And it saddens me that what is considered "normal" is to pump a woman's body up with artificial hormones so that the normal, God-given way her body is supposed to work is suppressed.
And it is this reason that I write this post. The thing is, I am probably writing to people who are also in that same Catholic bubble that I am in. It can be easy to forget that not everyone understands the true freedom that is available when a woman learns how her body works, understands her cycles, and can stop the artificial hormones. So I feel like I'm preaching to the choir. However, on the off-chance that someone does read this who is on the fence or for whom this is new information, I do want to share a little about NFP.
I had serious doubts about Natural Family Planning (NFP) when I first started hearing about it. I was at a point in my life where I was trying to learn more about the Catholic Church to gain a better understanding of many of the teachings with which I did not agree. NFP was one of the hardest to find information about. But the amount of information out there today is amazing! Anyone who is looking for greater understanding today and just going to the internet as I was many years ago will have greater success than I did.
For that I am extremely grateful!
The best thing about NFP, from my perspective, is that I always know where in my cycle I am. And I have some messed up, wacky cycles at times. Believe me, if I can learn NFP and understand my cycles, anyone can! We have used NFP to conceive each and every time we have conceived. And we have used it to avoid during those times, particularly those months immediately following a miscarriage, when I was not physically or emotionally ready to conceive again. I can tell you with certainty that I have conceived on four different occasions and possibly a fifth.
Yes, a fifth. I don't know for certain whether we did or not and I may never know. It could potentially have been an unusually long luteal phase or it could have been a very early miscarriage. If you are unfamiliar with NFP terminology let me explain:
A luteal phase is the period of time between when a woman ovulates and when her next period begins. Regardless of the length of your cycle (which we all know can vary for a variety of purposes, like stress or weight gain/loss, etc.) your luteal phase is consistent within a day or two. Every. Single. Time. If a woman is also taking her basal body temperature (first temp of the morning) this is also the time when the temp rises due to an increase in progesterone and a decrease in estrogen. I have cycles that are occasionally 150 days long, more likely 45-60 or so days long, and sometimes 35-40 days long. No matter how long my cycle is from time of ovulation to my next period is 13-14 days, sometimes 15.
The cycle prior to the cycle in which I conceived our daughter Brigit. I had an 18 day luteal phase. I took a pregnancy test on day 17 that came back negative. [I have never been one for taking tests early.] I was sure I was pregnant, but then I got my period. Was I? Possibly. Possibly not. But because of the knowledge NFP has given me it does make me wonder sometimes.
This is just one example of the knowledge NFP can give someone about their body. There is so much more out there. If the idea of taking artificial hormones into your body bothers you, I urge you to consider something else, particularly NFP. And if you are still determined to remain on the other side of the fence, consider this:
iusenfp.com is a newer site with information on various NFP Methods, a blog, personal stories, lots of cool graphics, and more. They also have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. I love their graphics!!
www.1flesh.org is also a newer site and one I have only heard about but not looked into until I started writing this post. They also have a blog, informative articles, cool graphics, and more. Looks like they plan on selling gear some day too!
www.livingthesacrament.com is a Catholic NFP Community. I have been following them on Facebook but had not visited their website until today. Looks like they have lots of good information as well as forums, a blog, and lots of great resources. Even if you're not Catholic there could be lots of good info here if you're researching NFP. NFP is not just for Catholics, I hope you know.
There are many different ways to practice NFP and each is based on learning different patterns of your body's natural processes. I use a method called sympto-thermal, as taught be the Couple to Couple League. Other popular methods I am aware of include the Creighton Model and the Marquette Model. There are other methods as well. The groups I linked above all include links to these three methods as well as many others.
And let me just simply add: this is not your grandmother's rhythm method. Don't try to tell me it is.
Finally, this is NFP Awareness Week. The USCCB website has a page set up with all sorts of resources for this week. It is another great place to go for information.
If you're not yet at a place where you are willing to step out and start living counter-culturally that is okay. I encourage you to continue reading, researching, and asking questions. Check out the methods I listed, visit the websites, and maybe even take a class. You're not committing to it just by taking the class, but maybe, just maybe, you might hear something that will make sense and give you the courage to take that next step.
Isn't the health of your body (or your wife's body) worth it? Don't you think God gave us, as women, our bodies to work a certain way? Why should we mess with what He created? Did He not know what He was doing? Do we not trust God in what He gave us as women?
Good questions to ponder. I hope you will.