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by Toni Weschler
This book is one of the most comprehensive books written for women about the art and science of Fertility Awareness. The author touches on the many diverse aspects of this subject and presents information in a thorough, clear and easy to read format. Extensive education provides a basis for the empowerment, understanding and an increased ability of a women to take charge of her reproductive health.
The author divides the book into five parts, and supplements with an extensive Appendix. Each part is a wealth of information.
Part One, Breaking Fertile Ground: Towards a New Way of Thinking, covers Fertility Awareness and suggests a myriad of ways a woman, through knowledge, can Take Control of their reproductive health.
Part Two, Rediscovering Your Cycle and Body, includes some general Reproductive Anatomy, The Three Major Fertility Signs (Waking Basal Body Temperature, Cervical Fluid, Cervical Position) along with Secondary Fertility Signs, and concludes with a section about Why Women Don't Always Ovulate or Menstruate.
Part Three, Natural Birth Control, discusses important aspects of Fertility Awareness and how it can be used for effective Birth Control, following the Four Fertility Awareness Method rules for the Fertile Phase, and includes some shortcuts for using the methods described.
Part Four, Pregnancy Achievement, provides insights into Maximizing Chances of Getting Pregnant, using the Fertility Awareness Method, and also outlines some of the specific tests and treatments that might be needed to achieve pregnancy. Included here is a section on additional techniques to enhance pregnancy in addition to Fertility Awareness.
Part Five, Beyond Fertility: Practical Benefits of Charting Your Cycle, touches on overall good Gynecological Health, Appreciating Sexuality, Choosing the Sex of Your Baby, Premenstrual Syndrome, Demystifying Menopause, and Enriching Self-esteem Through Knowledge.
The Appendix is very helpful. The first section has a very easy to use Cross Reference format, for women to Troubleshoot their Cycles using the principles and understanding gained from Fertility Awareness. The author then has a section on Using FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) During Special Circumstances, some of these being Breastfeeding and with the birth control pill. The author also discusses the Contraceptive Effectiveness of FAM. Along with Most Commonly Asked Questions, the author presents what a women can expect with a normal hormonal cycle. The author compares several Natural Family Planning Programs in one section. The Appendix would not be complete without some excellent charts for tracking Fertility/Menstrual Cycles, with clear guidelines for their use. One section, Offensive Terminology in Women's Health, presents some terms used by some providers, that many women consider offensive in the arena of women's health care. The Appendix would not be complete without a list of Fertility Awareness Resources and Recommended Additional Reading.
An excellent series of colored photos are found in the center of the book to graphically explain what the author has described elsewhere in the text.
I recommend this to women of all ages to provide them with a basis from which to understand their hormonal cycles. Women of all ages can benefit from this information. If we were to educate young women in their teens about menstrual cycles, women would develop tools for preventing pregnancy and preparing for fertility, and be more aware of ways to care for their own health. Such a fitting book for women wishing to prevent pregnancy or achieve it.
Pat Sonnenstuhl, ARNP, CNM
Midwifery Correspondent, Obgyn.net
Co-chair: Obgyn.net Book Reviews