Finding FEMM - Brie's Story

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It's NFP Awareness Week! This year I am sharing stories from women who learned NFP methods while single. Single women often get left out of discussions of Natural Family Planning, but there are great benefits to be reaped for them too. It's time to hear some of their stories!

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm Brie Jastrebski. I grew up in Chicago, IL in a loving Catholic family. Formed by experiences in my faith, community and education, I felt the desire to serve others both individually and also on a macro level. After college I spent time in service with FOCUS then began working in NYC at a NGO devoted to the dignity of the human person. It was there that I discovered FEMM – a women’s health program that I’ve dedicated the last 6 years of my life to.

2. How did you hear about NFP?

Growing up in a faithful Catholic family, it seems I was always familiar with NFP. However, my understanding was that this wasn’t something I needed to really understand or be attentive to until I was approaching marriage. This perspective changed through my journey to and discovery of FEMM.

3. How did you pick a method?

As a woman surrounded by numerous girlfriends, I’ve long been acutely aware of the myriads of health and emotional difficulties that women encounter – all related to their cycles and reproductive health. So many of my friends were/are prescribed hormonal contraception by their doctors, to deal with symptoms like irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, pain, acne, mood swings, etc. Not one of these women wanted to be putting these hormones in their bodies, but they weren’t offered any other choices.

I was convicted that women deserved more than the medical options that were available to us. Providentially, I discovered a small group of women and physicians who were looking to provide women & girls with education and health care that respected their inherent dignity. I joined them to help develop and launch FEMM, a women’s health program that offers much deserved education and authentic, whole-woman health care options.

Developing FEMM, we were able to ask ourselves:
1. What do women really need to know about their bodies?
2. How can we help them achieve optimal health and their fertility goals?

What I love about FEMM is that it gives a comprehensive look at the science behind what is going on in our bodies, both physiology and hormones. I learned what is normal and healthy for a woman’s cycles & symptoms, and what patterns or symptoms could be signs of a hormonal imbalance or ovulatory dysfunction and cause future health problems and fertility complications. FEMM is also at the forefront of medical research on women’s reproductive endocrinology and trains doctors in the most advanced medical management protocols – so that women now have access to real treatment options. I also love that FEMM has a charting app that makes tracking your cycle so simple – the app gives feedback about your hormones and health, based on the data that you input.

4. What has been your greatest challenge?

 At the beginning, a big challenge was simply motivation to chart every day. When your reasons for charting are better care of yourself and understanding your body, it can be a temptation to just let it go. However, understanding how charting could help me to recognize signs of hormonal dysfunction, give me confidence in my health and manage my future fertility was inspiration enough to plug away at it. Once I was familiar with my body and my biomarkers and had made a habit of charting, it became no longer a chore but just another part of my day.

5. What has been your favorite benefit? 

Using FEMM as a single woman has really empowered me to be more confident in my health and my fertility. I understand what my hormones are doing each month. I can practice more self-care at times when I know I usually experience certain symptoms. It has changed the way I understand my body and how my lifestyle impacts it –I can see my biomarkers/cycles change depending on whether I’m exercising, eating well, stressed etc. It is a huge blessing not to wonder if what I am experiencing is normal and healthy and also to know that I have the best medical resources available to me if something does appear to indicate a deeper problem.

FEMM taught me that all women & girls (not just those who are married or engaged) need this knowledge about their bodies – it’s science and it’s our life! This type of body literacy is tremendously empowering & necessary. I love that I can now help provide these resources other women.

Learn more about FEMM on their website, download the app, or check out this video!

Come back tomorrow for Know Thyself - Kate's Story.

Check out the previous posts in this series:

Embracing the Beautiful Body - Claire's Story

NFP For Every Body - Susie's Story

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