Life Health

Women spurning the pill for non-religious reasons

By Ada Slivinski, 24 Hours Vancouver

Natural family planning is gaining support with some women because of health concerns about hormonal birth control. (FOTOLIA)

Natural family planning is gaining support with some women because of health concerns about hormonal birth control. (FOTOLIA)

"Women start to realize if I’m eating organic and I’m drinking out of glass, and I’m making all these efforts in every other aspect of my life, why would I manage my fertility with a carcinogen?" — Karen Murphy Corr, Serena BC

Natural family planning is gaining popularity with those who have no religious reasons for abstaining from hormonal birth control.

“I would say that there is a shift of people using NFP for reasons other than faith,” said Kristen Gilbert, director of education at Options for Sexual Health.

As the only birth control method permitted by the Catholic Church and some other Christian denominations, NFP is often confused with the rhythm method.

“It is a scientific method, it’s not the rhythm method or the calendar method — it works,” said Karen Murphy Corr, provincial coordinator at Serena BC, which offers NFP services.

There are many different NFP methods, but they all revolve around tracking one or more of the following — basal body temperature, cervical mucus and position of the cervix. These are all signs of the hormonal changes that occur throughout a women’s menstrual cycle. Couples then record this information on a chart or a smartphone app and abstain from sex entirely or use a barrier form of birth control during the women’s fertile phase.

There are still many misconceptions about NFP, Murphy Corr said, and that’s part of the reason women interested in the method are often steered away from it by medical professionals.

The safety of hormonal birth control has been called into question following 24 recent deaths with possible links to the Yaz and Yasmin pills.

Studying the pill’s side effects is something that led Holly Grigg-Spall, author of Sweetening the Pill, to advocate for alternate forms of birth control.

"Sex-positive advocates should be the biggest fans of fertility awareness methods,” she wrote in a recent blog post.

In addition to preventing unplanned pregnancies, experts say NFP allows women to learn more about their bodies and it improves communication between couples.





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