Rewind to Natural Family Planning

Posted by  | Friday, June 26, 2009  at 8:00 AM  
*Be sure to see Stacey's "rewind" post on housekeeping tips! For some reason, blogger wasn't publishing the scheduled posts - so I just did these two at the same time. There is still one more rewind for tomorrow morning.*

So far in POH history, our two most discussed topics have probably been vaccines and birth control with discipline a close 3rd. :) Leah could probably give statistics on that statement; mine was purely a guess based on memory and number of comments! I thought this post warranted another look. To take a look back at other similar posts, see "birth control."

I am really excited that we added this topic in to our schedule! It just seemed like an area that the Lord kept leading us back to through comment threads - so it was time to make it official! I hope you'll enjoy hearing each of our perspectives. Please share yours with us as well.

There are so many issues all wrapped in the one general "family planning" topic scheduled for this week. How many kids? When do we have kids? How long after you're married should you wait to have kids? Birth control or not? Hormones or barrier methods? You get the idea....

The first resource I'd encourage everyone to read is an article at the Desiring God website. (I just recently realized that it was probably not written by John Piper himself - but by another staff member...) The article is titled, Does the Bible permit birth control?

The article above sums up our current view of birth control and where we're at now. Here is our story:

When we first got married, we decided to use a diaphragm. My doctor thought I was crazy when I asked for one, but said it was effective if used properly. At that time, I did not desire to use hormonal birth control. When I say "hormonal birth control," I'm referring to drugs such as the pill (like Ortho tri-cyclen - although there are many), the patch (Ortho Evra), the NuvaRing or Mirena (the other IUDs). "Barrier methods" would refer to non-hormonal methods including diaphragms and condoms.

The diaphragm did not work for us. It ended up being painful to use and I went back to my doctor to find out why. She said that it was likely due to the slight endometriosis I had dealt with since beginning my period. (I still see it as a great option for birth control and would try it again if the need arises!) We decided to use condoms and did so for about a month. At that time, I experienced some pretty severe symptoms with my period. (I actually passed out at school one day!) My doctor recommended using hormones to regulate my period and get my symptoms under control. I started on the patch (OrthoEvra) after much discussion and debate. It certainly regulated my period and almost eliminated my extreme symptoms! For that I was grateful, but as time went on, I realized how much I didn't like what the hormones did to my body. After about 9 months on the patch, we went off it and began to think about starting a family. Four months later, we were pregnant.

Once I went off of the patch and while trying to become pregnant - I discovered this great book:

Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a GREAT resource and I recommend it for every woman. After reading this I learned so much about my cycle and how fertility works. (And sadly, I had already taken an entire college class centered on a woman's cycle and STILL didn't know very much!)

Through the book - we now use Fertility Awareness Method (a little more calculated than the "rhythm method" that refers to a more general idea that ovulation occurs around day 14...which is not the case for all - or most - women.) to prevent pregnancy and also to become pregnant. By knowing exactly when I am fertile and ovulating - we are able to use condoms during that time. And I know this is not always the case for everyone, but because I knew exactly when I ovulated - we were able to become pregnant RIGHT away with my second child.

There is one more thing that I'd like to share. While researching hormonal birth control - I learned that it works in ways many women are unaware of. (The Desiring God article does not mention this nor take it into account when discussing the natural family planning route vs. "artificial" methods)- so I wanted to be sure that I did. I know this is a huge can of worms - but please know that I do not think it is a black and white issue.

Most women - myself included - think that hormonal birth control works by simply preventing ovulation. That is not the entire story. Most work in several ways - one of which being to prevent an egg from being released. Another way that many work is by changing the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation, should an egg be released and fertilized.

The website for OrthoEvra that very clearly states that it:

"helps prevent pregnancy the same way birth control pills do: by preventing ovulation, which means that the ovary does not release an egg to be fertilized; by thickening the cervical mucus, which makes it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus; and by changing the endometrium to reduce the chance of implantation." (italics and bold added by me :)

The endometrium is the lining of the uterus, in case you were wondering.

You could easily look up other forms of hormonal birth control to see how they work. Most work VERY similarly. I don't think this happens every cycle with every woman on hormonal birth control - but it raised enough question for me. This, along with the fact that I don't like how the hormones made me feel, made me decide against hormonal birth control as a method for preventing pregnancy.

Please share with us your thoughts!


missionarymama said...

Anyone have trouble getting pregnant the 2nd time? It was VERY easy getting pregnant the first time around. I was on nuvaring, and it regulated my periods perfectly (I originally had to go on bc for extreme cramping and to fix irregular periods). I got pregnant the first month I went off nuvaring. Well, my baby is now 12 1/2 months, and I have not gone back on any hormonal bc, and my periods have been extremely irregular. They came back when she was 6 months and were somewhat regular for 4 months, but i have been late ever month since then. I am now over a week late, but I took a pregnancy test last week, and it was negative. I guess you could say we've officially been "trying" a couple of months. I'm still breastfeeding about 3-4 times/day and don't feel quite ready to give that up yet. I didn't want to go back on hormonal bc, but I am wondering if I need to because of my irregular periods? If so, I know I will have to give up bfeeding, too.

Probably TMI...we're newly overseas and in one country temporarily before we move on to our permanent residence. We don't have healthcare except for emergencies here , so going to an OBGYN is not an option.

Sheila Kippley said...

There is no reason to quit breastfeeding because of "irregular" cycles. This is normal with breastfeeding which can influence the cycle prior to ovulation. You will know what is going on by charting. Free instruction of fertility signs and rules plus the natural child spacing of breastfeeding can be downloaded from the online manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach, at A left side bar is geared for Protestants titled "Not Just for Catholics." Charting will also tell you whether you are pregnant or not. You do not have to purchase a pregnancy kit. Free charts are also available on the home page of above website. Sheila Kippley, volunteer for NFP International

Leah said...

I don't think you have anything to be concerned about yet with conceiving your second. Our bodies sometimes take their time to adjust after birth and breastfeeding. Give yourself a few more months. Enjoy your time with your nursling and don't feel pressured to give that up. My advice would be to readdress the situation in a few more months. BUT, I realize that may be hard to do emotionally - I'm only coming at this from a physical standpoint.

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