Image by spaceodissey
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that we believe in quiverfull. As such, we don’t use any form of birth control, or any form of fertility enhancements (read: drugs). Such things are against our beliefs, but they are also unhealthy for everyone. Drugs that control your hormones can mess up your body’s ability to self-regulate and can cause fertility problems and other issues down the line. Fortunately, there are natural alternatives.
Natural Family Planning
Natural Family Planning is a method of fertility — both avoiding pregnancy and attempting to get pregnant — that uses no drugs or any alterations, but simply paying attention to your body’s natural rhythms and working with them. I have gotten pregnant twice using this method! There are several signs to pay attention to, and I’ll describe each briefly below:
Take your temperature each morning immediately upon waking and before rising. This works best if it is done at the same time each day. The day after ovulation, you will see a slight shift upwards, typically .2 or .3 degrees, and the shift will be sustained until you have your period. When your period is expected, it will drop back to pre-ovulation levels. Your temperature will confirm that you are ovulating, and can give you an idea of when to expect ovulation once you have charted at least three cycles. By knowing when you ovulate, you can choose to have sex around ovulation to conceive, or avoid the three to five days before and the day after in order to avoid conception.
Your cervix can vary from very low to very high, depending on the point you are at in your cycle. When your period starts (and just before/after), it is low and closed (opens slightly during your period, but closed before/after). As you near ovulation, your cervix will rise and open. You may notice your cervix starting to rise up to a week before ovulation, and it should be at its highest point the day or so before and the day of.
Mucus (cervical discharge) also varies by point in the cycle. After your period it should be basically dry, very little discharge. (During your period, it’s just…your period.) After a few days, the discharge will turn sticky and be only small amounts, then turn creamy or lotiony and white or yellowish. As you approach ovulation, the discharge will thin out and turn clear and watery. Watery discharge is prior to ovulation, but means it is close, so it should be considered fertile. On the day of ovulation, you will notice clear, stretchy, jelly-like discharge. It is very much like raw egg whites, and will stretch very far between two fingers. This is the most fertile cervical mucus (and it’s why some women use raw egg whites as lubrication when they’re trying to conceive) and means ovulation is occurring or is about to occur.
During and after your period, your cervix is hard, much like the tip of your nose, and rather tight. As you approach ovulation, it will open and spread and become soft and spongy, feeling more like the inside of your bottom lip. It will then firm up and drop down again, even if you are pregnant (initially). As it happens, it is also soft like this when pregnant, although it is closed. Some women suspect pregnancy if, at the end of their cycles, their cervixes remain high, soft, and closed instead of returning to the low and hard texture/position they should before their periods. However, this change happens at various points of pregnancy for different women (it could occur days or weeks after you miss your period), so a low, firm cervix after ovulation does not mean you cannot be pregnant.
Some women find that they are bloated, sore, cramping on one side, emotional, or have other personal signs as they approach ovulation. Many women find that they simply “know” when they ovulate after spending time paying attention to their bodies.
By being in tune with your body, it is easy to either avoid a pregnancy, or get pregnant. Personally, it took us two months to get pregnant with Bekah (and I was very stressed the first month, which may have affected things) and only one month to get pregnant with Daniel, using these methods. It can also help you to know when something is wrong with your body, if you are intimately familiar with its rhythms. You can read even more about this method here.
The Risk of Other Methods
To turn to another issue, WHY should you bother with this method when taking a pill or putting on a condom is so much easier? Nothing to chart, nothing to remember, nothing to pay (much) attention to. Pills and condoms also allow you to have sex whenever you feel like it, without the risk of pregnancy, while NFP requires you to abstain for a few days out of the month. However, by using hormonal birth control methods, you are putting yourself at serious risk.
This study found that birth control users can suffer from chronically low testosterone (which is needed for proper sex drive and helps conception), mental health issues (depression), and more. Long-term side effects from the pill have not been studied thoroughly, so this recent research, which hints at long-term issues, is even scarier.
The “pill” can cause many other issues, too. It works primarily by causing a woman’s body to produce large amounts of estrogen. Dr. Carolyn Dean discusses the risks here. To summarize, estrogen can cause various forms of cancer, increased risk of heart attack or stroke, benign liver tumors, mood swings, weight gain, and more. These risks absolutely do not outweigh any benefit of taking these pills.
Any time we put chemicals in our bodies, we are taking a risk. Changing our body’s chemistry or messing with it can have serious long-term consequences. Some women who take the pill, especially versions that actually suppress their periods (either entirely, like Depo Provera, an injectable hormonal method; or only temporarily, like Seasonale, which limits a woman’s periods to 4 times per year) have fertility issues when they do decide they want to conceive. This leads to using further hormones, like Clomid, to fix the problem that shouldn’t have been created in the first place. The solution is to just get away from all of these chemicals and to eat a healthy diet, which will regulate a woman’s cycle and make her truly healthy. Weston A. Price has a pre-conception plan as well as a pregnancy and lactation diet that can increase chances of conception and a woman’s health during reproduction.
There are even issues with using tampons and other chemical-filled disposable pads (same chemicals are in disposable diapers, which is why we don’t use them), but that’s for another blog post!
What do you do for birth control, if you use it? Does any of this information surprise you?
Like what you've read? Subscribe so you never miss a post! You can also follow us on Facebook or Pinterest. Thanks for reading!