The word natural gets thrown around a lot these days. Natural asparagus. Natural deodorant. Natural emotional reaction….
Basically when something is natural it means that us humans haven’t tampered with it too much. The way that thing is, wasn’t decided by a human being, it just exists naturally that way.
The female reproductive system is a natural part of the female body. Meaning, it exists (most often) naturally as part of the body and it’s health contributes to a woman’s* overall health.
Just like when your skin breaks out in a rash and you know something is wrong, having an irregular cycle or not ovulating naturally can be symptomatic of a larger health issue.
Now, yes, the female fertility cycle (as I like to call it) is pretty much all about ovulation and trying to get you pregnant. That being said, it also deals with really important hormones in your body that actually help regulate a bunch stuff– not just baby making stuff.
“Osteoporosis, heart disease, and breast cancer are all somewhat prevented with a normal balance of estrogen and progesterone, which occurs when you are ovulating regularly.” – Dr. Alyssa Quimby, M.D., from verilymag.com
When I finally put together that my cycle is integral to my overall health as a female human being, I felt embarrassed. Because I hardly remembered anything from my sex ed class in high school, and realized I actually had very little knowledge of the mechanics of my own body.
Many women are in a similar position right now.
Here’s what happens:
We become sexually active, maybe in high school, maybe in college, maybe with one regular partner, or maybe with many different partners.
Suddenly, we need to be responsible for our sexual health and fertility in a big way.
So what’s the easiest, most responsible thing to do?
Go on the pill!
At least that’s what I did, encouraged by friends and doctors at the university.
“It will regulate your period and you won’t get pregnant!” People say. “No real dangerous side effects,” I was told, “and definitely not to your fertility.”
But the pill doesn’t regulate your period, it eliminates it, suppressing the ovulation process and inducing a sort of pseudo-menopausal state.
Lot’s of people still get pregnant while taking the pill, mainly because just like any contraceptive that involves a daily thing you have to do, it’s subject to human error.
And there are most definitely some potential negative side effects!
Stretch marks on your breasts, serious fertility issues that could go unnoticed for years, hormonal imbalances that could contribute to depression, anxiety and general not-okay-ness… these are all potential side effects of taking the pill regularly.
I’m off the pill now and have practiced natural birth control for a few years.
I’ve noticed there is another, more subtle, negative side effect that doesn’t get spoken of much– laziness and lack of self-knowledge.
Remember that big, intense responsibility for their sexual health that women face when they become sexually active?
Well when a young lady is told all they need to do is remember to take a pill each day, or use a condom each time, that encourages self-ignorance that continues later into adulthood.
This is what we get from the “…you will get pregnant, and die.” style of sexual education in schools.
I believe when women know more about their bodies, and make the management of their body’s overall health an integral part of their lifestyle, we will all be much happier.
Imagine a world where instead of desperately wondering if you are going crazy and lashing out on loved ones, you actually know when you are about to PMS (can warn people) and ease the monthly hormonal transition with herbal teas, and self-care.
Imagine a relationship where your partner knows where you are at in your cycle and can adjust how to approach you sexually according to where you’re at…. fertile/ not fertile, insatiably horny/ achy and sore…
Wouldn’t that be great?
These are some of the great payoffs from practicing natural birth control.
I have become more aware of myself– and less surprised, worried and concerned about my body’s functioning. Plus it set a high bar for a partner that I could trust enough to join the cause.
Going off the pill can actually foster greater trust and intimacy in our close relationships, including with ourselves.
Check out my upcoming blog post about the different ways of managing your fertility using natural birth control, and join me for a fun and casual meet-up this summer to learn more!
*(I don’t really want to get into a conversation about gender and sex here, so let me just say that while I may use “woman” and “female” interchangeably on occasion, I do understand that not all women are females… and who am I to say that’s not natural.)