Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler

Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health

By Toni Weschler, MPH

This book is a must-read for any woman interested in understanding how her menstrual cycle works.  Once you understand your cycle and how to interpret the different signs your body gives you all month long, you will feel a sense of real confidence in your body.  You can use that information both to help achieve pregnancy or to avoid pregnancy.  And if you find yourself having difficulty getting pregnant, knowing your cycle can give you and your doctor valuable information about where the problem lies, which will shorten the time it takes to diagnose and solve a fertility problem.

Weschler explains and promotes her Fertility Awareness Method in this book.  It is, as the name states, a way to be aware of your fertility status at any time of the month.  Unlike men who are able to fertilize an egg at any time, women are only capable of having an egg fertilized a few days a month at most.  This book explains how to determine your “fertile days,” and then it’s up to you what you decide to do with that information, whether you use it to avoid pregnancy or to try to get pregnant.

What I have been SO incredibly grateful for about this book, more than anything else, is that it offers women an option for birth control that does not involve the use of artificial hormones.  As someone whose hormones are super-sensitive (and who went ballistic on the Pill, which made me swear that I’d never take hormones again!), I have been grateful time and again for the information I learned in this book.  In a day and age when pharmaceutical companies are coming out with new forms of hormonal birth control all the time (and when some of those options are later taken off the market once they were found to be harmful to women), in an age where breast cancer rates are soaring, cervical cancer and uterine cancer rates are rising, well, it’s good to have an option for birth control that is safe, natural, and that doesn’t involve filling your body with hormones or lining the pockets of Big Pharma.

There’s a lot of information in this book, to be sure.  I first read and internalized the 1995 edition.  But in 2006 I bought a new copy of the 10th Anniversary Edition that was revised, updated, and also contained a free trial CD-ROM of software that allows a woman to chart her cycles online.  I personally think that the 2006 version might be a bit confusing for a new learner.  If I were to give this book to someone who knew nothing about the Fertility Awareness Method, I might give her the 1995 version.  The basic information is exactly the same; the method hasn’t changed.  The 2006 chart is fancier, but regardless, I still use the old 1995 chart, and I chart by hand, not on the computer.  I make about 12 copies of the chart at a time, and I keep them in a cheap 19-cent folder in the nightstand next to my bed.  I even use the same basal body thermometer that I bought at Target 8 years ago!  I guess I prefer to keep my charting as low-tech as possible.

However, the 2006 version is more up-to-date in regards to tests and treatments for infertility, as well as alternative approaches to getting pregnant, such as acupuncture and herbal therapies.  It’s also got a chapter on menopause, which the original book didn’t have.  It’s got 15 useful appendices, glossary, bibliography, index, sample charts, color pictures, and more.

This is a GREAT book, and one of the few books that EVERY woman should own.  I think that if women knew that their body gave them so many obvious signs of their fertility every month, many women would be less eager to jump on the band wagon of the Pill.  If you’re a woman of childbearing age, then you need to own a copy of this book.  End of story.

(There is a website offshoot of this book that contains a very active discussion forum, of which I have been a member for 5+ years.  You can find the website at http://www.tcoyf.com/ and the discussion forum at http://forums.ovusoft.com/  You can buy a copy of the 10th Anniversary Edition here.)