Some children in the inner city context grow up never knowing anything else. So when they’re exposed to a country setting, the mountains, the beach, it may be exciting, but it can also be uncomfortable and even scary for them. They’d rather retreat back to the confined, polluted and unsafe environment they’re used to. But we can all agree that they miss out. In the same way, most men have been conditioned to women being on contraceptives. They can hardly imagine the world without them and they need help (hello women!) being taken there for the first time and shown that it’s actually a safer, better place to breathe. That’s also my story.
I came to natural birth control by accident. Twice. And the second time it took. The first time was when Anna and I had been married about three years. We decided to conceive our second child. Since our first was a boy, Anna really wanted a girl. Her mother sent her a book about how to choose the sex of your baby. The science behind it was fertility charting. You had to know exactly the time of ovulation and time love-making accordingly. Without realizing it, we started using natural birth control. And it worked: we had our little girl. But after we did, guess what, we went back to what we were used to. Even though she knew exactly when she could get pregnant or not, it never crossed her mind to rely only on that knowledge to avoid pregnancy the way she had to achieve it.
Go forward 15 years, and in 2007 I rediscover my original Catholic faith. My wife, who is not Catholic, was reading about it and one day she comes to me and says: “Hey Gerard, do you know that if you’re sleeping with a contracepting woman, you‘re not supposed to take communion.” A few days later we were at the Archdiocese getting the lowdown on the natural family planning methods. My wife recognized these methods from the time we conceived our daughter and so it was an easy adjustment for her. For me, I was happily “discovering life in the country” and away from the inner city.
Looking back, I wish someone would have told me when I was getting married: “Check this out!” and that’s what I’m going to do here for you guys. Here are a few reasons why you may want to choose natural birth control instead of contraceptives, regardless of your faith background.
Natural birth control is healthier for your partner
Be wary of the pro-contraceptive propaganda you read about in the news, which always de-emphasizes the risks. Read carefully the labels of the contraceptive drugs she’s taking. Google the risks associated with hormonal contraceptives or of inserting foreign objects in your wife’s body. Read about the law suits on products like Yaz® and Jasmin®, Mirena® or Nuvaring®. Cancer and blood clots are on the top of the list of long-term health problems associated with those. Some forms of contraceptives have a risk of abortion as well, as they allow conception but then prevent implantation of the fertilized egg.
Natural birth control is cost-effective
No pills to buy, no doctors’ visit to change the prescription because of the undesirable side effects of a certain dosage, no IUD to insert or remove. Once you two learn it, which would costs anywhere from $30 to a maximum of $500, it’s a life skill and yours free, for life.
You become smarter about women
You learn how their fertility cycle works and how it influences them in their moods. You learn about some of the issues that can cause a woman to be sick or affect her fertility. You can better support her.
You get to know your partner for who she really is.
Hormonal contraceptives have this weird effect of putting women in an artificial state, as if they were pregnant all the time. It flattens the normal ebb and flow of their energies and moods. They’re not themselves. Imagine yourself on steroids all the time. If she’s been on the pill ever since you’ve known her, you may have yet to meet your spouse.
You become equal partners in family planning
It’s not just all up to her anymore. You are a part of the decision to have children or not and the two of you have a real dialogue about it. Isn’t it better to work as a team on these critical decisions? These methods are not your grandma’s rhythm method; they work just as well as hormonal contraceptives to avoid pregnancy. They also help women conceive.
With natural birth control, you have to talk about sex with one another. Sex is no longer completely disconnected from procreation, and you’re in it together, so you talk, and it’s a good thing. And if you can talk about sex, you can probably talk about anything. These regular conversations will break other barriers.
You deepen your love and relationship
During the times you choose (key word here) not to have sex because both of you want to postpone pregnancy, you have an opportunity to show how much you love her: that it’s not just about “having her tonight.” You can be romantic and loving just for her sake. Just like when you were dating. Believe me, she will notice and remember. Beyond sex, we all seek emotional intimacy and are fulfilled by it. With natural birth control you have a time window to create this intimacy every month.
She will feel more respected
Start here: ask her if she ever felt used when you’ve had sex on contraceptives. With natural birth control, by the mere fact you can hold off during the abstinence period, she will feel appreciated. And she will respect you for having enough self-control to do it.
In part because hormonal contraceptives can negatively affect a woman’s libido, but also because you have better communication, you’re closer, and she feels more understood and respected for who she really is, you have an opportunity to connect at a deeper level. Sex is much more than a mutual pleasure giving, it’s an act of giving ourselves to each other totally. In simple terms you will discover that sex brings a much deeper sense of “communion” with her and she will too.
You decrease your chance of divorce by a ton
A study by Dr. Robert Lerner, a Sociologist from the University of Chicago, shows that couples who practice Natural Family Planning had a divorce rate of 0.2%. More studies need to be done on this topic, but the difference with the general population’s 50% rate is huge. And all the reasons mentioned above can explain it.
Natural birth control preserves her fertility
An important feature of her body. Especially if you are planning to have a baby together at some point. Contraceptives not only stop her fertility short term, but can really alter it after you stop using them. It takes longer for women coming off the Pill to achieve pregnancy.
Natural methods preserve your own fertility and health, if you’re considering a vasectomy.
First, male sterilization is not without health risk and you can read here a well-documented article on what can go wrong with a vasectomy. Because of the high rate of divorce, many men who chose to have a vasectomy get married again and often have regrets.
I’m not in your shoes, and the information I presented above can easily be picked apart. I realize it’s a quick overview of a complex topic. All I am suggesting is for you men to consider this option very seriously and don’t be absent-minded or passive about the topic. There is a better world out there, and it’s worth checking it out.