Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I Made a Choice about my Reproductive Health

There is a lot of talk right now about women making their own choices for their own reproductive health. I figured that instead of discussing all of that, I would just discuss me. This is a blog about me, so why not, right?  The choice I made was a long time in coming, a bit awkward to begin with, and I'm sure will involve some more fun awkward moments to come.  It could have been worse on the awkward scale, but it should have been better.

The road to my choice started a couple of years ago, when all my friends were getting married, and I got to listen to endless discussions of all things wedding and marriage prep.  One thing that was consistent in that was that the couples were choosing some form of natural family planning (NFP).  It was not uncommon to have a friend say, "I thought my cycle was normal, but I realized some things were not exactly where they should be."  I wondered what, if anything, might be abnormal about my own cycle.  I was curious to find out some elusive day when I finally might be preparing for marriage.

Then I got started with this whole blogging thing, and before long found this whole group of Catholic IF bloggers (that would be "infertile", and if you think my use of initials is bad, try following their blogs!) If you don't want to learn lots about cycles, whether they be normal or abnormal or somewhere in between, don't go read those blogs.  While I have never envied what my friends are going through, I did notice that there were certain things that they were finding that were affecting overall health, not just their ability to have children.  One common one is thyroid problems.  I have a history of thyroid problems and something still seems a little off to me in that regard, so I kind of wished I could know how charting helps to figure all of that out.

Then I was noticing some things that I thought might be changes in my cycle, but I had no way of knowing for sure, because I'm single and don't chart.  Why would I chart if I'm single?

Finally I decided that there is no reason that I can't learn a few things as a single person. Yeah, sure, the class is billed as a way to learn how to achieve or avoid pregnancy, and any health benefits are sort of listed as secondary, but that's okay.  And, yes, it's fun when they tell you what the cost is "per couple" (also the cost per single person, in case you were wondering). However, when I emailed the local instructor, she was kind enough to treat me as normal.  Apparently I am not the only female out there who has no current prospects of marriage, but just wants to know more about her health.

There really wasn't any point (in my mind) for me to learn anything other than the Creighton model. Many other NFP models are good for the signs of fertility, but typically people that need to learn more about their health end up having to learn Creighton anyway. Actual fertile and infertile times are a moot point for me right now, but reproductive health and the way that connects with my overall health are very relevant. So, Creighton it is.

There you have it. My choice for my reproductive health is to learn something about it. And to chart it for a while. That way I can see if things are as normal as they seem, or if something is off.  I want a good 6 cycles or so to get a baseline for me so that I know what is or is not normal in my own cycle.  Then if I decide to stop charting for a while, I will at least have a better handle on where I am.

Also, the awkwardness came in the form of the group introductory session, in which I felt like a weirdo, even though there was only one couple there.  Particularly in the part where we were waiting for the talk to begin. I did not feel at all awkward during the actual session and discussion.  I guess after reading all kinds of IF blogs for so long, they didn't even come close to anything that seemed awkward or out of the ordinary! I just think that it shouldn't be awkward to be a single female at that class. There really is a lot about reproductive and gynecological health, and it should not be billed as being just for couples. (Again, the instructor was great about making it about all of the above, but all of the printed info for the class assumed that you were a couple only wanting to learn about when to have sex based on whether you want to achieve or avoid pregnancy.)

Thanks to all that have been willing to openly discuss things about their cycles (both in person and those that blog), so I could realize that there was more for me to know right now, as well as making so that it does not seem weird to me to discuss these things!

Brief update: I wrote this quickly last night to blurt out my immediate thoughts after taking the class. But the point in sharing it (besides that it's a blog and oversharing is part of the standard template) is that there may be others out there that have thought about learning more, and I want them to know they aren't the only ones. I also figured I should probably add a link or two so you could actually learn something if you are so inclined! To learn more about Creighton specifically, you can go here. To find a teacher in your area, go here (left side of the page).

13 comments:

  1. That is awesome! I have four clients that are single and a lot of my single friends always ask me about charting and their cycles. Haha you're right you shouldn't read the IF blogs if you don't want to hear about CM and TTC and all the other abbreviations.

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  2. I think this is a great idea. I really wish I would have learned to chart in high school since I was always confused by what was going on. I hope to teach L the basics when she begins to have a cycle because I think it's the kind of knowledge every woman should have.

    November

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  3. You are brilliant. What a start to great change in the culture of reproductive health.

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  4. How great that you are doing this! It's pretty fascinating isn't it? There are some things that the program assumes- being a married couple is one of the. It also assumes you are following all the teachings of the church regarding sex and birth control and that you are both on the same page about that. I've been in a few sessions that were rather awkward because of my ignorance about church teaching- YIKES. I figure where else am I going to learn it! Plus, at the beginning, Guitar Man wasn't totally on board. Anyway...I'm so glad you went and learned! Your instructor sounds great!

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  5. I wish more single women would do this! We did a special NFP Class for the ladies in one of the Newman Clubs and they were a great group to teach. We really focused on health and charting in general as they were all single ladies. It was really a fun class to teach.

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  6. You are such a smart woman!!! I wish I would have found a form of NFP (Primaryily Creighton) when I was single and dealing with all kinds of issues! I think it would have helped us find the problem to our IF early and I would be so much healthier and theose bouts with being so sad would have lessened!
    I admire you for taking a huge leap! I get frustrated when people think it is foolish to do this ahead of time! I discerned religious lefe prior to meeting my husband and I still wonder what would have become of my health problems if I was so determined to have children and learn about my problems with my overall health that were reflected in my cycles!
    Best of luck to you!! Praying for you and your future mate!!!

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  7. I think that is great that you decided to do this! I wish I had not been in the fertile myrtle bubble before getting married, so that I could have been real about the fact that is isn't all rainbows and sunshine. You are so right about thinking that your cycles are normal, until you read all these blogs and realize it really seems that abnormal is the norm.

    Thank you for always thinking to share things like this. I am going to look into this, thanks to your links. Praying for you always!

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  8. I also wish I had done what you are doing and checking into NFP / Creighton and taking a class. It should be something standard for girls at least in a Catholic High School, but I can't recall even one time where the subject was broached. It is SO great that you're finding things out now as to your health than when you get married & THEN try and figure things out.
    And yes, it would be totally awkward with having things discussed as "couples" only. I realize it would take alot to reprint all the manuals, but they really could make that correction on their next edition. :-)

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  9. Good for you! And I agree completely. Thankfully there are a few methods/teachers/promotional materials that are generic, but you are right that far too many are geared just toward family planning.

    You would have loved our Billings class, I think that there were 3 women there without men? One of them had apparently taught herself the method for fertility awareness and just wanted to make sure she had everything correct.

    I am taking my youngest sister to an intro CrMS session tomorrow. I don't know how it will work for her since my FCP was really, really hung up on the method being used specifically either to avoid or achieve pregnancy, but at least the intro will be good, and with the right FCP I am sure that it could work!

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  10. That is excellent! I wish our area had more classes available for single women. As it is, I'm trying to teach my oldest daughter a bit about this stuff while she is going through puberty. Trying to help her gauge her first period and give her info she needs so she's not afraid of her body and has the empowerment I have by knowing about cycles and all that stuff.

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  11. I agree completely and wish I had pursued NFP and Creighton well before I met my dh. At the time I thought it was only for preventing or achieving pregnancy, so I thought it had no relevance to me. But now I see the abundance of information it provides about one's health in general...like I said, I wish I had done it since my teens! I plan to have my daughter learn charting early on. I know it would have saved me a lot of headaches if I had done it sooner. I applaud your choice!

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  12. I think it is so great you are starting the Creighton class (it's the method I learned, so I am partial to it ;) ) I've actually been talking to one of my single friends about taking the class because she's been having some issues in her cycle (and her dr. is, of course, trying to push her on BCP). You have reminded/inspired me to talk to her again about NFP (and maybe give her a little boost to start the classes!)

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