I know that the heart behind a lot of contraception is good. I want what's best for women and for families and for society too. I would even call this a feminist issue-from a different angle than what's normally called feminism.
The goal here is that women can plan their pregnancies, for any number of reasons. Career, sanity, health, economics, wanting to sleep through the night for a week or two, etc. In this "modern" world, we have lots of ways to do that. (In the olden days, contraception involved crocodile dung. Ew.)
The pill works by adding 20,000 to 30,000 nanograms of estrogen daily to a woman's system. (If you're concerned about hormones in your meat, you'd need to eat 125,000 lbs of beef to get what one pill delivers). Adding all of that estrogen to the body shuts down the reproductive system, more or less. So you have a healthy, working system, and you take medicine to stop it from working. The pill is listed on the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) as a Group 1 Carcinogen (carcinogenic to humans) and yes, there's some research that says the pill lowers the risk of ovarian cancer, but it's a more rare cancer than breast cancer, which is what the pill is shown to increase the risk of. And I'll talk a little more about ovarian cancer in a minute. Anyhoo-no one I've ever talked to has been a fan of the pill. Weight gain and moodiness and just feeling not right.
The Depo-Provera shot has horrible side effects and a terrifying history. I don't even want to write about it. Just google it if you want to know. I can't see any reason why women should be subject to this sort of thing.
Barrier methods also carry some medical side effects. While avoiding pregnancy, women miss out on some natural antidepressants. When they decide to have a baby, women are 2.5 times more likely to develop preeclampsia in pregnancy. Here's a really medical explanation, and here's a more friendly explanation.
What about NFP? No medical side effects. It works by teaching a woman how to read her body's natural signs. She keeps track on a chart, or on an app on her phone, and she always knows if she is fertile or not. This is different than the rhythm method. I'm most familiar with the Creighton Model, which is a scientifically developed and well researched system. But you want to know, is it effective? Let's compare. There's "method" effectiveness - which means if it is used perfectly, and "use" effectiveness, which is how people actually use it.
The Pill has a method effectiveness of 99.5% and a use effectiveness of 90-96%, depending on the study. You're supposed to take the pill every day at the same time every day in order to get to that 99.5%.
Barrier methods have around 98% method effectiveness and use effectiveness of 85-90%.
Creighton has a method effectiveness of 99.5% and a use effectiveness of 96.8%, according to a five year study. Additionally, there was a study done by the World Health Organization in India of around 20,000 women where the pregnancy rate was .02%. I can't find a good citation for that one, but you'll see that statistic cited all over.
Permanent options don't leave you any room to change your mind, and carry some unpleasant risks for both women and men. Ectopic pregnancy is the number one killer of pregnant women, and increased prostate cancer risk for men. I don't know much about how big those chances are.
And you know what else? Having a comprehensive record of your reproductive cycles is a valuable tool. NaPro (Natural Procreative) Technology works with the information gathered to diagnose and treat all sorts of women's health issues. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, endometriosis, even PMS! Women who chart will be able to see changes in their reproductive health right away, so secret killers like ovarian cancer are a little easier to notice.
Oh yeah, and it's really cheap. I still have follow ups with my teacher a couple of times a year because I like her and because she knows more than me and would be able to see if something strange is up. That's less than $50 a year. Want to find a teacher? Or if you want to talk to my teacher, she's katelsiegfriedatgmaildotcom. Doesn't matter where you live, we meet via skype most of the time.
Empowering, not oppressive.
Want to know more? Twitter Party tonight at 7:00 PM CST! Hashtag #NFPchat
The whole series:
7/22 NFP Awareness Week
7/23 It's good for women.
7/24 It's good for couples.
7/25 It's good for babies.
7/26 It's good for the spirit.