Saturday, May 30, 2015

How are American women managing their fertility?

Based on data from CDC study of American women's contraceptive status from 2011-2013.

How many women use natural family planning?

Not very many!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

When articles on NFP are stupid...

Today I read an exceptionally stupid article on NFP. The article begins by outlining that using NFP effectively requires users to correctly identify when they are fertile. I don't think any of us would disagree with that. There were some incredibly troubling portions...
accurate “fertility awareness knowledge” (defined as knowing that there is a certain time in a woman’s menstrual cycle when she is most likely to become pregnant and being able identify that time as roughly halfway between her two periods)
Looking through the links, I found that the survey asked if a woman was most fertile "before", "after", or "halfway between" periods. What a terrible way to ask! I'm not sure what I would have marked, since the best answer is "it depends." I suppose in a perfect 28 day cycle with ovulation on day 14, fertility would be roughly halfway, but few women have this perfect cycle. If a woman has a 21 day cycle, with ovulation on day 7-10, wouldn't "after" her period be the most sensible answer? And with my long 38 day cycles, treating "halfway" through my cycle as fertile would be a quick ticket to pregnant.

NFP - Around the World

I've been reading about NFP use in the developing world lately. Very interesting, and controversial!

It's hard to know how many women use NFP world-wide, because women using NFP are often simply classified as "not using contraception."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Abstinence is Difficult!

NaturalGuy and I finally have enough charting experience to use the Doering rule and "last-dry-day" rule, giving us about 12 days of abstinence instead of 21 - thank God! I have long cycles at 37 days, at the shortest. We're definitely still getting a handle on how to deal with this! If your charts are hard to decipher or give many many days of abstinence, it's worth considering your options, whether it's talking to a teacher, addressing nutritional problems that cause cycle irregularities, switching methods, or accepting increased risk of pregnancy in exchange for fewer days of abstinence. But even with great charts, most couples need to abstain for a little under two weeks and those two weeks can be tough!

We've been lucky enough to get some advice on handling those difficult two weeks. My favorite was the advice that abstaining in marriage is not the abstinence we knew before marriage, so no need to avoid making out and "heavy petting" - provided you can avoid going further of course! It's also a great time to plan dates - the exciting type we took early on in our relationship. Picnics, museums, hikes - all the things we normally postpone because there's no time :) And finally, it's a great time to put some extra effort into preparing to have children - whether that's figuring out how to save a little extra, or working on a home improvement project.

We're on day 1 of a new cycle today, so we're headed towards the fertile period. Hopefully it will be shorter and easier this month than past months!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Review of "Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: How Ecological Breastfeeding Spaces Babies"

My mother has been a huge advocate for ecological breastfeeding as long as I can remember - both my brother and I were breastfed past age three, my mother was very active as a La Leche League leader, and my mother remains very outspoken on the benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers. One of the benefits my mother has always mentioned is that breastfeeding naturally spaces babies - providing mothers and families with a healthy period of time to adjust to a new baby.

Ecological breastfeeding (EBF) describes a type of exclusive breastfeeding where a baby is nursed frequently, on demand, and spends most of her time, waking and sleeping, with her mother.  Ecological breastfeeding is defined by a set of seven standards, and differs from cultural breastfeeding in that it does not include supplementing with formula, pacifiers, schedules, or separated sleeping. While cultural breastfeeding has little influence on fertility, ecological breastfeeding delays a mother's return to fertility to 14 months after her babies birth, on average. This provides couples with a natural way to parent their infants and space their children.

Friday, May 8, 2015


I've had a busy couple of weeks! Between job interviews and moving to a bigger apartment (finally, a 1-bedroom!!!), we've been running around trying to stay organized.

We finally found a pro-life doctor who knows NFP! She's trained in the Creighton method but seemed to understand our sympto-thermal charts. I think she was surprised that so much of sympto-thermal charts is based on mucus? And she certainly felt Creighton was a better method than the sympto-thermal method - she thought that taking your temperature every morning would drive anyone crazy. Personally, We haven't found it to be bad at all. But regardless, she was very good about reading our charts and giving advice, and she seemed to understand where we were coming from, so I'm happy. Her practice also includes midwives, another huge plus in my books.

We've switched from using Kindara to using the CCL's CycleProGo website/app. I wanted to switch because I got sick of Kindara's charts - they're beautiful on the phone screen, but there's no good way to print them. Also, the Kindara community is kinda weird - there's a lot of people who don't seem to know what they're doing giving advice. The down side of CycleProGo are that it's a slightly clunky website/app and it costs $35/year. But overall, much happier with it.

Aside from that, life has been pretty boring. We're waiting for me to finally ovulate (day 32! Argh!) and are REALLY looking forward to the end of this long round of abstinence. My new doctor suggested trying the supplement Vitex to make my cycle more regular. Also, trying to figure out which rules we can apply to our future charts in order to abstain less. We're looking for a new CCL teaching couple, since the couple who taught the course we took seems disinterested in actually looking at our charts. I've recently acquired three books about NFP - "The Garden of Fertility," an old CCL book on ecological breastfeeding, and the 1980 edition of "The Billings Method." Interesting stuff, and perhaps the topic of a future post!