It seems pretty intuitive that, as a woman, you would understand your body. After all, you live in the thing! However, that is not always the case. And, even though I'd been in my body for almost 27 years by the time I read this book, I realized that I really didn't know it at all.
Taking Charge of Your Fertility is an easy to read primer on the menstrual cycle. If you think that every woman ovulates on Day 14 and has a 28 day cycle, you're wrong. Instead, women tend to fall into their own patterns. And, if you're either trying to get pregnant or trying not to conceive, it's very useful to know where you are in relation to your ovulation. At its most simple, Weschler's book teaches us to listen to our bodies. We learn what signs our body gives every month to let us know that ovulation (and thus the fertile period) is approaching, and what signs let us know that it's safe to resume sex if we don't want to get pregnant. By taking your basal body temperature and monitoring both cervical fluid and cervical position, you can tell exactly where your body is in its monthly cycle.
While you can get basic information about fertility awareness elsewhere, Weschler has a gift for making this stuff not only interesting but exciting. The book includes photos of cervical fluid from different times in the cycle (trust me, it's more exciting than it sounds) as well as sample charts. The charts are a great resource, because you can see examples of an ovulatory cycle, an anovulatory cycle, and how outside influences like insomnia and alcohol can alter your temperatures. These resources are invaluable for when you're trying to get the hang of listening to your body. She also includes tricks for getting a hang of testing cervical fluid and position, hints on how to predict ovulation, and troubleshooting for when you're trying to get a hang of things.
If you're trying to conceive, this book is a must read. Although fertility awareness can't predict ovulation (you only confirm ovulation after three days of elevated basal body temperature), it can give you a general idea about your body's own rhythms. This makes timing sex and using ovulation predictor kits much easier. The book does include some basic information about infertility, and gives suggestions on things you can do at home (for example, how to overcome mild male infertility), as well as when to seek help from your doctor. The charting that is recommended in the book is also a remarkably accurate diagnosis of infertility, as it can quickly catch things like anovulation or a short luteal phase. The back of the book contains a sample chart that is suitable for photocopying.
If you are trying not to conceive (via the process Weschler refers to as the fertility awareness method), this is also the book for you. The pregnancy avoidance section is in addition to the general fertility information, so you can go straight there for tips. If you are using FAM for religious reasons, be aware that Weschler does recommend the use of barrier contraceptives during fertile times if a couple doesn't want to abstain. Generally, however, following Weschler's tips should allow you to control the timing of your family with remarkable success.
I've had this book for years, and I turn to it every once in awhile just for reference. I also recommend it to friends, even those who aren't actively trying to get pregnant or who are using some form of birth control. Every woman should read this, because knowledge is power. You'll come away from this book feeling energized about being a woman.
• Taking Charge of Your Fertility at Amazon.com
• Taking Charge of Your Fertility at Amazon UK
• Taking Charge of Your Fertility at Amazon Canada