I cycle round London and I love it – the views, being in the open air, knowing how long a journey’s going to take, feeling my blood pumping a little bit faster.
You might think cycling is way too risky and that’s fine by me. I’m not going to tell anyone to cycle if they don’t feel comfortable with it.
Nor am I going to claim that cycling works for every journey.
What do you prioritise? What’s the best choice for you and your circumstances?
Maybe you've not had to think about your choice very much. You're happy with the pill or whatever method you're using. Or maybe you don't even need contraception.
If so, great. Job done - you can get on with your life.
But maybe you're not happy. You might be experiencing unpleasant side-effects, or you're worried about risks, or you just want a change. So you ask your health professional for advice.
If you're unlucky, you might find yourself being told to "persevere"1 with a method you find unacceptable. Or you might be told "Don't panic" if you're on the pill which I find incredibly patronising.
If you say you're thinking about using fertility awareness (natural family planning), you might get huffed at or told "that's not a proper method".
You might even get a doctor who tells you "Well don't come back to me if you need an abortion".
Health professionals have their reasons for this kind of response - inadequate training, the massive queue outside their door, clumsy or biased guidance and targets.
Whatever the reason, if someone told me to not to use fertility awareness I'd feel like they were trying to take away my bike and force me to take the bus. I would not be impressed!
Fortunately, there are health professionals who know that choice isn't just about the obvious options and that real evidence based medicine2 is about patient-centred care.
They know that fertility awareness s plenty of great health professionals out there. They know that bossing you about doesn't help, it just makes it more likely that you'll stop telling them the truth about your experiences, or else give up on contraception completely.can be a highly effective option, so long as you know what you're doing and can handle your fertile time.
They might even give you a copy of this fpa leaflet.
Fertility awareness is based on taking a few moments each day to check your waking temperature and cervical fluid. Neither of which are massive deals – see my blogs on temperature and cervical fluid.
If you decide that fertility awareness is for you, you can learn on your own or you can go for the recommended option and get specialist support from someone like me to make sure it works as well as possible.
The main thing is that this isn’t about what your doctor, or me, or your friends or anyone else says.
Your body, your choice.
- My contraception tool from Brook - quiz to help you choose the contraception that is right for you.
- Sweetening the pill - book about the way we are sold the pill and other hormonal methods.
- Getting specialist support from me and from the NHS