Let’s talk about the amazing Sympto-Thermal Method (STM). This is a method underneath the umbrella term of ‘Fertility Awareness Based Methods.’ Not all methods suit everyone, so let me tell you more about my method of choice to see if it’s right for you.
My name is Sara Dwyer, and I found STM after being fed up with the side effects of hormonal birth control and being handed a book from a dear friend called Taking Charge of your Fertility by Toni Weschler. It was exactly what I was searching for without realising it, and my passion was ignited. I have always loved being on a journey with people and had spent many years in the outdoor industry, guiding rafts down rivers and teaching outdoor education in schools, but when I spoke to people about what I had read from this book, I was obsessed! How was this information not common knowledge? Why did I have to wait 24 years before learning this stuff? That was it, I signed up for the course so I could learn about this method inside and out.
I qualified though Natural Fertility New Zealand, which is a charitable organisation that has been running since 1974, with a medical advisory board and a supportive community of accredited educators committed to ongoing training. I studied for 1 ½ years to complete my training, which has opened me up to working with people wanting to conceive, wanting to avoid pregnancy, managing and understanding their fertility while breastfeeding (by teaching the Lactational Amenorrhea Method or breastfeeding charting), and during pre and peri menopause (by teaching perimenopausal charting).
When I began my studies, my intention was to have a solid foundation for myself and see where it would lead me, but I just couldn’t keep it to myself, and the joy I get from working with people is priceless. For the people I work with in NZ, I have subsidies I can provide to limited numbers of people each year who are not financially able to pay for instruction.
What is the STM?
The Sympto-Thermal Method is a method of understanding when you’re fertile and when you’re not fertile on any given day using three main fertility signs: basal body temperature (BBT); cervical mucus; sensation; and, optionally, cervical position. Observing and charting these signs helps you gain body literacy and a deeper understanding of our cyclical nature. It is a double-check method, meaning it takes into account two fertility signs to open your fertile window (cervical mucus/sensation and a calculation known as the S-21) and two fertility signs to close your fertile window (cervical mucus/sensation and BBT). This makes it the most effective method of FABM currently available.
This method is very affordable and has no ongoing cost. Once you have instruction and a thermometer, you are set, as it is knowledge you will have forever. It gives you complete informed choice on your decisions. Once you know when you’re fertile and when you’re not, you are free to choose what you do in that time. Cervical mucus is not exclusively categorised. You learn to identify your unique pattern and fertility signs, becoming the expert on your own body.
What does working with me look like and why do it?
I work with people one on one. This is a personal journey, and I love the connection working with people this way and at their speed, as everyone is unique. The support you receive from working with an instructor like myself is priceless, to have someone to ask any questions directly and even out the speedbumps of learning something new. Working with people online allows me to meet some amazing people from all around the world. I provide three consultations spaced out to optimise your learning process to become confident with the method to continue on your own. From there, you have unlimited support via email (or preferred contact) for the year to ask questions or discuss charts, etc. Each consult is 1 to 1.5 hours long, and once you learn the method confidently, it becomes second nature. It becomes this sacred time you dedicate to yourself each day, and if you’re anything like me, you become a bit of a chart nerd! The cost for my complete services and support is $250 NZD, and I provide payment plans, if desired.
Partner participation? Yes please!
Another thing I love about this method is the inclusion and connection it brings to couples, although you do not need to be in a relationship to use this method. Contraception becomes a shared responsibility and opens up some amazing conversations between you and your partner. I encourage both partners in a relationship to join in on the calls, if possible, and the support I witness from this is truly beautiful.
Charting for your health
As you may be aware, ovulation is a fifth vital sign, so even if you are not sexually active or your motivation to chart is for your health, this method can be for you too.
Charting can help you take your health into your own hands, determining ovulation, healthy cycle parameters, and a connection between what you are feeling and the hormones at play, digging deeper into a cyclical nature. This method is a wonderful tool to have, and every chart becomes like your report card.
*As Sara is from glorious NZ, there is some usage of 's' which varies from the USA/Canadian 'z'. This has been intentionally left in during the edit.
More about Sara
A qualified STM educator supporting people through their whole reproductive years with their reproductive choices, naturally. Passionate about providing informed choice and autonomy. When I’m not supporting people through my services, you’ll find me out surfing, mountain biking, camping in the great New Zealand outdoors with my family, curled up reading a good book, or crocheting. You can contact me through firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.instagram.com/fertilelivingnz. I would love to connect and chat all about how amazing our bodies are.