Disclaimer: Some descriptors of cervical mucus are used within this post. Perhaps this story is only really funny for those who use NFP and are familiar with checking cervical mucus on a daily basis. For the squeamish and weak-stomached, you have been warned: proceed to read at your own risk! 🙂
Those who use NFP may have had this experience: that of finding we know more than our doctors do about our reproductive cycle. No kidding. What students learn in CCL’s Main Course Series is more than just about any student will learn from medical school. Thus, we usually become educators, informing doctors of the use and efficacy of natural family planning and surprising them with our knowledge and insight into our own cycles. Sometimes, too, the educating is done with a bit of humor. Read below for one NFP-user’s recent humorous experience with her OB/GYN.
Let me begin by saying that I am unusually close with my doctor. My husband is a serviceman. While I was pregnant, after finding that we were both a little more stressed than usual about the coming baby and our life situation he said, “You have to pray and trust in God. I’ll pray for you too.” Later, after our daughter was born and my husband was deployed overseas, I found a second suspicious lump in my breast. My doctor called to give me his cell phone number and told me that my daughter and I would be coming to dinner at his house at least once a week if the lump turned out to be cancerous.
My OB/GYN is a University teaching doctor and so he almost always has medical students accompanying him. Though he is not NFP-only, at every visit he tells the student, “NFP is different than the Rhythm method. I have never had a patient who has actually taken the NFP classes come in here and tell me they accidentally got pregnant.” This past week, he said the same thing to his student, but she also learned a little bit more about fertility and the sympto-thermal method.
This week was my annual well-woman check-up. My doctor asked if the student could do the pap smear as she had never done one before, and I agreed as I trust his judgement. However, pretty quickly she made it clear that she wasn’t comfortable with this exam, and my doctor took over. At that point he said, “This is a LOT of mucus! Where are you in your cycle?”
I really thought this was hysterical and replied, “Oh, I’m probably ovulating in the next day or two. I knew you were supposed to avoid coming to these appointments while on your period, but nobody ever said anything about ovulation!”
“I bet you have mucus that could stretch across the room!” he said, and he showed what he meant to the student, who was clearly very seriously fascinated. It became clear that this student had never seen fertile mucus, probably because 95% of their patients are on birth control or pregnant, and I suppose the likelihood that any woman out of that last 5% happen to show up while they’re ovulating is fairly slim. The student even said as she left, “Thank you for coming today! It was so nice to meet you!”
The situation may sound a little awkward, but at the time it really was hilarious. Though he is not NFP-only and supports the use of birth control, I think the relationship I have with my doctor is unique enough to keep us there. I also feel the “learning experience” his students receive might entice them to learn more about the benefits and possibilities of NFP and is itself a good reason for visiting this clinic!
To the Inexperienced, Some Explanations
When the doctor described her mucus as able to stretch across the room, he was exaggerating of course. When ovulation is approaching, there can be so much cervical mucus that it feels like a menstrual bleed and soak the underwear. This type of mucus can also be described as “stretchy.” Cervical mucus changes in response to the change in the estrogen hormone, which is always present throughout a woman’s cycle but fluctuates at certain times and so gives a clue as to where in a cycle a woman is at. Thus, our storyteller knew that, based on the type and quantity of mucus (through charting), she knew she would be ovulating within a day or two.
Conversely, when a woman is using a form of birth control and suppressing her reproductive cycle, the synthetic hormones or device used interferes with the woman’s natural hormones and so cervical mucus is not what it would be at its natural state. Thus, many women do not have this experience of abundant “fertile” cervical mucus, which is why both the doctor and medical student were surprised by this experience as well.
Do You Have a Story to Share?
If you have a story, of any sort, that you would like to share regarding your experiences with NFP in some way, shape or form, let me know (preferably by email)! If appropriate for the blog, I can submit anonymously, like the one above. Sharing experiences can be so helpful, especially in bringing together the NFP community and supporting each other along the journey.