We are excited to introduce you to Kimberly Oster, President of Naturally For Her. Here Kimberly tells the story that led her to found this company focused on natural fertility and sexual health. She is also available all week to answer questions on natural, hormone-free birth control methods, trying to get pregnant naturally, and tracking fertility.

Discovering Natural Fertility Awareness by Kimberly Oster
Like most women of my generation, the moment I became sexually active my physician recommended ‘the pill’ as the most effective means of birth control. As he scribbled out my first prescription for Tri-Levlen (the most popular formula at the time) there was no discussion as to whether or not the method would be appropriate for my body’s chemistry or medical history, nor mention of myriad side-effects that I might experience. It was simply approached as a given that I, like everyone else, should take the pill if I didn’t want to get pregnant and all would be well. I can recall as if it was yesterday, how overjoyed I was to join ranks with millions of other chemically liberated women to enjoy the promise of freedom from unwanted pregnancy. All most definitely would be well. I couldn’t get to the pharmacy quick enough.

As it always does, time revealed all…and all was not necessarily well. After several years of bouncing from one “new and advanced” formula to another, from pills to hormone-laden vaginal rings, the initial months would be fine, but then the side-effects became progressively and increasingly debilitating. There were days, especially during my period, that simply getting out of bed and driving to work was nearly an impossible feat, the pain was so punishing. My doctor attributed this to my age, not the pill. In response, I exercised more and improved my diet. The frequent bouts of depression and razor sharp mood swings were another matter – I felt alienated from my body and out of control. This side-effect was attributed to “stress” prompting me to schedule more yoga classes, take up meditation and spend many a night soaking in my lavender infused tub. Never once did any physician ever suggest that hormone-based birth control could be source of my suffering. I find this phenomenon of silence rather telling, considering I live in Los Angeles and have seen some of the most respected OB/GYN’s in the country. This seemingly immutable meme – “Better Living through Chemistry.”

In addition to the aforementioned side-effects, when I began experiencing full-blown anxiety attacks, recurring respiratory infections, severe legs pains, and flagging libido the signs were too obvious and too frightening to ignore. Hopeful trust was no longer an option. I believe, in the nick of time, I finally took responsibility for my body and did the research, which likely saved my life. My husband (my angel) jumped in to do his research too and discovered an advanced tool that 99.3% accurately and efficiently supports Natural Fertility Awareness/ NPF – The Lady-Comp. Having adopted this natural and easy approach to family planning three years ago, I have never in my adult life felt healthier, safer or more attuned to my body. I have friends who didn’t act as quickly and suffered strokes and liver tumors from birth control pills. The risks and repercussions are much more common than we are led to believe, and we all wish that someone would have told us that a reliable, safe and grounding alternative existed.

I feel immense gratitude for having made a paradigm shift to which so few American women are exposed. In gratitude, we have launched the ‘beta’ website of Naturally for Her, the U.S.-based Distributor for the Lady-Comp and other high-quality natural, organic and hormone-free fertility and sexual health products. In November we will launch our larger more robust offering.

Today, more than anything, I am curious to learn more about you – your knowledge of, and experiences with, Natural Family Planning. What path and education led you to adopt NFP? What is your philosophy around natural sexual health? Do you have concerns about the safety of mainstream sexual health and feminine hygiene products? How can we serve you?

Kimberly Oster
President, Naturally For Her

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What path and education led you to adopt NFP?

I learned about fertility awareness and fertility tracking methods concurrent with my science learning in highschool. I broadened it in college with biology and chemistry focus.

I adopted the use of NFP to track my cycles for simple hygiene and knowledge purposes (I was sexually inactive until marriage). I think every woman should have basic knowledge about her body and how it works so that she can be comfortable in her own body and also so that she can identify potential problems and work with her health care provider in early intervention.

Early intervention is a huge benefit of using FAM/NFP. For example, my coworker was placed on birth control pills at age 15 after complaining about abdominal pain (no joke!). She continued to use BCPs for years, until she met me and we talked about other options. She stopped taking the hormonal replacement and learned that she had endometriosis. Doctors believe it is too late to do anything and she is, as far as her doctors can tell her, infertile with a pending hysterectomy. She had years to change this, but remained clueless to what was ravaging her body.
Happy to hear you are getting the word out about NFP. Unfortunately, many people still confuse it with the oh so unreliable "Rhythm Method," so they don't give NFP a chance. I'm so glad that these two methods *are* entirely different.

I personally never felt comfortable with putting chemical treatments in my body to regulate fertility. So often, we are told that something seems medically safe, but when further research is done, we realize we've been had. People often don't separate the differences between research produced by pharmaceutically-driven companies (which have no interest in seeing their multi-billion dollar empire crash) and peer reviewed, independent, scientific research (which commonly asks more nuanced questions).

I use the Creighton Method, and I'm really thankful because my husband and I have never gotten pregnant on it (even though I ovulate at different times each cycle). We're now trying to conceive, and I'm hoping that we'll conceive much quicker because we're using this ovulation focused method to peg times of fertility/infertility.
There was recently a rather rare and illuminating study on FABM's conducted by Dr. Stephen Pallone at the University of Iowa to determine participant satisfaction and efficacy of various natural methods including the Billings Ovulation Method, the Creighton Model, and the Symptothermal Method.

The overview and results can be found here: http://www.jabfm.org/cgi/content/full/22/2/147

Participant outcomes were very encouraging, and the social effects cited, specifically, are quite interesting as this study was purely academic, not faith-based research.

I believe each method within the FABM model has certain merits, and ultimately each method brings us closer to and more attuned with our bodies which is a core benefit. Within the range of methods, be it CrM, or technologically advanced BBT (our preference) with Lady-Comp a natural and healthy family planning possibility exists for all women.

I am curious to know how you learned about the Creighton Method. Did your physician or another health care provider introduce you to the method?
I use the BBT and cervical mucus checks as well as cervical height. I've found so far that it's fairly straightforward but I also know I've only been doing it for a few months and that there is a lot more to learn about myself. One question I do have if you don't mind, is this: I've been ovulating pretty late in my cycle, around day 20, but then having my period about a week later. Before having kids I had really long cycles, like 6 or 7 week cycles. But since going on a really long stretch without them (June 06, to May 09), this has been "normal" for me. Are my hormones just adjusting still? Or does this shortened luteal phase mean I'll have trouble getting pregnant again even though I had no troubles before?
Hello Emily,

While we are not able to provide medical advice as concerns should be discussed with one's physician, there are a variety of steps you could take that could enhance fertility naturally. Many women report success in extending the luteal phase by taking herbs and supplements like Vitex or Chasteberry which stimulate the release of the luteinizing hormone. Red Raspberry Leaf supplement is also a source for reproductive support. For a combination formula, you might consider FertilAid or Fertility Blend, two very popular products developed by fertility specialists. B6 supplements will also balance progesterone and estrogen levels. I would suggest scheduling an evaluation with your OBGYN in conjunction with exploring these natural solutions.
I discovered the fertility awareness method when trying to conceive my first baby. I got married at age 34 and knew I didn't want to muck with my reproductive system by taking hormonal birth control, so we went with the barrier method for several months. Then we decided to try. After 6 months of not conceiving by following traditional advice that says to have sex on days 12, 14, and 16 of your cycle, I began to research and learned how to track my cycles. I discovered I ovulated late, and once we adjusted the timing of our attempts, we got pregnant the 2nd month of using fertility awareness. :) My four-month-old is sleeping on the bed beside me as I type. I recommend this method to all women I know who are planning to get married--for both birth control AND pregnancy achievement.
I discovered fertility awareness method and took a course offered at our local women's health center just two months before I had my last period. While you may be thinking menopause? I was thrilled to know what my body was doing! It gave me great comfort to be able to track my big change. I wish I had known sooner but the pill never worked for me so I always used barrier methods. I am so glad I did not take the pill very long as I now believe that they cause many problems. Not surprising that there are no studies - that I know of. In my work as a wellness consultant and childbirth advocate I get many calls from your women with period problems of all kinds. They are looking for a natural approach to healing and don't want what the medical community is offering. I do not recommend hormonal birth control. I'm curious to learn how the Lady-comp compares to the other methods. It seems like it could be easier but it bases everything on temperature alone and my research indicates that it is best to use more than one sign to read your body. I will look forward to hearing more. Thanks so much!
Hello JoAnne,
It is encouraging to hear about the program offered by your local women's health center. Since you were not a regular pill user, with or without the additional training, you are actually far more in touch and knowledgeable about the impending "shift" than many women who spend decades hormonally manipulated and suppressed. A few months ago while at a dinner I took an informal survey with a small group women -- friends, family members and party guests. Most were mothers, a few were grandmothers, half of them were health care professionals. My question (paraphrased) was "When you were trying to conceive, or at any other point in your life, did you/do you track ovulation?" They all responded with a resounding "no." All of them claimed that this was because they had used hormone-based birth control for most of their (fertile) adult lives. Each of them (including my mother) claimed that getting pregnant was a matter of luck and accidental timing. Although I was a bit stunned by their responses, at one time I would have answered the same. Until I started NFP with the Lady-Comp, I too was out of touch with this aspect of my reproductive health.
The BBT method with the Lady-Comp is superior to the traditional method of taking one's temp and charting. With compliance, the Lady-Comp offers 99.3% accuracy/efficacy, without the manual charts and calculations. The main difference is that the Lady-Comp is a computer programmed with over 700,000 of tens of thousands of women (including those with more complex cycles), and integrates the individual user data to provide not only that day's reading, but to calculate and predict future cycles and temperature probability. The reading and "fertile" indication also considers the lifespan of sperm, not only the fertile window, therefore, it offers the user a reliable view of the days in which a barrier method should be used. All user data is stored for 180 days and available for review by the woman and her physician in the event of cycle anomalies. Lady-Comp was developed in Germany specifically as a tool for supporting natural contraception and to overcome the deficiencies and inefficiencies of the traditional BBT method. In terms of other observation based types of FABMs (Symptothermal and cervical secretion) I would say they have tremendous value for women trying to conceive, and could be used in conjunction with the Lady-Comp for identifying the fertile window of opportunity. However, if you are focused on avoiding pregnancy, with the Lady-Comp those methods are largely unnecessary -- it does the key work for you.

For your clients concerned with menstrual issues, do any with PCOS? If so, I would love to know your thoughts on naturally treating and managing that disorder.
WOW this is so interesting and helpful !!!! thanks for the link to the study !!! going to pass this along to all my clients ... lori



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