This week is Natural Family Planning (NFP) awareness week. For more great articles, check out Haley’s recommendations. Here are my thoughts on the matter.
I have a pretty awesome superpower. And it comes with the whole ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ phrase, too. I’m not the only one who has this superpower; there are many others who do, but many don’t want it or think that it’s too much responsibility to have and try to get rid of it.
Perhaps you’ve guessed. My superpower is my ability to co-create, gestate, and feed babies with my own body. It’s pretty darned impressive. My ability to co-create, gestate, and feed babies is quintessential to defining my separation from the male version of our humanity. I find myself becoming more and more saddened by the number of women who choose to eliminate or hide the fact that they are made so perfectly. Women – we are awesome and we have an incredible ability here!
I don’t believe for one minute that we are ‘slaves to reproduction’ and that therefore chemical/barrier birth control methods are necessary for the freedom of women. If we were to continue that rhetoric, then it would be better if there were no sexes, and there was no sex, and no ability to procreate. Having female reproductive system is a part of the female human experience. When we deny that, we are denying a part of our lived humanity. I am a feminist – but not at the expense of my femininity.
My body has its own method for avoiding pregnancy. I don’t need a man-made (truly so) foreign device or item to reduce my body from its awesomeness and its own unique abilities. I can choose with my husband when we want to conceive a child or not, and the lovely thing about this method is that he is involved at every stage of the game. It’s not a responsibility just put on me, it’s not something that “I have to deal with” but a meaningful conversation every month about our life and what we foresee our possible future to be. This is not a method that is 100% effective. No method of avoiding pregnancy is 100% effective (unless you have your uterus removed, I would hazard). That shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone (if it is, then you have been deceived). But Natural Family Planning (NFP) is just as, if not more, effective in helping plan families. And it’s natural, which means I’m not taking something like the Pill, that increases the risk of cancers, amongst other negative effects. NFP acknowledges my femininity rather than degrading it and hiding it like it’s something dirty that shouldn’t be seen. As the author of that last link stated, “The Pill has developed into a medication for the disease of being female.” I am not a disease to be silenced.
While I highly value NFP’s ability to respect my body’s natural functions, there have been many, many other benefits that Andy and I have had too. As I mentioned before, we have the opportunity every month to re-evaluate our future. Every month brings change, every month creates new opportunities and also closes doors. We get a chance to discuss this, all because we both need to be informed of my cycle if we are going to be making any informed choices about our future.
I have become really, really aware of the awesomeness of my body. Waaay back when we lived in St. Albert, Andy and I were charting my cycles and in and amidst very irregular cycles, we eventually deciphered a problem: we could never easily tell if I ovulated. I think my longest was about 50+ days of low, low temperatures (ie. not a healthy & normal chart). So I went to my doctor with my charts, who sent me for tests, and I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The first thing that popped out of my doctor’s mouth was ‘we’ll put you on the Pill at the lowest dose to regulate your cycles” and that was basically the discussion (hardly, right?). Being naive and hoping it was a solution, I took it for 2 months before my research and experience were telling me that it was by far one of the most wrong solutions for me to have done. Not only did it kill me emotionally (being up and down all the time, not knowing if I would be crying or giddy the next minute, etc) but it also exacerbates the underlying problem. I was worried about long-term effects it would have on my body and on the PCOS (I was given no information). The clincher for me, however, was that it ultimately put me at odds with my faith without any good reason that I could find (as we hardly had a discussion about it, let alone other options). I went off of the Pill and haven’t looked back since. It was my charting that advised me there was a problem with my endocrine system, though. And there are more natural ways to address these problems than with synthetic hormones manipulating my system in the wrong way. Unfortunately, it seems many doctors usually aren’t educated enough in the options to offer them along with presenting the clear dangers that are associate with the Pill.
I’ve noted all the awesome benefits of NFP, but I also know that even though my cycles are irregular, I think we’ve had it fairly easy. I’ve not had to come off of years of hormonal birth control and deal with the havoc of trying to normalize my endoctrine system. I’ve not had to manage years of not having a cycle that can regulate, even with external help. And though my luteal phase is significantly shorter than what expectedly can carry the baby zygote to travel to the uterus, I’ve still managed to carry three babies to implantation, gestation, and birth. NFP can often point to issues within the endocrine system and identify them, which is more than what prescribing the Pill to cover it does, but it can’t fix them on its own. For that, collaborating with a well-informed doctor about your endocrine system is what will help. In fact, in recent years there’s come a very specific type of NFP called the Creighton model that is extremely scientific and the teachers of this method have access to doctors who can further help in diagnosing and treating underlying endocrine problems. All this work, by the way, is often not done by our family doctors who just say, as mine did to me, ‘Let’s put you on the Pill’.
NFP is not the easy choice, by far. It takes hard work and collaboration with your spouse, but I do believe that it’s the healthiest option for women and affirms and respects our unique ability to co-create, gestate, and feed babies. And I don’t think enough women consider that affirming our feminitity and planning a family naturally is actually a viable option. This is my witness that is is possible and successful. Spencer and Cassia were both planned. Felicity wasn’t, but it was because Andy and I were too lazy to record the information that would have told us whether or not I was fertile. Oddly enough, we don’t regret that mistake and are thrilled she’s a part of our family.
With NFP, Andy and I don’t approach it as controlling fertility; NFP has also given Andy and I the gift of not expecting to be in control of things and understanding my body’s own ingenuity. There seems to be some type of mental block among many women regarding control when it comes to sex and pregnancy. It seems weird to have to state this, but sex’s natural end is pregnancy, not pleasure. Though pleasure is (typically) a natural consequence of healthy sex. I have an amazing superpower and I fully believe that Natural Family Planning is the healthiest way to support me and my body’s natural beauty.
In fact, I’ve combined the awesomeness of NFP with the Diva Cup. But that’s worth a whole post in itself.
For more info on NFP, I highly suggest these sites:
Marquette Method (uses a pee stick!)