Ecstatic Ovulation Awareness
I was asked to write a “spunky & sassy article about ovulation” for a French student midwifery journal. Here’s what I delivered:
Ecstatic Ovulation Awareness
I was 20 years old when I first experienced Ecstatic Ovulation Awareness. For over a month I took daily notes of the movement and softness of my cervix and the properties of my cervical secretions. Every morning I took my temperature and entered the data on a line graph I drew in my boyfriend’s gridded notebook. He affectionately called me his “little scientist” and marveled that none of his other lovers had ever had the incredibly practical yet radical skill of knowing when they were fertile.
Late one night, after a month of daily tracking, I felt an immense rush of energy while riding my bike down a tree-lined avenue with my boyfriend and some friends.
The moon was full.
“I’m OVULATING!!!” I shouted.
I felt electric and alive.
I felt pleasure and power.
I pumped the pedals of my bike harder and sped ahead of the group singing,
“WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!! I’M OVULATING WITH THE FULL MOOOOOOOON!!”
I reached the end of the road and hopped off my bike to wait for the others. With my heart pumping furiously I took deep belly breaths. I threw my head back to gaze adoringly at the full moon shining through the leaves of trees over my head. I felt my muscles pulsing. I savored the moment of reverence for my generative force. It was a spiritual experience—the kind that melts the ego away into expansive feelings of unity and resonance with all of Creation. I felt equal and connected to the moon, the trees and all growing things.
My journal entry from the following morning reads,
“The celestial body of the moon is in synergy and support of my human one. We are full of light & power.”
When I took my temperature that morning it had indeed spiked: A scientific datum to confirm my near-religious experience.
There is immense power in the integrity of my fertility whether or not I desire to create a baby. Being aware of the nuanced phases of my cycle not only helps me avoid or achieve the conception of human life in my womb, it connects me to the rhythmic nature of divine creative energy and the opportunity to thrive in harmony with it.
I experience and respect my cycle as a micro of the macrocosm of all Creation.
Scientific inquiry has informed us that biochemical shifts that occur in a woman’s body during her fertile window have the power to amplify her human potential. Women have been found to perform better academically, athletically, and creatively during their fertile phase. The ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle increases our innate creative power, magnetism, and ability to self actualize through manifestation. A ripe sexual and fertile apex comes to fruition during this phase of our cycle. We are in a prime state to attract and merge with whatever makes us feel most alive. Our potential for arousal is not limited to physical sexual experiences. Our potential to conceive is not limited to human children. The hormonal high of ovulation facilitates conception, gestation, and birth of relationships, ideas, artistic endeavors, and personal power.
When I first learned about using Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) as contraception I was not happy.
I was furious.
Why hadn’t somebody told me about this when I was twelve?!
I was angry that I had spent six full years ovulating in ignorance. I had been completely oblivious to my fertility signals of changing cervical fluids, cervical position, and waking temperature. I had treated all the days of my cycle except the ones where I was bleeding equally, without taking advantage of the vital forces of magnetism and manifestation available to me during the height of my fertility.
I first learned about FAM through my independent study at the age of 18. I was a highly educated, angsty political activist. My sex education was far superior to most kids my age in the United States. My mother was easy to talk to on the topic, and had taken me to classes at Planned Parenthood. Throughout my teens I had volunteered at Planned Parenthood as a peer educator, peer mediator and campus organizer. I had co-taught sex-ed classes that covered the menstrual cycle, sexually transmitted infections, and—I thought—all the “best” options for methods of contraception. Yet somehow between my mother, Planned Parenthood, my friends and my community, nobody had told me about how fucking amazing ovulation is, or how to tell when it was happening.
After my teenage angst simmered down, it gave way to joy and deeper inquiry. I dove into exploration of both the spiritual and physical phenomenon of my fertility. I fantasized there would be an ovulation awareness revolution. My previous experiences as a political protester and activist organizer inspired lively daydreams of millions of women aware of and empowered by their cycles of fertility. I imagined pro-ovulation parades, rallies, and speeches.
“Merely external emancipation has made of the modern woman an artificial being. Now, woman is confronted with the necessity of emancipating herself from emancipation, if she really desires to be free.”
The cultural educational norm in the United States is complete ignorance of the value and physiology of women’s fertility. The ignorance and pathologizing of our fertility is a direct result of systematic oppression. The dominant paradigm of patriarchy and consumerism are inherently damaging to our autonomy and self awareness. Perpetuating ignorance, fear, and suppression of women’s fertility is highly profitable to those in power. The idea that women are incapable of understanding and responsibly managing our fertility is pervasive. Rather than integrating women and their biology, the arbiters of mainstream culture prefer to devalue, silence, and compartmentalize nature. Rather than learning to live in synergy with the feminine cycles of transformation that are inherent to the growth of all living things, the dominant paradigm worships control and stasis.
The ability to choose when, how, and with whom we reproduce is a fundamental human right. Access to contraception is imperative to a healthy society, and the right to choose one’s contraceptive method is just as important as access. I am not calling for an end to all ovulation-suppressing, hormonal birth control.I am calling for universal respect for our human right to informed consent through understanding the risks & benefits of a myriad of choices.
The Guttmacher Institute estimates 63 percent of potentially fertile aged women in the United States are on synthetic hormonal birth control. These women are not ovulating by choice, yet the vast majority of individuals who suppress their ovulation with synthetic hormones were never educated about the benefits or basic functional physiology of their fertility. Their uninformed choice to take birth control creates massive financial gain for the pharmaceutical industry, and commonly create severe side effects such as mood swings, blood clots, and weight gain. In this context, suppressing our ovulation is a path to subjugation, not liberation.
Without a foundational understanding of the pleasure and power within our cycle of fertility, we cannot intelligently choose to relinquish it.
While we live our bodies are moving particles of the earth, joined inextricably both to the soil and to the bodies of other living creatures. It is hardly surprising, then, that there should be some profound resemblances between our treatment of our bodies and our treatment of the earth” ~ Wendell Berry
Our bodies are ecosystems and our fertility is an energy source.
The havoc created by man’s attempt to dominate nature is widespread. This abuse of power extends through industrialized agriculture, the medicalization of birth and the pathologizing of our fertility. Menstruation, pregnancy, and birth are commonly treated as diseases to be cured with pills, synthetic hormones and surgeries.
The pesticides and hormones used in conventional food systems have devastating effects on human health. To address the symptoms of imbalance, allopathic medicine prescribes birth control where whole food diets, herbs, and lifestyle changes would improve balance. In the forward to Alisa Vitti’s Woman Code, Dr. Christiane Northrup wrote, “giving birth control pills to women to regulate their periods, improve their fertility, or enhance their sex drive is akin to putting a piece of tape over the flashing indicator light on the dashboard of your car and pretending you have addressed the engine problem rather than looking under the hood and dealing with the underlying issue.”
Healing the earth demands that we respect the cycles of the womb. Our fertility does not simply mirror nature: It is part of nature.
May we find nourishment, synergy and inspiration from life’s cyclical beauty in all its forms. May we subvert the dominant paradigm of fear with love for our vital force, and use it intentionally to create the world we want to live in.
For a sassy & simple guide to practicing fertility awareness please check out my e-book,“Ovulation Awareness: Know Your Cycle, Know Your Self.”
Other suggested reading includes:
Woman Code by Alisa Vitti
Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler
Sweetening The Pill by Holly Grig-Spall
The Way of The Happy Womanby Sarah Stover