I can't tell you how many women I see who are working hard to lose weight and improve health issues. They struggle endlessly to get their food, exercise + sleep right. And yet, these same women find themselves frustratingly stuck or unable to make adequate progress toward their weight, mood, energy and other health goals.
There's one thing most women are overlooking that can seriously deter their best efforts at health.
A Hidden PROBLEM WITH Obvious effects
The common + easily overlooked denominator sabotaging women's health efforts? Hormonal birth control + contraceptive devices.
Most women using hormonal birth control or contraceptive devices don't make the conscious connection, but the natural weight, mood, energy + health regulators in their bodies are being significantly altered and overridden by the intake of external hormones. This slows and may even prevent their ability to achieve a fullness of health and wellness... despite their best efforts.
Fertility is a default attribute of healthy female of reproductive age. Infertility is a sign of serious, biological dysfunction.
When we injest, inject, implant or otherwise take in external hormones to suppress, induce or regulate fertility, we intentionally force the female body out of homeostasis and into a state of biological dysfunction.
For example, external hormones interfere with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, the master regulators in the highly complex feedback loop responsible for continually assessing, regulating, and directing all hormone production and the function of the nervous + endocrine systems -- which regulate hunger, weight + metabolism (e.g., thyroid); energy levels (thyroid + adrenals); and even mood-defining neurotransmitters (e.g. nervous system).
These disrupted and confused hormone regulators may tell the body to gain / hold on to excess weight, decrease resources for normal energy output, and/or fail to properly signal or release mood stabilizers. External hormones disrupt numerous other systems in the body as well, causing a slew of other common, clinically reported side effects like: weight gain, mood changes, anxiety + depression, fatigue, gas/bloating, constipation/diarrhea, PMS symptoms, hot flashes, headaches, changes in body composition, abnormal hair growth/loss, libido loss, cardiovascular issues, increased risk of stroke + cancers, changes to breasts + reproductive organs, liver + gallbladder dysfunction, blood sugar issues, cravings, nutrient deficiencies... and on and on (just check your brand of hormonal birth control or contraceptive device).
In addition, several type of birth control / external hormones are listed in the highest bracket of cancer-causing substances by the WHO (they're a class 1 carcinogen as reported by the IARC division of the World Health Organization).
NOTE: Even the copper IUD, which doesn't release actual hormones -- but does release high levels of copper that disrupt the hormonal system and disable fertility in a similar manner -- has been reported to have the same negative effects on the body.
NFP - A TRULY NATURAL ALTERNATIVE THAT SUPPorTS your FERTIlity gOALS... AND WON'T SABOTAGE YOUR WEIGHT OR HEALTH
Ladies, if you want to get + stay healthy(er), it's time to ditch the hormonal birth controls and contraceptive devices.
We've got a number of cheap, safe, natural, non-invasive, and side-effect free family planning alternatives that don't require use of hormones, pills, patches, shots, rings, implants or other health and body-disrupting contraceptive devices.
NFP lets us support our female body (and fertility goals) safely, effectively, non-invasively + 100% naturally. We don’t have to be undermining our health + nutritional progress with the damaging side effects, risks, and symptoms that accompany conventional forms of birth control + contraceptives.
NFP is an invaluable, alternative tool we can use to support our optimal state of health + well-being.
What Is NFP?
The term “NFP” refers to Natural Family Planning – NFP is the practical application of a natural, effective, and non-invasive family planning method that's based on fertility awareness and tracking of the body’s natural signs of fertility.
We can use NFP to detect the specific days on which a woman is in/fertile for the purposes of both
- Achieving pregnancy
- Avoiding pregnancy
In addition, it can be especially useful in the following scenarios:
- Addressing chronic issues with weight, energy, mood, digestion and other health problems
- Educating ourselves and/or others on how our bodies + fertility are naturally designed to work to support our biological health + well-being
- Navigating “transitional” fertility periods like post-partum/breastfeeding, peri-menopause, and coming off hormonal therapies, birth controls or contraceptives
- Detecting particular problem points in cycle irregularity, hormone imbalance, infertility, PMS, gynecological problems, and related conditions (that may have been previously masked by artificial hormone regulation)
- Detecting underlying factors contributing to symptoms of hormonal imbalance
NFP'S MODERN Effectiveness - ADVANCES IN SCIEnce + TECHNOLOGY
Thanks to modern advances in science + technology, we’ve come a long way in understanding how to track + test signs of in/fertility.
NFP Actual Effectiveness Rates
Recent, well-construed studies have found that, when practiced correctly, most modern NFP methods actually have a higher effectiveness rating than other, artificial forms of birth control.
Depending on the NFP method, the effective rate of proper use is 95.3-99.9% effective.
Which rivals -- if not surpasses! -- many methods of hormonal birth control and contraceptive devices (and comes without any of the side effects, risks, invasive procedures + cost!).
Myths, RuMOURS + Outdated Understandings of NFP Effectiveness
Many people have a misconstrued or outdated understanding of NFP. They may be concerned that it's a risky or imprecise method of family planning that comes with a high risk of unintended pregnancy.
This may be due, in part, from an outdated understanding of NFP and it's more modern, scientifically-backed tracking methods. Despite the myths that abound, there's no moon tracking, calendar rhythms, or guesswork involved in the modern methods of NFP, which are based in science and are highly effective.
There also seem to be a few misleading stats out there which can be traced back to a number of poorly construed studies, some of which are funded by big pharmaceutical companies with conflicting interests (aka, the study is pushed and/or funded by hormonal birth control or contraceptive device companies). We should also understand that NFP methods don’t lend easily to randomly controlled trials, as actual knowledge and practice of an NFP method is required for effective use. Stats are often way off because they include extensive data from self-devised or poorly understood use of (outdated) NFP methods... rather than well-controlled studies of modern methods that ensure subjects have a proper understanding of a NFP method.
Even our doctors, school teachers, and other public health educators don’t seem to know (or at least, aren’t talking about) the basic mechanisms of fertility and the easy ways to detect it. Some estimates suggest only 3-6% of physicians have a working knowledge of modern NFP methods, technologies + effectiveness.
The Irrational “Gonna Get Unintentionally Pregnant” Fear Mentality
There’s this odd "always fertile, gonna get unintentionally pregnant" fear mentality that seems to dominate the thinking in our society. I believe it’s due to poor education.
Many of us were not fully or properly educated in the basic, functional workings of the female body and/or its natural signs of fertility.
Contrary to popular belief, we’re not babymaking machines. We are NOT constantly fertile. In fact, we are mostly infertile…
Startling Facts – The SMALL Fertility Window
If we find ourselves still worried about unintended pregnancies with NFP, we might consider the following facts...
At best, a perfectly-cycling women at the peak of her fertility is able to conceive a max of 20% of days in month/year, assuming she has intercourse on a fertile day within every single one of those windows. She is fertile roughly 6 days each month – 5 days before and the day of ovulation (when the egg is released from the ovary).
The fertile age of women spans roughly 30 years, from about 15-44. The average lifespan is 81 years. If we do the math (72 days fertile/year x 30 years = 2160 days fertile / 29565 average lifespan days = .07). This means a woman with absolutely perfect fertility, who takes advantage of every fertile window, has up to a 7% max lifetime fertile capacity for getting pregnant.
Most women are actually fertile for much less than this 7% when you take into account infertile times due to a current pregnancy or nursing, bioindividual fluxuation in cycles + fertile windows, not having intercourse during a fertile window, and any periods of infertility (esp as cycle irregularities, infertility and early menopause are on the rise).
This can and should beg some weighty questions…
Important Questions Not Enough People Are Asking
Do we really want/need to alter our bodies and risk our health to artificially suppress our (likely less than) 7% fertility... or is there a better way?
What did people do before they had conventional medical means of suppressing fertility?
....Well, they used the bodies natural signs to understand their fertility. They knew how to tell when they were fertile and when they weren’t. They could naturally avoid pregnancy this way (and conversely, know when to try to get pregnant).
So, what's available to us via NFP? How does it work?
Let's take a look...
NFP Basics + Methodologies
Tracking the Body’s Natural Signs of Fertility
NFP methods revolve around tracking any/all of the body’s 4 main natural signs of fertility – mucus signs, cervix signs, basal body temps, and/or urinary hormone metabolites.
These methods are often used in combination with each other to achieve/avoid pregnancy. In these methods, no assumptions are made about fertility on the pure basis of cycle length or day.
A woman’s cervical mucus changes in amount, color, consistency + viscosity throughout the month in direct reflection of her fertility. During the brief fertile window, cervical mucus becomes very thin, clear + stretchy like a raw egg-white – this allows for sperm penetration + preservation. At other times during the month useful in determining ovulation + fertile window, as well as pointing to reasons for infertility like dry/no mucus, no peak-level mucus
Popular NFP methods that use this sign for tracking: Creighton, NFP/CCL, Marquette, 2-Day, Billings
Basal Body Temp Tracking
Tracks the “basal” temperature of the body -- e.g., the temp of the body at rest, which is taken after a significant period of uninterrupted sleep, usually at a set time in the AM before getting out of bed. BBTs help identify hormone patterns, conception and the end of the fertility window due to changes in temperature…. there is a slight, sustained rise or “peak” in body temperature due to ovulation and the rise in progesterone and slight increase in metabolic + thyroid function.
Popular NFP methods that use this sign for tracking: Creighton, NFP/CCL, Marquette
Cervix Position Tracking
a woman can check her cervix for changes in position, texture and “openness” that indicate during the fertile/infertile periods. Before ovulation, it should feel hard and dry, like the tip of a nose. During ovulation, you should notice that it seems to have shifted higher and that it feels softer and wetter.
Popular NFP methods that use this sign for tracking: Creighton, NFP/CCL, Marquette
Urinary Hormone Metabolite Tracking
Fertile hormones and ovulation are detected through use of urinary testing devices or fertility monitors which sense the presence of hormone metabolites of LH + estrogen to indicate the fertility window.
Popular methods that use this sign for tracking: Marquette
There’s Totally An App For That!
Ok, tons of apps, actually. Here are a few I like:
- Lily Pro
- Lady Cycle
- Fertility Friend
A Brief Side Note on NFP FOR Infertility + AchievING Pregnancy
It's worth noting that NFP methods support the full range of family planning goals -- including getting pregnant.
NFP has been found to be highly successful in helping struggling couples achieve pregnancy within the first six cycles of use – at 80% -- which is more than 3 times more successful than IVF, which has an effectiveness of around 21-27%.
It also helps identify reasons for infertility because it’s an invaluable tool in detecting points of failure – whether hormonal or due to intercourse timing.
Interestingly, the American Infertility Association found that 20% of couples seeking infertility treatment are simply not timing their intercourse correctly. That’s a pretty easy fix with NFP, which lets you know exactly when you’re fertile and not.
Nutrition + NFP – A Better Course of Action
NFP is the only truly safe, natural, non-invasive, and side-effect free way to support both our health + fertility goals, and it's an even more powerful tool when used in combination with a whole-foods, nutrient-dense diet.
So many of us are trying to do better, to live more health-consciously + naturally. We’re putting good food in our bodies. We're getting exercise + sleep + water. We're removing harmful chemicals and toxins from our homes.
It just makes sense not to be undermining or interfering with this beautiful effort by ingesting, injecting, implanting, or otherwise forcing substances, devices or procedures on the body that force it into an unnatural state of infertility -- especially when it’s not critically necessary. We should expect there to be natural consequences and side effects to such actions.
Together, nutrition and NFP can promote the body's ability to naturally rebalance and maintain its optimal and preferred state of function -- homeostasis.
The combination of whole-foods diet + NFP is a match made in heaven for women looking to lose weight, improve their energy, balance their moods, improve their health, better understand their body... all while upholding their family planning goals.