NFP For Every Body - Susie's Story

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

It's NFP Awareness Week! This year I am sharing stories from women who learned NFP methods while single. Single women often get left out of discussions of Natural Family Planning, but there are great benefits to be reaped for them too. It's time to hear some of their stories!


Tell us a little about yourself.


I'm in my early 30s and single. I grew up in Colorado, but have also lived elsewhere which I feel gives me the qualifications necessary to claim Colorado as the best place to live. :) I have a theology degree from Notre Dame (go Irish!) and an MTS from the John Paul II Institute in DC, and now work admin at a small Catholic non-profit that helps evangelize lay Catholics. One of my favorite things to do is take my dog on walks. I also love hiking (like most good Coloradans), knitting, games, listening to 80s music and movie scores, and watching my favorite movies and TV shows (Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite go-tos). I have three siblings - two older, one younger - and they're all married to great people. I also have three nephews so far, who are lots of fun and two of whom I'm blessed to have as godsons, and I am also godmother to one of my dearest friend's daughter.


How did you hear about NFP?

I had heard about NFP for many years, having grown up a cradle Catholic. I didn't think about it much until I was older, of course, and it was through studying the Church's teaching on sexuality and marriage that strengthened my faith while I was in college - and those teachings were also was the driving force that led me to the specific graduate program I attended. I've known for years that single women can and should learn NFP for various reasons, and it was always one of those things I kept meaning to do but never followed through. I knew some basics of some of the methods and sort of kept an eye on things at a very basic level, but it wasn't really at all like doing actual charting.

How did you pick a method? 

A couple of years ago I started to notice that some things seemed off from what they should be, and I thought that I would contact someone about charting to see if I was just being overly sensitive or if something was actually going on. Once again, though, I didn't follow through for almost another year, but in the meantime I went to see a doctor and found out I had a large cyst on one of my ovaries that needed to be surgically removed. There was a relatively brief but scary time between finding out and having the surgery when they said there was a possibility that the cyst could be cancerous (praise God it was not!), but it turned out that I had a pretty advanced case of endometriosis, which I never would have suspected based on what I thought were the typical endometriosis symptoms I had heard about before (mainly pain). I had no idea there were other symptoms I had noticed that could have also pointed to endometriosis if I had known more about it and about my symptoms.

Because of several factors, the surgeon ended up removing the ovary along with the cyst. Being in my 30s and single, but still desiring marriage and children, I was (and, admittedly, sometimes still am) pretty fearful about having only one ovary left and a diagnosis of a disease that isn't understood very well and can cause infertility among other things. That was enough of a push for me to choose the Creighton model of NFP, which works closely with NaPro Technology and seems to be more recommended for women who are charting for health reasons like mine. Because I'm not using it to achieve or avoid pregnancy, but to know better what's going on with my cycle and hormones, it seems to be the best method for me right now.


What has been your greatest challenge?

My greatest challenge with NFP and charting is that it's something I always have to think about - and there are times, especially after using it for a year, I admit that it seems pointless for me to keep doing. I know it's good information to have now, and to have solid experience with if I ever do get married. I also know that it's helpful in general awareness of what my body is doing, including being able to treat the fact that I have low progesterone which my doctor suspected due to my charts. There are days, though, when I get tired of it. But there are lots of symptoms and other things that can show up that I possibly wouldn't notice if I weren't specifically and intentionally charting, and having knowledge about the way our bodies work is powerful. Which brings me to...

What has been your favorite benefit?  

The greatest benefit to me has been being able to look at my chart and realize why my moods might be seemingly out of proportion, or why I'm feeling certain physical symptoms. Knowing that allows me to take a step back and re-center myself in some ways. It's also helped me see how my cycles respond to certain medications, which is good information to have.

Another *huge* benefit has been being able to encourage other young women to look into charting their cycles, and my hope is that someday this is something that might be regularly taught to teenagers, because I think it is so important for girls to understand from the very beginning. Many people still have a lot of misconceptions about charting and NFP, but it's a blessing to be able to say firsthand that it's something that has helped me physically and definitely could have helped me even more had I started years ago.

It's not just a requirement to get through in order to be married in the Catholic Church, and it's not something that only those who are married or who are trying to conceive or avoid a pregnancy should be doing. Our bodies were made beautifully but also very complex, and this is an amazing tool to help us understand ourselves even better - and I can say that with certainty now that I've actually learned it myself!


Come back tomorrow for Finding FEMM - Brie's Story.

Also check out the previous post in this series:


2 comments :

  1. Can you say a bit more on what was "off" that you saw on your charts? Using NFP and you're not the first who detects something from their chart but I don't know how you do.

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    Replies
    1. There can be a number of things that show up in charts. Some examples are insufficient luteal phase, estrogen dominance, thyroid issues.
      How and what shows up depends on the method. Creighton method in particular was created to help diagnose, and verify, hormonal changes throughout the cycle so it will give a lot of information. Other methods would still indicate patterns in the cycle. Hence many methods encourage you to keep your own additional notes so you can notice a pattern for things, like migraines or PMS, that can be cycle related.

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