We love her. Truly.
Anyway, part of the theme for this week emphasizes that NFP is pro-woman. This guest post highlights the empowerment that comes from understanding fertility. In fact, one of the slogans for the Creighton Method is exactly that: "Unleashing the Power in a Woman's Cycle." There's no getting around it. If a woman uses a natural system, she will undeniably feel empowered with the knowledge gained from learning about her body and feel confident in sharing it with the world!
Knowledge is power, right? Exactly.
I just love this client's story. I love it because for once, someone else is sharing with you how incredible NFP is.. (smile). No, but really, I love it because this story is a testament to the boldness that blossoms from a woman who understands her body, and the seeds that can be planted from that boldness.
Small Witness, Great Change
Ever since I was in high school, I have heard of doctors recommending birth control to “solve” all sorts of problems that are not related to preventing pregnancy: acne, PMS (those horrible symptoms prior to the start of a period), ovarian cysts, to name just a few. I never really understood this, and luckily did not find myself in a position where I was personally recommended it.
My doctors always affirmed my decision to remain a virgin until marriage and I never had any other problems where birth control would have been prescribed. On the other hand, I have friends who have been on and off it: one friend to control acne, another friend, with numerous concussions, was given birth control to control migraines caused by her concussion, and many began birth control because they had trouble with cramps and other PMS symptoms. I continue to wonder why birth control is the “answer” for all these problems....
There has to be another way to control these issues, right?
I never believed that taking “medicine," for which the main purpose is to prevent pregnancy, was a good idea, and moreover, that type of "medicine" is certainly not a solution for all the other problems I listed.
I especially could not understand how it was the answer to the concussion migraines... seriously, it left me wondering: what if a guy was in the same situation as my friend; would his doctor prescribe him birth control? I doubt it... but I digress..
As I became more involved with my Catholic faith in college, I was presented with some of the major health conditions birth control can cause. I also came to realize that it does not actually fix any of the other problems that it is prescribed for; it just masks the symptoms. Well, that does not seem to make much sense to me. Why are we masking symptoms? I just could not believe that in the modern world we live in, there was no other answer.
Well, I found an answer as my husband and I began our marriage prep requirements for Natural Family Planning. After all I knew about birth control, there was no way I was taking it myself, not to mention the beauty behind the Catholic Church’s reasons for natural methods are so holistic and beautiful. Going into our first meeting with Joann, we had really no idea what to expect, beyond learning about how to read the signs of my body and that we would be abstaining from sex while I was fertile.
Well, let me tell you, I was BLOWN AWAY! Why hadn’t someone taught me about this sooner, like maybe high school? I recommend to all women (single, dating, married, etc.) that they learn more about their bodies, their natural fertility signs and gynecological health. Not to mention, Creighton has solutions, actual solutions, to many of the problems that I mentioned above. Joann has touched on this in her previous posts.
Anyway, about three months into charting, I had a physical with a Physician’s Assistant. This one was different, though, because in six months I was getting married and would be sexually active.
“Would you like me to prescribe you birth control?” asked the PA.
“No,” I explained, “we have decided to use a natural method.”
“Oh, okay, well just know that when you actually get married, the natural methods can be very inconvenient, so if you and your husband change your mind, just give us a call and we can write you a prescription.”
I left it at that. I knew things would not change once we got married, but I really did not know how to tell her that. One year after that doctor's visit, and after nine months using the Creighton System in my marriage, it was time for another physical. I arrived at the appointment and had three people in the exam room with me. My doctor, a resident, and a student who was shadowing the doc that day.
Before the physical began, the resident mentioned she was going through marriage preparation classes at St Francis Cabrini Catholic Parish.
As the exam progressed, my doctor asked, “Are you on any medications?”
“Not even birth control?” asked the resident.
“No, my husband and I are using a natural method,” I explained (excited, that this time I had experience to back up our decision to use a natural method in our marriage).
“Really?” my doctor asked, “so you observe signs…?”
“Yep, I check every time I go to the bathroom, and we are able to determine whether or not I am fertile and from there abstain as necessary” I replied (wrongly assuming he knew what I meant by check… oops).
“Do you check your temperature, also,” asked the resident.
“No, we are using the Creighton method, which only requires I check my mucus”
“Oh, ok, we are learning about the Couple to Couple method right now in marriage prep,” explained the resident.
“Wait, what do you check, do you have some sort of kit you use to determine the fertility?” asked my doctor.
“No, there is no kit. Every time I go to the bathroom I wipe before and after to see if there mucus present and if there is I finger test it to see how stretchy it is; from there we know if we are fertile.”
“Interesting. I have never actually met someone using a method like this. It was mentioned in our textbooks, but that was always it. So is your cycle pretty regular then?” asked my doctor.
“Mine is, well most of the time. Last month was a bit all over the place with 12 fertile days in a row… that is what I get for being stressed, though.”
The conversation fizzled out at that point. It is still so strange to me that the medical world does not know more about practices like this and that I was teaching my doctor about it. I pray that he will be able to open his mind to it and maybe even offer it as an option to patients. I also pray that the resident can realize that it really does work and choose it as the option for her upcoming marriage. It has been such a blessing in ours.
This doctor’s appointment was definitely a reminder that we are called to be witnesses everywhere, even if it means explaining something to our doctors that we think they should be explaining to us.
Through small witnesses, we are able to make great change over time.