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What is Fertility Awareness?

Fertility Awareness refers to the practice of observing, charting, and interpreting scientifically proven signs of fertility and infertility, including Basal Body Temperature (BBT), cervical mucus, and cervical changes (optional). Using the sympto-thermal method entails charting at least temperature and cervical mucus. 

Learning the principles of fertility awareness can help you prevent pregnancy, achieve pregnancy, monitor and address menstrual cycle concerns, and understand how the rhythms of your reproductive cycle are related to your overall health.

"You're not crazy, you're cyclical" - Zahra Haji 

In general, health care providers are not trained in how to use or teach fertility awareness methods of birth control, and they tend to not offer them as viable options. There is much misinformation about efficacy and scientific basis. There is a variety of methods, and some are substantially more effective than others. In fact, the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness is nearly as effective as hormonal birth control.

Many folks use apps to track their periods, but based on this information only, an app cannot tell you when you are fertile, or protect you from pregnancy. Apps can be great tools to keep track of our health and collect data about ourselves. While they can be fun to use, apps use computer algorithms and calculations to suggest times of fertility and infertility. This is a modern way of using the rhythm method, and does not accurately adjust to your cycle variability. I do not recommend you rely on an app for birth control without making your own body observations. 

Fertility awareness considers your unique physiology, and the variability of your particular cycle. It is not about predicting reproductive events, but about gathering real-time information that you can use to know whether you are fertile or infertile day to day. 

Justisse Method 

The Justisse Method (1987) is an easy to learn, reliable, and standardized system of Fertility Awareness developed by Geraldine Matus, PhD. Justisse was developed in response to a need for fertility awareness education that supports the provision of information necessary for managing sexual and reproductive health, while supporting and respecting individual decision-making. 

Justisse International does not discriminate based on martial status, sexual orientation, or sexual behaviour. Reproductive freedom is crucial to our practice, and we will provide support through the full spectrum of pregnancy outcomes. We support a naturopathic and functional medicine approach to managing health problems and enhancing reproductive health.

The Justisse Method uses a unique colour system that makes chart interpretation easier, and helps you gain confidence and proficiency quickly. Learning Justisse will equip you with body literacy for life!

Laura Salamanca

Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner (HRHP) Intern

You can learn Fertility Awareness from a book, but having the support of a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner will ensure that you are accurately collecting and recording your data, as well as applying your knowledge correctly and in line with your reproductive intentions. Personal follow ups provide the emotional and practical support you need to correctly interpret your chart data, take therapeutic actions, and nourish your reproductive body. My goal is to hold space for you in the intricacies of using sympto-thermal fertility awareness, and improve your success with the Justisse Method - whether you are avoiding pregnancy, wanting to become pregnant, or monitoring your reproductive wellness. 

I teach Fertility Awareness out of desire to support others in nourishing their connection with their body, feeling empowered in their relationships, and having tools to make reproductive health decisions. I teach the Justisse Method from a secular, youth-positive perspective, that is celebratory of gender and sexual diversity. I am mindful of the systemic inequities in our society that determine our health and access to support, and employ a feminist intersectional analysis in our work. I approach working with each individual as a partnership with compassion and respect for your unique circumstances. 

I have roots in Latin America, and have called Turtle Island home since 2000. As an immigrant in Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Mississaugas of the Credit territory, I see myself as a Treaty person with a responsibility to this land and its people. My approach to fertility awareness is centred on the body sovereignty that it allows, and thus I work within an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and anti-colonial Reproductive Justice framework.    

My educational background includes an undergraduate degree in Socio-cultural Anthropology, and Gender, Sexuality and Culture from Western University (London, ON). I have a master's degree in Medical Anthropology, and a graduate certificate in the Collaborative Program in Women's Health from the University of Toronto. I am currently a midwifery student at Ryerson (X) University).

Since 2012 I have worked as a counsellor in several Toronto organizations, including Planned Parenthood Toronto, Choice in Health Clinic, Immigrant Women's Health Centre. I currently work in the gender-based and sexual violence field. My counselling focus includes discussion of healthy relationships, sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs), pregnancy options, birth control options, abortion, intimate partner/family violence, and sexual violence. For those of you in Ontario, I am happy to provide substantive support to help you navigate the healthcare system to get the care you need. 

Current services are being offered as part of completing my practicum for designation as a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner (HRHP), and international certification as a Fertility Awareness Educator (FAE) by the Association of Fertility Awareness Professionals (AFAP). This work is undertaken with the supervision of Jenny Koos, faculty at Justisse College International. I was formerly supervised by Geraldine Matus, PhD, Founder of Justisse College.

Let's chat! 

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