Monday, May 7, 2012

birth control: or if I think you need 80 kids

Sometimes, in my real life, I have conversations with people where I talk to them with my voice. Usually, I talk with typing, but every now and then someone makes me talk. And one of the topics I usually talk with words about is: birth control.

And most people come at it defensively, because nobody wants to have 20 children, except maybe the Duggars and some of their pals, and they think that I, personally, am against any and all birth control. Lemme clarify: I'm not.

There is a movement that is against any form of birth control at all, and they have good hearts and I trust they are doing what they feel like God has told them to do. For me personally, it took 4 times of my babies coming out half-baked before I realized it was a pattern, and I would be wise to not get pregnant again. So I try to have a heart that loves and celebrates and welcomes children, although in the natural I am preventing further pregnancies.

I personally oppose hormonal birth control only, because hormonal birth control (the Pill, IUD, injections, patches, vaginal rings, etc) use 3 methods to prevent pregnancy, and one of those methods is abortive. To clarify: there are 2 other ways it works, but the risk of it using the 3rd method (thinning uterine lining) is enough for me to avoid it completely. You can read the patient materials that come with your birth control, it is in those pamphlets. This is not a hysterical religious position, it is a scientific fact that is included with every package of hormonal birth control. I wrote about this last year at Bound4Life.

So, quit rolling your eyes, uncross your arms, and ask me with a sassy head tilt, well, then, what should we do? I'll tell you about several other methods of birth control that are not abortive.

1. Barrier methods: these create a barrier between the sperm and the egg, preventing conception. These include condoms (male and female), diaphragms, cervical caps and contraceptive sponges. These are most effective when used in combination with a spermicide. (I personally have no objection to spermicides, my objections begin AT conception)

2. Calendar based (rhythm method): Learning the female cycle and abstaining from sex on her fertile days.

3. Natural Family Planning (NFP) and Fertility Awareness Method (FAM): like the rhythm method, these method involve tracking a woman's cycle, but they are much more involved (and possibly more effective), charting basal body temps and cervical mucus to pinpoint ovulation with great specificity, and then abstaining on those fertile days. These 2 methods are very similar, but not identical. The "textbook" for these and other natural methods is Taking Charge of Your Fertility, a book I recommend to all newlyweds and any married couple trying to step away from hormonal birth control.

None of these methods are as convenient as a pill or a shot, but they do not run the risk of aborting a tiny embryo. (and yes, I know miscarriage happens naturally, A LOT. That is not the same as altering your body chemistry to make your uterus a hostile environment for an embryo and forcing a very early miscarriage.)

If this makes you mad, why? No one is judging you, I am making you aware of the science behind much of modern-day contraceptives and pointing to some ethical alternatives. I will now don my flame-retardant suit.


  1. I agree. We used NFP with great success for all of the years that we were having kids. Now, my tubes are tied. THe End.

  2. Good points and said with grace.
    Jenn's Mom

  3. Wendy Grothe McKnight: Two small things I'd add. 1) NFP is definitely more effective than the rhythm method. The rhythm method is completely calendar based so it doesn't naturally take into account the things that happen to a women's cycle after child birth, while nursing, age, a fever etc. 2) there are many different kinds of NFP and different ones work better for different people. 3) the book you suggested is very good but there is something to be said for classroom instruction. If interested look at the Couple to Couple league (it is taught from a Catholic perspective (ie. barrier methods not allowed), but is very thorough and teaches sympto-thermal which really covers the basics of most of the other methods. The classes are not overtly Catholic in other regards for those people who would be concerned about those things). Okay, that was 3 things, but sometimes I get so passionate about this I just can't stop. :D

  4. Yep, we took the class from the couple to couple league - it was great! We used the sympto-thermal method for 10 years and never had an unplanned pregnancy.

  5. NFP here. I like to get all jacked up on fertility meds to make babies and only one of those kiddos survived. Technically, said the doctor, we wouldn't need birth control because my stuff (technical terms here) doesn't work without fertility drugs, therefore free and easy birth control! But we still stuck with NFP to stay consistent for when we were ready for baby number two. Did you know that pnemonia changes stuff? Like, prolonged fevers that trick you into thinking you are dying, not ovulating?! Yep. 21 weeks pregnant with baby number two and zero fertility drugs needed. So...from now own, the plan is NFP for the rest of forever with a healthy dose of pnemonia when we want to grow the kingdom, amen. For the record, baby number two is such a sweet surprise. Can we get NFP shirts made? No? Yeah, maybe too hard core.


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