10 May, 2007

Natural Family Planning...Part 2

I love it when I get responses to my blog! I've had some great ones to my last post, so, being the ever-informative writer that I am, I did some more research!

One comment cited my limited marital scope. Certainly, I have only been married for almost 3 weeks, but I have spent the last 4 years researching and writing about this topic. For the last year, I have tracked my sympto-thermal cycles. I am well aware of it's effects on our current love life and our former dating life. It allows me to be conciously aware of the hormonal shifts in my body and the impacts it has on my moods and responses. It allows me to communicate more clearly why I am feeling the way that I am, and it also allows him to know more easily when those times are occurring. Moreover, the fact that I have been tracking these cycles allows both of us to know when sex is not an option, without one having to refuse one another.

Another comment was in regards to needing assurance and security in a form of birth control and that NFP doesn't offer that security. According to "Feminist Women's Health Center" - Note, I am using a source outside of my personal belief sphere - claims that "the pill" in it's many forms is only 92-99% effective when used correctly. Also, according to Planned Parenthood, only 8 out of every 100 women (again 92%) who use the pill will become pregnant in the first year of using the pill. (That number drops to 1 for "perfect use"). That doesn't include drug interactions and other hang-ups...compared to a consistent 97% for NFP when used correctly. So really, in all essence, "the pill" is no better guarantee than NFP, you can just have sex more often with "the pill".

An MSNBC article about a study conducted for the journal Human Reproduction contains the following quote:

“For a contraceptive method to be rated as highly (effective) as the hormonal pill, there should be less than 1 pregnancy per 100 women per year,” lead author Dr. Petra Frank-Herrmann, from the University of Heidelberg in German, said in a statement.

Among women who always used the symptothermal method correctly, the unplanned pregnancy rate was 0.4 percent. “Therefore, we maintain that the effectiveness of the symptothermal method is comparable to the effectiveness of modern contraceptive methods,” she added.

For more on the topic and details of the study:

Another short explanation. The sympto-thermal method of birth control is much more scientific than most people's perception of the "rhythm method". You are required to track your waking temperature throughout your entire cycle with a basal thermometer (it reads out to hundreths for a more acurate reading). You are also required to monitor the consistency of your cervical mucus. Sorry for those with a weak stomach... These techniques together are highly effective. A woman's temperature might be elevated due to stress or illness, but if her cervical mucus is dry, she likely isn't ovulating. There is always room for error, but if the contest is up against the error of "the pill" the margin is comparable.

As to the particular concern about how much time there is for a couple to have sex, this commitment must be a mutual commitment between husband and wife. That is part of why it falls so squarely in the whole pattern of Catholic families. Sex belongs in marriage. With marriage comes commitment, communication, and understanding. It is this mutual commitment, communication and understanding that allows couples to practice NFP in their marriages. Kevin knows that I am so much healthier being off the pill and keeping my body clear of the hormones. We love each other enough to sacrifice pleasure for well-being during that time of my cycle. I don't have to refuse him. Don't get me wrong, sex is a critical part of marriage. The intimate life is the greatest gift a husband and wife can give to one another and periods of abstinence must be mutual and purposeful.

We make the time we have for sex meaningful. And when the "no fly zone" is in effect, we take that time to build each other up in other ways. Since it is my most creative and energetic time, we often work on house or yard projects together. Sometimes we make the extra effort to take day trips around the region, which are a good opportunity to get away and talk. Other times, the best thing to do is get out with our friends. Kevin likes to fish and it is a good chance for him to go out on the lake after work with his best friend. I like to get together with my girlfriends for drinks or coffee. These are built in opportunities to enhance ourselves and our marriage.

Moreover, we are at a place in our lives where pregnancy is a viable option. Now, I am not saying that if it isn't, you shouldn't use NFP, but in our case if we don't get it perfect, it is okay for us to have a baby. We wouldn't have gotten married if it wasn't. Let's face it, the purpose of marriage is two-fold. 1: the procreation and rearing of children and 2: the mutual commitment of the couple to exemplify Christ and his love for the Church and bring one another closer to God's Kingdom. If you're not ready for one, you're not ready for either.

Sure, we'd like to pay off the rest of my student loans and get a nice nest egg going. We'd like to have a few months before undertaking yet another new phase in life. But a baby is a blessing. We will welcome a baby, planned or unplanned, with the same joy and enthusiasm as part of God's wonderful and omniscient plan.

Speaking of student loans, I need to go wade through a rather large and complex web of job opportunities and time-frames. When it rains, it pours. I suppose I should be grateful, but for once in my life, can't God make it easy!!!???

P.S. Keep the comments coming! I love the dialogue!!!

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