It was pure chance that led me to discover Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It had to be. Nobody talks about this stuff.
I’d been on the pill a year when I happened to read Elizabeth Wirth’s review of Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility in a favorite (sadly defunct) publication. I was miserable on the pill–I was hormonal, wacky and ironically had morning sickness all the time. My husband and I were not ready for kids. I’d discussed other birth control options with my doctor, but nothing sounded palatable.
I didn’t want to get pregnant, and I didn’t want to mess with my body in the ways that available birth control required. Everybody, so it seemed, went on the pill. But the pill made me sick. I felt stuck.
So when I stumbled across the review I immediately bought the book. I felt like I’d joined the club–somehow being the owner and occupant of a woman’s body for twentysomething years hadn’t provided me with the clear knowledge of how my body worked. Instead I found it within this little-known book I had chanced to come across, a book that also answered my birth control conundrum.
But my feelings of gratitude and relief shortly gave way to regret that I hadn’t found this goldmine sooner. I felt cheated–in our sex-saturated culture, where no topic is taboo, how had I lived my whole life without knowing this essential information about my body?
Every woman needs this information–but nobody talks about it. We don’t discuss these intimate issues with our friends, and most of us don’t get this in-depth information from our doctors. TCOYF stands in this void.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
1. How your body works
Women know all about feminine hygiene and menstruation, but Weschler passionately believes women need to understand their bodies, because “sexuality, fertility, childbirth, and menopause are all facets of being female.”
Weschler’s method treats a woman’s body as healthy–it views her fertility as a natural thing and not as a problem needing treatment. TCOYF teaches you to understand how your body works so you can work with it, instead of fighting your own natural fertility.
Weschler believes that “the self-knowledge available from Fertility Awareness is a valuable resource for all kinds of personal decision-making. Perhaps most important, it encourages women to value and trust knowledge provided by their own bodies.”
2. Effective, natural birth control
Once you understand how your body works, you can use that information to prevent pregnancy. A woman is only fertile–and therefore only able to conceive a child–several days per month, and Weschler teaches you to track your fertility by charting. She teaches two variations of natural birth control: Natural Family Planning (NFP), in which a couple abstains during the window where conception is possible, and the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), in which users may choose to use a barrier method during the fertile phase.
The full method includes charting waking temperature, changes in cervical fluid, and cervical position. (Checking cervical position isn’t necessary, but Weschler recommends it as a cross-check.) TCOYF contains charting templates and a detailed explanation of the method. Weschler’s website is also an excellent resource.
3. How to maximize the odds for pregnancy achievement
Many couples who are not experiencing true infertility have a difficult time conceiving, but Weschler believes that many women are misled to believe they’re infertile when in fact their timing is off. (She doesn’t have much faith in ovulation predictor kits.) TCOYF teaches you to chart your fertility signs (as explained above) so that you can time things right in order to optimize your chance of conception.
A woman’s fertility charts contain loads of valuable information if she does decide to seek medical help for infertility. She will have a better idea of what the specific problem is. (Is she even ovulating? Is she conceiving–and quickly miscarrying? Is male infertility the issue?) She can go to her doctor armed with personalized information about her body, which can speed treatment and help her avoid unnecessary tests and procedures.
I’ve recommended this book to numerous friends who are attempting to conceive, and several credit Weschler for their successful pregnancies. But even if you don’t immediately get pregnant, knowing what’s going on with your body can give you a real sense of control and lighten the emotional burden.
4. Tools for dealing with practical matters beyond fertility
There is more to a woman’s gynecological health than fertility, and Weschler details how to keep your body healthy. She discusses what issues require medical attention–and which ones probably don’t.
I appreciated the section on premenstrual syndrome–PMS can make a woman feel out of control, but understanding what’s going on with your body can prepare you to cope. I’m willing to bet countless other women feel the same way about her chapter on menopause.
Knowledge is power
Every woman should possess this knowledge about her body, but since nobody wants to talk about it, I highly recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health for all adult women.
I’d like to feature more books that most women have never heard of…but that all women should read! Post your recommendation to comments or email me at modern mrs darcy at gmail dot com. Thanks!