Who We Are:

We are women, we are wives, we are mothers, and we are open to life. This is our way of standing by one another, learning from each other, and leaning on Christ our Savior.

Dec 19, 2010

The Doctor's Office...

Have you ever been in your doctor’s office and the topic of birth control comes up? If you mention that you practice Natural Family Planning do they look at you like you are speaking a foreign language and you have something in your teeth? The purpose of this post is to hopefully give you a little insight into why that may be and possible hope for ways it can change.

As the spouse of someone in medical school, I have gotten a bit of a glimpse behind the curtain to how doctors can be trained. Maybe my husband’s experience is unique, but I doubt it. I remember when he was having his lectures during the “Sexuality and Reproduction” module that he came home pretty upset after the lecture on contraceptive methods was 89.5 minutes long about pills, IUDs, condoms, foams, etc, with the last 0.5 dedicated to the comment “oh—and some people use NFP but that doesn’t really work.”

Later, he heard the perennial joke about “What do you call people who practice NFP?”the answer, of course being: “Parents.”

This theme has continued and even worsened after he decided he wanted to practice ob/gyn and spent more time around some of the people who have ostensibly dedicated their lives to “women’s health.” On a daily basis, comments have been made about how they couldn’t conceive (pun intended) how doctors would choose to not do tubal ligations or prescribe birth control. One person talked about how with birth control every child is a wanted child, while another discussed the public health benefits and cost control achieved by contraception and sterilizations.

He reports that at the hospital he is currently working at that at least one out of every three c-sections ends with a tubal ligation. He regularly hears, “Oh, this is her fourth pregnancy? Are we tying her tubes?” as if they cannot begin to fathom the possibility of a fifth, sixth, seventh, etc. child.

In looking for residency programs, my husband has fortunately found a few hospitals that still practice medicine in line with the Church’s teachings. But the vast majority of programs are very unfriendly to NFP-only physicians. Residency programs run clinics where many women request birth control and an NFP-only doctor that is unwilling and unable to prescribe birth control would only slow business down and not be viewed as a team player.

However, there is hope. In the few programs that are friendly towards doctors that want to practice medicine in line with the Church’s teachings my husband has found that there are many residents that feel the same way he does. They have stood up for their beliefs, explained their position to their colleagues and are looking very much forward to providing care to women wanting to be taken seriously when talking about NFP.

Having had a baby a few months ago myself I have heard countless remarks from doctors about how I couldn’t possibly want another one anytime soon. Even as we were leaving the hospital to bring our new baby home, the nurse reminded us about taking precautions with spermicides and condoms immediately, implying and assuming that it would be devastating to have another one of those cute little babies anytime in the near future. I am saddened by this attitude but am hopeful and thankful for all of the practicing NFP-only doctors out there now and those to come in the future.
by Grace at Camp Patton


  1. At my 6 week post-delivery check up, I had to be seen by a nurse practitioner last minute b/c my doc had to attend to a last minute a delivery and that's when I encountered my first anti-NFP attitude. The NP wanted to make sure I understood how a woman needs to have at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep before getting an accurate BB temp reading and that it would be impossible for me to achieve that as a new mommy. I explained how I planned on exclusively breast feeding for as long as possible and will be following the mucus-only rule. She continued to stress that there are "fail-proof methods" that I should consider. I just smiled politely and made a mental note to avoid that NP in the future.

    Before I had my baby, I was fortunate to have a NP who was Catholic & fully supported us practicing NFP. After I got preggo however, I switched to another OB for a few different reasons but really miss having that support. The docs at the practice I'm currently using have never tried to talk me out of NFP but they definitely don't have the same knowledge of or guidance from someone who practices it themselves.

  2. Good for your hubby! This is sooo encouraging!

  3. It's troubling to me that nurse practitioners, doctors, midwives, etc. are allowed to be so biased and blunt in their opinions of fertility.
    At my 6 week postpartum check-up, the NP brought up birth control like this "So what birth control are you on?" As if it was obvious that I would be taking b.c. at this point! I politely informed her that my husband and I planned on spacing our children naturally. Her eyebrows went up and she condescendingly said, "You know that's a LOT harder, right?"

    Harder than what? is what I should've said back. Harder than unknowingly aborting my own child if I were on an abortifacient form of birth control? Harder than lying to my body every day with hormones that shouldn't be there to convince it that I'm pregnant? Harder than increasing my chances of developing breast cancer? Harder than wrecking my reproductive system and risking future infertility?

    I don't think so. I'll take the "hard road" of NFP and care for my body, as well as my current and future children.

  4. If only more people could see the beauty and goodness of NFP. I am a first year medical student and a few years ago I shadowed an OBGYN and was very dishearted. I had been looking forward to it very much but all I experienced was that every other patient was a 16 year or girl who wanted birth control or had a sexually transmitted infected. I left that day near tears.

    But last Friday, I shadowed one of the few NFP only OBGYNs in Ohio and had a completely different experience. Couples came in together, the husbands were so in-tune with their wives' cycles, and I saw a number of "infertile" couples who were pregnant. It was so life giving and beautiful. God was truly at work! The physician did not have an easy time when he first switched his practice, but since then, he has had tremendous success and is extremely well-respected in the community, even by his non-NFP colleagues. So tell your husband to stay strong in the Lord and be assured that our prayers are with him. And thank him for his help in creating a culture of life!


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