Tag Archives: doctors

Laudato Si and NFP

I am only a few pages into Laudato Si, but I am already loving it! Our beloved Pope Francis truly has the heart of St. Francis. He is a poet. He is also challenging me in ways I did not expect.

We have a child with severe food allergies, and from the moment of her diagnosis just about everything in our life changed. There’s nothing like a crisis to instigate change. We had to rethink everything we did, from cooking to bathing and everything in-between. We gained a new vocabulary, learned to decipher nutrition labels, and gained new skills. It took at least a year, if not two, to accumulate an arsenal of new recipes and familiarity with cooking new foods. We removed all allergens from our home, shopped the organic aisle, developed rules about encounters with friends and family, rules about traveling, and in the meantime learned more about natural health. Let me tell you, it was a challenge. Nowadays much of this is routine, but it was a big learning curve.

Reading this encyclical feels kind of like being diagnosed with food allergies again.  We have just been diagnosed with major life changing news, but in this case the diagnosis includes everyone on the planet. Pope Francis, while expounding a bit on the theology of creation and our role as caretakers of our Brother Earth, describes the dire state in which our world lies. We have misused our resources and are placing the planet, and all lives, in jeopardy. He is calling for change and to take responsibilty for the problem. But will others understand his message and the crisis he depicts enough to change?

I recently read an article from the National Catholic Register entitled Birth Control in Drinking Water: A Fertility Catastrophe in the Making? It seemed rather appropriate that it was published around the release of Laudato Si. It cites a recent report by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) that has found evidence that some fish have been dramatically affected by excreted birth control hormones contained in drinking water. The effects on the fish included reduced fertility (up to the third generation even when not directly exposed), reduced fertilization rates, impaired embryo survival rates (miscarriage), and the drugs’ ability to “feminize” male fish. Sound familiar? As a NFP teacher perhaps my ears are attuned to the numerous stories of couples who are struggling to conceive or who have suffered from miscarriage. How much of this is due to contaminants in drinking water and food? The USGS study, says the article, “adds to a growing body of evidence that man-made endocrine-disrupting chemicals — those that affect hormone systems and numerous body functions, including conception — are damaging wildlife, wreaking havoc on reproductive, immunological and nervous systems.” But this information is being shrugged off and ignored. Something the Pope warns about in this new encyclical.

Reading both this article and the encyclical reignites my passion for promoting NFP. How can people, especially doctors, justify prescribing birth control (and unnecessary medication in general) when scientific research supports that it negatively impacts wildlife, and ignore the logical respective repercussions for humanity? Especially when NFP is just as effective as a means of regulating birth, if not more so. NFP is not simply a moral and religious question, it is a clear-cut solution to the environmental dilemma our world is facing.

Our family is already familiar with label-reading and organic food, but it needs to be taken to a new level. Now we need to think in terms of how all we do and consume impacts the planet. Everything, from shampoos to detergents to medicine, it all weighs upon our common home, and we have a responsibility to take measures to care for and protect it for all to enjoy. This includes NFP and the need to promote it vigorously. We are one family, and all of our efforts, big and small, make a difference.

I hope you will join us.


Book: Managing Morning Sickness

managing morning sickness I’m always on the lookout for good resources, most especially those pertaining to NFP. When I find one it’s like a gem I hold on to. Well today I’d like to tell you one that a friend and fellow NFP teacher put me onto. It is Marilyn M. Shannon‘s book Managing Morning Sickness.

Published by CCL, it totally escaped my attention until recently. It is a small book, but it is packed with research-based self-care options for nausea and related discomforts frequently experienced by pregnant mothers. The simple, home-based treatments Shannon suggests in this book, however, you will not likely hear in the doctor’s office.

Shannon has found research supports that morning sickness may be the result of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). She then illustrates how this is so, and delineates ways women may overcome it through diet, nutrition and possibly vitamin and mineral supplements. All her suggestions are safe, practical and inexpensive, although she does of course encourage talking with your doctor or midwife before beginning any supplementation, especially as he/she understands any existing health problems you may have.

I highly recommend any woman, pregnant or potentially being so, picking up this book. Statistically speaking, if you have not or do not experience morning sickness during one pregnancy, you or someone you know are likely to in the future, some more severely than others. The tips, tricks and knowledge gained through this reading will help you know how to naturally treat it and so help make your pregnancy more enjoyable and healthy.

Also, in case you are not aware, Marilyn Shannon has another wonderful book, Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition. It is currently part of CCL’s student course kit when registering for the main class series or home study course. My students hear me say this all the time: it is my nutrition bible! It’s the first place I go to whenever I have a question about fertility-related health and nutrition. I cannot recommend it enough. Anything from everyday supplementing to treating annoying PMS symptoms, PCOS, endometriosis, and more, it is a valuable resource with rarely heard but practical, natural, and research-based self-care. Acting on her suggestions could make all the difference for you, like they have for me.

Blessings in the new year!

A Guide to Contraception

Sometimes it is helpful to have a resource like this handy, for our own questions and those of others: In this article entitled “A What’s-What (and Why It’s Wrong) Guide to 21st-Century Contraception,” made available courtesy of Family Foundations (the bi-monthly publication of CCL), author Kathleen Basi consults physician Dr. Tom Papreck about the different types of contraceptives available.

This article contains information on how they work, why they often are chosen, the moral problems of using them, and a list of other things that people seldom hear about or problems that arise with the use of them. Knowledge is power.

The article is also available on our Resources page (so they’ll be no need to hunt down that old blog post to find it.) 😉


NFP-Supportive Physicians

Sometimes it is tough practicing natural family planning in today’s society. Contraceptives are the accepted norm, so much so that the mere mention of NFP elicits a response equivalent to a sympathetic pat on the hand. Much of this is due to lack of education. In sex education classes, our school children are encouraged to practice “safe sex,” and in many places they can get free handouts from their school nurse. It is no wonder, then, that as adults many of our friends, family and colleagues simply do not understand how NFP works. Thus, when we meet other families who use NFP, it is like an oasis in the desert: “Aah, friends who understand!” It is the same way with doctors.

Since the development of the Pill, medical schools have set their full attention on contraceptives. Students very rarely hear about natural family planning, and when they do, it is often referenced to as the Rhythm Method, a calendar-based system that is highly ineffective, and so they also go uneducated. However, there are doctors who have discovered the benefits of NFP and who promote it exclusively, like these courageous doctors of Downers Grove, IL, who left their practices and established a new one where they will no longer prescribe birth control or perform sterilizations but instead support women using any form of NFP. Another one of our dear desert oases.

I have had the experience of visiting a NFP-supportive physician, and the difference in the visit was wonderful. He not only appreciated my bringing along my NFP chart and asked questions about my observed fertility signs, but he also asked follow-up questions which respected my knowledge of my own body. Instead of a pat on the hand, it was a pat on the back. And the best part, instead of being given the option of taking birth control to solve any “problems,” we discussed the taking of blood samples to determine any low or high hormone levels to determine the source of the problem, which would then help us find healthy, natural ways of solving them and getting me back to a better state of health. Wonderful!

NFP-supportive physicians can be hard to find, especially in rural areas, but there is a great tool you can use to locate one: onemoresoul.com/nfp-directory. Search results include NFP centers, pharmacies, medical professionals and teachers, all located by zip code.

Find a NFP-supportive physician at onemoresoul.com/nfp-directory

Find a NFP-supportive physician at onemoresoul.com/nfp-directory

Many NFP-supportive physicians have been trained through NaProTechnology, which is a new branch of health science dedicated exclusively to monitoring and maintaining a woman’s reproductive and gynecological health. They also assist with male infertility. To learn more about this exciting new field, go to www.naprotechnology.com/.

My hope is that you will be able to find the kind of supportive health care you need when you need it, knowing that it is out there to find.


Humor & NFP: A Personal Experience

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.

The Story
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.