Now that I'm married, birth control has gotten a lot less stressful. Don't get me wrong, Matt and I are not trying to have a kid yet (and, in fact, we are still actively preventing one). We want to have time to enjoy each other and really strengthen our friendship and develop ourselves before we introduce a whole other being into our lives.
I say it's "less stressful" because if I did accidentally get pregnant, we'd be okay with it.
For a while, I used both birth control pills and condoms. I was serious about preventing pregnancy!
But I never really liked regulating my body with chemicals.
Now that I'm married and don't feel the same hyper-vigilance that I felt before, I'm more comfortable moving toward the Fertility Awareness Method, like the one covered in the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health.
The approach is different from the Rhythm Method. The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is based on the premise that menstrual cycles vary from woman to woman. Day 14 is an irrelevant concept for a woman who has a 36-day cycle.
The book teaches you how to track and chart your own cycle (primarily by taking your temperature every morning and paying attention to your discharge). This kind of tracking gives you accurate information about your body's menstrual cycle. You can then use the information to prevent pregnancy or achieve pregnancy.
I am just astounded by how much I didn't know about my own body. I minored in gender studies in college and have books like Our Bodies, Ourselves, but I'm now realizing that I have been pretty ignorant for 30 years. It's frustrating!
For example, I always thought that an influx of discharge meant that something was wrong. I thought I was about to get some sort of infection.
It turns out that the influx in discharge corresponds to my fertile period. I had no idea! It's truly embarrassing to admit...
Anyway, we're still using condoms as our contraceptive of choice, but we will probably move to the Fertility Awareness Method once I've successfully charted my cycle for two months in a row (like the book suggests).
I highly recommend the process of tracking your own cycle, regardless of what kind of contraception you use or whether or not you're sexually active. It's very empowering and it gives you important insight into your body. Others seem to agree; the book has been reviewed 1,073 times on Amazon and has an overall rating of 5 stars. Wow.