Fertility tracking and natural family planning is easier and more accurate than ever before.
When I was 18, I was prescribed birth control for some dubious reason … dubious primarily because I can’t even remember what the reason was. I wasn’t sexually active and didn’t have PCOS or unpleasant periods, but I went to the doctor for some reason and walked away with the pill.
It didn’t take long to figure out that it wasn’t really medicine at all. It made me feel terrible, weepy and unhinged, and I rapidly gained 10 pounds. More alarmingly for a college freshman, I found my thinking muddled and my schoolwork suffering. I didn’t even finish the first month before I stopped taking them altogether.
Years later, accepting Church teaching on contraception was part of the hurdle of converting. I’ll admit I struggled with the rejection of contraception as a whole for a while, but it took me no time at all to reject the pill, particularly. By that time I had my first child and I knew exactly what symptoms the pill mimicked — the weepy, crazy, cloudy days of early pregnancy. No way would I do that unless there was an actual baby on the other end … even though I was pretty sure that without the pill, there would be.
Turns out that I’m not alone in my easy rejection of the pill for reasons other than faith. Many Millennial women are rejecting the pill for various reasons, according to this month’s Vogue.
In fact, younger women are turning away from the pill in droves — an NHS study found that the number of women in contact with sexual and reproductive health services who used user-dependent contraception, including the pill, had dropped by more than 13 per cent between 2005 and 2015. It’s hardly surprising: a quick Google search chums up some alarming reports, from articles on possible links between the pill and cancer to claims that are outright bizarre, such as “contraceptive pills flushed down the toilet are turning fish transgender.”
Despite Vogue’s easy dismissal of reports as “alarmist,” the pill has been known for years to be carcinogenic. The World Health Organization classifies birth control pills as a Group 1 carcinogen, along with things like asbestos and tobacco. So it’s no wonder that women are finally saying enough is enough and finding alternate methods of pregnancy prevention.
Although alternate methods are denigrated as the “rhythm method” in popular media, Catholic women have been using them for years. Vogue features an app designed by a female particle physicist that tracks basal body temperature. Otherwise known as natural family planning, this is a method of pregnancy planning that Catholics have been using for decades. In fact, it’s the first method I learned when I converted 10 years ago.
As its creator mentions, this method doesn’t work for everyone. It didn’t work for me — but again, Catholics are ahead of the game. There are at least a half-dozen different methods that combine various symptom tracking, including the Marquette method that uses the ClearBlue Easy fertility monitor. And as technology has improved, so has fertility tracking; there’s an app for whichever method you choose.
So whatever the reasons might be for Millennial women’s rejection of the pill, they’re lucky that fertility tracking is easier and more accurate than ever — thanks, in large part, to the work Catholics have been doing all along.