectual level. This transcribed sermon series by Pastor Monte Stevens from Dayton, Ohio changed my life: Original Sin or Original Blessing. I'm allowing my soul to express the Divine Image of God that it was created in first and foremost, as opposed to viewing itself as a sack of sin (as much of my Christian background taught me).

Everyone eventually asks about PROGNOSIS. I'm currently cancer-free! and will remain so until proven otherwise. Blood work and PET/CT scans will happen when my oncologist and I decide. 

Then the next most frequently asked question is about my WORK at Flowers Fertility, LLC. I haven't returned yet because I'm still healing. On a cellular level, my mitochondria are working HARD to recover from the stress of diagnosis and surgery, and working HARD to incorporate all of the holistic treatments I'm doing. On a mental and spiritual level, it takes a great deal of time and energy to get out of the way so my body can heal itself. I'm so thankful for and grateful to Justina Thompson for stepping in to care for my clients while I've been on a leave-of-absence. 

I'm also WRITING about my journey since June 1. I'm creating something that I wished had existed in June when I was diagnosed. We'll see where my Bachelor's Degree in English/Writing takes me!

Thank you, again and again, for prayers, love, words of support, and caring. It means so much to me to be surrounded by such a wonderful community.

Natural Conception for Everyone!

In the Natural Conception using Fertility Awareness one-on-one consults I offer, there are often individuals and couples using donor sperm for a variety of reasons. If there are no reproductive or fertility issues with her, then there's really no reason that she can't go through unmedicated IVIs, ICIs, and/or IUIs (...those fancy letters stand for intravaginal insemination, intracervical insemination, and intrauterine insemination respectively).

Individuals and couples meet with me because charting her cycle using the Sympto-Thermal Method of Fertility Awareness, along with some other tools (like OPKs - Ovulation Predictor Kits), will allow her to know the best window that insemination (or inseminations) will lead to a pregnancy.

A great tool for talking about the process with kids was introduced to me by Teresa Robertson of Living Intuitive Counseling. It's a series of children's books for kids conceived using Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) written by Kimberly Kluger-Bell, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in Reproductive Mental Health. The 7 books in the series cover most of the scenarios when using ART. They're all here at Books for Donor Kids.

If you're looking for local resources along the way... here are some:


Do you know of other places in the Denver Metro area that welcome women wanting unmedicated IUIs? What other local resources have you used or would you like to know about? 

Let me know in the comments below or contact me.


Colleen Flowers FlowersFertility

Colleen Flowers is a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner who loves teaching individuals & couples about their bodies from a natural and holistic perspective using the Fertility Awareness Method... to avoid pregnancy naturally, to increase their chances of conceiving, and to better understand their bodies! She teaches see clients locally and online through one-on-one consults. (See what others have to say!) Feel free to contact her or subscribe to her newsletter.

Come watch a free movie with me!

“You were taught to value and expect something from your sexuality that does not match what your sexuality actually is. You were told a story about what would happen in your sexual life, and that story was false. You were lied to. I am pissed, on your behalf, at the world for that lie. And I’m working to create a world that doesn’t lie to women about their bodies anymore.”
Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski, PhD


Maggi Fitzpatrick

Maggi Fitzpatrick

On Tuesday, May 12 at 6pm, join other women and Maggi Fitzpatrick, a Certified Sex Therapist and owner of Fitzpatrick Family Therapy, as we screen the movie Orgasm Inc. and talk about the cultural forces that surround a woman's healthy sexuality.

  • Pharmaceutical companies racing to make the first 'pink Viagra' (a medication designed to treat the new 'disease' of Female Sexual Dysfunction) and...
  • How porn distorts the reality of sex and...
  • How important context is: " 'If you’re not responding sexually, is your stress level high, is your trust level low, where’s the affection in your relationship, and is it sexy yet?' Then the problem isn’t you, the problem is the context, and you can influence and change a lot of things about your context" (Emily Nagoski talking to Common Health) and...
  • What is "NORMAL" and...
  • More!
Write here...

Write here...

"In the shocking and hilarious documentary Orgasm Inc., filmmaker Liz Canner takes a job editing erotic videos for a drug trial for a pharmaceutical company. Her employer is developing what they hope will be the first Viagra drug for women that wins FDA approval to treat a new disease: Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD). Liz gains permission to film the company for her own documentary. Initially, she plans to create a movie about science and pleasure but she soon begins to suspect that her employer, along with a cadre of other medical companies, might be trying to take advantage of women (and potentially endanger their health) in pursuit of billion dollar profits. Orgasm Inc. is a powerful look inside the medical industry and the marketing campaigns that are literally and figuratively reshaping our everyday lives around health, illness, desire — and that ultimate moment: orgasm.
"Upbeat, engaging, enlightening, and provacative, Orgasm Inc. will change the way you think about sex." (http://www.orgasminc.org/)

How the night will look...

6pm-6:30pm - Arrive, enjoy refreshments, find a seat
6:30pm-8pm - Watch Orgasm Inc.
8pm-9pm - Participate in discussion facilitated by Maggi & Colleen

***The first 3 women to register will receive a gift at the event***

Register at EventBrite!

Register at EventBrite!

Registration for this FREE event is required as space is limited. Registration ends on Saturday, May 9, 2015. 

Light refreshments will be provided. And there will be door prizes!

For more information or questions, please contact me. Location and address will be provided after registration. 

FAQs


May I bring my boyfriend/fiancé/husband/partner? 
To create a space that feels as safe as possible, this is a woman-only event.

Is there an age limit to attend this event?
Yes, all women must be at least 18 years or older.

Will there be wine... and chocolate... there?
Of course! Who are you kidding?!? Women + Sex = Wine & Chocolate

Is the free gift a sex toy?
Great question! Nope.


Colleen Flowers

Colleen Flowers is a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner who loves teaching women and couples about their bodies from a natural and holistic perspective using the Fertility Awareness Method... to avoid pregnancy naturally, to increase their chances of conceiving, and to better understand their bodies! She teaches classes locally and online and offers one-on-one consults. (See what others have to say!) Feel free to contact her or subscribe to her newsletter.

Fertility Friday Podcast - What does a Healthy Menstrual Cycle look like? The Menstrual Cycle as the 5th Vital Sign!

It's the first day of Spring! 

And today, Lisa from Fertility Friday, published the podcast we recorded a few weeks ago: What does a Healthy Menstrual Cycle look like? The Menstrual Cycle as the 5th Vital Sign!

Listen to it now!

Listen to it now!

It's full of lots and lots of interesting, exciting, thrilling information...

  • What is the Fertility Awareness Method? And how is it different to the Rhythm Method?

  • What is the difference between calculation-based birth control methods and observational birth control methods? More on the blog here...

  • What is the main ideological difference between Natural Family Planning and the Fertility Awareness MethodMore on the blog here...

  • What are the parameters of a normal and healthy menstrual cycle?

  • How do these parameters change depending on a woman’s age, and her stage of life?

  • What does a normal menstrual period look like in terms of color, quantity, and frequency?

  • How much variation is normal in the length of your menstrual cycle?

  • Is it possible that your menstrual cycles are “normal” even if they aren’t always 28 days long?

  • What is a vital sign? And why do some practitioners consider menstruation to be the 5th vital signMore on the blog here...

  • How does monitoring your menstrual cycle help you to gauge your overall healthMore on the blog here...

  • How does the pill prevent pregnancy?

  • How long does it take a teenage girl’s menstrual cycles to mature?

  • How can hormonal contraceptives actually prevent a young woman’s menstrual cycle from developing normally?

Here is the reproductive cancer symptoms matrix from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that I referenced during the talk... these symptoms should be proven to be benign prior to hormonal contraceptive suppression or treatment... like "going on the pill to regulate cycles."

Here is the reproductive cancer symptoms matrix from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that I referenced during the talk... these symptoms should be proven to be benign prior to hormonal contraceptive suppression or treatment... like "going on the pill to regulate cycles."

Also, for health care providers wanting a more in-depth understanding, the speech I gave at the National American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) Conference is available at the ACNM Live Learning Center.

If you've listened to either or both of these recordings...

  • What were you surprised to find out?
  • What were you relieved to hear?
  • Is there anything you wish you had known sooner?

PCOS & Fertility Awareness: The Options

(Previous blog posts talk about the background of PCOS and the theories of PCOS.)

Many health care providers give women with PCOS 1 of 2 options...

  1. if they don’t want to get pregnant - hormonal birth control...
  2. if they do want to get pregnant - fertility drugs (like Clomid, Femara, and Letrozole) and/or anti-diabetic medications (like Metformin)...

However, there are natural, alternative, and holistic ideas out there that many women with PCOS have found successful.

Fertility Awareness Charting!

When a woman understands her reproductive health and can interpret the fertility charts of her menstrual cycle, she'll have a lot of very useful information. (If you need help interpreting your charts, that's what I'm here for!) Even if she has irregular cycles, a woman can use the observational Sympto-Thermal Method of Fertility Awareness. (It's best if a woman with irregular cycles not use a statistical or calendar method of Fertility Awareness... more about all the different methods is here.) 

The changes in her cervical fluid (or lack of changes) and the changes in her morning temperature (or lack of changes) will provide information about what's going on hormonally inside of her body. If her provider wants to run tests on a specific day of her cycle (like about a week after ovulation), then the interpretation of her charts will help to find the best day to do that. She can use the Sympto-Thermal Method to... 

  • avoid pregnancy naturally,
  • know when to best time sex or insemination to achieve pregnancy,
  • have a really good idea when her period will arrive, and
  • gauge how medical interventions or holistic, lifestyle changes are improving her cycle and overall reproductive health.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine! 

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very effective at regulating cycles and encouraging normal ovulation.

In May 2013, The American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism published a study about 32 women with PCOS who received 10-13 weeks of treatment with acupuncture or meeting with a physical therapist. They said:

  • "Repeated acupuncture treatments resulted in higher ovulation frequncy in lean/overweight women with PCOS."
  • "Ovarian and adrenal sex steroid serum levels were reduced with no effect on LH secretion."

And then earlier in April 2012, the Journal of Acupuncture & Tuina Science published a study about 65 women with ovulatory dysfunctional infertility. They said:

  • "Group 1 received electroacupuncture and group 2 received 50mg per day of clomifene citrate tablets [Clomid]. After 6 months of treatment, the acupucture group had a cure rate of 76.3% and the clomifene group had a 48.1% cure rate."

The website/social media of FloLiving.com and the book Woman Code: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source by Alisa Vitti!

These are excellent resources for naturally restoring hormonal balance... and Alisa describes how she naturally healed her PCOS!

The website/social media of PCOSdiva.com!

Amy Medling's personal story is very powerful... and she even talks about how charting her cycle showed that she probably wasn't ovulating. A low-glycemic diet and regular exercise is so important!

Vitamin D!

"Low vitamin D has been clearly linked to insulin resistance and obesity." For an easy-to-understand and thorough review of Vitamin D studies done with women who have PCOS, go here: http://www.mypcos.info/1/treatments/natural/vitamin-d/

NaPro Technology!

The work and book by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, The NaPro Technology Revolution: Unleashing the Power in a Woman's Cycle, gives insightful and non-mainstream information and treatment protocols for PCOS. Here in Denver, the team at Bella Natural Women's Care can offer these treatments. Search here for a FertilityCare™ Center near you. (PS - They come from a Catholic perspective and only work with heterosexual women.)


In your own journey with PCOS, what natural, alternative, and holistic ideas did you find most helpful?

Did you use them in conjunction with anything else?


Colleen Flowers PCOS Fertility Awareness Online

Colleen Flowers is a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner who loves teaching individuals and couples about their bodies from a natural and holistic perspective using the Fertility Awareness Method... to avoid pregnancy naturally, to increase their chances of conceiving, and to better understand their bodies! See what others have to say or contact her and subscribe to her newsletter. Like what you see? Then book an online consult with her and/or purchase a package for more in-depth coaching.


PCOS & Fertility Awareness: The Theories

(A previous blog post talks about the background of PCOS and a future blog post talks about the options with PCOS.)

PCOS affects about 1 in 10 women in the US. And some would say that there are actually 5 different “types” of PCOS and therefore it’s important to have tests done to find out “where” the PCOS is starting. Is it starting in the brain? in the pancreas? in the adrenals? in the ovaries?

  1. Traditional PCOS: anovulatory, increased androgens, no insulin resistance
  2. Endocrine Syndrome X: anovulatory, increased androgens, insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes
  3. Non-traditional PCOS: anovulatory, normal androgens, obese, insulin resistant or type 2 diabetes
  4. Non-traditional PCOS: ovulatory, increased androgens, mild insulin resistance
  5. Idiopathic Hirsutism: ovulatory, increased androgens, no insulin resistance

Lara Briden, an Evolutionary Biologist and Naturopath Doctor, posits these 4 types of PCOS:

  1. Insulin-Resistant PCOS
  2. Post-Pill (or Pill-induced) PCOS
  3. Inflammatory PCOS
  4. Hidden-cause PCOS (like thyroid disease, a vegetarian diet leading to deficiencies, artificial sweeteners, and others)

And what causes PCOS? From my understanding, there are 3 main theories as to the causes of PCOS:

  1.  Genetics... thanks Mom. And each time I hear that something is “genetic,” I like to take a moment to consider if there’s a possibility that a repeating pattern is being learned and absorbed by the new generation via epigenetics... just a thought... take it or leave it.
  2.  Hormonal Imbalance... there’s miscommunication happening between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries (called the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis... and sometimes the miscommunication is between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis). They use hormones to talk to each other and for some reason with PCOS they're not communicating in the ideal amounts like they're supposed to do.
  3. Insulin Resistance... imbalances with insulin and androgens (like testosterone, DHEAS, etc.). One of insulin's jobs is that it can cause the liver to decrease making a molecule called sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Therefore, if there’s too much insulin, it may cause too little SHBG, and too little SHBG may result in excess free testosterone.

Now there's debate about Hormonal Imbalance (#2) being the side-effect of the actual problem of Insulin Resistance (#3)... or... that Insulin Resistance (#3) being the side-effect of the actual problem of Hormonal Imbalance (#2). There are lots of experts trying to figure this one out so thankfully we don't have to! 

As a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner, I educate my clients to follow the best plan for them... and that might be to go down a (sometimes long) path of diagnosis with their health care provider so that the underlying problem is ultimately addressed. (There's more about holistic options here.)

When a woman with PCOS and/or irregular cycles charts them using the Fertility Awareness Method, then she has a better idea of what's going on with her body and reproductive health. She can give definitive answers to questions about how long her cycle is, how many days her periods last, what each period is like (especially if they differ), if she's ovulating or not, and if any interventions are making changes. (This is called using the menstrual cycle as a vital sign!) And if blood tests need to be done at certain points in her cycle (like 1 week after ovulation), she'll know if it should be around Day 21 like "everyone else" or (say) Day 63 if she ovulated later and will have a very long cycle.

Whether a woman with PCOS wants to avoid pregnancy, achieve pregnancy, or simply know when to expect her period, charting her cycle can give lots of really good information and make the process a little less frustrating.

Just got my period today... day 53. *sigh* My whole life is just spent waiting for my period.
— Gigi*, Pennsylvania, USA (*not her real name)

Don't forget to check out my posts about the background of PCOS and the options with PCOS.



Colleen Flowers Fertility Awareness Online

Colleen Flowers is a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner who loves teaching individuals and couples about their bodies from a natural and holistic perspective using the Fertility Awareness Method... to avoid pregnancy naturally, to increase their chances of conceiving, and to better understand their bodies! See what others have to say or contact her and subscribe to her newsletter. Like what you see? Then book an online consult with her and/or purchase a package for more in-depth coaching.


PCOS & Fertility Awareness: The Background

Many sources claim that women with irregular cycles shouldn't use a Fertility Awareness Method to chart their cycle, which is true if they’re using a statistical method like the Standard Days Method. But if a woman with irregular cycles uses an observational method like the Sympto-Thermal Method of Fertility Awareness, she’ll still be able to answer the question at the end of every day, “Am I fertile? Yes or No?” (Here’s more about statistical methods and observational methods of Fertility Awareness.)

Even as someone who has studied reproductive health quite a bit, I think trying to completely understand PCOS can be a little confusing (and that’s because the health care community still doesn’t completely understand it).

Here’s a YouTube video to help explain it. Feel free to start at 2:20 or 3:05:

This 3D medical animation describes PCOS, polycystic ovary (ovarian) syndrome. The animation begins with the normal anatomy and physiology of the ovaries, including the effects of certain hormones on the ovaries during the menstrual cycle.

Here’s Wikipedia’s explanation and here are the many terms for PCOS:

  • PCOS - polycystic ovarian (ovary) syndrome
  • PCO - polycystic ovaries
  • PCOD - polycystic ovarian disease
  • AAE - anovulatory androgen excess
  • HA - hyperandrogenic anovulation
  • Stein-Leventhal syndrome

PCOS usually refers to the “syndrome” of polycystic ovaries. Syndrome just means that this is a condition distinguished by a set of related symptoms. The most common include:

  • Irregular menstrual periods (ie, longer than 35 days, absent for 4 months, etc.)
  • Weight issues (often around the waist)
  • Excess or unwanted body or facial hair (hirsutism)
  • Thinning hair on the head
  • Skin problems (skin tags, darkening skin and acne)
  • Infertility

PCO usually means that the ovaries have multiple cysts on them but other symptoms listed above may be absent.

PCOD is the term used by Dr. Thomas Hilgers in his book The NaProTECHNOLOGY Revolution: Unleashing the Power in a Woman’s Cycle. He suggests various treatments such as using progesterone supplementation, medications, and surgery. Here is a list of NaPro providers: www.FertilityCare.org (And just so you know, the book and these providers come from a Catholic perspective.)

AAE is the term used by Dr. Jerilynn Prior who founded the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR). She has a lot of good information on her website about AAE (the term she uses for PCOS) and progesterone supplementation.

I've written other blog posts that talk about the theories surrounding PCOS and the options with PCOS.


Colleen Flowers PCOS Fertility Awareness Online

Colleen Flowers is a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner who loves teaching individuals and couples about their bodies from a natural and holistic perspective using the Fertility Awareness Method... to avoid pregnancy naturally, to increase their chances of conceiving, and to better understand their bodies! See what others have to say or contact her and subscribe to her newsletter. Like what you see? Then book an online consult with her and/or purchase a package for more in-depth coaching.


Lots & Lots of Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABMs)...

There are lots of Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABMs)... and keeping track of all of them can be confusing sometimes! So here’s some help to understand it...

Fertility Awareness simply means being aware that some days in a woman’s cycle are infertile (intercourse on those days will not lead to a pregnancy) and some days in a woman’s cycle are fertile (intercourse on those days may lead to a pregnancy). *Newsflash - A woman is not fertile every day of her cycle.* So then how these days of fertility and infertility are determined varies by each method. When I meet with individuals and couples, I explain that Fertility Awareness-Based Methods fall into 2 categories: Statistical Methods and Observational Methods. I teach a method found in the latter of these 2 categories; it’s called the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM).

Statistical Methods rely on past information to predict future fertility interpretation; this includes the Standard Days Method (SDM) and Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM).

  • Many are familiar with the Rhythm Method and this is where a woman looks at her past cycle/fertility information to predict or calculate her future cycle/fertility information. A standardized and evidence-based version of this is called the Standard Days Method (SDM) and many women use CycleBeads to answer the question at the end of each day, “Am I fertile? Yes or No?” Today’s answer is based on what happened in the past. Cycles must always be between 26 and 32 days; as soon as a cycle varies from this, SDM is no longer recommended. These methods are often call Calendar Methods because they look at the number day of the cycle (or the day on the calendar). Lots and lots of apps use these mathematical calculations to predict when a woman will and will not be fertile... granted, they're better than nothing but I do not recommend apps like that.
  • LAM (or Ecological Breastfeeding) may be used when all 3 of these guidelines are true for a postpartum mama: she is exclusively (or nearly-exclusively) breastfeeding throughout the day and night, her baby is less than 6 months old, and her period (or other bleeding) has not occurred. Again, it uses past information (studies done on other women) to predict her future cycle/fertility information. The answer to the question, “Am I fertile? Yes or No?” is determined by these 3 guidelines. (As an educator, I don’t recommend this method to my clients who want to avoid pregnancy while postpartum and/or breastfeeding.)

Observational Methods rely on daily observations to determine today’s fertility interpretation: this includes Mucus-Only Methods, Temperature-Only Methods, Sympto-Thermal Methods (STM), and Sympto-Hormonal Methods (SHM). When a woman keeps track of the changes in her cervical fluid, and/or the changes in her morning temperature, and/or the changes in her urinary hormones, and/or other fertility signs, then she can answer the question, “Am I fertile? Yes or No?” each day. She doesn’t look at past data to determine future fertility... she observes her fertility each day.

  • Common Mucus-Only Methods include Billings Ovulation Method (BOM - may include religious teachings), Creighton Model System (CrMS - may include religious teachings), and the TwoDay Method. Many postpartum and/or breastfeeding women use this method in addition to a secondary fertility sign (like the position of her cervix).
  • Common Temperature-Only Methods include devices such as Lady-Comp and Baby-Comp.
  • Common Sympto-Thermal Methods (tracking cervical fluid and morning temperature) include methods taught by the Couple-to-Couple League (CCL - may include religious teachings), explained in the books Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler and Garden of Fertility by Katie Singer, taught by the Justisse Method, and used by the myriad of apps that keep track of this information as well as sometimes use the Statistical (or Calendar) information discussed earlier. This is the method I teach... and it can be adjusted to accommodate postpartum/breastfeeding mamas, those who work night shifts, and women who have irregular cycles.
  • Common Sympto-Hormonal Methods include the Marquette Method (MM - may include religious teachings) and devices such as OvuSense and OvaCUE (but not all of these are recommended for those wanting to avoid pregnancy).

Now... there are also the differences between the terms Natural Family Planning (NFP) and the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)... which is covered in this blog post.

There isn't a “best” method. There’s definitely a “best method for you” or “best method for this phase of life,” but not one of these methods is the “best” method of Fertility Awareness. It depends on how it fits in with your life, what intention you’re using it for, what effectiveness rates you want, and lots of other things. Also, using Fertility Awareness to achieve a pregnancy or avoid a pregnancy isn't the best choice for certain women and couples and that’s why there are lots and lots of other options out there.

So... have you used these methods of Fertility Awareness in your life?

When and where and why and how?

Reproductive Health Q&A at "Feel Good Fair!"

This Saturday, October 18, 2014... there's a lot going on! And it's all day... 9am-5pm!

RSVP here!

RSVP here!

Wills & Wellness is hosting a "Feel Good Fair!" At 2pm-3pm I'll be offering a Reproductive Health Q&A and talking about fertility, sex, reproductive health and everything in between with natural and holistic ideas in mind. Topics during the 45 minute Q&A will vary and be based on what participants ask! Some discussions may include:

  • environmentally-friendly menstrual products
  • toxin-free lubes
  • natural suggestions for managing PMS
  • non-hormonal options for birth control
  • talking to tweens and teens about their bodies
  • ways to avoid EDCs (endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA)
  • natural ways to increase fertility and overall reproductive health

The Q&A may also include the basics of cycle charting which can be used to naturally (and effectively!) avoid pregnancy, help you get pregnant, or give you more information about your body (like when to expect your period).

Other topics by various presenters throughout the day will include:

Awesome, right? And it's all FREE!

Let me know if you're planning on coming to the Reproductive Health Q&A at 2pm. And remember to RSVP here... See you this Saturday!

Kindara introduces Wink!

If you're charting your cycle using the Fertility Awareness Method (or Natural Family Planning), then taking your morning temp just got a little easier!

Kindara is "a company devoted to giving women the tools, knowledge, and support to understand how their fertility works, take ownership of their reproductive health, and meet their fertility goals." They already have a clean-looking cycle charting app and now they've developed Wink - a really smart basal thermometer.

KindaraWink Colleen
KindaraWink Colleenwinking

Wink measures your morning temp very quickly, vibrates when it's done instead of beeping, and has some other great features like sending your temp (and the time it was taken) automatically to the cycle charting app on your phone. There's more about Wink and ordering it here.

And finally, to support Kindara's launch of Wink, I appeared in their video. So fun!

KindaraWink ColleenFlowers

Local resources for pregnancy loss & infertility...

As a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner that teaches Fertility Awareness here in Denver, Colorado, I often find myself talking with women about topics outside of just charting to avoid pregnancy or to get pregnant. Because miscarriage is so common (about 1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage), finding great resources for clients to utilize when this happens is really important to me.

Next week I have the opportunity to briefly talk about the benefits of charting while *TTC (trying-to-conceive) at a Pregnancy Loss & Infertility Support Group offered at Amelia's Mammas. It's on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 6pm. Contact Amelia's Mammas to register (donation-based).

Then on Saturday, October 4, 2014 from 2pm-4:30pm I'll be teaching a Natural Conception class at Amelia's Mammas. In this class I always...

  • review how reproduction and conception works (...and I promise it's way better than what your high school health teacher ever taught you!)
  • show how charting can help you better time conception, have a better idea of when to expect a period or a *BFP (big fat positive), and understand what's going on with your overall and reproductive health (...including those mysterious hormones!)
  • talk about natural lifestyles choices as well as alternative therapies that may be useful along the way (...should you really do a handstand after sex?!?)

It looks at the whole person and the whole situation from a holistic perspective. And it's a great place to get more accurate and personal answers to questions than Googling can ever give! Contact me to register ($60).

These are some local resources for pregnancy loss and infertility support in the Denver Metro area:

Online resources include:

What other local resources for pregnancy loss and infertility exist in your area?

*Want to better understand all the acronyms in the fertility and reproductive world (like the TTC and BFP I included here)? Here are all of the ones I've collected in this Say What? blogpost! You're welcome ;)

Christmas in July!

As a Fertility Awareness Educator, there's going to be some things that get me pretty excited that the average person may not totally understand.

Let me start at the very beginning...

Remember at the end of February 2014 when I was interviewed for the documentary Miscontraceptions by Cassie Wilson? (...which is now Cassie Moriarty... congrats Cassie!!!) Well, she's taking the short film around to festivals and I got to see it... she and her crew did an AMAZING job!!! (Think I'm exaggerating? It won the Tracy Awards for Best Writing, Best Director, AND Best Picture at Montana State University.) Not only did I love it, but younger women and older women and dudes liked it and laughed and thought it was really well done (and they're only in college... watch out world!)

When I watched the film, I was enthralled with the Sex Health Educator located in Bozeman, Montana that they also interviewed... Laura Mentch. I stalked ...I mean... I found her information on the internet and sent her an email saying I thought she did a great job and would love to meet her... she emailed back (yippee!) and said she was swinging through Denver in a few weeks. So we made plans and met for tea.

IT. WAS. WONDERFUL.

Laura is smart, passionate, and kind... I loved spending time with her and look forward to seeing her again soon. Because she's phasing out of teaching Fertility Awareness and doing more work around Cystic Fibrosis education, she asked if I would like the FA resources she's collected over the years. Would I like them? I would LOVE them!!!

That's when a lovely package arrived in the mail...

Hmmm... does this box contain "crack"???

Hmmm... does this box contain "crack"???

Yes! For a Fertility Awareness Educator!!!

Yes! For a Fertility Awareness Educator!!!

So I opened it up to find out what goodies Laura has saved throughout the years and sent to me. Lots of books and reading material about all things related to Fertility Awareness...

Merry Christmas to me on a hot day in July!

Merry Christmas to me on a hot day in July!

What was my favorite item? A book entitled The Modern Method of Birth Control which was published in 1935. Yes, it's about the out-dated Rhythm Method, but it was an important step toward the highly effective modern methods of Fertility Awareness. It's like having a piece of Fertility Awareness history!

There's even a nifty plastic calendar-wheel!

There's even a nifty plastic calendar-wheel!

So... thank you, Cassie, for making this documentary that connected me to Laura. And thank you, Laura, for entrusting me with your quasi-museum of FA material and helping to light my torch as a next-generation Fertility Awareness Educator.

If you want to know more about using Fertility Awareness to avoid pregnancy naturally, increase your chances of conceiving, or simply better-understand your body... keep perusing this website and see if a class or one-on-one consult is the next best step for you.

Do you have any "artifacts" of Fertility Awareness?