"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Safe, Effective, Natural Family Planning

1Flesh – Bring Sexy Back!

The answer to the problem of contraception is actually quite simple. Women have the power to understand and work with their own fertility. They don’t need pharmaceutical companies to do it for them. They don’t need to risk their health to family plan. Couples do not need to alter the nature of sex to be responsible. The following are methods of fertility awareness, or natural methods of family planning. They are successfully used by millions.

The Creighton Model

The Creighton Model FertiltyCare System™ is a natural method of family planning. Its perfect use effectiveness at preventing pregnancy is 99.5% and its use effectiveness — “real world” effectiveness — is 96.8%. (Compare that to the use effectiveness of the Pill, which, in the 2011 study “Contraceptive failure in the United States”, was found to be just 91%.)

These numbers often come under criticism, because Creighton — in that it accurately reveals to women when they are fertile — can be and is often used to achieve pregnancies. Thus it cannot be judged by the same method as contraception is judged — as solely avoiding pregnancy. More research is needed.

Creighton is completely natural, inexpensive, and has zero side-effects. It takes the simple, scientific fact that a woman’s cervical mucus changes in response to her fertility, then teaches women how to observe those changes and to chart them. The chart looks like this:

Women, by understanding their own bodies, are far more effective at preventing unplanned pregnancy than the Pill manages to be. And it’s not a “one size fits all” approach. The method looks at a woman’s unique cycle and works with it, and thus works for women with irregular cycles.

But Creighton isn’t just a method of family planning. Creighton is a comprehensive understanding of women’s health, a method that takes the mystery out of a woman’s cycle and allows her to operate in sync with her body. Having this self-knowledge allows women to take care of all sorts of hormonal issues, from pregnancy to PMS, ovarian cysts to infertility. Thus Creighton boasts that:

  • It is 2 to 3 times more effective than in vitro fertilization at helping infertile couples have children — at a fraction of the cost.
  • It is 79% effective at helping women have a successful pregnancy after they have suffered repetitive miscarriages.
  • It can help women learn they are at risk for a miscarriage even before one has occurred.
  • It is is 95% effective at treating PMS, a condition that plagues millions of American women each month.
  • It is also 95% effective at treating Post-Partum Depression, which afflicts as many as one in five new mothers, often getting results within hours.
  • It cuts the rate of premature birth nearly in half — thus helping reduce the incidence of birth defects.
  • It allows for the accurate dating of the beginning of pregnancy, thus helping avoid end-of pregnancy complications.
  • It can more than halve the recurrence of chronic pelvic pain, and it reduces the hysterectomy rate by 75%.

…and much more. In the midst of all this, it’s important to realize that Creighton — like all natural methods — is not easy. It’s easy to learn, but — if a couple wishes to avoid pregnancy — it requires approximately 8-11 days of abstinence from sexual intercourse each month, a number that can increase if a couple is working to resolve a health issue. This requires real communication between couples, discipline, and a love willing to look beyond the present need and to the good of the other. Living a natural sex life demands something of a lifestyle change, a thing we humans fear.

But it’s worth it.

This is shown by the fact that women who use the birth control pill as a means of avoiding pregnancy are more than twice as likely to stop doing so within a year compared with users of the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. According to analysis published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, no more than one half to two thirds of women who start oral contraceptives are still using them after 1 year, whereas 89.3% of women using Creighton are still using it after one year of use. Couples using Creighton generally report improved sex lives, improved relationships, improved communication and greater respect for each other.

Given the myriad of problems artificial contraception has inflicted on our health, the environment, our relationships, and our society, Creighton seems worth a shot. It’s especially recommended for women looking to take care of reproductive health problems like PMS and PCOS. It’s not a self-taught system though. Find a teacher in your area by going to their website and clicking on the “Find a Teacher” link on their left-hand sidebar.

The Billings Ovulation Method

The Billings Ovulation Method™ has been subjected to more scientific research than any other method of regulating fertility. It has been independently trialled by the World Health Organisation and other reputable bodies and found to be as successful for avoiding pregnancy as any method of family planning available today.

It’s very similar to the Creighton Method. It involves teaching women to make observations of the signs their bodies give them via cervical mucus, and to chart them, thus empowering them to know their fertility.

The results of the Billings Ovulation Method are amazing. In China, for instance, according to analysis published by The Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, the method was used by “2,686,400 fertile couples for avoiding pregnancy, the overall success rate being around 99%; In addition, there were 14,524 among 45,280 infertile couples (success rate 32.1%) who were overjoyed to obtain their children by the use of [Billings Ovulation Method].”

Obviously, such results are influenced by the fact that there is a stronger motivation to avoid pregnancy in China, in an effort to comply with the — unjust — one-child-policy. The success of the Billings Method is so apparent that it is the only natural form of family planning recognized by The Chinese Ministry of Health.

The method works with abnormal cycles, requires no literacy, and has been shown to be especially effective with couples of Eastern cultures.

Find a teacher in the US, Canada, Australia, or worldwide.

Symptothermal Method

The symptothermal method uses both the mucus observations of Creighton and the Billings Ovulation Method, but it also makes use of temperature measurements.

A woman’s basal body temperature (BBT) helps her identify when she has ovulated. It must be taken at the same time every morning for accurate results. After ovulation, BBT rises considerably due to the corpus luteam producing progesterone. A woman’s BBT will stay in the high range (also known as the Luteal Phase) for approximately 10 to 14 days.

Basal Body Temperature only helps the couple figure out if ovulation has already occurred. For this reason, STM also teaches the couple to observe the woman’s mucus pattern. As a woman’s body progresses through her fertility cycle, her body produces three basic types of mucus: not-fertile (the absence of mucus), slightly fertile (sticky/gummy mucus) and very fertile (egg-white mucus). A man’s sperm have a lifetime of 20 minutes to 5 days, depending on what type of mucus the woman is producing and how healthy his swimmers are. A woman’s mucus provides a healthy environment, helps the sperm to navigate the cervical canal, and provides nutrients to sustain them in their journey. Because it is the mucus that will help the sperm meet the egg, it is important to learn to differentiate between the three basic types. When a woman has no mucus before her temperature shift, she can consider herself less likely to conceive. Once a woman begins to produce mucus, she considers herself more likely to conceive.

How effective is the method? Extremely.

“In the largest, prospective study of STM, the researchers found that if the couples then either abstained from sex or used a barrier method during the fertile period, the rate of unplanned pregnancies per year was 0.4% and 0.6% respectively. Out of all the 900 women who took part in the study, including those who had unprotected sex during their fertile period, 1.8 per 100 became unintentionally pregnant.”

The Couple to Couple League teach symptothermal classes all around the USA. One of the best parts about this method is that there are all sorts of apps for it.

Is it possible?

Can women truly take charge of their own fertility? Can couples communicate over the issue of family planning? Can man, woman and child be treated with equal dignity and respect in regards to sex?

The science says it does. And one thing’s for sure: It’s worth a shot.

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