In junior high we learned about 4 different ways to control our baby making potential:
1) Condoms (probably the ‘preferred’ method due to ease of access)
2) Birth Control Pills (your mom had to know you were doing it to get your hands on these)
3) Abstinence (a.k.a. “The Power of Prayer”; regardless, gets my vote for the high school set)
4) The Rhythm Method (the laughing stock of the birth control world, even 7th graders know this doesn’t work)
For years, I have been content with my level of birth control education. And I have practiced each at one point in time or another.
Well, except for the Rhythm Method. Anytime someone tried to explain to me what the Rhythm Method was they would use examples like “Catholics who don’t believe in birth control” or those families where the mom has 17 kids. Nothing strikes terror in a young girl’s heart like the idea of an accidental pregnancy because you can’t remember if your cycle is 28 days long or 32.
To put it nicely, only idiots practiced the Rhythm Method.
That is until a few weeks ago when I came across the book Natural Birth Control Made Simple. This has been a fascinating read. To practice Natural Family Planning (NFP) you pretty much have to be the smartest person on the planet because lots thinking is involved. Lots. I am pretty sure I am not smart enough to be an NFPer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to share some goodies that I gathered from my reading…
It’s gettin’ hot in here, so please, take off all your clothes
There are two significant fertility indicators that NFP relies on. One is the Basal Body Temperature (BBT). I could be wrong, but from what I’ve gathered it is your body’s temperature at rest (is this correct, Pharmacist Susan?). It’s sometimes low, and it is sometimes high. When it’s high you can’t get pregnant. I think (I just reek with the smell of confidence, don’t I?).
So you have to get up each morning and before you do anything (no sex, no shower, no eating, nothing) take your temperature either orally, vaginally, or rectally (this morning is starting off fabulously, isn’t it?).
In order for this to work you have to do this whole thing as much the same as humanly possible. Same time of day, same “entrance”, same thermometer. I tend to glaze over the details at this point, but once your BBT has remained elevated for 3 days then you know that the egg has already been released and pregnancy is not possible.
Listen carefully to your Flower Garden
The second fertility indicator is the changes in cervical mucus. Um. Yeah.
I would recommend this book for these sections alone. There is mucus that helps you get pregnant (a.k.a. “Bad Mucus”) and mucus that prevents you from getting pregnant (a.k.a. mucus after my own heart). You can tell the difference in the types of mucus based on color, quantity, and feel. Yes, every morning you will go digging for mucus gold to help you know where you are on the fertility chart (by the time I got to this point in the book I already had a Thank You card written to the makers of Junel-Fe thanking them for The Pill, and asking for forgiveness for ever doubting them).
The best part of this section is that the author seems to want you to not simply tell what kind of mucus exists by its physical properties. Oh, no. She wants you to come into some sort of meta-physical communion with your Little Lady. She calls them “vaginal sensations”, I call it “way too hard to do without giggling uncontrollably”.
Another indicator (which I’m throwing in purely because I like to keep things organized in 3’s) is the opening of the cervix. During ovulation it opens a bit wider (about the width of your little or index finger) so that The Little Sperm That Could… can. A closed cervix, like the infertile mucus, is one way that God protects us naturally from pregnancy. There are some other things you can “feel” out in the cervix, but I’m not gonna go there (more because I’m not even sure what the lady is talking about than a fear of being improper).
As we can see, the NFP method is all about digging around in the mysterious world down under. I’m all about getting to know thy self, I’m just positive that I don’t have the intelligence, intuition or discipline to make the NFP way the way for me.
So, Pharmacist Susan, tell me more about this birth control for men…