Fertility Awareness Educator Sara at Reverence Fertility holding up a fertility awareness cycle chart to the computer screen.

Categories of FAM & Popular "Brands"

APRIL 30, 2023

by Sara Beaumont, FAE, HRHP

Introduction: What’s FAM?

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) and Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABMs) are umbrella terms that cover multiple types of methods used to track fertility. (Because, my dear cycling friends, we aren't fertile every day.)

While there's no singular fertility awareness method, various methods can be grouped into categories based on their similarities. And, specific methods are commonly referred to by distinct “brand names” like Billings, FEMM, Justisse or Sensiplan. Calling a fertility awareness method “Justisse” or “Sensiplan” is a little like calling a tissue by its brand name, "Kleenex."

If you ask someone who uses a fertility awareness method how they manage their fertility, they'll probably say, "I use Billings," or, "I chart my cycles with FEMM," or, they might generalize and say, "I use the symptothermal method." (Which actually refers to a category, because there's more than one type of symptothermal method).

Justisse and Sensiplan both fall into the symptothermal category of FAMs, among others, because they both observe mucus symptoms (sympto) and temperature readings (thermal). Even though they monitor the same bio-markers, the observational routines and rules for data interpretation aren't identical, so the everyday experience of practicing fertility awareness is different between a Justisse user and a Sensiplan user.

When I took my first Pure Barre class after seven or eight years of going to The Barre Code, I didn't quite know what to expect. The props were the same, but the style of instruction, class format, routines, values and communities were different. And I would imagine that bodies get varied results, which can be said for FAM, too. At the end of the day, the right method for you is the one you're motivated to practice.

Fertility Awareness Based Methods in Practice, Body Literacy & A Word of Caution

People who practice fertility awareness methods (FAMs) observe their naturally-occurring signs of fertility. Scientific bio-markers include basal body temperature (BBT), cervical mucus, and characteristics of the cervix. Most users practice FAM in order to determine the fertile and infertile days of their menstrual cycle, better understand their cyclical nature, naturally avoid pregnancy, time conception or monitor reproductive health.

When you know how to observe and interpret your cyclical rhythms, then you can read your body. The phrase “Body Literacy” was coined by Laura Wershler, who used the term to articulate the philosophy and purpose of the Justisse Method of fertility awareness and the Justisse Method practitioner training (founded by Geraldine Matus).

Fertility awareness methods that focus on 2-3 bio-markers are notable for increasing body literacy, which is often what attracts users to starting a FAM practice in the first place. Others are drawn to FAM as a way to naturally prevent or plan pregnancy, and may be surprised to learn how insightful charting can be. Because the menstrual cycle is a vital sign of health, there's a lot of wisdom to be found in following its phases.

Some methods and/or method users apply a formula (a calculation rule based on past cycles) in addition to making direct observations of their body’s fertile signs and symptoms in real time.

Q: What's a good dupe for The Rhythm Method?

A: Most of the apps in the App Store used for cycle-tracking.

Important to note is that fertility awareness based methods that rely solely on statistical data from cycle histories or population averages (referred to as calendar methods like the Rhythm Method) aren’t as accurate as fertility awareness methods that observe real time bio-markers of fertility.

Other FABMs like femtech devices, wearables, and apps used for cycle tracking that may or may not combine calculations with temperature readings generally aren't the most effective ways to practice fertility awareness or increase body literacy, primarily because they apply predictive formulas to humans, whose physiology fluctuates and evolves by design.

FAM spoiler alert: You can't predict your ovulation, and neither can a device!

When it comes to pregnancy prevention, using The Rhythm Method (and apps that masquerade as FAM but are really just The Rhythm Method of the digital age) is risky, especially for those who have irregular cycles, are coming off of hormonal birth control, or are navigating fertility postpartum.

(If you're looking for an app that isn't predictive that you can pair with FAM, check out Read Your Body or Lutea).

Categories of FAM & Popular “Brands”

Mucus-only Methods

Billings Ovulation Method

Creighton Model FertilityCare System

Symptothermal (Mucus + Temperature)

Couple to Couple League

Eden Fertilité

Justisse Method (can also be used as mucus-only)

Natural Family Planning Teachers' Association (NFPTA)



Taking Charge of Your Fertility (TCOYF)

Symtohormonal (Mucus + Hormone Testing)

Boston Cross Check


Marquette (Clearblue fertility device)

Calculothermal (Calculation + Temp) "FemTech" Devices


Natural Cycles

Calendar Methods

The Rhythm Method

Apps that make predictions based on your last menstrual period and can't integrate additional data

Fertility Charting

Fertility charting is the practice of recording fertility observations in paper or digital form. The colors, notations, descriptive language and rules for charting vary by method, which is why it’s important to choose one to follow if you have a fertility-related goal that you’re committed to. Below is an example of a chart created with the Ready Your Body app according to the Justisse Method of fertility awareness. (Ignore the dates at the top!)

Read Your Body fertility awareness method (Justisse) chart example

Fertility Awareness Educators

A trained Fertility Awareness Educator can support you to learn a fertility awareness method, adapt it for your lifestyle, and incorporate your intentions to optimize the method for your purposes.

You can choose a method, and then, find an educator who is trained to teach that method, or you can find an educator, and learn the method they teach. There’s no right or wrong way to go about exploring your options.

One way to narrow down your search is to visit the Association of Fertility Awareness Professionals Educator Directory, particularly if you prefer a method with secular (non-religious) roots that emphasizes body literacy and teaches users how to use cycle charting as a tool for understanding whole-body health.

With reverence,

- Sara

[BACK] Reverence Fertility
Fertility Awareness Educator Sara at Reverence Fertility

About the Author

Sara (she/her) is a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner and Fertility Awareness Educator serving clients virtually and locally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since 2016, Sara has used fertility awareness based methods to avoid pregnancy, optimize her fertility, time a pregnancy with her partner and navigate postpartum fertility.