By the time I entered college, I was getting pretty bad cramps before menstruation. Without exploring any other options first, the ob-gyn at the student center put me on birth control. While it did help with cramps, I had to deal with the hormonal headaches and moodiness associated with birth control. I accepted it as part of being a woman. I was super paranoid about all the risks associated with birth control pills, but was assured by the doctor that strokes and pulmonary embolisms were “rare.”
Soon after starting birth control, I became engaged to Trenton. Trenton didn’t see anything wrong with using birth control as a means of postponing children. I felt horrible about it. I knew that there were probably other ways to control the pain associated with cramps, ways that didn’t involve birth control, so I decided to talk to Trenton.
To say that he was hesitant about using a fertility awareness-based method during our marriage is an understatement. We discussed having a baby as if were a disaster and a potential burden on our future marriage. Trenton was convinced that using a natural method was going to result in a baby, and that he had no clue how we were going to make it work if I got pregnant while we were both in grad school.
So I changed strategies about how to approach it with Trenton. I talked about the health risks associated with birth control. I asked how he felt about the possibility of me having a stroke or dying of a pulmonary embolism for the sake of feeling more secure during grad school. I also told him how artificial hormones made me feel miserable all the time. He said my health, my life, and my happiness weren’t worth risking for anything, and that he felt horrible for subjecting me to these risks.
Soon after that I went off birth control, and we began getting our hands on anything we could that dealt with fertility awareness-based methods in preparation for our marriage. I started charting so that I’d be comfortable with it by the time we got married, and he got involved in charting with me. It has made me so aware of my body, and of the way my cycle works. I know exactly what is going on with my body at any given moment in my cycle.
Since I know exactly when I will begin my period I know when to start taking over-the-counter pain medication before the cramps have a chance to get bad. I’ve also learned that some lifestyle changes can greatly affect menstrual cramps, such as diet and exercise. I totally have my cramps under control, without the use of birth control.
Trenton has also learned so much about fertility awareness and how effective it is; he mostly uses my charts as a heads up for when he can expect me to be a little more sensitive or moody, and know when he needs to come armed with a Hershey bar. The more we have learned about fertility awareness the more our view of babies has changed. It’s made us really think through our reasoning for not wanting babies, and to evaluate whether these reasons are genuine or if they are selfish.
It has brought us closer as a couple. It feels infinitely better to not have to live with the fear of the risks associated with birth control, to not have to be moody all the time due to the hormones, to be more aware of the way my body works, and for my fiancé to be aware of my fertility and body. Plus it is a lot cheaper to chart then buying birth control (I was paying eighty dollars a month for my Nuva Ring every month).
We are getting married in two months, and we are really excited about using fertility awareness in our marriage. We are now hoping to start a family soon after we get married. I am very happy with our decision. He is too!