Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NFP Awareness Week

Did you know that there is a week dedicated to Natural Family Planning Awareness? I didn't until just a few days ago when I ran into an article on Catholic.org about a woman describing her reasons she practices NFP and how it has impacted her life. Since I am rather passionate about the subject I have decided to contribute to the cause and write about why I practice NFP.

A few weeks ago I commented on a very disturbing statistic I came across: 72% of Catholic women currently use some type of hormonal birth control, despite the Catholic Church's teachings, and 90% of Catholic women used it at some point in their life. I was one of the 90%. I originally went on birth control when I was 16 for medical purposes. I suffered from debilitating primary desmenaria, which made my menstral cycles incredibly painful. Then, when I became sexually active at the age of 21 I continued to use it for contraceptive purposes.

I converted to the Catholic Church when I was 13. Even though I considered myself to be very devout, I did not agree with the Church's teachings about birth control. I did not see anything wrong with it and I thought it was just a male dominated hierarchy who did not fully understand women. I remember my senior year of Catholic high school, we had our priest teach a series of classes on marriage and he spoke about NFP. At the age of 17 I was saying to myself, what does a male priest know about a woman's body? I basically dismissed his concepts.

Then, my last year of college, I fell away from the Church and practiced Wicca. I viewed sex as something that was given to us by the gods for pleasure and to connect with another human being. This is a rather superficial view about sex, but I believed it for a good five years.

When my fiance and I moved to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Saint Peter's Roman Catholic Church was only a thirty second walk where I lived. It got to the point I had no excuse for not returning to church. I started to trek up the hill on Sunday mornings and eventually my fiance started to follow me. He was born and baptized Catholic but stopped attending Mass at the age of 10.

After going through a full spiritual crisis, I started to open my heart to Christ and His Church. With the help of my parish Deacon and a lot of prayer, I began to pull myself out of the spiritual darkness and research church teachings on a variety of topics. I read a number of articles on NFP and a number of books on the topic and it all started to make sense.

Marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. The physical act of love is a part of the covenant, where two become one. The physical act of the covenant is supposed to be love giving and life giving. Hormonal contraceptives artificially deny the life-giving aspect of that covenant therefore degrading the act and making it for something that is for pleasure only. But there are people who argue that NFP is just mental contraception. My argument back is, that if God wants us to get pregnant every time we had sex women would be at peak fertility all of the time. Most women have a 'peak' period once a month at time of ovulation. God gave us something natural to work with in planning our families!

This is my fifth month of practicing NFP. I have noticed that I don't have as many migraines as I used to. I can't see how pumping hormones into your body is a good thing, unless you have some type of medical condition. I have a friend who was on the pill for a short time and now has a hormonal imbalance because of it. She battles with facial hair and is now having a difficult time conceiving.

I practice NFP because it is the right thing to do both physically and morally.

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