A recent study at Boston University just found that some Pill users may suffer a permanent loss of libido even once they stop taking it.
A year before my wedding, I went in for the oh-so-fun annual physical and when I mentioned the upcoming nuptials, the doctor casually said I should come back in the spring and get put on the Pill. There was no discussion of alternatives or pros/cons, just the assumption that it was the right choice for me--at the time, a 21 year old virgin.
That December, I found out that my roommate's parents were NFP instructors and I had a long chat with her mom. This was before converting to Catholicism had crossed either of Dan or my minds. Something about NFP seemed so healthy to me. No one had ever told me anything negative about the Pill, but the fact that there was a way to avoid pregnancy by working with my body's ups and downs made so much sense. A friend of mine who had married two years before used NFP and when I first heard, I thought she was completely nuts and bound to be pregnant within the year. As it turned out, her first pregnancy (completely planned) was four years later. Knowing their experience helped me make the jump from intellectually trusting NFP to actually applying it. Once I returned to Minnesota after graduation, Dan and I took an NFP class together and then used it to avoid pregnancy for about 35 cycles before we flipped the usage and conceived Peter on the first cycle. We have intended throughout our marriage to eventually teach NFP classes ourselves and began the process last summer. Dan's crazy-busyness kept us from continuing until the past month or so. Our hope is to finish the program by the end of the summer and begin teaching this fall.
For any of you who have taken the Pill at some point--what information did your doctor give you before prescribing it? Have you experienced any side effects? Did they affect your choice of birth control?
The strangest thing about Pill use to me is the fact that millions of women are encouraged to override their body's natural hormonal cycles even though nothing is wrong with them. I know a fair number of people who take the Pill to eliminate heavy, painful periods, but the vast majority of Pill users take it for the contraceptive effects (prescription of the Pill as a general hormonal cure-all is another pet peeve of mine). I can't think of any other "medicine" that is prescribed year after year to people without chronic illnesses. Women are led to believe that since their periods come every month, their bodies are functioning just as they used to, when actually their ovaries are shut down indefinitely. The benefits found in the Pill are often also acheived by extended breastfeeding--both reduce blood loss and the total cycles experienced in one's lifetime.
Since starting NFP, going to those annual physicals is a little more interesting. The nurse inevitably asks if I'm on birth control and gives me a curious look when I mention NFP--it usually doesn't fit any of the tidy little checkboxes on the chart. They're pleased when I can rattle off my LMP without thinking, at least. One time I was a couple days pre-ovulation and the doctor was remembering back to med school, trying to recall what a normal amount of mucus was for that part of a cycle. I don't suppose cervical mucus comes up too often during routine exams. I was also told by one doc that the fact that my father is on blood thinners due to clotting problems makes me a poor candidate for the Pill, since one of its side effects is blood clots--I wonder how many docs would have thought about that? (As an aside, I'm also a bad candidate for epidural anesthesia since I have low blood pressure--good to know).
Overall, I feel lucky to have met people who taught me about NFP when I did and I will be forever grateful to them.