Do you think twice about buying non-organic meat from animals injected with hormones? I do. We even raise and slaughter our own chickens to be sure of what we’re consuming. Concerns about the hormones in non-organic meat are widespread. But do we have the same concerns about the effects of the hormones inside the tiny Pill many women take each day for years?
What Are We Ingesting?
I was recently baffled to learn that one oral contraceptive contains the hormonal equivalent of eating 3,431 lbs of hormone-injected beef. Every day! We often treat birth control pills as having no negative effects on our bodies, but this is simply not the case. When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago, one of the first questions her doctors asked her was how many years she had taken oral contraception. Scary! It makes me so glad that my days on the Pill are history! Not to mention all the horrible emotional mood swings, headaches, and nausea I battled when I was on even the lowest dose of birth control. It made life miserable. And if that wasn’t enough, I also just recently learned that the Pill can kill off the good bacteria in your gut, causing all sorts of problems for women.
A Green Alternative
What if I told you there was an alternative? An alternative that empowers women to learn about their bodies. An alternative that doesn’t involve treating women’s fertility like a disease that needs to be “treated” with a prescription. And what if that alternative didn’t lower a woman’s sex drive like oral contraception does and was as effective at avoiding pregnancy than the Pill and can be more effective at achieving a pregnancy than in vitro? Welcome to Natural Family Planning!
Natural Family Planning: Not the Rhythm Method!
Natural Family Planning is often dismissed because it’s confused with the ineffective and antiquated “rhythm method” which was based on estimating ovulation in a 28 day cycle. Do you know many women with perfectly regular 28 day cycles? I certainly don’t! You can imagine the problems in effectiveness with that method! But modern NFP is different. Technology and fertility awareness have made huge strides and modern methods (of which there are many) treat each woman as unique, teaching her to interpret her individual cycles.
There are multiple methods of NFP, including Creighton Method, Billings Ovulation Method, Sympto-Thermal Method, and Marquette Method, but most teach couples how to chart and identify fertility signs such as changes in waking temperature, cervical mucus, and cervical position to distinguish when a woman might be fertile. This enables a couple to decide whether to postpone pregnancy by abstaining from sex on those days or try to achieve a pregnancy by pinpointing their most fertile days. Although many women choose NFP for religious reasons, many are opting to practice NFP primarily to protect their health. Years before I converted to Catholicism and had moral concerns about oral contraception, I ditched the Pill due to the toll it was taking on my body.
There are many benefits to NFP (in addition to avoiding a pharmaceutical prescription when you’re body isn’t sick!) including the empowerment women experience when they gain knowledge about their bodies. When I first starting looking into NFP, I read Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility which teaches the “fertility awareness method” or FAM. I was shocked and embarrassed that I had formerly understood so little about my own body and fertility cycles! It’s my body! Shouldn’t I know how it works?
By getting acquainted with her fertility, a woman can pinpoint health issues that might contribute to anything from painful periods to infertility. One of my best friends points to NFP as enabling her to discover the source of her reproductive health problems (endometriosis which caused debilitatingly painful menstruation and infertility), seek treatment, and conceive her precious babies.
NFP is also incredibly affordable (no monthly costs for a prescription!), eco-friendly, natural, and engenders good communication for the couples who practice it.
Interested in learning more? Look into the Creighton Method, Billings Ovulation Method, Sympto-Thermal Method, or Marquette Method for further resources! Or, check out Women Speak on NFP, a series about women sharing their experiences practicing Natural Family Planning.