Stardust

Writings from my little corner of modern domesticity.

NFP II: A Rant and Ramble

I’m going to have to deviate just a tad here, folks. But as it still deals with the domestic sector of my life, I feel it’s an acceptable deviation.

When Ryan and I decided to start NFP, I expected some questions and concern from friends and family. The usual, you know- “What’s that?” “Oh, the Rhythm Method? I heard that doesn’t work.” (no, it’s not, and no, it doesn’t) “Why?” “Yeah, but why should you schedule sex?” “Weren’t you always complaining about your cycle before? How do you know it’ll work for you?” “WTF?” etc.

But I didn’t expect so much…I don’t know, borderline hostility about it.

It seems strange to me that in a world where organic foods, sustainable materials, recycling, and the overall feeling of needing to be more natural about our way of living that there is this feeling of animosity for NFP. It’s the ultimate in sustainable birth control- no hormones or chemical spermicides, no waste (you need paper and a thermometer- if you don’t keep your charts, you can recycle them. You can also do them digitally and eliminate the paper entirely), no worry about ridiculous prescription costs,  and all based on the way your body functions naturally. It’s about following your individual fertility, watching it wax and wane, and making choices accordingly. It’s knowing yourself in a way every woman should.

One comment in particular kind of hit me as ridiculous, in response to how off-from-the-average my cycle is “So you should naturally be on birth control pills.” There is NOTHING natural about birth control pills. Zip- even the hormones are synthetic. And with the reaction my body had to them, I’d have to disagree. I’m neither the first woman on the planet to have a different cycle nor the first to have unwelcome side effects from pills. Anything that can kill you when taken in the prescribed manner should raise eyebrows. I was warned about the possibility of heart attack or stroke at the time they were prescribed, though it was waved off with no personal or maternal-line history of heart troubles, and a lack of nicotine use. But what’s this, after being on pills for a little over a year? Oh hey- that’s high cholesterol in an otherwise perfectly healthy young woman! And I don’t mean a little high- 255. 230 is the top end of the acceptable range for my age/weight/height area. The only changes in diet and activity levels were beneficial ones- more fruits/veggies and less fast food, and more physical activity and exercise. Those are supposed to lead to decreases in cholesterol levels.

And then it occurred to me what the problem was- it’s because it’s the preferred method of the Catholic Church. People don’t like it because it’s Catholic-endorsed and there’s this general chip-on-the-shoulder attitude towards the Church and towards Christianity in general. If some vegan, yoga-teaching hippy professor out of California had proposed it instead of the Church, I’m sure a great many of the comments and a great deal of the distrust would not exist. Especially once they presented all the research behind the method. How can I say that? Because there are books and videos and blogs all over the place touting methods of how to take charge of your fertility, most famously the book by that name- Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I’ve seen that book on talk shows, and on the shelves of every major bookstore I’ve been into.

If you follow that link, you see a listing of what the book covers. What strikes me is this line: “Taking Charge of Your Fertility has helped literally hundreds of thousands of women achieve pregnancy, avoid pregnancy naturally, or simply gain better control of their health and lives. This book thoroughly explains the empowering Fertility Awareness Method…” And guess what the big secret is? Charting your symptoms and making choices of when to have sex appropriately for if you’re avoiding pregnancy or trying to achieve it.

That’s right- it’s NFP. From the FAQ page: “The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is an incredibly liberating and effective method of understanding your fertility on a day-to-day basis…It also happens to be a wonderful tool for maintaining your gynecological health. As an empowering method of natural birth control, women from all over the world have been drawn to FAM simply because it is free of the chemicals associated with hormonal methods such as the Pill.”

What’s the difference? It’s not associated with the Catholic Church. But it has all the same practices and methods.  You can even download a free PDF of the chart here, with a few other specialized chart options here. It looks nearly identical to my NFP charts, with the exception that the chart itself contains some more descriptive adjectives for the mucous symptoms and places to check if you exercised, if you’re traveling, etc. instead of the “user notes” section my charts have, and lacks the previous cycle trend info my charts have. It also includes a section for if you did use a backup birth control method, which mine lacks for obvious reasons. Seriously, it’s the same freaking thing.

Guess I’ll just start telling people we do the Fertility Awareness Method instead.

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