What if insurance would cover NFP classes?

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“If the Republicans are truly looking to throw Democrats into a tailspin and come out in favor of protecting women and women’s health, how about taking up the Christian Right’s preference of natural family planning? It’s not like the Christian Right isn’t swaying the party in so many other ways. Currently, the only form of birth control supported by the Catholic Church, the highly-effective NFP methods that involve tracking fertility cycles through basal body temperature, cervical fluid, and cervix position, have been gaining popularity amongst the non-religious of late, who are increasingly seeking non-artificial ways to control their fertility.

Campaigning for health insurance to cover classes, thermometers, speculums, books and follow-ups, instead of only problematic artificial birth control drugs and devices, seems like the next logical step. Republicans could even argue for the need for insurance to cover NaProTechnology, the Catholics’ favored protocol for treatment of PCOS, endometriosis, and infertility, which would surely counter the Democrat’s insistence that the Pill is a necessary and essential medication for women’s health.”

— see Holly Grigg-Spall ‘s article on LadyClever

As a note, insurance seems to cover some aspects of Napro-Technology but tends to deny other aspects because it’s categorized as fertility treatments.  In other words, promote a healthy cycle for women, and it’s not covered because “Well you could get pregnant.”  But totally disrupt the woman’s endocrine system to “regulate” her period and “Oh my!  We must defends women’s health.”

Morally considering treatment for Vaginismus

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From Reddit: I’d like to know what the Catholic perspective on the standard treatment.

Catholicism doesn’t have any official position on vaginismus treatment, but you can always find people willing to speculate.  And definitely there are those who will make you think that any treatment is immoral.

It doesn’t help that in religious women, primary vaginismus can be rooted in with a lot of moral misunderstandings.  A woman struggling with vaginismus is very similar to a person who won’t leave their home.  They know there are bad neighborhoods out there. They know that there are con artists and pick pockets and temptations left and right.

They don’t know enough about it to feel confident enough to navigate it, so they either stay in side or they run outside screaming, with their eyes closed, whipping their arms around all the while hopping for a positive experience that doesn’t come.  They then flee back inside after getting hit by a car and ask themselves “How can I put myself through that again?”

The first fears might be based on abstract ideas, stories they heard from others, or their own actual experiences.  But largely treatment is about the rational way of stepping outside in a manner that works, that protects you from freaking out and doing something not in your control.  It’s not that the outside world doesn’t have bad things in it, and doesn’t have temptations.  So, what you need is a map, some guides and a willingness to take risks.

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My Vaginismus Story

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The Condition

I first realized something was wrong with me sometime between the ages of 12 and 14.  I had no name for it.  I was told repetitively that I was worrying about nothing.  It was all “in my head.”  “Just get over it.”

tamponWhat I knew is that tampons not only frightened me to death, but I literally could not insert them.  When I went to my doctor complaining about symptoms of a yeast infection the first time, my doctor was unable to perform any internal examination.

I was told multiple different things by physicians: my hymen was abnormally thick, my PC muscles were abnormally tense (Actual somewhat accurate, but poorly explained to me at the time), and “Nothing is wrong with you.  It’s all in your head.”

Physically nothing was wrong with me.  There were no genetic abnormalities, no diseases or anything.  So argumentatively, it was all in my head.  According to everyone I talked to, nothing physically was preventing penetration.   It was ALL fear.

Except it wasn’t.  Vaginismus is an involuntary constriction of the outer vaginal muscles that makes penetration intensely painful and even impossible.  It is both a fear response, like an anxiety attack, but also a conditioned response.  The more a woman tries to force penetration, the more a woman conditions her body to react in this manner.

Everyone told me that sex would be different.  Arousal would override my fear and things would work.  Certainly there would be a learning curve, but it wouldn’t be a big deal.  And as a woman committed to saving myself for marriage, there was no way to confirm whether this was true or not.  All I knew was that I couldn’t do normal things other young women were capable of doing, and it made me anxious.

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Is the Pope failing to uphold the dignity of marriage?

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Yesterday I saw someone online link to a story about the Pope marrying couples who were cohabiting.

The basic reaction was: “Oh, the horror!”  Certainly, Pope Francis causes a stir in Catholicism.  The liberal Catholics — especially those in the media — try to frame him as one of them.  Some argue it’s all PR.  Others argue that the officials at the Vatican ensure he doesn’t go too far off the deep end.  Many express the hope that it is only time before the Church catches up with the times on contraceptives and divorce and remarriage.  And then the conservatives stutter and get nervous and start expressing how they fear our Pope is causing such scandal that souls are being dangerously lost to Satan.  They don’t say things in such dramatic words, but they act like that is what is occurring.

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NFP and worrying about the “contraceptive mentality”

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NFP: When Is It Permissible to Avoid Pregnancy?

Excerpt :

On Facebook, I’m in several Natural Family Planning (NFP) groups, and the same question pops up on a regular basis:  “What reasons justify using NFP to avoid pregnancy, according to the teaching of the Church? Is there a list?”

I’ve scoured encyclicals, papal letters and addresses, and several scholarly tomes on the subject, I’m confident that I can provide the list of reasons, sanctioned by the Catholic Church, in which a couple may licitly use NFP to avoid pregnancy. Here is the list:

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Book Review — Sweetening of the Pill

Holly Grigg-Spall in many ways is completely different from me. She’s not religious, she’s a feminist, pro choice, and someone who spent a good part of her life on hormonal contraceptives. She has no anti-contraceptive agenda, no religious bias to promote a religious ideal. And this, in my opinion, makes her book, Sweetening the Pill – How we got hooked on hormonal birth control, one I would highly recommend for any woman to read, Catholic or not.

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Why Catholics should not ignore irregular cycles

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A few weeks ago, I visited an OBGYN complaining of irregular bleeding and short cycles.  Now, I know how the story typically goes.  You tell them “My cycle is irregular” and the doctor starts stuttering when you say “No hormonal birth control.”

And yes, that’s ultimately what happened.  Even though I had brought a print out from webmd about treatment that doesn’t involve hormonal contraceptive, there was no willingness to do anything but put me on birth control.  No tests.  Nothing.  It was, “Why would you want to do that?”  So, I finally contacted our local napro doctor even though he offers only a fee for service rate.  (Whoo hoo for member reimbursements?  We will see what  my insurance company does.)

Anyway, I came home venting.  “Why is infertility treated as the default of women’s health?  Why is ovulation seen as something so dangerous?  Are they really THAT afraid of pregnancy?”

My husband then showed me a very interesting and enlightening article.

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Was saving myself worth it?

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Warning:  This blog entry covers the issue of sexuality.  It is intended for mature readers only.

In case imbeding did not work, here is the link

Above is the homily that was given this past Sunday at our parish.  The homily speaks of the giddy joy of a newly married couple who saved themselves for marriage in contrast with a couple who, in truth, experienced only a change in legal status.  He then moved on to talking about following Catholic morality not as a series of hoops to jump through, but as being for us.  The idea seemed immediately to be that saving sex for marriage would give you this joy that you’d miss out of otherwise.

They make it sound so difficult to prevent that you’d think it’d be easy to do.

This is the moment where I cringed a little with shame.  It wasn’t shame because of any sins we had committed.  My husband and I did save ourselves for marriage.  It was shame that our wedding night was tainted with horrible physical pain, emotional disappointment and frustration.  What sort of witness was that?

I had vaginismus.  Basically, I came into marriage so petrified of penetration that my body involuntarily braced for impact.  As such when my husband and I married, we were unable to consummate our marriage.  Even once we consummated it, the experiences were terrible.  It wasn’t intimate.  It wasn’t pleasurable.  I knew with therapy we could overcome this.  However, the treatment options in some ways seemed to violate Catholic sexual moral teachings.   We couldn’t follow the strict guidelines for overcoming vaginismus.  No matter how much we were told of the importance of expressing our love sexually without intercourse, we couldn’t do that.  We couldn’t even do many of the steps in the treatment because in all honesty it seemed a lesson in how to masturbate.  Thus, we modified the treatment.  We had a slow progression from “intensely intolerable pain” to lengthening periods of “tolerable discomfort.”

The experience shook my faith.  I felt like my faith was based on my own internal stubbornness.  I couldn’t imagine someone other than me putting themselves through such an emotionally exhausting form of treatment.  They would have followed the treatments rules and just sworn off the Church’s teachings as wrong and misguided.  They would have expressed their love sexually without intercourse as they willfully rejected intercourse till they were ready to the pre-intercourse readiness exercises.

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