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

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.

taking_charge_of_your_fertility

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 …

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. source creighton

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.