It is well known that forms of hormonal birth control (HBC) such as the Pill have a number of unpleasant side effects. Some, such as weight gain, acne, nausea, and spotting, are uncomfortable and annoying. Other risks, such as increased likelihood of pulmonary embolism, are rare but nevertheless extremely serious. Hormonal birth control has also been labeled as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization. As public awareness of these very real health risks grows, so does many couples' interest in finding a form of family planning that is both effective and free of side effects.
HBC can sometimes affect a woman's body, mind and emotions to such an extent that it begins to interfere with the relationships in her life. For example, one very commonly reported effect of hormonal birth control is a woman's loss of libido. For something that is supposed to provide a couple with the ability to make love as much as they want, losing the desire for sex is both ironic and tragic.
Another less obvious, but nevertheless interesting effect of chemical contraception is that it has been shown to affect both a woman's natural pheromones and the way that she perceives the pheromones of others. One study goes as far as to suggest that it may even affect a woman's choice of mate.
Finally, some women on the Pill experience such extreme emotional distress (whether it be from mood swings, anxiety, paranoia, or depression) that it affects her quality of life and the way she relates to others. It's no wonder that many women are looking for an alternative form of family planning.
For some couples, such as those who ascribe to the Catholic religion, NFP is an obvious choice because other forms of birth control are against the teachings of their church. But even for those couples whose religion doesn't specifically prohibit birth control, the mechanisms of HBC can raise ethical questions that make its users uneasy. One of the ways in which hormonal contraception functions is by causing a woman's body to be less hospitable to a new life, making it much more difficult for a child who was accidentally conceived to successfully implant and grow in their mother's womb. Those who believe that life begins at conception need to be aware that all forms of HBC have the chance, however slight, of acting as an abortifacent.
4. Self knowledge and empowerment
For many women, periods are an unpleasant aspect of life that they have been dealing with since before they were teenagers. It's messy, painful, inconvenient, and pointless. Or is it?
Learning fertility awareness opens a door for a woman to truly understand her body's amazing design. A menstrual cycle is more than just a period - it is a complex and intricate dance of hormones and biological processes that facilitate the ability to bring forth new life. But the menstrual cycle has implications beyond the ability to get pregnant - it also serves as a useful barometer for a woman's overall health. By learning how to read and chart her physical fertility signs, a woman can quickly become aware of abnormalities that can indicate problems (such as thyroid, hormonal and endocrine issues, cysts and tumors, endometriosis, and more). Fertility awareness can help to make sense of (and predict!) seemingly mysterious irregular and late periods. Such intimate knowledge of one's own body is empowering, and fosters awe and respect for ourselves and how we are made.
photo by Serge Bertasius/freedigitalphoto