This is a guest post by Leah Heffnerin the Women Speak on NFP series. In this series you will hear from women using various methods of NFP, some to avoid pregnancy, some trying to conceive, and their experiences.
Disclaimer: This series is not meant to be a substitute for any method of training in NFP! If you are interested in one of the methods introduced in this series, please contact a certified instructor for information about training in that method of NFP.
Why I use NFP as a Protestant (or Why I use NFP when I don’t HAVE to):
1. A long time ago, before I was sexually active, I was put on the pill to control symptoms of extreme PMS. Not only did I see no relief from symptoms, truthfully, everything stayed the exact same, including my cycles being irregular and unpredictable. After more than a year on the pill, I decided to stop taking it and my cycle became regular, my extreme symptoms of moodiness and irritability literally stopped and the severe cramping was reduced – none of which had happened on the pill like it was supposed to.
2. At the same time I stopped taking the pill, my (now) husband and I started exploring some natural medicine paths for his Crohn’s and my psoriasis. The natural doctor we saw taught us about how medications truly only treat symptoms and do not actually change anything in your body. We decided we wanted to try to fix our bodies instead of treating symptoms and so began our use of only minimal medical interventions, only after we had tried natural or home remedies. And by the way, once I started making our bodies healthier, my cycle went back to about 5 weeks (not bad for me) and my other symptoms became less and less severe (see #1).
3. When my (now) husband and I were discussing our family plans, we discussed prevention of pregnancy. What we could not wrap our head around was how we were supposed to medicate to prevent my body from acting the way it was supposed to (especially after all the work we had done to get it to be healthy). I was supposed to be fertile and supposed to be able to get pregnant. Most importantly, I would soon be engaging in sexual relations with my husband, and I knew that meant possible pregnancy. We did not see how the various barrier methods made sense in marriage either – we were supposed to enjoy each other’s bodies. So we decided to use NFP. I charted my cycle. We discussed fertility windows and the possibility of becoming pregnant. We grew closer in our marriage because we had some difficult talks early on.
As an aside here – I know there are others who would argue that denying the wife full pleasure (most easily attained during the fertile point in the cycle) is also not fair to a marriage. And so one could reason that using the pill makes sex mutually pleasurable for husband and wife, even when fertility is at its highest. While I’m certainly no doctor, I know that the pill not only has side effects which they share on every TV commercial (which are scary enough), the pill has side effects which are not highly shared – like that women on the pill have higher instances of vaginitis and other fluid imbalances leading to yeast infections and other medical problems. So while she is often recovering from something, sex is no longer mutually pleasurable for either person.
4. I think what people in our society need to realize is that marriage was created to “multiply” the population of the earth. Is that the only reason for marriage? Certainly not. We are meant to sharpen one another, just as iron sharpens iron. We are meant to be a companion and a helpmate. Children are a natural product of what is a blessing in marriage – sex. Sex does not always and exclusively create children. It is also for mutual pleasure. But to take out the procreation element is to step in and take away God’s job in the process. If there was no need for God in the process, then IVF and other infertility treatments would always work because the life would already be created. Likewise, one could ask why God allows victims of rape to get pregnant. And I know this isn’t an easy or clean-cut answer. But there is a God-element to creating life. And we can’t take that away. So when we medically intervene – especially with the pill – we are trying to remove God from the process.
I know many couples who get married at a young age – especially Christians – but who do not want to have children – yet. I struggle with this since that is part of the every marriage and I know God calls people to be parents in different ways and at different times. But I think the lack of openness to the subject by young couples to have kids until they get everything just right is confusing and sends mixed signals to those around us.
5. The pill has extremely unfortunate side effects which are not widely broadcast. The most troubling to me is that most women on the pill are unknowingly aborting about one pregnancy a year. If you are a person who believes that life begins at conception – the point at which the sperm enters the egg and cells start to split and multiply – and the point at which most people who say they are pro-life believe that life begins – then the pill is preventing that life from implanting in the uterus to begin to grow. Most people don’t even know this about the pill (and surprisingly, many doctors don’t know this because they are too busy to read every document on every drug they prescribe) and simply believe that it prevents the egg from dropping each month. That is what the pill was designed to do, but obviously, if you know anyone who’s ever gotten pregnant on the pill, you know that this does not work 100% of the time. The back-up fail safe is to prevent implantation of the fertilized egg.
6. Last but not least, my husband and I choose NFP because we know that we can only do our part – we can only come together as man and wife. We can do everything right to make or prevent a baby through knowing my cycle and embracing its nuances. But at the end of the day, we don’t get to decide if we will be having a baby or not. That is up to God. We have been blessed with two pregnancies throughout our marriage so far. This could be our last pregnancy or our 2nd in a line of several. Either way, how God chooses to bless us – we are open to receiving those blessings. He has so much to teach us through children and growing families and we are so excited to be a part of it. We are certainly not perfect at it – bringing new life into the world has its own ups and downs. But we want to give this part of our life to God too, and trust that he will lead and direct us like he does in the other parts of our lives.
Leah Heffner the wife to a sexy, beard-sporting, man of God and mom to three cutie-pie-heads. She’s a new southerner, a sometimes-DIYer, and a novice gardener. She loves coffee, a good Netflix binge, and encouraging other women. You can find her giving encouragement to fuel the journey of marriage, motherhood, faith, and friendship at Life Around the Coffee Cup.