Ding goes the alarm, in goes the pill. Or should I say, “the Pill.” One tiny little tablet filled with synthetic hormones and the promise of freedom.
This simple, daily routine is commonplace for millions of women from all walks of life. And understandably so. It’s been marketed for generations as that which delivers a lifetime of liberation from heavy bleeding, PMS, menstrual cramping, acne, and most importantly, unwanted pregnancy.
Why, then, don’t I rest assured in the effectiveness of prescription reproductive regulation?
Why don’t I, as a woman, wife, and mother, take it?
Part of the reason is because more information about the Pill is available to us now than in years past. For nearly half a century, we simply weren’t taught about its dangers. From the carcinogenic risks cited by the World Health Organization to widely published studies on depression to anecdotal internet forums, it has become clear that hormonal contraception is waging war on women’s bodies and minds.
Although my problems with the Pill (and the host of its descendants) are numerous and also stem from my faith, they all boil down to this: I do not take it because I believe it would cost me too much to do so.
The Pill promises “effective” pregnancy prevention—but at the cost of knowledge and health.
In order to work, the Pill has to completely disrupt the entire female endocrine system. It stops the monthly cycle completely, and gives users an artificial period to mimic healthy menstruation. It functions by wrecking a woman’s delicate hormonal physiology, and masking the painful symptoms of endometriosis, cysts, and PCOS while pretending it cures them.
It works by blinding us to the realities of our own bodies.
Personally, I’m not okay being kept in the dark. (Honestly, I don’t know many women who are). I want to know if I am sick, if I am healthy, if I have hormone imbalances. I also want to space and plan my pregnancies. So, I do both.
In cycling naturally, and knowing how to read all outward signs of reproductive health and fertility through Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs), I can pinpoint important health issues and know, down the hour, the six possible days per month that I can get pregnant.
I’m not okay being kept in the dark.
In knowing how the intricate interaction of hormones works throughout my cycle, I’m empowered to identify when recurring health issues might flare up, when my pain tolerance is highest, and when I’m likely to exercise most efficiently.
Most importantly, I can (and did) use this information to sustain healthy pregnancies.
Almost two years ago, the information I gathered over months of personal charting clearly showed that I was progesterone-deficient. Progesterone produced by the mother’s body is necessary to sustain pregnancy until the placenta can take over its production, so I knew I needed to schedule a blood draw for a level check immediately after my pregnancy test read positive.
The nurses were shocked that I had the right “hunch,” because the blood work done that day confirmed I would need bioidentical progesterone supplements to prevent a miscarriage.
What I learned from charting my cycles gave me access to the information I needed to help my son Harry survive his early weeks in the womb.
For these reasons, birth control has no place in my life. It would take away my capacity for informed and healthy living with a metaphorical blindfold, a condescending pat on the head, and the simple instruction to take daily and not ask too many questions.
Family planning is a team sport
What does a man have to think about, worry about, plan for, or endure physically when his wife is on the Pill?
Whether contracepting couples are conscious of it or not, the woman is bearing all the burden of family planning. She takes the pill, the risks, and the responsibility.
Fertility Awareness Methods more evenly distribute the responsibility involved in family planning, unify the spouses, and honor the health of the woman.
Yes, it involves more work than swallowing a pill, but by identifying the fertile window each cycle, men and women can make real time, month-to-month decisions about avoiding or planning for pregnancy.
Charts are kept accessible, information is shared openly, and decisions are made together. After all, men and women are only fertile as a couple. For me, the Pill would close the door on all of this.
It would steal away the space needed in healthy relationships for communication, respect, and the sacrificial love that values the good of the other above all else. It would devoid my husband of his necessary and fundamental role in this central aspect of marriage, demoting him to a backseat driver in the most principal lane of family life.
After all, men and women are only fertile as a couple.
Like everyone, I want a marriage that thrives, that strives for goodness and truth, that braves life’s storms and trials and faces the world united under the banner of total, fruitful, and faithful love.
Living in unity of purpose and rising above hardships together starts with an alliance at this fundamental level. FAMs help build that strong foundation.
What the Pill would teach my children
Did you know birth control was the first prescription medication developed and issued for perfectly healthy people to take? The nature of the Pill implies that a healthy female body is inherently broken, and that the biologically normal function of womanhood is something that must be medically manipulated. This majorly bugs me.
In an age where there are other viable options like FAMs, I feel like taking such a drug would send a harmful message to my children:
It would propagate the disastrous notion that reproduction can be cleanly divorced from the reproductive system, and that people can be reduced to objects for personal use.
It would teach my children that women must subvert an elemental part of themselves in order to be happy and successful.
I believe the Pill would con my children out of believing the truth of their own worth. (For if their parents think it’s worth the cost of physical, mental, and marital health to avoid babies like the plague, what are they to think about their own existence?)
We deserve better
I hope embracing a whole-health approach to fertility through FAMs will help my children see womanhood as something to be admired and respected. I hope it teaches them that there is beauty in the truth which birth control so effectively obscures in our world today: women are fearfully and wonderfully made because of our fertility, not in spite of it.
We all want to be informed, to have thriving relationships, and to teach our children about the wholeness and beauty of the human person.
I believe I would sacrifice all of this on the Pill. And ultimately, that’s a price I am unwilling to pay.