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What I Wish I Would Have Known About My Birth Control Options

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I vividly remember my first appointment with an OBGYN. We were discussing birth control and she handed me a pamphlet with a range of options. We discussed the benefits and risks of each one and I landed on a basic birth control pill. It seemed simple enough, take one each day at the same time and consider myself covered.

Then, three years into my marriage my husband and I finally determined that maybe my extreme mood swings had a source. Could it be the hormonal birth control I was taking everyday?

We decided to pursue other, more natural birth control options and give my body a break from artificial hormones. And by golly, the tears subsided and my short-tempered fits of anger fell off the grid.

Fast forward a few years and we had welcomed our first child. Through our parenting journey we began to explore a more natural way of living – organic food, attachment parenting, green cleaners, less chemicals, etc. A second child joined our family and after his birth we decided to be more proactive with our child spacing.


So, return to birth control and the potential effects on my mood, or, find something new? I recalled the chart of options from my intial OBGYN appointment and knew I had already tried the lowest dose of hormonal birth control and knew it didn’t work well for me. I discussed a popular option for women who have given birth, an IUD, and just didn’t feel comfortable with the permanence of having something foreign in my body. What to do? “Risk” having another child when we didn’t feel ready, rely on a method with a low percentage of effectiveness, buy a Costco pack of condoms?

Thankfully, a friend of a friend mentioned the Creighton Method and my wheels started turning. There is SO much more to birth control and family planning than I had first thought. The chart of options I saw at my OBGYN’s office was just a glimpse on the map. After reading more about Creighton (and other natural methods) I was amazed to learn that hormonal birth control wasn’t my only option in reliable child spacing. That’s right, it doesn’t always take a prescription to effectively avoid pregnancy. Why had my OBGYN never told me?

At my postpartum PAP I had definitely been encouraged to move forward with an IUD, and so I wonder, when I hesitated and shared my discomfort why didn’t my doctor mention natural family planning? Why was it a toss up between condoms and an IUD? Did she think I didn’t want to spend time or energy researching a NFP method? Did she think a young mom didn’t have the focus to chart? Had she determined from years of practice that it was just easier to prescribe artificial hormones than spend time teaching or guiding women to take control of their fertility?

I’m not sure of her answers, I haven’t returned to ask. Instead, my husband and I have taken ownership of our fertility and the future of our family. It has brought us closer together as we’ve learned about the science behind fertility and have put our joint plan into action. We’re still in the learning phase so I’ll leave you with a handful of articles I’ve found eye opening as I’ve explored Natural Family Planning …

  • chartingThe Billings Ovulation Method
  • Creighton Model Fertility Care System
  • Marquette Natural Family Planning
  • Sympto-Thermal Method
  • How NFP Leads to True Feminism
  • Women Speak on NFP Series – TONS of amazing posts from couples successfully using NFP
  • Natural Family Planning (Minus the Planning)
  • Not Just For Catholics
  • NaProTechnology Infertility

You can Google search NFP methods for much more information – Billings, Marquette, Sympto-Thermal and my personal favorite, Creighton. One mom wrote this about Creighton and I couldn’t agree more:

So far, the Creighton model strikes me as an upgrade – the result of earnest, ongoing study and analysis by professional scientists and doctors. It was inspired by Catholic teaching, but no classes in theology or parenting philosophies are included. Just precise descriptions of biomarkers, constant data collection, and detailed charting. There is no “normal” cycle—Creighton is about interpreting this day of this cycle. It is also highly effective for avoiding pregnancy during the first year postpartum and during breastfeeding, as well as for treating infertility, postpartum depression, and the whole broad spectrum of conditions that can be understood by fertility awareness

I hope this post plants a seed I didn’t know existed years ago – that hormonal birth control isn’t the only option when planning to avoid pregnancy. And just in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not Catholic 🙂 But as you read and research, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that what Catholics have been learning, teaching and practicing all these years is pretty darn smart and scientific.

Disclaimer: By no means do I mean to convey that NFP will work for everyone. Honestly, I’m still researching and learning out to properly use the Creighton Method myself. The bottom line I do want to share is that 1) OBGYNs have a responsibility to share ALL options with their patients and then guide them to the proper resources – don’t be afraid to ask questions and find a new practitioner if you’re not on the same page 2) As women/wives/mothers we have a great gift in fertility, thus it’s important to take a pro-research stance when it comes to birth control and/or natural family planning. Learn what works best for you, your body, your family – no doubt it will be worth the effort.

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Shawna Van Uden

Friday 11th of April 2014

Just an FYI, the website listed for the Billings Ovulation Method is broken and is not an official site anyway. The official international site is The official US site is Canada:

Great post! I certainly agree that women deserve to know all of their options!

Billings is simply a way of assessing fertility. If the assessment reveals that ovulation is not occurring or is occurring infrequently, the method itself cannot fix that. But it can reveal clues as to what the underlying cause of the ovarian dysfunction might be (insulin resistance, elevated prolactin, thyroid disorders, inflammation & endometriosis, etc). With the help of a knowledgeable doctor, finding the underlying problem and correcting it can restore ovarian function so that ovulation occurs more regularly, or at least more healthfully. It's also helpful as a way to assess whether a prescribed treatment for an underlying problem is actually helping to improve ovarian function. If not, less time is wasted on ineffective treatment and something else can done. The pregnancy rate for couples using the method to conceive is 78%. It doesn't claim to be 100% successful for all couples who wish to conceive.

Adrie @ ALittleWifesHappyLife

Friday 11th of April 2014

I'm a sypmto-thermal method user myself. I love it. I never had crazy side effects on birth control, besides a lower sex drive. Now that I'm off the Pill, I realize just how much it affected my cycles. It's taken a long time to get back to "normal"- and I wouldn't have known that I was that affected if I wasn't charting! It's empowering to learn more about my body!


Friday 11th of April 2014

Angela, did you learn from a certified instructor who walked with you through your charting process? Billings specifically is designed for use through irregular cycles. There is not a set box of fertility symptoms that your body must fit into, but rather we look at your unique symptoms to determine your pattern of fertility or infertility. I am sorry you have had a bad experience. Follow ups with a certified teacher are an excellent resource for navigating tricky charts. If you did receive personal instruction and that teacher was not able to help you correctly identify times of infertility, they should have turned to more experienced teachers for help.


Friday 11th of April 2014

Haha! I come from a long line of Cayholics too. My aunt only wanted one child. She used this method and now has 8 children. In fact, no one I've ever met that has used this method has used it successfully. If you want to prevent pregnancy 'naturally', you need to keep your vagina to yourself.


Friday 11th of April 2014

Thanks for sharing this information! I have used the Fertility Awareness Method successfully to both avoid and achieve pregnancy, and love knowing that there are accurate and reliable non-hormonal methods available. I am currently pregnant with our first baby, and FAM helped me to know how to balance my hormones to achieve pregnancy quickly. I'm excited to learn more about the Creighton method, for use during breastfeeding and before we try for baby #2. I really wish more doctors were knowledgeable about these methods, so that they can advise their patients appropriately when they are having trouble achieving pregnancy. I have a short luteal phase, and need supplementation with progesterone. Awareness of my fertility cycle through these methods is crucial for me to have a baby. I am not religious, just someone who likes to work in harmony with my body. Thank you for making people aware that there are options for those who can't tolerate hormones or want a more natural way.

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