Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fertility is Not a Disease

During Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, I encourage you to learn more about your fertility.  A new website with this aim has just launched, and this is the perfect time to tell you about it.  IuseNFP already has a wealth of information, including instructional resources, statistics, personal stories, graphics with promotional messages, and more. 

Here is a phrase from their mission statement: “Through the use of NFP we desire that men and women see themselves as equal partners with the responsibility to prudently manage their family, to recognize their bodies as deserving of the respect which only NFP promotes, and gain self knowledge which will lead to greater overall physical and emotional health.”   Seriously, what other fertility program offers all of that?

This new website aims to educate everyone about Natural Family Planning from “a non-religious, non-sectarian” perspective.  If you are looking for resources about NFP from a Catholic perspective regarding marriage and family, you can find information and links at this post.

I chose to highlight the button above because in the women’s studies course I teach I strive to counter the idea that women’s body processes are diseases.  Modern medicine sees menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause as “conditions” that require “fixing,” usually in the form of pharmaceuticals or surgery.  Known as medicalization, this attitude has convinced women that doctors and pharmacists know more about their bodies than women ever could, and that the working details of their fertility should remain mysterious.

Among causing other problems, such as a high maternal death rate when giving birth (the U.S. has the highest rate in the developed world), the medicalization of a women’s fertility also discourages interest in Natural Family Planning, a low cost, organic, health promoting method of fertility control based on science.  When you learn how your fertility works, and see the signs of hormone cycles acting in your body, you participate in your own healthcare.  You can be confident that you are healthy when your body is working as it should.

On the other hand, pharmaceutical contraceptives discourage knowledge of the fertility inherent to women’s bodies, and cause side effects that negatively impact women’s health, all at a monthly cost.  In addition, contraceptives are meant to stop your fertility from working as it should, causing a hormonal imbalance that can take up to a year to return to normal.  There is also evidence that the contraceptive hormones not used by the body pass through the urine into the water supply, thus exposing many more people as well as animals and plants to artificial reproductive hormones, with negative consequences that we are only beginning to understand.

In a world where organic food, farming, and living are gaining more advocates, Natural Family Planning should be included in our efforts to live naturally and greener.  For those of us who believe that fertility is not an illness, this moment is the perfect time to share our knowledge of NFP with others.  Learn more about your fertility, and share what you have learned with others interested in a healthy lifestyle.


  1. Great post! As always, your writing is thoughtful and provocative!

  2. Elisa,
    This information here is so well articulated: coherent, cohesive, and super helpful! Praying your post gets many views, especially from those who often wonder at the teachings of the Catholic Church. Thanks for being such a great witness!

  3. I am finding your post very infomative. Not a Catholic but did practice a natural family planning in my early years. It every thing to do with my temperture which I took daily. I remember it was easy to track when I was fertile. Had not thought about this for years. Interesting read.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and your sweet comment. Blessings

    1. Betty, you remember correctly that it is very easy to track the signs of fertility once you know what to look for.

  4. Great post, Elisa! Thanks for promoting NFP! I hope many people read it and are encouraged to give NFP a try!

  5. Thank you all for visiting and for your encouraging words. It is my hope that many people will learn about and share their knowledge of NFP.

  6. Hi Elisa! It's been busy at my house, so I'm a little late checking out your post! But it's a great article!
    My husband and I were excited to have kids when we were first married so we decided to not bother with the NFP class. Later, after having 4 kids we wanted to slow down and catch our breath. Till then it was too late. My cycle was 100% crazy and totally unpredictable. The kids kept me up at all hours and my health was getting bad. So learning NFP was almost impossible. We now have 9 beautiful kids, all a blessing and a treasure. As you know, Elisa, my health problems continued till it became necessary for me to have a hysterectomy. So for my personal situation I'm glad I couldn't learn NFP. It would have stopped me from having my last 5 kids until it was too late for me to be able to.
    But a word of caution to your readers: Learn NFP before you have kids or you may have a harder time using the temperature method due to kids waking you during the night!
    Thanks, Elisa!
    God bless.

  7. Jennifer, thank you for your story. For the benefit of others, I will respond to some of your points.

    It is true that sleep disruptions can affect your ability to get accurate temperature readings, but new research reported by CCL provides help. A woman needs only six total hours of sleep to get an accurate temperature, and that can include interruptions, as long as six hours of sleeping is completed before taking the temperature.

    Also, the temperature changes little between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., so if you are not able to take your temperature at the same time every morning due to children waking you at odd hours, you can take your temperature anytime during this window (after sleeping a total of 6 hours).

    Finally, your health issue also made it difficult for you to monitor the other signs of fertility, which most women also use to interpret their cycles. So, even when temperatures are inaccurate, forgotten, or all over the chart, other observations can tell you about your cycle.

    I agree that learning NFP before having kids is a good idea because pregnancy can make your cycles change afterward, but NFP can be learned and used after pregnancy also. Jennifer's health condition is rare (yes, she told me all about it), so NFP can work for the majority of women.

    1. I'm sorry if I gave anyone the wrong idea about NFP. I'm know it works wonders for most women. So if anyone is thinking about trying it, PLEASE DO!!! My mother and my sister, as well as, MANY other women I know have used it without any problems. My personal and rare health problems were my sad story, but NFP can be a gateway to a free and natural life for so many women!

      I only wanted to point out that if you are thinking about trying NFP, don't wait!! Learn about it as soon as possible. It is such a help to understand your body and to know why we feel and act the way we do!

    2. Thank you for your enthusiasm, Jennifer!


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