WARNING! This post is all about Natural Family Planning. It is going to get very personal, and possibly TMI about “lady bits.” Any men who do not want to hear about female anatomy, menstrual cycles, and reproduction, feel free to step away now! Or females who don’t want to hear about it, for that matter. If you happen to be related to me, please also skip this (except my sister, if she chooses to read).
Alright! Glad for those who stayed! Now, shall we continue? Now, for my ladies, we all know one of the hardest parts about sex is figuring out how to go about it in a “safe” way. Condoms aren’t always comfortable, and figuring out the right dose, or right brand, of hormones can be a pain in the ass! I know some of you may be thinking, “It’s just a pill!” or “It’s just a little device inserted into your arm/uterus/etc. How can it be that bad?” I also know there are some of you thinking, “Girl! I feel you! But what do I do!?” Well, sit tight and hopefully my story will help you find other methods of birth control!
If you aren’t in a monogamous relationship, I am still going to encourage you to use a condom!
My Hormonal Birth Control History
So, a little bit of backstory, I started using birth control when I was about 18 or 19. For a while, I didn’t seem to have any problems with it. Eventually, however, no matter what hormonal birth control I used, I would have some sort of side effect I could not live with: excessive weight gain, extreme anger, tender breasts ALL THE TIME, nausea, headaches, etc. etc. etc. Because of all of the issues I was having with hormones, I decided to try the copper IUD. At first, it was great! No major side effects. My periods were heavier and I was cramping more, but I can handle that!
However, after about a year with my first copper IUD, I started having sharp pain near my uterus when I had sex. So, I went to the doctor to see what was up: my IUD had become misplaced. The doctor unceremoniously, and without warning, yanked the IUD right out. That same day, she tried to place another one. Ok, the first once I got hurt horribly when it was placed. This second one? It was hell. After multiple attempts, she gave up and referred me to an actual clinic to make sure there was nothing wrong with my uterus.
After the visit for the ultrasound, it was determined my uterus was just fine and apparently the doctor I saw just didn’t know what she was doing. I saw a new doctor, and she placed another IUD for me, with the stipulation that we would keep a close eye on it and make sure it didn’t come out either. Not even a year after the placing of my second IUD, I started having 10 day-long periods, with rust-colored blood. So, that’s definitely not normal, at least for me. I went back to my OB, had an ultrasound…. And my IUD was no longer in place. Fortunately, she was much more ceremonious in its removal. So, I left the office that day with no birth control, and feeling quite hopeless.
For a little over a year, I went without birth control. Relying on condoms and other various precautions to avoid pregnancy. However, one night, after not being able to fully “do the deed” because I was not on birth control and, let’s face it, condoms suck, I decided I was going to suck it up and get on hormones again. So in March, I made an appointment, and spoke with my OB about hormones. She put me on LoLoestren FE, as it has the smallest amount of hormones you can have in a birth control pill.
Guys, the first two weeks were HORRIBLE! I had pounding headaches every day, severe nausea, and fatigue. I pushed through it, knowing you have to give all medications a month to get over the initial side effects. Finally, the headaches and nausea stopped. I thought it was going to work for me… and then I got a period. It ended, and two weeks later… I got another period… and this continued until last month. I was so fed up with it, I knew I needed to find another method of birth control!
Enter Natural Family Planning
Knowing I did not want to do anymore hormones, I looked into Natural Family Planning (NFP), AKA Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). I joined all the Facebook groups, purchased Take Charge of Your Fertility, and when I was on my last week of the last packet of HBC pills I had, I threw them in the trash. That week, however, I also spoke with my OB, who freaked out at the thought of me relying on tracking my temperature, cervical mucus (CM), and cervical position as birth control.
I spoke to her at length about how I could not do hormones anymore. How I was tired of feeling out of control with my body, and experiencing all the negative side effects. Also, during the short amount of time I was on LoLoestrin, most sex positions were painful! It was hard for me to enjoy sex, and I wasn’t getting nearly as aroused as I did before birth control. I also noticed, the day that I threw out my HBC, I checked for my cervix position, and it was extremely low. No wonder sex hurt! Ever since then, each time I check position, my cervix feels much higher.
Ladies, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, FAM is definitely something that takes practice! You need to be committed to checking your cervical fluid (CF) multiple times a day, as well as checking your basal body temperature first thing every morning. But, it is amazing to have a sense of control and knowledge about your sexual health! And better sex is always a perk!
So far, a month into it, I am feeling so much better about my body. I know there are risks, as there are risks with anything that we do. The good thing is, I’m getting to know my body better and what to expect out of my monthly cycle. This month, being the first month off of HBC, it has been all over the place, but I’m excited to learn!N