NFP for the Unmarried- Women By Design

My friend and I laughed like hyenas over bagel sandwiches when we both realized that “Oh yeah, we don’t use trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy protocols.” Single and unmarried we truly forgot in that moment that most individuals and couples use Natural Family Planning or Fertility Based Awareness Methods for fertility and infertility related reasons- as the name implies, Family Planning. But for this duo of laughing single gals, sex (the responsibilities and pleasures) had little do with why or why not we practiced Creighton Method. We practice Creighton NFP for medical reasons- women’s health. And that is a message I hope to share with others.

If you’re a women, whether married, unmarried, consecrated or religious, you qualify to learn & practice NFP or FABMs. Being in a sexual relationship with a man does not activate or call into existence your womanhood. You are a woman by God’s design whether you “use” your reproductive organs for unitive & procreative functions, i.e., babies and bonding, or not. Baby girls develop their ovaries in-utero by week 16-20 holding about 6-7 million oocytes. By birth, a baby girl is born with 1-2 million oocytes. This occurs years before a girl enters into puberty & biological sexual maturity. God designed us intricately and deliberately.

Does a women’s reproductive system remain frozen in-time & space until sacramental marriage & the marital embrace? Or what if the women never engages in God’s mystery of sex because she is called to a celibate vocation (i.e., single, consecrated, or religious life)? All these women deserve the same care and concern for their reproductive health too. (Read Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae!)

Like myself, many women are struggling with their reproductive health within a limited and archaic ideology infested healthcare system that seems to equate hormonal poisoning & the insertion of unsafe devices with the height of medical sophistication for a variety of women’s health conditions. The increase of hormonal birth control therapies contributes to the general decline and demise of health and wellness, especially anything endocrine related. We are all swimming in a cesspool of synthetic estrogen 24/7. Whether you or I take hormonal birth control, globally we’re all living out the biological, environmental, cultural, and spiritual effects. (Did I mention my Undergraduate Environmental Sciences Lab final involved a presentation on EDC/PPCPs effect on fish & amphibians?) Cause & effect- science and facts.

Where do we turn for reproductive health help? Where do we find good medicine? First, you need to “know thyself.” Your cycles and bodily functions, whether for good, mediocre, or ill, are telling you something. Your body is waiting for you to listen. FABM or FAM apps are gaining popularity. Learning a NFP method is best when taught by a licensed professional because each women is different and therefore her cycle can vary. A trained professional can help you (and a spouse) walk through your unique questions and concerns. You can locate specialist in your area via Diocesan websites, Fertility Care Centers of America, social media, search engines, etc.

Within the spectrum of Fertility Based Awareness protocols resides Natural Family Planning and within NFP resides the Creighton Method which I chose because of the scientific and research evidence based medical knowledge and protocols used for the diagnosing and treatment of reproductive health issues. And diagnose and treat my specialists have. My naprotechnologists have diagnosed and treated about a dozen different reproductive health issues with treatment protocols ranging from quick procedures, medications, supplements, injections, dietary changes, diagnostic imaging, various blood work panels, referrals to other specialists, and exploratory laparoscopic & hysteroscopic surgery. Am I miraculously healed? No, I struggle & suffer, and I’m open and honest about those struggles. Naprotechnology stretches me thin like butter over thick toast. It’s become my spiritual fitness regime building up my spiritual metabolism and building & toning virtue muscles. I’ve found breaking points I never knew existed. Most importantly I found healing- primarily within my relationship with God as a Daughter of the King.

Somewhere amidst the struggles of learning, practicing, and treatment with Creighton NFP as an unmarried woman, I recognized something profound. When the dust of confusion and pain settled momentarily, I found myself authentically beautiful and whole as a woman despite my physical brokenness. In the world of hedonism and utilitarianism, I fail, but in the realm of God’s authentic female design and the feminine genius, I’m whole and beautiful. And that’s what NFP can do for women (and for men) when you cooperate with God’s design for the body. For a brief glimpse, I saw myself as God does- awesome, Made in His Image & Likeness. Then those storm clouds returned, but those storm clouds can’t rob me of my glory beams anymore.

We are fearfully & wonderfully made. May God bless and keep you now and always!

An Honest Letter About Creighton NFP

PSALM 73 (1)Dear Creighton Model:

You totally kicked me in the keister. Learning about you has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life. The more I learn the more that learning curve and the knowledge acquired affirms and heightens my belief that there IS A GOD, and I’m not God.

Wholly smokes! My body is complex, intricate, and beautiful. My reproductive system is like the almost nigh unbreakable encryption machine Enigma and Creighton the machine that broke Enigma. The point being is that the code can be broken and interpreted even if it seems rather complex and overwhelming at times. As a woman, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. When my system is working in harmony, it’s like the restored, gleaming Sistine Chapel. When my reproductive tract falls into discord, it’s like the Sistine Chapel with loin clothes added and years of grime and gunk covering the paintings. Being a woman is always beautiful, but sometimes that vision is easier to recognize some days than others.

When I started pulling out my hair over “essential sameness” and yellow stickers, you never failed to frustrate me even more. I thought I might go insane comparing today to yesterday, two days ago, three days ago, one week ago, etc. But after beating my head against the wall, I’m eternally grateful God lifted me up and gave me the strength to tackle “essential sameness” mastery. Now I feel accomplished and knowledgeable and  . . . well humble too. Essential sameness is actually awesome.

When my naprotechnologist ordered the 25 day hormone assessment panel that involved blood draws on 10+ specific days of my cycle, I never imagined how involved the process would be. I underestimated the hours my Dad,  Mom, and I spent in the ER, outpatient clinic, or the hospital cafeteria waiting for the blood to be spun and processed. I never purchased dry ice before shipping the vials to Nebraska. Dry ice burns. Duly note. I promise I took Honors High School Chemistry.

When my napro doctor explained my test results and how multiple hormones weren’t just off but precipitously off, I felt cold and numb. Then I realized this knowledge helped explain the bizarre and taxing symptoms I felt. But a sense of hope surged that a treatment plan could heal the underlying issue(s).

When I picked up my first progesterone oil and inter-muscular injection needle set, I struggled to keep a straight face while the pharmacist explained injecting myself into the tush or thigh. The other part of me felt as though I had entered into an alternate reality. Really, God?

Since last August, you and I embarked on a long and arduous journey. We knew it wouldn’t be easy when we started as a naive Creighton newbie 10 months ago. I realize now some woman have less complicated cycles and others make ours seem manageable. This recognition has taught me humility. I’ve learned a new language about how to express an intricate part of being a woman and relating to a man. Trust me. My conversations with my special man friend are epic. This method teaches perseverance and endurance. You have taught me ownership of my body, pride of ownership. Pride in all its wonder and awe. Pride also in its flaws and complications. Creighton, you teach me lessons each day. The most important lesson learned thus far is to see myself as God sees me. Beautiful. Whole. Enough. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. Made in His Image.

With All Respect and Admiration,

Hannah

P.S. Thank you for kicking my keister. Now simmer down a little, please. Jesus, I trust in you.