Using Contraception with a Natural Family Planning Mentality

Guest Post by Jackie of Blueberries for Me. I am quite pleased to interrupt this blog-silence with a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers with pretty much the best blog name ever.

Put down your cups of tea, ladies and gentlemen, for I am about to hit you with a shocker. This is a post on Natural Family Planning from someone who does not, I repeat, does not, practice it. And it’s not even an argument against it.

Barely two months after getting married to my wonderful husband, I was diagnosed with a myriad of problems involving most of the organs between my knees and my belly button. I won’t bore you with all the details, but in short my symptoms are frequent urination, painful sex, and a constant cramping sensation that is analogous to feeling as if you were on your period 30 days a month. Among the many treatments I am undergoing, one is the birth control pill. I’ll say this flat out: this post is not about whether or not it is acceptable for me to be on the pill. Just like you and your family planning choices, this one is between me, my husband, my doctor, and God.

There are many wonderful parts about practicing NFP, some of which flat out beat the pill. No, the pill is not free and it is not natural. NFP wins on those front. But a lot of the other benefits of NFP can be incorporated into any marriage, even one with a contracepted sex life.

More communication

One of the benefits of NFP is that it inspires communication between spouses, especially in the “not tonight, honey” and the “yes please tonight, honey!” fronts. While we are 95% guaranteed that on any given night we won’t conceive a child that doesn’t mean our sex life is devoid of communication. Dealing with chronic pain, there is a whole lot of “not tonight, honey.” We have frequent conversations about my health, how I am feeling, if my husband’s needs are being met, and what we can do to help the other person feel more loved. While our talks don’t center around the possibility of conceiving when we discuss sex, they do center around how to build up our relationship and serve one another. Whether you are dealing with chronic pain or other disorders, attempting to avoid or achieve pregnancy, communication should always be part of your sex life.

Prevents husband from seeing you like an object

I hear this reason as a benefit from practicing NFP often. All I’ve got to say is – I would never have married someone who would treat me like a sex object. And you shouldn’t either.

Trust God

NFP requires you to put a lot of trust in God. While the practice can be quite reliable if you are very good and very regular, the truth is there is always that chance, and thus you must trust that God is fulfilling his plan for you and his family when you conceive or don’t.

Having a chronic condition has forced us to put a lot of trust in God. We need to trust that this is his will for us to undergo this trial, to believe that he has a plan and that we must hope in him. Knowing that we have a small but larger than average chance at infertility, we also must trust that God will give us children. Perhaps one day I will be feeling better enough to go off the pill long enough to conceive. Perhaps he will lead us into adoption. But in the meantime, we will just have to trust.

Respect for life

Can the being on the pill give you respect for life? I think so. I don’t believe that being on the pill necessarily closes you to the possibility of life. I know that while there are people out there who will avoid having a baby at any cost, I definitely wouldn’t say that most people who are taking birth control are doing so with the hopes that it might abort any fetus conceived. Otherwise my little sister wouldn’t have been born.

Being on the pill makes us realize even more so what a gift life is because we realize at what great expense and with what effort it can come. We also realize that the pill, like any other form of family planning, is not 100% fail proof. And so every time we engage in marital activities, we realize that we are potentially creating a life. And while that life might be 95% less likely to happen, we are still open to it happening. Any child we have, be it an oops baby or a planned one will be welcomed with open arms.

Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder

Married couples who use NFP say that taking some time off helps them appreciate their spouse more. While any day might be technically a green light one for us fertility-wise, my body sees it differently, giving us more red lights than green ones in any given month. Every couple will have periods of abstinence in their lives, be it due to avoiding pregnancy, pain, physical separation, work, stress, or emotionally trying times. And hopefully whenever those times end, it helps us to appreciate what we do have.

In Conclusion

The aforementioned benefits of using NFP are part of any good sex life no matter what medical treatment you are undergoing or family planning tools you are using. Whether you are using NFP to achieve pregnancy, to avoid it, if you are on the pill, or if you are infertile or past child bearing age, sex should be about loving yourself and your spouse. And that’s going to look a little different in every relationship. So here’s to you and your journey in figuring that out.

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7 thoughts on “Using Contraception with a Natural Family Planning Mentality

  1. Mandi

    What a great post! I think that it is important for people to realize that some women are on birth control for very valid reasons (although I will admit, there are many more that use “excuses” to take it as well) and that we shouldn’t alienate then. If it is prescribed for a medical reason, it’s a very difficult decision to make and comes with it’s own burdens, being judged shouldn’t be one of them. I’ll pray for your health to improve, it sounds like you’ve gone through some very tough times!

  2. Michelle

    Good post. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I needed to take contraceptive pills for my health. I pray I would be able to find the blessings among my burdens. And it seems like you have a very healthy outlook on a sexual relationship with your spouse. I pray your health improves…mainly so that you don’t have to be in pain. I couldn’t imagine having a condition that brings on constant or at least chronic pain. God bless you and your suffering.

    I love the title of this post, by the way. :)

  3. Michelle

    I enjoyed your post, all well said. Hope your health improves, sounds like a heavy cross. I don’t like the blanket judging that a lot of NFP users do. I also don’t like the in-your-face contraception talk that contraception users are inclined toward (like they’re just daring you to disagree, or want you to validate them and their choices). I respect that my situation is different than others, my private choices are private between me and my husband (and God), and accept that my fertility issues of yesterday are subject to the impermanence of all things and are changing. Best wishes.

  4. Jessica

    I love so much about this post! I don’t think there’s much more I could say to add to what you’ve said here, so I’ll just say, great job! And I especially loved this: “All I’ve got to say is – I would never have married someone who would treat me like a sex object. And you shouldn’t either.

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  6. waywardson23

    Great post, but this is not about “using contraception with a Natural Family Planning mentality”.

    This is about remaining open to life and maintaining a healthy and loving sexual relationship while undergoing medical treatment that leaves you sterile.

    I think some Catholics get so caught up in the technical aspects of sex, that they forget the importance of intent. Sin is subjective. It is a failure to love. For all of you TOB fans, contraception is “saying no” to God and to our spouses.

    She says she doesn’t want to discuss whether it is OK for her to be on the Pill, but I will anyway: It is OK. Taking artificial hormones with the intent of treating a medical condition is vastly morally different than taking them with the specific intent of preventing conception. The author is not contracepting, but undergoing hormonal therapy that happens to be packaged as birth control pills. She and her husband are not deliberately removing the procreative element of sex, it is an unintended side effect of her medical treatment. They aren’t “saying no” to anything except her health problems. They aren’t seeing the consequences of such sin in their marriage because they aren’t sinning.

    This failure to understand the importance of intent has made the author a bit defensive about her health care choices and confused by Church teaching, which is a shame. I pray that she finds a resolution to her problems and gets well.

    Sometimes people need to be told that they aren’t sinning.

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