Category Archives: natural family planning

natural family planning record

Demystified: How the Female Fertility Cycle Works

Springtime in my fourth grade year, they lined us up, boys on one side, girls on the other. The boys got shuffled off into one classroom, while we girls got ushered into another. Giddy and curious, we whispered and fidgeted while the teacher set-up her materials. That was the day I first heard about periods. By the end of the lesson, I knew enough to utilize a maxi-pad and understood the general gist of the fact that my body could one day grow a baby.

childrenOver the years, my knowledge pool would grow (I’d graduate to tampons, discover Motrin for cramps and get myself put on contraceptives). But aside from the basic facts of menstruation and the understanding that I was fertile, the extent of my education hadn’t increased far beyond that fourth grade lesson. No worries though, my annual trips to the gynecologist were enough to leave me feeling confident that I had it all under control. Continue reading

Wasting Our Treasure on Christ

Shortly after having given birth to my first darling daughter and fourth child, someone suggested that I seek employment working with special needs children.

I hadn’t been soliciting advice or job hunting, but I guess the messenger found it reasonable to imply that we should move beyond baby-making; seeing as we’d finally managed to have that elusive girl-child and that our dream of having a large family had been fulfilled (according to societal standards).

Continue reading

shoes

Now That You Know the Facts on Birth Control, What’s the Next Step?

In part 1 of this discussion on rethinking your birth control, I defined what it means to be a woman. Not just a modern woman, but a whole woman according to God’s design.

Part 2 detailed attributes of her feminine genius in the form of female fertility. The cyclic ebb and flow of her fertile and infertile phases and the means by which she is able to read her own body language.

The next two installments detailed how contraceptives help fracture womanhood into parts, many attacking female health by suppressing natural hormones and inducing early abortions. Uncovered, also, was the dishonesty of pharmaceutical companies and the pressure placed on women by medical providers.

Fear being a major factor for couples new to Natural Family Planning, I spoke about the need for couples to address their concerns in part 5.

Knowledge is power, as they say, and I think (if you’ve been following along) I’ve covered a fair amount of ground so where do we go from here?

Trash the Contraceptives

trashSuffice to say, you need to trash the carcinogenic/abortifacient contraceptives (and the whole mentality that goes along with them) and reclaim your status as a woman.

Stop giving yourself away in pieces and demand that your spouse (and doctor) respect you, all of you. Because asking you to jeopardize your health does not equate to respect or love.

And, by all means, start respecting yourself from your imperfect skin and dimpled thighs, to your fertile mucus and menses. Ditch your Cosmo magazine and a few Pilates classes to delve into a book or take a course on Natural Family Planning (aka Fertility Awareness Method FAM).

Start a Communal Conversation

Then, most importantly, begin a communal conversation with your spouse and the One Who made you into the creative being you are.

One of the greatest gifts that stems from NFP is the ongoing discussion it triggers. Unlike long-term contraceptives, that make family planning a generally mute point cycle after cycle, year after year; natural methods invite husband and wife to relay their thoughts, fears, desires and frustrations regularly, so they can decide whether or not to make use of the fertile window.

Since human vision alone is short-sighted (and often selfish,) when measured against God’s Providence, couples seeking to practice NFP successfully turn toward Him (Who orders all things for good) and seek His will above their own.

Baby or No Baby?

Each new cycle leads them to consider, “Should we optimize our chances to conceive this cycle or abandon ourselves fully to God’s timing or do we have a serious reason to postpone a pregnancy?”

Indeed sometimes the answer may be an emphatic “YES” to hoping for a baby. At other times the spouses may discern a real reason to answer “NOT NOW.”

We know a woman who has a heart issue and another pregnancy could result in death. She and her husband sacrifice the fertile time in order to protect her.

Another husband could be struggling to provide financially, or be in danger of losing his job, or a wife may be overwhelmed with a particularly needy child, or suffering from depression, so they, too, may prayerfully discern a need to abstain, for the betterment of the whole family.

Being Sensitive to the Needs of Another

spousesThis is part of the beauty of remaining open to life, it causes a husband and wife to be sensitive to the needs of each other.

Our friend’s husband placed her welfare first, and he finds non-sexual ways to express his love during the phases of abstinence.

Perhaps, a wife will opt to work outside the home to help supplement her husband’s income, or he might help with the children more often to alleviate some of his wife’s stress; thus, possibly alleviating the restrictions that prevented them from seeking another child.

NFP Isn’t a Requirement

Couples aren’t automatically obliged to practice periodic abstinence. Some couples discern a call to let the Creator, alone, plan the size and spacing of their family.

Not to be discounted, less fertile/infertile couples, who dearly desire a child or another child, may be asked to carry their cross and/or suffer repeated loss. These couples can also benefit from drawing their strength, comfort and continued guidance from the Lord, Who pours out plenteous grace.

Is There Even a Difference?

Not infrequently discussions abound about the how’s and why’s of using NFP for the purpose of spacing/limiting children. Some ask if there’s really a difference between contraception and natural methods with regards to morality. There is.

With NFP, the wife’s body remains whole. The lovers do nothing to counter God’s design, whether they opt to engage in or abstain from relations during her fertile window. As for right reasons to abstain, couples who continually seek God’s will above their own and strive to mirror His attributes can find the correct course.

Remembering that contraceptives sell women on the erroneous idea that they can strip sex of its procreative purpose and craft a happier ending; it’s not surprising that when God foils their intent with a baby, they rely on abortion to wipe the slate clean.

  •  Fifty-one percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method in the month they got pregnant, most commonly condoms (27%) or a hormonal method (17%).

Or they accept the unintended pregnancy until some doctor informs them that their child’s imperfections are going to destroy their well-crafted blueprint: 2.1 healthy children (one boy and one girl of course), the white picket fence, and dual incomes. Then it’s off to the abortionist to spare themselves the inconvenience of rethinking their dreams.

Divorcing sex from its procreative potential leads couples to view children less (if at all) as gifts to be received and more as property to be obtained or discarded. One doesn’t have to look far to see how this mentality has negatively impacted marriage and the family structure.

My Newlywed Plans for Perfection

As a newlywed, I thought my white-knuckled hold on life would result in fulfillment, so I contracepted until we deemed ourselves ready to widen our circle. Like many people, I expected life to unravel according to my ambitions. But, three years in, God shook hold my clenched grip with the death of my firstborn. Devastated, my eyes were initially blind to the doorway that swung open because of that event.

My husband and I could have chosen to separate. Or we could have built up a wall of protection. But, instead, we learned to savor life, to value its preciousness and to accept its unpredictability (as well as its sometimes insufficient length). We kicked the Pill to the curb with those revelations and that unobstructed door has welcomed 8 unique persons into our family and ushered 6 souls into eternity. Indeed in my imagination, I never could have envisioned the abundance of blessings that would pour forth from our willingness to allow God to reign in our marriage.

Take the Next Step

After you dump the contraceptives and learn to read your body’s language, fortify your marriage by discovering more ways to express your love. Deepen your faith together and agree to solicit His counsel, first and last.

Finally, when your life changes (and it undoubtedly will) become a witness to Truth. Show that women deserve better than abuse, masquerading as modern feminism. Stand up as proof, that God’s ways are always better than anything we can conjure up.

Did You Miss a Post in This Series?

(1) Reclaiming Womanhood: Why It’s Time to Rethink Your Birth Control Plan(2) Demystified: How the Female Fertility Cycle Works; (3) The Nitty Gritty of Birth Control and the Abortion Back-up Plan; (4) Knowledge Is Power: How Doctors and Big Pharma Profit From Ignorance; (5) Pulling Back the Veil and Exposing Your Genuine Fears; (6) Now That You Know, What’s Next

facing your fear

Pulling Back the Veil and Exposing Your Genuine Fears

As far back as I can remember, heights have posed an unwelcomed challenge. I was the kid who scaled the jungle-gym only to become paralyzed at the summit and tearfully beg for rescue. Ferris wheels are totally off-limits and, even today, escalators require a mental strategy.

So, I never dreamed of spending my days balancing atop an extension ladder, but the chipped and peeling exterior of our old house begged for my attention.

After repainting the easy-to-reach portions, my three-step ladder quickly became insufficient. Lacking the superhero trait of Mr. Fantastic, I had to engage some problem-solving skills and a ladder seemed my next best option.

Some Self-Hypnosis

climbing ladder paint houseIt took a little self-hypnosis, of sorts, to talk myself up that first ladder, but work awaited and time was fleeting. I let go a little, and convinced myself that a fall from a standard ladder couldn’t inflict too much damage.

Now our lovely home was built on a downgrade, so while the front door was a mere three steps from the solid ground, the rear was two-stories above stable earth. That standard ladder only raised my stature to the lower heights of the our home’s backside and painting only half of the house didn’t appear sensible. An extension ladder became unavoidable.

Step by step, paint supplies balanced in my right hand as my left hand secured its death grip on the metal side rail, I inched ever higher toward the firmament.

Positioned at the ladder’s apex, I briefly dared to look down, a long, long way down. My previous risk estimations made from atop the standard ladder somehow didn’t ease my mind because from this height surely parts could break that might not be mendable.

Let Go of the Fear

Surrender and prayer were my last and best resorts. “Let go,” I persuaded, “let go of the fear.” Fear constrained me to the ground, but surrender could loose its hold. Reciting a prayer, I offered up my terror and released myself to the care and keeping of my guardian angel.

It’s amazing how fear has the potential to overpower in some cases, or to protect in others.

Years ago, I read a book by Gavin DeBecker called The Gift of Fear. In it, Mr. DeBecker gave real life examples of how people’s natural-born fear mechanism, or intuition, set-off red flags and sirens in the presence of serious dangers.

Those who listened to their internal sense typically avoided entering the danger zone, or quickly fled before a perpetrator could inflict harm. Those who over-rationalized away their instinct generally paid a painful price. In those cases, fear was a gift bestowed on the individual, a signal by which they could gauge a circumstance or assess a stranger’s unspoken intent.

Fear Needs to Be Addressed

While teaching Natural Family Planning (NFP), also known as Fertility Awareness (FAM) I realized that fear really needs to be addressed.

Often we have lovely, young couples register for our course to fulfill a marriage preparation requirement. Or sometimes they’ve attempted to self-study and feel the need for more instruction.

Patiently they sit through our witness talk and intently they follow along with the training, but sometimes I can detect the fear in their hesitations and read it in their body language. Some fear that they are not smart enough, or vigilant enough, to learn and apply the method, so as to postpone a pregnancy.

Beneath that fear, of their ability to apply the method properly, is the deeper fear of their procreative powers.

Outside Forces Are In Control

Quite often, the women have been controlling their cycles with hormonal birth control or contraceptive devices. These “outside forces” have led to the perception that fertility, or at least its suppression, is the responsibility of some “thing,” not the individual woman.

She feels relieved of her role in family planning beyond the routine exam and prescription refill. If an unexpected pregnancy occurs, she “blames” the it on her contraceptives.

Up to 99% Effective

Truly, the effectiveness rates of NFP methods are equal to (up to 99% effective) the best contraceptive rates (though that doesn’t mean they are morally or ethically equal).

A woman has the same chance of conceiving on the pill as she does practicing NFP/FAM. But the couple must practice self-mastery over their sexual desires, if their goal is to postpone a pregnancy with a natural method.

Our modern culture has duped couples into believing that sex has only one purpose; when in truth, it is meant to be both unitive and procreative.

Sometimes people question why birth control is unethical if naturally spacing children is not. Rightly, couples can deem themselves not in a position to welcome a child at a given time, but their plan to avoid the fertile time doesn’t directly frustrate that procreative end.

God designed woman with fertile and infertile phases in her cycles. In choosing to abstain during the fertile time, the couple is simply working within the system God designed.

Ends Don’t Justify Means

A well-used analogy goes like this: Two men have families to support. One man gets a legitimate job, works hard and provides for his family’s needs. The other man sells illegal drugs, makes fast cash and pays his bills. Both men have fulfilled their role as provider, but clearly their methods are not equal.

The ends don’t make the means ethical.

The culture also pushes the notion that children are a burden to the marriage/family, so fear stems from that thinking. We’re suppose to worry about college tuition, braces and trips to Disney World even before the baby is born. It’s no wonder newlyweds are frightened at the prospect of enlarging their family circle.

Far from true, children bring countless gifts to a family. They create an environment that invites their parents to move beyond their small, self-serving circle. Additionally, when marital trials come (as they always do) parents have a vested interest in working out their differences in order to preserve stability for their children.

Unexpected Pregnancy

Let’s think about the term unexpected pregnancy. If a couple is engaging in the sexual embrace, they risk a pregnancy. It doesn’t matter if they are contracepting or not. Sex between a fertile man and a fertile woman (during the fertile time) can result in a child. That’s why the only 100% effective means of avoiding pregnancy is 100% abstinence.

So the term, unexpected pregnancy, is illogical. Sex produces babies, at least some of the time. Couples who practice NFP/FAM understand that and take responsibility for it.

Fear, in the case of our students, isn’t a helpful natural instinct, but an emotion,fueled by man-made distortions. Couples need to identify their fear, face its source, and work together to overcome thinking/beliefs that are erroneous, or misplaced.

Once they manage their fears, they are better prepared to ascend the ladder of faith together. In time, some will even learn to surrender their man-made plans, allowing God to expand their limited view of happiness.

Next time, let’s consider: (1) Reclaiming Womanhood: Why It’s Time to Rethink Your Birth Control Plan(2) Demystified: How the Female Fertility Cycle Works; (3) The Nitty Gritty of Birth Control and the Abortion Back-up Plan; (4) Knowledge Is Power: How Doctors and Big Pharma Profit From Ignorance; (5) Pulling Back the Veil and Exposing Your Genuine Fears; (6) Now That You Know, What’s Next

birth control comparison

The Nitty Gritty of Birth Control and the Abortion Back-up Plan

We no longer: drink diet soda, eat a growing variety of sweets or chew gum with artificial sweeteners. My husband switched us to tooth polish without fluoride and soap without antibacterial agents.

Our eggs come free-ranged, our bread whole grain, and our produce organic. Attending home school functions nowadays, we have to be mindful of gluten, nuts and food dyes in whatever we bring to share.

Increased Awareness

From sensitivities to allergies, and everything in between, there’s an increased awareness of how what we put into our bodies affects our well-being. Labels contain ingredient lists, product packaging includes warnings, and restaurants highlight low-calorie menu items, to aid consumers.

Once upon a time, airplanes and eateries had smoking sections. School lunches consisted of peanut butter and jelly on white bread. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find even an outdoor event that welcomes tobacco users, and whole school buildings are designated as nut-free.

Time and science have taught us a few lessons about toxins and disease, allergies and life threatening reactions. In fact, the government felt so compelled to protect the citizenry from harm, that it now regulates sales and distribution of tobacco products (among a host of other things). Continue reading

Pope Francis Said What? On Rabbits and Responsible Parenthood

I’m taking a brief detour from my post series on birth control to address the recent comments made by our Holy Father.
Drifting down the aisle at Sam’s Club, my brood and I were busy absorbing all the sights as we awaited our pizza. Having just persuaded the seven of them (the baby was in the cart) to leave the books behind, we were absent-mindedly milling about when a man halted our parade. The stranger (an apparent nursery rhyme aficionado) began reciting, “There was an old lady who lived in a shoe, had so many children she didn’t know what to do” Seeing as my children were quite well-behaved (thankfully they generally are in public), I was baffled as to the reason for this unwarranted serenade.



Pope Francis’ recent rabbit comment has been splashed across the headlines. There are accusations, questions, criticisms and explanations. Admittedly, as a mama of a big brood who has endured more than a couple of comments (plus the aforementioned serenade) and as a teacher of Natural Family Planning with boots on the ground in the ministry, his comments touched a nerve. I cannot claim to know his motivations on the matter, but I am going to offer some balance to the statements he made.


On his trip home from Manila, Pope Francis stated,
“Some think that — excuse the language — that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this.”

Certainly, his choice of the term rabbit must have been a simple oversight, but it still was one that could be called unsettling. Although it is probably more disturbing to families who’ve already experienced the judgment and ridicule of a society that equates a child to a burden or an environmental hazard. He is correct that not all couples are obliged to produce as many children as they are physically able to; however, that also does not mean that God is not calling some couples to total surrender.


Consider Pope Francis’ prior comments shared on the Feast of the Holy Family. “In a world often marked by egoism, a large family is a school of solidarity and of mission that’s of benefit to the entire society. Every family is a cell of society, but large families are richer and more vital cells.” These words seem to provide a counterbalance to the notion that responsible parenthood means simply that less children should be received.


Pope Francis also pointed the faithful toward the guidance of “experts” in this matter which reminded me of an instruction I’d come across during adoration some months ago. At the time I sprawled the comments in the back of my pocket calendar because they seemed necessary for me to keep close at hand. The book was Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure and here’s his expert opinion: 
“If you are the father or mother of a family, you ought to conform your will to God’s with regard to the number or sex of the children He pleases to give you. When men were animated by the spirit of faith they regarded a large family as a gift of God and a blessing from heaven and considered God more than themselves as the father of their children.” He went on to say, “Never be afraid of relying too much on Him, but rather seek always to increase your trust more and more, for this is the most pleasing homage you can pay Him and it will be the measure of the graces you will receive. Little or much will be given you according as you have expected little or much.”

If Pope Francis issues us in the direction of our pastors as experts in the matter, there could be a difference in the direction we receive. The pope warned a mother, who was expecting her eighth child to be delivered by cesearean section, that she was tempting God, but Fr. Saint-Jure seems to instruct that we should never be afraid to rely too much on God. That leaves room for one to wonder what exactly makes someone an expert in guiding a couple in their family planning.
As an NFP teacher, I concur that there are licit means of postponing a child, but we must be clear that licit does not mean required. When we began teaching NFP a decade ago, we encouraged couples to prayerfully discern each cycle whether or not they had a serious reason to postpone a pregnancy. Later, the word serious was changed to a just reason (the change being attributed to a better translation) and now we have discarded both of those terms and replaced them with responsible parenthood.
I think the argument could be made in either direction as to whether in our age/culture the words (serious, just, responsible parenthood) bear the same weight and express the same meaning. But the more important point is that couples need to ask God (continually) to align their will with His, not the other way around. Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure says,
“He (God) promises solemnly to give them not only life everlasting but a hundredfold all things they deny themselves to please Him in this life (Matt 19:24). He further promises to ease the burden of His cross so as to lighten it; for He not only says that His yoke is sweet but adds that His burden is light (Matt 11:30). If then we do not experience the sweetness of Christ’s yoke not the lightness of the burden of the cross, it must be because we have not yet made the denial of our will and completely given up own human outlook so as to consider things in the light of faith.
Interestingly, Pope Francis said, “Another curious thing in relation to this is that for the most poor people, a child is a treasure. It is true that you have to be prudent here too, but for them a child is a treasure. Some would say ‘God knows how to help me’ and perhaps some of them are not prudent, this is true. Responsible paternity, but let us also look at the generosity of that father and mother who see a treasure in every child.” He seems to acknowledge that some, but clearly not all, recognize a child as a treasure and he mentions the generosity of parents who see children as a treasure.
Of course, we should acknowledge the audiences he was considering when these comments were made. Because an impoverished, third world parent, who has no means of providing for a child’s basic needs, is not at all the same as the parent, who lives in a modern subdivision and eats five meals a day. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to use a broad brush in applying this idea of what exactly is responsible parenthood. Additionally, there is a real danger in one group discerning what is best for another (thinking of China’s one-child policy).
Clearly, his comments could use a bit more clarification, but I suppose it is a good that he has once again spurred a conversation about what the Church actually teaches. The large family is not by default more faithful, but neither is the small family automatically more responsible. There are licit means for planning a family, but there can be illicit intentions for doing so. We must all learn to listen. Not to the noisy banter of the media or even of those who might wish to serenade us with their opinions, we must listen to the small voice Who knows what is truly best for us, His children.

“It is very different from the serenity of spirit to be found in parents who are surrounded by a rich abundance of young lives. The joy that comes from the plentiful blessings of God breaks out in a thousand different ways and there is no fear that it will end. The brows of these fathers and mothers may be burdened with cares, but there is never a trace of that inner shadow that betrays anxiety of conscience or fear of an irreparable return to loneliness, Their youth never seems to fade away, as long as the sweet fragrance of a crib remains in the home, as long as the walls of the house echo to the silvery voices of children and grandchildren.

“Their heavy labors multiplied many times over, their redoubled sacrifices and their renunciation of costly amusements are generously rewarded even here below by the inexhaustible treasury of affection and tender hopes that dwell in their hearts without ever tiring them or bothering them.” Pope Pius XII

big pharma prescription

Knowledge Is Power: How Doctors and Big Pharma Profit From Ignorance

Cramming the pillow I’d brought from home a little more to my left, I attempted to placate the cramp that was forming in my back. After years of slumbering on a waterbed, this rock hard hospital bed felt like a torture rack. So, there I was, trying to create a bit of comfort while counting down the minutes until I could scoop up my newest bundle and check-out, when my midwife slid a chair beside me.

Having just given birth to my 4th child several hours prior, I figured she was stopping in to assess my rate of recovery. She made a bit of small talk. Then, she looked me straight in the eyes and asked what kind of birth control I wanted to take home so, “I wouldn’t have to do this again in nine months.”

Huh? was my first thought

medicalSure, I’d taken the pill for the first two years of marriage (and suffered the daily nausea and monthly weep-fest), but in the previous eight years (prior to the baby I’d literally just delivered) I had only practiced Fertility Awareness (and successfully so, I might add). Clearly, this fact was documented in my chart. And, seeing as she was one of my primary caregivers, it seemed unlikely she was clueless to my choice.

Mind you, she hadn’t saddled up to my bedside to chat about my thoughts/desires on family planning options (although as a Catholic there is only one ethical option for me). No, she was there to hawk a prescription. And she was using fear to get the job done.

The Tempter Comes to Call

Looking back now, it seems easy enough. I should have told her to go bugger off. But something was happening behind the scenes to which she was not privy. My marriage had been undergoing an intense trial. We were actually in counseling at the time, but I hadn’t shared that fact with my caregivers.

She was my temptress in the desert, come to offer me promises during my weakest hour, if only I’d bow down to her plans. There I lie, sore from having just pushed a 7 pound-something human out of my body, thoughts swirling with the knowledge of the current state of my marriage. And then, suddenly, illogically, I was terrified that, before there was time for mama-birth-amnesia to set-in, I’d be back in this very hospital, grunting and groaning baby #5 into the world.

Caving Into Pressure

childbirthPlanning to breastfeed, I suggested that the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) had certainly worked well for me in the past. LAM extended my postpartum infertility for more than 6 months each time. I also inquired how the drug she was pushing might affect my newborn.

No worries she told me, staying the course on her mission to get me contracepting. She’d write a low level prescription for a progestin-only pill.

I stammered and stuttered and ultimately caved under the pressure.

By the Grace of God Alone

Rolling my van up to the drug store drive-through a week later, everything inside of me was screaming NO. But, I stuffed those thoughts and handed the sheet of paper to the girl behind the counter.

During what seemed like an extra long wait time, I ran over the options in my head, again. Then in what I can only chalk up to the grace of God, the pharmacist returned to tell me that they were out of those pills. She returned the white sheet of paper and informed me I’d have to try back in a few days.

I never returned.

The Prize for Un-professionalism Goes to…

physicianComparatively speaking, I should count myself as lucky. A number of my Catholic girlfriends faced more egregious treatment during their postpartum visits. One friend’s doctor found it hard to take no for an answer. He tried 5 times in the course of one conversation to strong-arm persuade her to allow him to stick an IUD inside of her body.

But the prize for un-professionalism goes to the doctor who, upon being told no, threw the woman’s chart in her lap. He said, “I’ll see you back here in nine months” as he stormed out of the exam room.

I guess the free lunches and pharmaceutical kick backs must be pretty awesome for these obstetricians to want to dissuade a repeat customer in obstetrics?

Intentional Misinformation

“Knowledge is Power” was a theme song lyric in one of my favorite childhood programs. Indeed, knowledge is a powerful tool, and with it we can make right choices. Unfortunately, there’s not much education going on in the gynecologist’s office. And I’d even boldly assert that women are intentional misinformed; just as I was on the day my midwife undermined my beliefs and used fear-mongering to pass off a prescription.

Let’s do a little fact checking.

Fact Check

The Pill

The Pill utilizes synthetic estrogen/progestins to trick the pituitary gland into producing less Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Lutenizing Hormone. The trick attempts to suppress ovulation. However, studies show there is a 2-8% chance of breakthrough ovulation in any given cycle while on the Pill.

So, the Pill has two other built-in functions. The back-up measures cause a thickening of the cervical mucus (to slow sperm motility) and a depletion of glycogen in the endometrium or lining of the uterus. This last mode of operation is abortifacient because it prevents a fertilized egg implanting, thus forcing an early abortion.

The Mini-pill

The mini-pill, or progestin-only pill, relies predominantly on the the abortifacient mechanism. It creates an inhospitable environment for implantation, should a new life have been formed after a breakthrough ovulation.

Sadly, I didn’t know this fact at the time my midwife handed me a prescription for the mini-pill. And it wasn’t advertised to me. Additionally, the package inserts for the Pill offer a laundry list of possible side effects- from weight gain and decreased libido, to blood clots and heart disease.

Intrauterine Device aka IUD

The IUD, that my friend’s doc was so eager to implant in her just-vacated-uterus, has a high rate of effectiveness. It’s great, so long as you don’t mind the possibility of headaches, acne, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, mood changes, weight gain, ovarian cysts, cramping, pelvic infection, inflammation of the endometrium, perforation of the uterus, endometrial or cervical cancer and high blood pressure. Oh, and, as long as you don’t mind that it is an abortifacient device.

A popular form of birth control in the 70’s, Dalcon Shield was forced to remove its IUD from the market and declare bankruptcy, after paying out millions in malpractice suits. You might assume the new Paraguard and Mirena IUDS are an improvement. But, lawsuits filed against Bayer, Mirena’s maker, tell a different story. Well, it’s really the same old story of harm done to women.

Lactation Amenorrhea Method LAM

That LAM plan, that I mentioned to my midwife, has no negative side effects on the body. And it is completely free. My midwife snubbed her nose at my suggestion, but over the course of my mothering years LAM, along with the Symptom-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning, has proven successful, again and again. In fact, with my last three children I enjoyed a delay in my fertility (meaning no periods) for 12 to 14 months, beyond childbirth!

First Do No Harm

I suppose to be fair, I have to admit that I am not a reader of hearts. I do not know for certain the motives of these physicians. However, if their pledge is to first do no harm, then their actions don’t support that position.

In each of the anecdotes I relayed (and I have LOTS more), my friends and I had not been contracepting before our pregnancies. We were not seeking birth control. We all expressed a hesitancy toward, if not an out-right refusal of, the unsolicited prescriptions.

Birth control carries mild-to-serious risks. A woman who opts-in, requires annual, if not biannual, visits to her doctor. If her side effects are depression, infection, cysts, etc. then she’ll need more trips to the doc. Clearly, birth control is a profitable product for both birth control manufacturers and prescribing physicians.

What’s a Woman To Do?

So what’s a woman to do? Well, like I said, knowledge is power. An informed woman has the power to make better choices.

There are safe, effective means of postponing pregnancy. They require education, and little more. In fact, poor women in India, trained by sisters in Mother Teresa’s religious order, enjoy a 99.4% effectiveness rate in practicing a method of Natural Family Planning (NFP), according the World Health Organization.

That should make you wonder why the Gates Foundation and our government are so persistent in their desire to export birth control drugs/devices to poor nations. Why not empower the poor with education?

Good News Lies Ahead

In parts 1 and 2 of this post series, I discussed the necessity for women to reclaim their wholeness and recognize their inherent feminine genius. I covered the intricate and readable dance of the female fertility cycle, and now we see how mis-education leaves women vulnerable, to a healthcare system which too often places financial gain above all else. But good news lies ahead. Once we unmask deceptions, review the science and evaluate the options, women are free to make wise decisions that respect their whole selves: body, mind and spirit.

Next time, let’s consider: (1) Reclaiming Womanhood: Why It’s Time to Rethink Your Birth Control Plan; (2) Demystified: How the Female Fertility Cycle Works; (3) The Nitty Gritty of Birth Control and the Abortion Back-up Plan; (4) Big Pharma and Your Doc: Your Ignorance Pays the Bills; (5) Pulling Back the Veil and Exposing Your Genuine Fears; (6) Now That You Know, What’s Next

woman's health

Reclaiming Womanhood: Why It’s Time to Rethink Your Birth Control Plan

It’s happening again. Article after article appearing in my news feed. The theme is the same, although each has a slightly different slant to offer. Just as last year, I pour over each one, nodding all the while as my eyes scan the screen. The topic is birth control. Each post does a good job at lifting the veil and sparking interest. However, I’m usually left thinking that there are a few more dots to be connected if the author’s aim is to cast a wide net.

What I mean is, there is so (SO) much more to this subject than simply deciding whether or not to swallow a pill or allow a doctor to insert some device inside of you. Yes, yes we need to shout from the rooftops the truth about the indisputable physical harms being perpetrated against our sisters, but that’s not where we need to start.

Let’s Start Talking

Here’s my intention: I want to begin a conversation and continue it for a while. I want to offer a few thoughts/facts for you to ponder. And then let you walk away to digest it. I hope you’ll come back with questions because I’m going to try to cover a few more bases than I’ve seen covered recently, by the end of this blog post series. Continue reading

Homosexuals Have Gifts to Offer: Why that Headline Isn’t Newsworthy

On first read I couldn’t quite figure out what it was about the headline that bothered me so much. Homosexuals Have Gifts and Qualities to Offer the Christian Community was the highlighted statement being used to draw readers into the newly released documents coming out of the Catholic Church’s Synod on the Family. Of course, as one could imagine a firestorm has been lit on social media and I wasn’t really planning to jump in. But once I recognized just what had me so unnerved by that title, I decided weighing in on the matter was worth the risk of getting singed.
Homosexuals, that’s the word that has me uneasy. Because why must we identify a group of people by their sexual preference? I mean, it goes without saying (or at least it should) that every person has gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community. Yes, Bob, who may happen to be attracted to Larry, can sing in the choir or minister to the home-bound just as well as Joe, who’s married to Linda. So what does homosexuality or heterosexuality have to do with it? Nothing. Well, nothing insomuch as every person is created in the image of God and he has the ability to reflect that image (or not).
In truth, a Christian church which is not welcoming to all people has ceased to be genuinelyChristian. Last Sunday’s gospel reading (Matthew 22:1-14) was a fitting reminder that God invites all of us, good and bad alike, to join His celebration.
Of course, there was a catch in that gospel parable of the wedding feast. When the host’s A-listers RSVP’d “No, thanks, we’ve got other plans”, he sent his servants to invite everyone they happened to find milling about in the streets. The catch was that everyone who came had to leave their street clothes at the door and don the provided wedding garments. Those new duds symbolized the putting on of Christ and repentance from sin.
Now in the gospel parable, the host specifically instructed his servants to invite the good and the bad alike. He knew they all had gifts and qualities to offer. But the catch meant those bad guests had to make a change in order to avoid being cast outside. Of special note was the fact that the errant guest had ample chance to correct his mistake, but he chose to cling to his old ways and that is why he was escorted to the curb.
What bugs me about the headline is that it labels one group of sinners as though the rest of the Christian community is sinless or perhaps less sinful. The headline could just as easily read “Adulterers or Fornicators or Drunks or Liars or Thieves or Murderers Have Gifts and Qualities to Offer”- because they do. And newsflash everybody,those sinners (all of us) are already offering those gifts in our Christian communities. So why the headline if nothing has really changed?
Before I tell you my opinion of why, I first think we need to own up to some realities.
Firstly, a person who has same-sex attractions is not a sinner because of his/her feelings. Feelings don’t equal sin and thank goodness because I’d be in deeper trouble if they did. It takes acting on those attractions (feelings) or willfully entertaining the thoughts of them to commit a sin.
Secondly, if Joe the choir guy is cheating on his wife then he is an adulterer and his sin is just as grievous as Bob’s should Bob be acting on his homosexual attractions. Yeah, and this applies to Joe’s porn habit, too.
Thirdly, as a teacher of Natural Family Planning (and a repentant sinner myself – who is still a work in progress), I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The majority of couples presenting for marriage in the Catholic Church are either already living together and/or are engaging in premarital sex. And nearly all of them will sterilize their sexual unions during part or throughout their married lives.
Huh? What’s the connection, you’re wondering. Well, the real issue here is sin and man’s propensity for it and enslavement to it. All those couples signed up for Pre-Cana who are cohabiting and/or engaging in sexual relations outside of the bonds of marriage, they are just as guilty as an adulterous Joe or a homosexually active Bob.
Focusing on sexual sin here, we need to acknowledge that homosexual acts are no more sinful than all of the other acts which violate the marriage covenant. Real love, true, Christ-like love has requirements just like the wedding feast did. In order for any sexual act to be rightly ordered according to God’s natural law it must be both unitive and potentially procreative. So, the homosexual act never has any chance of meeting those ends; therefore, it is a sin. But sex outside of the sacrament of marriage is also a violation of the requirements because the union, while physically present, isn’t sacramentally (or really even mentally) present. Sexual intimacy (given freely, faithfully and fruitfully) within a sacramental marriage is the physical expression of the marriage covenant made between one man, one woman and God. It is a reenactment, so to speak, of the vows and promises made to and before God. Couples who are sacramentally united, but who willfully choose to unnaturally thwart the procreative ends of the marital embrace, are also culpable of violating the requirements of sincere, Christ-like love.
How come then that headlines didn’t point out the gifts those sinners bring to the church? Is it because we’ve already recognized their potential and welcomed it, but we are only just now coming to the realization that homosexuals present no greater challenge than do every other type of sinner sitting in the pews? I think we have to concede that it was nothing more than a provocative label meant to incite more discussion, for the better or the worse.
I think the real point that needs to be made is that we are all sinners and we should all be striving to break our self-imposed chains. That label in the headline seems more like a proud proclamation of one particular sin. We are all invited guests (every lying, cheating, stealing, fornicating, in-law hating, drunken, drug addicted, gluttonous, vain, prideful one of us), but we have to strip off our worldliness (our brokenness) and put on the garment of Christ.
Indeed, if the sinner wasn’t welcomed, the Church would be a vacant building and the Body of Christ would be missing Its hands and feet. But if the sinner passes through the Church doors unchanged (happily clinging to his label/sin), then heaven could end up with one less invited guest in attendance.