July 22, 2015
Why I Use NFP: For a Healthier Me
I think I've shared most of these details in other posts, but in honor of NFP Awareness Week, I thought I'd put the details together. So here's the story of how I came to use NFP.
First, in case you're wondering, NFP stands for Natural Family Planning, which is a way of determining a woman's fertility by keeping track of certain bio-markers. There are various types, which use several different bio-markers and you can learn about them here. I currently use the Creighton Model, which coordinates with NaPro Technology to assist in the treatment of health issues. Ok, with that bit of knowledge, let's move along.
Also, my health background that factors in to this story. Pretty much when they started my cycles were irregular. I bugged my mom to take me to doctors about it, but it took years before they took me seriously. Once they finally did, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that causes all sorts of issues. My doctors constantly pressured me to take birth control to treat it. I refused every time, first because my mom was against it, but eventually on my own, as I learned about its dangers and health risks. Even later I learned that it can make PCOS worse, and is contraindicated due to a genetic defect I have causing a high risk of clots, that no doctor who recommended birth control ever thought to test for. Ok, on to the story (finally).
Growing up, I had heard a little bit about NFP. In college, since I went to a small Catholic college, I learned more about it as friends started learning it before marriage. So you'd think I'd be somewhat knowledgeable at that point, but I didn't really retain much other than a passing awareness of it.
Like I've discussed in more detail here, my Husband and I met in law school and were engaged by my second year of it. While we were preparing for marriage, my ob/gyn at the time told me that NFP wouldn't work for me because of the irregular cycles caused by PCOS. We also knew PCOS might cause it to be difficult for us to have children. So we decided to start marriage just seeing when God would send us a child.
After about 6 month of marriage, I still wasn't pregnant, and I started to worry. I heard about a secular book on NFP, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, using the sympto-thermal method (basically taking your temperature and watching some other bodily signals of fertility) that claimed it could help with conceiving. So I started charting my temperatures to try to identify when I was fertile, but my charts were a mess and didn't make sense. I knew something was wrong. However, the doctors I was seeing would dismiss my concerns, say everything was normal, or suggest I take birth control,because according to them there was no other treatment for PCOS and they thought I was too young or whatnot to be having children.
After about two years of marriage we finally decided to seek medical help and went to see a NaPro Technology doctor. Our first visit with her was awesome! She knew so much more about PCOS and treatments for it than any other doctor I had seen, which meant more than I could learn on google. She sent us to learn the Creighton Method of NFP to help out treatment.
So we started to train in the Creighton Method, and from the very beginning I was amazed at how much information my charts showed. It helped us create a medical plan tailored to my specific issues. I watched as things I had been told for years were normal were uncovered as problems and treated. Even though my cycles have been and continue to be confusing (though they have gotten better over time) my instructor is there with me every step of the way to help me figure it out. So not only can NFP work with my irregular cycles
Creighton also has given us tools to communicate about and strengthen our marriage. While it was difficult at first, it has been invaluable as we deal with the trials of infertility.
We continue to chart with Creighton and treat with NaPro, and I am still learning. Even though we don't have children yet, I know so much more about my self. I also feel, and have actual proof that I have become much healthier. My only regret is that I did not learn about NFP (and Creighton in particular) earlier.
It is so empowering to have so much information about your own body, to be able to gauge your health and advocate for yourself. I still get upset about all the misinformation I was fed along the way, by many doctors, including very prestigious ones. I believe NFP can be valuable to every woman. Women deserve better than a one size fits all medical treatment and misinformation.