Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Method

Oh lucky, lucky you, fair blog reader. I had thought to spare you details of my charting, but I changed my mind.  I have learned so much from people willing to share their experiences, and in case I can pass that on to someone else, I am going to share my thoughts with you. Yes, it's high on the TMI scale.  For the love of all that is good and decent in this world, skip these posts if you can't handle the TMI. The rest of you, just call me Catholic "Over Share" Mutt, and take what you will from them.

Here, in my usual highly organized fashion (i.e. take the thoughts as they come and throw them at the page to fall where they will), are my thoughts from my first week of charting and taking some time to learn about my cycle.

First of all, I have mixed feelings about the way Creighton is taught for two reasons.  1) It assumes that you are a couple. 2) It assumes that you are a Catholic following the teachings of the Catholic Church.  It makes complete sense that it is taught this way.  This is a system that started from scientific research trying to find more effective natural family planning that was within Church teachings. That would place you squarely in the Catholic couple range.  However, because they did such a good job with the scientific research, it has led to so much more.  It has become a very effective method of natural family planning (effective rates of 96.8), and therefore more couples are interested in using it (and other NFP methods) as a healthier and more environmentally sound method of family planning.  They may not be at all interested in the religious implications that mean so much to me as a Catholic.

The other thing that has come out of this research is that it is helping to pick up and treat abnormalities in reproductive and gynecological health. This means that it can be very effective in helping to treat subfertility, particularly in that it can address some of the underlying problems.  In many cases, even when pregnancy is not achieved, there is still improvement in a woman's health. So, still related to couples in this case, but I wish it were not only Catholic couples because there are so many suffering from IF* that only know of things like IVF** that are not always as effective and that are generally not fixing any of the underlying health problems. This also means that it is very beneficial for me as a woman (no matter what my state in life) to learn about charting, because it can help me to learn more about my health and what is and is not normal.  Therefore, I would say that it can and should be addressed to all women.

As I said, I have mixed feelings.  Because women learning about their cycle is such a great benefit on so many levels, I want the doors to be open for all to feel comfortable coming to learn it, from Catholics wanting to live faithfully according to their beliefs to nonreligious couples who simply want another effective option that doesn't require taking hormones, to single women who want to be aware of what is going on. On the other hand, that Catholic background is essential in where it came from, and I know of more than one Catholic couple that has come to a much deeper understanding of their faith in general because of learning about NFP*** with that religious background included.  I think trying to figure out how to be sensitive to all of these things in education about NFP is a growing pain that needs to be addressed, but what a fantastic thing to have to think about!

As far as charting itself is concerned, I find it both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating in that I am actually getting to see what my body is doing.  This is also frustrating, because there are a couple of things that don't look completely normal (though not too far off- I hope!) Also frustrating is trying to figure out exactly where my observations belong.  There was at least one day that everything seemed so borderline that I just wanted to chart two or three numbers and three or four letters, just to have my bases covered.**** Okay, it wasn't quite that bad, and I didn't have to chart that, but I wanted to, because I was tired of trying to figure out what was what. I suppose it would probably help if I would finish reading the study materials that I was given.  The fact that my chart doesn't look quite right obviously has a lot to do with my ignorance and inexperience.  In fact, I'd almost blame all of it on that, if it weren't for the fact that some of the things seem different than they did a few months ago (but I don't know for sure because I wasn't charting then.)

I will say that what I have learned in the last week has made me jump squarely into the middle of the bandwagon. Yes, learning about your cycle is (or can be) about NFP, and what a great way to do it, because it can be used both in avoiding and in achieving pregnancy.  But it is also about knowing and respecting your body.  Working with it, rather than against it.  It can help find and treat specific underlying problems.  So, yeah, I would love to get all women on the bandwagon.***** My plan is to make that my mission******, right after I go out and buy stock in toilet paper- the good kind.

To learn more about NFP in general, go here or here.
To learn more about Creighton, go here or to find an instructor in your area, go here.
If you are interested in learning more about some reasons to think about avoiding contraception, go to this awesome website.

**In vitro fertilization
***Natural family planning
****I would so love to explain, if only I had the faintest clue of what the heck I was talking about. For anyone not familiar, it's part of the standardized descriptors of "biological markers" (aka, cervical mucus).
*****And for the point of this post, I would say that I would love all women to chart whether or not they want to continue to use contraception during fertile times or not.  Yeah, I have feelings about contraception in general, but at the moment I'm thinking of the health benefits that come from charting and not all the benefits that come from avoiding contraception. My thinking is that I would love to have people stop using synthetic hormones (when it is simply interfering with actual healthy function of the body; still think there are times and places where it is needed as treatment for bodies that are not working as they should be) and know more about their health. Better for women's health, better for the environment. We can tackle the rest another day.
******Not really. I'm too lazy, unfortunately, but I will at least discuss it when and where I can.


  1. "right after I go out and buy stock in toilet paper- the good kind."
    You crack me up!! This post reminds me of one I made awhile back, about why I hate NFP. I totally agree with you that the Church has some growing pains when it comes to assuming coupledom, or even assuming fertility of it's "clients" (for lack of a better term). Please continue to share your thoughts and feelings about this! I love your perspective.

  2. Love this! 3 of my clients are single and I wish I had charted while I was still single because some of these issues could have been taken care of already. I was just talking to two of my single, well one is now engaged, girlfriends and we were talking about taking over the world with NFP. I think it should be more accesible to all women. I could go on and on about this but I will stop there :)

  3. I think you're really onto something.

    This past weekend, I was on a hike with friends discussing an acquaintance who was becoming an egg donor to make some side money. Evidently, she made ten grand for selling eggs...and there was talk about who among the group would do that?

    As far as my opinion, I referred to Humanae Vitae, but I think that there could be dual detriment caused not only to your soul, but your general physical health in violating the natural state of your body. My point? The best part of NFP from the single girl's perspective is that "natural" part. It should be more accessible to all women.

  4. I'm planning on starting NFP after I have my baby, and you're right, it isn't very accessible to non-Catholics. I never would have been brave enough to figure it out for myself, but fortunately my best friend is Catholic and she gave me a crash course! I really think NFP is the best option, even if it is intimidating.

  5. How awesome that you are doing this! I started with Creighton 6 months before our wedding and wish I had started sooner...because it took me at least that long to get a handle on what my chart was supposed to look like. So be patient with yourself, because for a long time I felt like it only made sense in hindsight and with my practitioner helping me to interpret it. And then I went and had a honeymoon baby and my CM patterns TOTALLY changed--ugh (I now supplement with the Marquette method/clearblue monitor)! But you're right, it NFP (specifically Creighton) IS so beneficial for many other reasons, and Creighton was the sole reason I found out I had endometriosis so early. I am forever grateful for that! And I have gotten frustrated with the inaccessibility to non-Catholics as well, since all of my friends who have seemed interested and who I've 'taught' NFP to over the past few years are actually non-Catholics! But that's awesome in its own way :)In case you haven't heard of it, Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a good basic secular book for NFP (or Fertility Awareness method/FAM as they call it). Good luck!

  6. I completely agree with you--Creighton works great for Catholic couples trying to achieve or avoid, but it is so, so much more than that! I totally agree that every woman should do it...I wish I had started in my teens!

    Re: using bcp while charting, I wonder if maybe it would also affect mucus, and result in inaccurate observations? I should do more research on that.

  7. I didn't even read through your entire post before I came right down here to the combox, but I have to tell you something that I think (hope?) will help you. MY CREIGHTON INSTRUCTOR IS SINGLE! No boyfriend, no fiance, nothing.

    OK now going to read the rest of the post :)

    I wished I'd charted when I was single and even while dating DH (we were not chaste). I feel so much more in control of things now, even though we've been abstaining for over 3 months. Since I started charting, I still haven't gotten clear enough signs of infertility, as we're still avoiding pregnancy. I have PCOS so that, combined with post-pill stuff, makes my signs very wonky. Hopefully they'll clear up soon!

    Hahaha yes yes yes re: taking stock in the toilet paper!!!! When I was first learning, I was like WHOA I am using a LOT! Fortunately, things have gotten better.