Reconnecting With Your Own Rhythm for Healing and Family Planning
A woman’s cycle was once tied closely closely to the lunar calendar. Most women today will still experience menses about every 28 days, but there is a wide range of cycle length, duration and characteristics. In the United States and most other developed countries, women have become less connected to and aware of their own rhythms and cycles, including menstruation, for many reasons: living faster paced lives, exposure to environmental elements and medications, increased body shame in many cultures, and decreased positive messaging about a women’s fertility and sexuality.
One model of tracking fertility naturally is increasing cycle awareness for many women. It is helping support family planning either through achieving or avoiding pregnancy, and it is helping some women heal from reproductive and gynecologic health problems. For women who have religious reasons to avoid the use of medications or devices to achieve or avoid pregnancy, or for women who just want to be more connected to their body and understand its needs to support reproductive and overall health, this method of fertility tracking is catching on.
NaProTECHNOLOGY (NaPro) uses the Creighton Model Fertility CareTM System to track the biomarkers of hormonal events in the menstrual cycle. Tracking these signs provides information that can be interpreted by a woman and health care professionals who are specifically trained in this system. With NaPro, women have an opportunity to know and understand the causes of the reproductive conditions they suffer from.
Common conditions that respond well to NaPro include:
- Menstrual cramps
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Ovarian cysts
- Irregular or abnormal bleeding
- Polycystic ovarian disease
- Repetitive miscarriage
- Postpartum depression
- Prematurity prevention
- Hormonal abnormalities
- Chronic discharges
- Other health problems
Fertility tracking, often referred to as Natural Family Planning (NFP) has numerous applications. By helping women identify days of fertility couples can use the tracking system to effectively achieve or avoid pregnancy, to time conception, to track gynecologic health, and to monitor the effects of stress. Managing fertility naturally can be very empowering for women as it eliminates dependency on chemicals or devices and can help women become advocates for their own reproductive care. Medications are sometimes used with this method of treatment. However, the medications used are prescribed to work with your body’s natural hormonal rhythms rather than against them. More and more women/couples are opting for lifestyles that minimize exposure to hormones, chemicals and pollutants. The Fertility CareTM System perfectly complements natural living.
Many women discover NaPro after being faced with infertility. For some women it can be a successful way to achieve pregnancy by identifying the reason for infertility and treating the cause. Each woman expresses a unique pattern of fertility. By attending private education sessions, Fertility Care Practitioners teach women how to understand and interpret their patterns of fertility. Tracking that information is critical to understanding the root causes of disorders and involves the woman and as an essential member of her care team.
Some benefits of NaPro:
- Empowering! Unfortunately, women in our culture rarely receive comprehensive education about their own bodies or monthly hormonal cycles. This is a complex and fascinating process and once understood can be used to avoid or enable pregnancy. NFP teaches you and your partner about your individual body and how your hormones ebb and flow throughout a cycle. These hormonal shifts create a time when you are fertile, not fertile and a time when you have a menses. This knowledge allows you to share intimacy without wondering if pregnancy may occur.
- Enhances intimacy! Partners are encouraged to join NFP sessions. As your partner learns about your body and where you are in your cycle, he can share in achieving reproductive goals. The training sessions encourage communication between a couple and help identify possible tension that is occurring around intimacy. A healthy emotional relationship is essential for a healthy intimate relationship. Numerous couples report that managing fertility as a couple has brought them closer together and improved intimate communication.
- Works for all women! The Creighton Method of NFP can be used by any woman, regardless of how often she has a menses. This method can be used by post-partum breastfeeding women and women who have irregular cycles. Over the course of 10 sessions, each woman learns about her individual body and cycle.
- Natural! You are able to control your fertility without exogenous hormones or implanted devices. Instead, you learn your body’s own method of controlling fertility.
- Helps treat menstrual irregularities! After charting several cycles, patterns emerge that may be problematic. With the help of NaproTechnology, cycles can be treated to achieve monthly menses or eliminate problematic symptoms such as excessive bleeding, irregular bleeding or pain.
A woman who is currently using NFP reports “Besides the cost of a checkup, NFP is totally free. There are no paid subscriptions to a monthly pill pack. NFP also allows me the opportunity to understand my body and how it works. I track my cycle every day and see changes in cervical discharge. This helps me understand what is happening with my body in general, and my fertility cycle. Perhaps the most fulfilling part of practicing NFP is the authentic, loving, and communicative relationship it promotes.”
The region’s first NaProTechnology clinic opened earlier this year. The Women’s Wellness and Fertility Center at Catholic Medical Center provides general gynecology as well as obstetrical care that is tailored to each individual woman. We perform all the standard obstetrical and gynecological care and tests, however our clinic is unique from other clinics because we use NaproTechnology to assist with infertility problems and gynecologic abnormalities. Women receive an initial consultation and multiple follow up visits to learn how to track their own fertility, whether their aim is overall health, pregnancy, avoiding pregnancy, or identifying areas of concern. We welcome all women and are a clinic of all women trained in NFP
To learn more about WWFC call (603) 314-7595 or check out our website at https://www.catholicmedicalcenter.org/womens-wellness/default.aspx
This article was jointly written by Nancy Malo, CFCP, Christy Aberg, CNM/APRN and Farrah Deselle, MSN, RN, CLC.