Britt's Birth Control Journey & Recommendation

Britt gives an overview of her birth control journey and recommendations for a Natural Family Planning app.

Birth control can be a tricky topic for a lot of reasons. Oftentimes, our faith, personal beliefs, and the way we grew up all play a huge role in deciding if, and what, type of birth control makes the most sense for us.

It’s even more complicated when you factor in the newness of sexual intimacy and all that comes with it. 

If that’s you, take a deep breath! You’re totally not alone. 

**While I am a registered nurse, this is not medical advice. I just wanted to share my personal experience with birth control and what we have loved vs not loved over the years.**

So, if you’ll allow me to be vulnerable, I’d love to share our story with you.

Birth Control When We First Got Married

When we first got married, we decided that taking the birth control pill (a very low dose of estrogen only) made the most sense for us. It seemed like that’s just what everyone does, and so that’s the decision we made together as a couple. 

I started taking the pill about 3-4 months before the wedding.

After two full years on the pill, I started digging more into my health and realized I had a lot of really negative side effects (lots of GI issues, constant nausea, major mood swings, and just feeling “not myself”). I was halfway through nursing school at the time, so just accepted this was normal and moved on.

Getting Off the Pill

A few years later, I decided I wanted to get off the pill (which felt scary because we didn’t feel God was calling us to start a family just yet), so I searched and searched for options that wouldn’t come with yucky side effects. 

We found Natural Cycles and decided this made the most sense for us moving forward. We prayed about it, and decided to jump into natural family planning through Natural Cycles. 

If you’re unfamiliar, Natural Cycles is a form of what is called “Natural Family Planning,” or “NFP” that uses your basal body temperature to track your fertility. 

Your basal body temperature is your temperature when you're fully at rest. - Mayo Clinic

Using Natural Family Planning & Natural Cycles

Here’s how it works… (quick biology lesson, but bare with me, I promise you’ll find it interesting!) 

There are four phases in a woman’s monthly cycle: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal. 

The day you get your period (aka your menstrual phase), your body temperature drops significantly. This is because of the hormone shift that happens in your body to start the process of shedding your uterine lining and getting rid of the egg that was not fertilized. 

So for some of you, a temp drop might be the first sign that your period is coming that day! Super interesting right? 

Then later in your cycle, your basal body temperature will spike once again when you’re ovulating (aka the ovulatory phase) because of… you guessed it, your hormones! God beautifully designed our bodies to function this way. 

If the egg is fertilized, your temperature will stay elevated throughout pregnancy, and if not, your temperature will drop again, your menstrual phase and a new cycle will begin. Here’s some more info if you want to learn more.

Fertility Signs Throughout Your Cycle

If you are trying (or not trying) for a baby, there are also many fertility signs we can look out for, such as: 

  • changes in cervical mucus
  • mood changes
  • cervical positional changes
  • positive LH tests, and so on. 

In addition to changes to basal body temperature, these fertility signs help us know when we are most fertile vs when we aren’t. 

How Natural Cycles Works

Natural Cycles is an app that tracks your basal body temperature and fertility signs each day, logs them, and then uses your historical information to tell you if you can or can’t get pregnant that day. 

This is reflected in either a “red day” or a “green day”:

  • Green days look like the image below and will say “not fertile.” On these days, the app is saying you can have intercourse without any other forms of birth control (like a condom) without the risk of pregnancy.
  • Red days will say “low/medium/high/peak fertility.” On these days, the app is saying you should use other forms of birth control (again, like a condom) if you do not want to get pregnant. 
Screenshot of the Natural Cycles app - from the Natural Cycles website.

The more you use the app (and the more consistent you are), the more accurate and reliable the data. Natural Cycles says the app is 93% effective with regular use and 98% effective with perfect use.

Let’s reiterate quick: When I got off the pill, I switched to a non-hormonal form of birth control known as “Natural Family Planning.” The app I used (and still use!) is called “Natural Cycles.” This app tracks your basal body temperature each day and tells you if you can or cannot get pregnant that day of your cycle.

Understanding how our bodies work is not only super empowering, but also a huge part of helping us be an active participant in our fertility.

Why I Like Natural Cycles & NFP

I have found Natural Cycles and NFP to be a great fit for me personally for a few reasons: 

  1. It helped me get off hormonal birth control that was causing negative side effects
  2. It helped me learn more about my body and my cycle
  3. It helped my cycle become more predictable and explained why I was feeling how I was feeling
  4. It’s also help for all stages of your fertility journey (preventing pregnancy, planning pregnancy, and pregnancy)
  5. It’s easy to use and Kyler can be apart of the process with partner mode (he likes logging in to see if it’s a red day or a green day LOL)

There are other NFP apps out there and I certainly have not tried them all. Natural Cycles is FDA approved and has been a great option for us, so that’s what I’ve stuck with.

If you’d like to get started on Natural Cycles, here is a link for 20% off and a free thermometer. I get a small kickback from Natural Cycles if you use the link but I would absolutely recommend the app even if you don’t use my link.

Quick Disclaimer on Hormonal Birth Control

Before we wrap up, I want to make something super clear, hormonal forms of birth control are not the enemy. 

Sometimes women are placed on hormonal birth control for medical reasons, so if that’s you, do not feel bad about it! That’s between you, your spouse, and your doctor. 

However, I do want to (lovingly) mention that a lot of times birth control is used as a bandaid to fix painful periods, irregular cycles, and other undesirable symptoms like ovarian cysts. While hormonal birth control might be beneficial for providing some relief, it can do more harm than good if you don’t treat the underlying cause first. 

A temporary fix (like artificial hormones), will only mask symptoms and won’t solve the underlying problem (ie like endometriosis, PCOS, or other hormonal imbalances). This was unfortunately the case for me, which is why I feel so passionate about educating women on how to balance their hormones in a natural way and feel more in control over their periods and fertility.

Questions to Discuss with Your Partner

Here are a few questions you and your future (or current) spouse should talk about before choosing what makes sense for your family:

  • What are our beliefs around birth control (what is in bounds vs out of bounds)?
  • Are we on the same page about those beliefs?
  • What do we believe the Bible teaches around the topic of birth control?
  • Have I done research around the types of birth control (and talked to my doctor) about my options?
  • Are there forms of birth control that don’t make sense for my lifestyle? (ie schedule considerations, hormonal conditions, health & medical history)
  • How long does this form of birth control last?
  • What are the side effects of this type of birth control?
  • Do we have a backup plan if this type of both control isn’t tolerated well?
  • What is the cost/what does my insurance cover?
  • How will we both be active participants in our fertility?
  • What is our estimated timeline for when we would like to start a family?
  • Are we in full agreement about our choice of birth control?
For more on why expectation questions are so important, be sure to check out our online premarital course.

While there are many forms of both control out there, ultimately what matters the most are these two things: You feel you’re aligned with God’s design for family (what the Bible says), and you are aligned with each other.

Additional Resources

If you want to learn more about balancing your hormones naturally, here are a few resources that have really helped me in my hormone healing journey.

Natural Cycles - as mentioned above, Natural Cycles was a game changer for us. It’s also FSA/HSA approved, and compatible with an oura ring and apple watch (if you aren’t a fan of measuring your temp manually every day) Here is a link with 20% off and a free thermometer if you feel this could be a good option for you.

​​Dr. Jolene Brighten - Dr. Brighten is a naturopathic endocrinologist who really helps you understand female hormones, and provides education on birth control from a hormonal perspective.

So Fresh N So Green - Lauren, a nutritional and hormone health coach whose resources will help you learn what your body needs nutritionally during each phase of your cycle. She is a wealth of knowledge and was a game changer for me!

The Defined Dish - I absolutely love Alex’s cookbooks for clean eating. I honestly have always been a “I’ll just wing it” when it comes to recipes and cooking, but I have all her cookbooks and have really loved how simple and healthy they are. Eating clean (and intentionally!) for your hormones is one of the best things you can do for your body.

Meals She Eats - You may have heard of her story on Tiktok or Instagram but after Rachel was diagnosed with PCOS, her husband made it his mission to find recipes to help support her hormones and fertility. She has tons of hormone healthy recipes online, as well as a cookbook that will help you learn how to eat for your cycle.

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