The last thing I worried about when my husband and I gave Natural Family Planning (NFP) a try, was whether it was good for my body. I was mother to a 6-month-old baby girl. I had zero complications during pregnancy, labor and delivery outside of obesity (I was overweight/obese when I became pregnant with her). I enjoyed a fairly healthy existence for most of my life, unaware of any problems in the reproductive area as well. I used hormonal contraceptives off and on for 10 years prior to learning NFP. I began taking them when I was 18 and I was just over my 28th birthday when I said goodbye to "the pill" for good.
I never paid much attention to how I felt on a day in day out basis before I started using NFP. Growing up I was a fairly healthy child. I had suffered one 8 week episode with cellulitis that ended with me understanding that bacteria had "colonized" within my right leg/foot and I would always be at risk for another bout with the nasty stuff. But, I didn't get ear infections or the flu or strep or anything like that growing up. That pattern continued in my adult years. I was never sick enough to stay in bed, succombing only to a common cold once in awhile.
When it came to fertility, I had always considered myself "regular" with my cycles because I was faithful taking "the pill", and the withdrawal bleeding came right on schedule with the week of placebos. As I started to watch and learn my cycles with NFP, I was fascinated and frustrated all at the same time!
I was fascinated because I made internal and external observations and took my temperature and I could see that my body had an established biological rhythm that indicated the opening and closing of the fertile window. I was frustrated because instead of 28-day (pseudo-) cycles, I entered the realm of 35-40 days cycles and I didn't understand why. Even though I learned through the Method classes that ovulation could happen later than days 14-18, I still didn't expect that it would be ME that would be one of the women ovulating late.
I didn't begin seeing my NFP-only doctor until I was pregnant with my 2nd child, but in the months following her birth as I tried to make sense of my cycles post-partum and beyond, my doctor was instrumental in helping me understand my charts. He was open to the idea that my ovulation might not be happening as early as I kept almost willing myself to see it happen. With the extended phase II (that's the fertile phase, in case you're not sure) and the seemingly extremely short phase III/luteal phase, he began to suspect that I had a hormonal imbalance and he ordered bloodwork. I had my blood taken/tested for increased progesterone on Peak + 3, 5, 7, 9, 11. Through these measurements, he was able to see that progesterone was not increased as much as it should be post-ovulation. The increased estrogen in my system was causing issues with timely ovulation and the decreased progesterone post-ovulation was causing short luteal phases (mine were 6 days max and he wanted to see me get to 10-12 days). Beginning then and ever since, I now take regimen of 10 days of progesterone (in pill form) beginning Peak + 3 days.
While my doctor and I were able to identify the luteal phase defect/progesterone deficiency, NFP can help women identify a plethora of issues that are often masked by using hormonal contraceptives or IUD's. I find that my expanded understanding of my body has led to an ever-increasing respect and amazement at the way I am made. And this also provides me with a very good reason not to change the way I am made and the temptation toward sterilization has never reared its head. The support of my husband and even his own amazement and awe at the way our bodies are made has also stunted any sort of inclination he may have had toward his own sterilization.
With an increased awareness of our biological rhythms and that they are geared toward a cycle in which fertility comes and goes in cycles over a fixed period of time in our married lives comes a spirit of amazement and awe at the miracle of how we are made. This awe and amazement at God's creation elicits a feeling akin to horror at the idea of destroying it. It is unfathomable to reject this amazing gift we were given.
"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;"
--Psalm 139 (13-15)
I did not consider that NFP was good for my body when I started this journey.
But I should have.
And now, I would like to encourage anyone who has come upon my blog this week during NFP Awareness Week, to try NFP...
...because it's good for your body.