Updated: Apr 21, 2019
In my Cycle & Sexual Well-Being practice, I see a lot of people who are surprised they cannot get pregnant right away when they stop their birth control method. Others are surprised that they can get pregnant way earlier than they had expected it to happen. What both groups have in common, is that there is very little knowledge about the actual physiology and endocrinology of the fertile phenotypical female body.
This blog highlights why it is beneficial to get to know both your body and cycle before pregnancy.
Hormonal birth control and natural hormones & cycle
Most people I see are or have been on some form of hormonal contraception, and usually from an early age on. If we take into consideration it takes a few years for a body to get a hang of cycling, it is also easy to understand that this process of getting into balance is often times interrupted too early with hormonal birth control.
In many cases, the body picks up where it left off after quitting hormonal contraception and it will try to find a balance. If you had a perfectly regular cycle, the body will try to aim for that, if you had PCOS symptoms before starting the pill, the body will most likely go back to that, etc.
The problem with getting off of hormonal birth control with the aim of getting pregnant soon after, is the following: many people have not really experienced the ebbing and flowing of their own natural hormones and cycles. The hormones released during pregnancy, are quite something else. This can be a very overwhelming experience if one has not experienced their own natural hormone ebbs and flows for 10-15 years.
Benefits of getting to know your body and cycle before getting pregnant
You know what your menstrual cycles look like When you learn what your own menstrual cycle pattern is, you can estimate easier whether your cycle is regular. If you also track you menstrual cycle, you can learn when your fertile window is and when is the best time to try to to conceive. Detecting issues When you know your body, you’ll also recognize it easier when something is off. If you know your body and cycles and what their rhythms are, it is easier for you to document when something is off (f.e. yeast infections can be more easily detected, irregular cycles, anovulatory cycles) Knowledge is power If getting pregnant doesn’t come that easy for you, and you have tracked your cycles according to the Fertility Awareness Method (using basal body temperature, cervical mucus and cervical position as primary fertility signs), you can go to your care provider with actual data from your cycle. Usually what happens, is that when you have issues getting pregnant, doctors will turn to this method to see whether you ovulate. If you have done the work already, the process might go smoother. Hormones aren’t foreign When naturally moving through our menstrual cycles, we go through various phases of hormones: the follicular phase where estrogen is highest, then ovulation, and the luteal phase where progesterone is highest. During each phase, these flows of hormones are connected to how we feel emotionally, and in our energy levels. When we are used to moving through these ebbs and flows, it is easier to surrender to the ebbs and flows of pregnancy and birth. All the juices Our bodies do many amazing things. And all of these things require juice! Our cervical mucus changes, our blood flows each month. When we are used to connecting with these fluids of our bodies, and befriend them instead of finding them gross or disgusting, it is again easier to surrender to the fluids during pregnancy and birth. We tend to forget that all the cycles in our lives are connected. But our relationship to our body (and how conscious it is) in one cycle of life, influences how we step into another.
This blog appeared earlier on www.motherheart.org -- I am on their team of sisters, supporting mothers throughout all episodes of motherhood.