PCOS= Polycystic ovarian syndrome
NFP= Natural family planning
There is a huge myth floating around that people who have PCOS cannot use FAM (fertility awareness method which permits barriers during fertile times when trying to avoid pregnancy) or NFP (abstinence is used during fertile times when trying to avoid pregnancy). I actually thought the same thing at one point, and I hear people say it quite often. My hope is that people will look online for information about NFP and PCOS, and find some great information here! The truth is that you absolutely can use NFP if you have PCOS. You can use it if you are regular, irregular, or not even cycling at all. Ask me how I know! Oh, that's because in the year and a half I've been using NFP, I've fit into each one of those categories at different times.
I'm going to be hosting some guest posts from women who have PCOS and use NFP. I use the Creighton method and may write about my experience with it later, but first up on Monday I'll be sharing Jess's story with you. She has PCOS, three beautiful children, and uses the sympto-thermal method (STM) of NFP. Check back here Wednesday for a great and informative post! If you have PCOS and want to post, let me know. I don't mind having 'repeat' posts on methods, but would love to cover as many as possible. These posts are not just about trying to avoid pregnancy, but trying to achieve, and monitoring your health with PCOS as well.
But first... why would you want to use NFP if you have PCOS? Well, birth control pills look like a great option for a woman with PCOS. Again, ask me how I know? Because I was on it for a DECADE under the advice of multiple gynecologists. And it regulated my cycle and took away those annoying symptoms of PCOS. So I thought, "Wow, this really does work! Great!" and kept right on trucking with the pill until I learned about the benefits of NFP and the horrors of the pill.
So here are some of those horrors that we are never educated about:
- Many women with PCOS are insulin resistance. The pill increases insulin resistance and increases your chances of developing type II diabetes (which is already high without the 'help' of the pill!). source
- The pill has been listed as a class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The pill raises your risk of breast cancer and it takes TEN years for your risk level to go back to normal after discontinuing the pill. Liver cancer? Yep, raises those rates as well. source
- It also increases your chances of cervical cancer. It can lower your cancer of ovarian and endometrial cancer, but, in my opinion, lowering the risk of two types of cancers to raise the risk of three other types just isn't healthcare. You know what else can lower your risk of endometrial cancer? Taking progesterone in the part of your cycle where you are lacking it... so rather than taking extra hormones your body would never make, you are just replacing what you are missing with bio-identical hormones. Welcome to Naprotechnology; welcome to real healthcare. source
- The pill ages the cervix. Your cervix actually has to heal when you come off of birth control! I'm going to use an icky word here so fair warning, but you must have quality cervical mucus when you want to achieve pregnancy. The damage to your cervix can cause issues with the crypts inside producing cervical mucus helpful to conception. source
- The pill raises your chance of blood clots and stroke. Oh, you have PCOS? You can double that chance. source
If you can't tell (smirk), I'm pretty bitter about the pill. I'm bitter that I was given the pill as a bandaid for a very serious condition. I'm bitter that it took ten years to find a doctor who would actually treat my PCOS rather than mask it. I'm bitter that I never bothered to read the insert that came with the pill or do any research on my own. I'm bitter that a doctor never sat me down and talked to me about all these side effects. But now I've been under the care of a doctor who practices Naprotechnology for a little over a year and we are actually treating my PCOS. And you know how that all started? Because my husband and I began charting with the Creighton model of NFP and my amazing instructor was able to point out issues I was having just from my charting, and connect me to this doctor. NFP is a seriously wonderful thing for many reasons, but it is a really great resource for those with PCOS. I hope you'll check back on Wednesday to read the first installment from Jess!