There are few times in life that I have been thankful that I am not an especially helpful person, and this is one of them. You see, if I were the helpful sort then I would have countless people to apologize to for ignorant advice regarding NaPro. You know the sort of flippant “oh! Don’t worry about that gynecological issue! We have a Catholic answer to all of your problems and it is called NaPro and and and!!!?”
Oh wait, you don’t know NaPro? With greatest apologies I must ask you to excuse me. This is one of those annoying posts that is only readable by a very limited audience.
Furthermore, even though I won’t try to explain NaPro here, I must say that this post is about why NaPro is not the right choice for me. It could still be perfect for you, and that is wonderful. I strongly believe that we need more options for every area of women’s health, and NaPro could be a great option for some people. One of the things I have learned from exploring CrMS is that I am an unusually challenging health case. But that just means that NaPro can provide a good resource for those who are a bit more “usual.”
Despite the fact that NaPro isn’t a good fit for me, I hope that those who believe it to be worth their time will continue working well with it in every aspect, whether as a physician, teacher, or patient. This post isn’t about you, it is about me. It is about me, my body, my religion, and what I’ve learned since the first time I saw those women in white running along the beach.
As recently as this past May I thought that NaPro could be the answer to all of my gynecological health issues. My hope in NaPro was one of the many reasons I did not make a mad dash to a pharmacy for the pill as soon as I got health insurance. After all, I wasn’t just suffering from a childish belief that somewhere out there was a magical non-pill natural cure for me: I knew there was a real system of medicine which could address all of my concerns. All I had to do was save up something like $1,000,000.00 and I could be on my way to Omaha for salvation. ::Cue chorus of angels::
Of course I wasn’t quite that naive, but NaPro makes some pretty big claims, and it is easy to overlook otherwise glaring issues when you so want something to be all that it could be.
But then a bit more exposure to NaPro info and CrMS made me realize that it just isn’t for me.
To understand why NaPro is not (for me) worth seeking out, one would have to understand what would be worth such great effort.
- A cohesive healthcare system that is truly distinct from the options available to me at my local hospitals.
“NaPro” is…? I still can’t find the answer to this. Perhaps I just don’t understand what a “women’s health science” is, but “NaPro” seems like it is its own patchwork of random things, much like the treatment I can get from local doctors completely covered by my health insurance. I do not need a special name to make me feel better about surgery, the typical hormones, and experimental uses of various drugs.
Which brings me to the second thing that would make NaPro valuable:
- Ultimate expertise in the conditions with which I need help (like maybe endometriosis?)
Simply put, treating endometriosis for endometriosis’ sake is not a focus of NaPro. If one were going to the effort to find an incredible expert in endometriosis, then it would make much more sense to seek out the type of experts who make the treatment of endometriosis their entire work.
I could find no evidence that NaPro doctors have more success than other specialists for surgical treatment of endometriosis in terms of pregnancy, much less pain reduction.
Which brings me to my next issue:
- Gynecological health, and not merely reproductive health.
Don’t get me wrong, reproductive or “procreative” health (the ability to conceive, carry, and give birth to a healthy child) is incredibly important. But completely aside from the fact that this is actually a comparatively small part of women’s health time-wise, it is not my primary concern. My largest issue is getting my body to function with the most basic tasks, not obsessing over fertility treatments.
Because of NaPro’s hyper-focus on the procreative, it does not appear to have much to offer me other than fertility drugs for the sake of seeking pregnancy. This was the part where I finally began to understand why all of the other “NFP only” doctors prescribe the pill for women with chronic pelvic pain. It just does not make sense to always go around prescribing pregnancy and fertility drugs which are in themselves at least as harmful as the pill.
And speaking of fertility “treatments” and things I can’t dance lightly enough around:
- A Catholic healthcare practice where I could relax my moral alertness and not question anything offered.
NaPro encourages, and apparently sometimes requires, things which I believe are immoral. Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that they are violating the clearest of the Church’s teachings. In fact, I don’t know of anything they do that directly contradicts the explicit directives of the US Bishops. So it is all good, right?
But my conscience isn’t ruled merely by how up-to-date the bishops are on all nuances of the lived reality of fertility treatments. To borrow from the hackneyed example: abusing indulgences was wrong even before the pope wrote my bishop a letter telling him to clean things up.
I realize that there must be broad disagreement about what is moral in these areas, particularly when the Church has not had time to catch up with current practices. But the point remains that NaPro holds no advantage for me over any of my local Catholic hospitals. It is not (and most likely cannot be) some bastion of perfect Catholicism. This is not a reason to reject it out of hand, but it does mean that it is not especially worth seeking out for moral reasons when there are many other Catholic resources.
Yet one promising thing about NaPro is that it is so closely connected to CrMS. And who wouldn’t respect Catholic healthcare that places a large emphasis on fertility understanding that enables people to follow the Church’s teachings?
This is precisely why I value:
- Healthcare based on a profound understanding of not only the theoretical fertility cycle, but also my unique body.
Unfortunately CrMS does not work for me. I can see how it could work for most women, and would be well worth its existence simply to serve women with a certain personality type, if nothing else. But it is insufficient for my body for the purpose of avoiding pregnancy, and somewhat silly for other purposes.
This was very hard for me to accept at first because I have never thought of my fertility cycle as especially challenging. I have many troubling issues, but a few of these actually lend themselves to making fertility awareness easier. Because of this, the greatest challenge of learning CrMS was the effort it took to see why my FCP could not see what was so obvious to me. The simple answer is that the CrMS obfuscates my fertility signs by zeroing in on precisely the wrong aspects of my symptoms.
Again, I realize that this system is quite adequate for most women. But the fact that it is so ridiculously inadequate for me does not give me reason to put faith in the health system which has grown up with CrMS. I have even more issues with CrMS in general, but the most essential is the question of why I would want to follow a system which declares itself superior to other forms of NFP, and then, without adequate instruction for their correct application, turns around and requires me to utilize tools perfected by other methods?
Lastly, something which isn’t a criticism of NaPro at all, but more of a reflection of where I am at this point.
- I want healthcare which treats me as efficiently as possible without being unnecessarily invasive or experimental.
It is good that NaPro tends toward the experimental side of things. After all, if no one ever tried anything new… BUT at the same time, I am tired of being a lab rat. Also, I had just a little dose of the NaPro approach this summer and the invasiveness is the last thing that I need at this point. I was quite willing to have surgery because I needed it, but the fact is that the NaPro style seems heavily geared toward invasiveness in every area. This goes along with the experimental aspect and makes sense for figuring out new treatments, but my body has been through enough without subjecting it to pointless over-treatment.
And this, my dear readers who have skimmed to the end, is why–even if I suddenly turn into a helpful person–I will not indiscriminately recommend NaPro as the Catholic cure-all for women’s health issues.
If those of you who are dedicating your lives to NaPro wish to comment to clear up any way in which I may be misleading a hypothetical interested but ignorant reader, please do so. I won’t take offense, and will indeed be flattered that you imagine my writing to be so fascinating that any but the most ardent devotee of NaPro would bother to read this post!