When people learn Fertility Awareness, they often become very enthusiastic about it and want to share their knowledge with others. Your experience as someone who uses a Fertility Awareness-Based Method (FABM), but has not been trained to teach it, definitely has value! We suggest below some ways you can share your experiences with others in a responsible manner, to counter misconceptions about what FABMs are, direct people to resources for further learning, and to help others gain the confidence they may need to explore them.
You will notice these suggestions do not include actually teaching others to practice FABMs. There is a misconception that because FABMs can be easy to practice, they are also easy to teach. Effective practice of an FABM, especially for pregnancy prevention, depends upon high quality, standardized instruction, provided by professionals who have been taught and accredited by a certifying body of their peers. Certified Fertility Awareness Educators (FAEs) typically spend about two (2) years training with experienced instructors. Their training enables them to provide the depth and breadth of services necessary to meet the needs of a diverse population in a client-centered, holistic manner. Professional standards benefit not only the people we serve, but also increases the legitimacy and acceptance of FABMs. We encourage those who are interested in actually teaching Fertility Awareness to please visit the sections on becoming a certified FAE and what it means to be certified by AFAP.
There are many ways you can share the beauty of Fertility Awareness responsibly with your friends and family. Here are some suggestions:
- Give books about Fertility Awareness as gifts. Ask your local bookstore and/or library to carry such books.
- Use social media. Share the postings of FAEs. Share aspects of your personal experience to “normalize” Fertility Awareness.
- Help the children in your life grow up with accurate, empowering, and positive information about their bodies.
- Help a girl embrace and celebrate her menarche and learn the importance of having a healthy menstrual cycle.
- Tell your health care professionals, especially your ob/gyn/midwife/naturopath, that you are practicing a FABM. They may be discouraging and/or have misconceptions about it. Share your charts. Bring them articles. Direct them to resources for learning more (such as AFAP!).
- If an FAE lives in your area, invite that person to give a talk or workshop at your school, community center, food co-op, family planning clinic, women’s center, etc.
- Organize a group workshop to be taught by an FAE. Some of us will travel to teach, and most of us can teach via video chat.
- Talk to your friends, family, even strangers about your experience with Fertility Awareness. Talk about it at parties. (Seriously. People love talking about this stuff.) Many people in your life have never heard of Fertility Awareness. Many people are going to think you’re talking about the Rhythm Method so be prepared to educate them.
- Join AFAP as an Ally! Through your membership fee and committee work, you’ll be contributing to the future of Fertility Awareness in a concrete way. And if you’re thinking about pursuing Fertility Awareness in a more professional way, it’s a great way to meet both leaders in the field as well as those who have studied with them.
If you are a healthcare professional who appreciates the value of Fertility Awareness, there are a number of ways to integrate it into your practice.
You may choose to form a relationship with a Fertility Awareness Educator (FAE), who can come to your practice periodically or work with your patients virtually. FAEs can also offer in-services to your staff. You can also refer your patients to our website, where they can find a listing of qualified instructors.
Alternatively, you may choose to instruct your patients yourself. A number of teacher training programs are available, including a few that are oriented toward health care professionals. If you would like to amplify the knowledge you currently have, we encourage you to investigate a comprehensive teacher training, and/or to contact one of our trainer/mentors for individualized instruction.
However you choose to integrate Fertility Awareness into your practice, we encourage you to join AFAP as an Ally member. You’ll have the opportunity to meet professionals in the field and to participate in online conversations as well as events for continuing professional development. We too would benefit from your perspective as a healthcare professional!
If you are someone who appreciates the value of Fertility Awareness, and wants to teach others how to use a Fertility Awareness-Based Method (FABM), we urge you to undertake professional training. It is a serious responsibility setting out to help others effectively and successfully use an FABM.
Formal training and certification widens your range of practitioner skills, allows for collegial support and feedback, and helps you become a professional. There are a number of teacher training and certification programs available at this time, in English as well as in other languages. Some programs focus on only the fundamentals of Fertility Awareness education. Others delve into more comprehensive approaches to sexual and reproductive health care, from either a mainstream medical approach or a naturopathic or functional medicine approach. Some are secular (non-religious) while others are framed within a religious context (and those differences may not be obvious from a website). Practical considerations include cost, length of training, in person vs. online instruction, and the language(s) in which the training is offered. We suggest that you thoroughly investigate various training programs (including speaking with graduates) to discover which might best suit your needs.
For those who have some Fertility Awareness educator skills or experience but would like to deepen their current knowledge and hone their skills, individualized instruction with a trainer/mentor may be a more appropriate option. This training can lead to independent certification by AFAP.