As I discussed in yesterday’s column, we ladies aren’t taught that much about our lady plumbing. So many times I went to the doctor – many different doctors – with issues and questions: wanting to know if certain things were normal, why this was happening, why I was having pain or other problems – and the answer was always the same: “Here are some birth control pills.” They are sold to us as a panacea for all our reproductive health issues.
Even last year, when I was seeing a pro-life gynecologist who did not prescribe artificial birth control, I still remained mostly in the dark about what was going on in my body. He was over-booked and absent-minded, and I never got him to explain everything. I had vague ideas about what was wrong, but I didn’t understand the whole process. Worse, I didn’t understand how to determine what was wrong – or right – with my own personal reproductive health.
When we put our health into the hands of people who care less about it than we do – such as irresponsible doctors who dole out the Pill like candy and abortionists who make money off our lack of understanding – we do ourselves a great disservice.
Recently I picked up a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. This book was originally published in the ’80s, so it’s a little bit Our Bodies, Ourselves. It’s touchy-feely and a tad Goddess-circley, and get ready to look at pictures of a stranger’s cervix. The author is pretty enchanted with the women’s lib movement of the ’60s, and she has no moral issues with artificial birth control or in-vitro fertilization. But as radical-feministy as she is about lots of things – including extramarital sex – she advises women not to use the Pill.
All moral and abortion-related issues aside, the author recognizes that artificial birth control separates a woman from her natural cycles and keeps her from being familiar with the way her own body works by using hormones to establish a “false” pregnancy. It’s unnatural, and it’s not healthy.
Despite all its drawbacks, this book has given me invaluable knowledge, understanding, and peace of mind.
Although Ms. Weschler and I don’t see eye-to-eye on the moral issues, I have learned so much from reading her book. She teaches the reader how to chart and track her cycles and fertility using what she calls FAM – the Fertility Achievement Method. It is basically the same thing as NFP, or Natural Family Planning, only NFP practitioners abstain from sex during the fertile days of the woman’s cycle, rather than using a barrier method.
There are probably some great books on NFP that I haven’t read yet, but my experience with Ms. Weschler’s book has been profound. I’m wondering why I wasn’t taught these things in school. Why are women being taught how to use condoms, but not how to recognize what’s going on in their own bodies? Why are women given pills that interfere with their cycles before they even learn what their cycle is?
There are only about six days a month during which a woman can get pregnant. In only a few minutes a day, you can track your fertility signs and know what those days are. That way, you can avoid sex if you don’t wish to conceive, or you can have sex if you do. If you get pregnant, you’ll know by looking at your body temperature chart.
It takes about an hour to learn how to do this, and a few minutes a day to do it. If every woman charted her fertility, the demand for artificial birth control, condoms, abortions, or even home pregnancy tests would go out the window.
Also – and this is great for people like me who have potential fertility issues – the data you collect can be shown to your clinician to help her determine what issues you may be having, and how to treat them.
Instead of sending our daughters to the family doctor for birth control pills and IUDs when they’re teenagers, why don’t we teach them about their cycles so it’s not all a big, scary mystery? How many fewer abortions would there be if young women going off to college took NFP classes to learn what their bodies are doing, and why?
Instead of encouraging them to be sexually active by having them put condoms on bananas, we should be encouraging young people to learn about their own bodies. What if women got married and became sexually active already knowing how their cycles worked and how to determine their fertile times?
I’m sorry to sound like a dirty hippie, but learning to track my own fertility has been tremendously empowering for me, and I think it can be for any woman, whether she’s sexually active or just wants to understand her gynecological health, and whether she wants to conceive or not.
Ladies, taking charge of our fertility is pro-woman and pro-life. The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s about time we started wresting back control of our bodies from irresponsible doctors, greedy pharmaceutical companies, Pill-pushing fauxminists, and the abortion industry.