24 July 2013

Pro-Woman: Natural Family Planning

We're in the midst of NFP Awareness Week, and the theme this year is "Pro-Woman, Pro-Man, Pro-Child, Natural Family Planning". I'd like to look at that a little.

Pro-Woman: Believe it or not, saying no to the pill doesn't enslave women, but is pro-woman.  Instead of treating her unique physiology as something to be suppressed or "fixed", NFP recognizes a woman's cyclic fertility as normal and seeks to identify the fertile times accurately.  Where contraception can only be used to try to avoid pregnancy, NFP can be used to postpone or achieve pregnancy, or simply to know your cycles or for health reasons.  It really is amazing what you can learn from a chart. For example, Dr James Brown's and Dr Henry Burger's work showing the close relationship between cervical mucus and hormones means that one can graph the oestrogen, progesterone, LH, and FSH patterns just by seeing a woman's chart. Maybe I'm just a geek, but that's amazing. Women should have this knowledge! Or at the least know they can know that easily enough if they choose to chart.

Charting also provides a more accurate due date than LMP or ultrasound (while ultrasound is useful for dating purposes, it can be off by quite a bit, I assume because of different methods of calculating gestational age; my ultrasounds have always been at least 6 days off).  Having an accurate due date means women are less likely to be induced unnecessarily.  I was irritated during my second pregnancy because the midwife was discussing induction.  The ultrasound had given a date a week ahead of when my chart did, so the midwife thought I was further along than I was. I was very glad when Charlotte was born at 39+6 (according to my chart; the midwife had me at 40+6) so that I didn't have to fight too much. 

Now, lest I make this sound like NFP is all rainbows and lollipops, I'll fully admit that it can be difficult and that I can get frustrated with charting at times.  But it is important to remember that charting rigorously isn't always necessary, and charting to avoid is only for when a couple has discerned that they have just cause to do so.  There are also methods that I suppose fall under the NFP umbrella though they aren't necessarily intended to suppress fertility and require no charting, such as ecological breastfeeding. Personally, I feed that way because I find it easy and best for both of us, not to suppress fertility although that is a "side effect".  When a couple do have jut cause to postpone pregnancy, NFP is effective.  While it can be difficult, so is anything that requires sacrifice.  To quote Dumbledore, "we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

I've written more than I intended on that, so perhaps I will leave discussion of how NFP is pro-man and pro-child for later.


  1. Hmm... interesting. I have never used the pill as an excuse for preventing pregnancy. It is actually for my Polycystic Ovary Syndrom (PCOS) symptoms and to balance my hormone levels. I would be curious in a discussion/blog/article or what not on how to deal with not being on the pill and having these issue (I know not exactly related but it does play an important discussion since I'm married and looking at family planning.)

    1. While I have no personal experience with PCOS, I do have experience with having been on the pill to "treat" a problem (dysmenorrhea and menorraghia). Thing is, the pill only masked those things instead of fixing them, and I later found non-hormonal things that helped, such as red raspberry leaf and nettle teas. I think the pill is over prescribed to "fix" problems instead of addressing the root of the problem. I know charting can help women with PCOS identify when they are actually ovulating. Metmorfin

    2. Metmorfin is sometimes prescribed for PCOS. I do know that NaPro doctors can help those with PCOS without the pill. If you look for a doctor on onemoresoul.com, you're more likely to find a doc who will try to treat without the pill.