A Creighton Story: The benefits of charting in singlehood

Ellen - NFP Story - CreightonI was introduced to the Creighton Model two years ago when several of my friends began using the method before they got married. Four months ago, I started using the model when my friend invited me to be one of her clients while she was learning to teach the Creighton Model. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to learn more as well as be proactive about my reproductive health. Charting alerted me that I may have some infertility issues that need to be addressed. Using the model has made me much more appreciative of the complexities of human reproduction, and in turn, I have a newfound respect for my own sexuality.

– Ellen

A Creighton Story: Uncovering the root causes of pregnancy loss

I had realized very early on after trying to conceive our second child that there was a problem due to early pregnancy losses. My husband and I had no trouble conceiving and carrying our first child and so it was a confusing and painful experience. After several months trying to conceive our second child, I saw a Napro doctor in 2013. The doctor suggested I contact a practitioner to chart my cycles after many blood tests did not reveal anything. At this time, I did not entirely understand the Creighton Method and decided to see a reproductive endocrinologist instead. After several cycles with no success, they felt my next step was IVF.  My husband and I were not willing to do IVF and so we decided to take a break from treatment.  It was not until the end of 2015 that I finally pursued help again using the Creighton Method. Tessa FertilityCare

I have been charting/practicing Creighton since December 2015.  Prior to this, not only was I was dealing with early pregnancy losses and then not conceiving, I was starting to have severe pain throughout my cycles. A non-NaPro doctor suggested birth control pills to help with the pain, but I did not want to do that.  In August 2015, the pain was becoming unbearable where I was actually considering the Pill even though deep down I really did not want to.  Before going that direction, I finally was at the point where I felt ready to seek treatment again. I finally wanted to try the Creighton Method to see if that would help decipher what the cause of the pain was, and hopefully be able to find out why I was not able to conceive and carry a pregnancy.  After talking and praying with my husband, we felt the Lord was giving us peace and leading us towards this and so we took our Introductory Session in December.  The Intro Session was an eye-opener for both my husband and myself and we both learned so much.  After only charting for a couple of cycles, my practitioner Karen was able to see where there could be some potential problems. She suggested I make an appointment with my NaPro doctor to look at my charts.  Based on my charts and symptoms, my doctor performed surgery to determine if I had endometriosis and it was discovered that I did indeed have endometriosis and he successfully removed it. I am so thankful that we were finally able to discover a reason for my pain and secondary infertility/early pregnancy losses.

I think the most misunderstood aspect of Natural Family Planning can be that it’s just a rhythm method or the same as taking your temperature for ovulation, which is what I thought.  However, it is so much more than that. Not only does it help with planning a family, it is a tool that you can be used to help when you are having other concerns. I am thankful to the Lord for the practitioners, doctors, nurses, etc. who all care about you and are your biggest cheerleaders, which is also what is so amazing about this system, how much they want to help you.

As a married woman, I find it really valuable to work with my husband on this.  It is not just something I am doing alone, it is something we do together, and we can have open and honest communication about it.  Going through this has really strengthened our marriage even more.

– Tessa

A Creighton Story: Overcoming secondary infertility

We Katie Gooley - Twin Cities Fertilitycarewere first introduced to the Creighton FertilityCare method in 2003 at a marriage retreat. However, we didn’t start using it until I was diagnosed with secondary infertility in 2011. Our first son was born in 2007, and we thought we would be pregnant two years later… Isn’t that the ideal time?? God had a different plan in mind!! Infertility tested our faith, marriage, trust and patience! But in the end we are stronger because of it!!

After charting, I realized with my doctor and FertilityCare practitioner that I had irregular and abnormal cycles, especially the second half of my cycle! I was most likely not producing enough progesterone.

Every day was a struggle! Every negative pregnancy test was horrible. But I kept on believing God had a plan for my family, and I would except it no matter what the outcome! After many prayers and patience two years after I started charting, we conceived baby number two. However, we miscarried early on, most likely because of surgery…. diagnosed with polycystic ovaries. Six months of charting and help with both my doctor and FertilityCare practitioner, we conceived again! Nine months later our second son was born!

My main reason for using this method was that I was not harming my body with contraception or fertility drugs. I also liked that my husband and I were able to work together. Finally, it worked well in conjunction with other factors like a healthy diet, so that I was able conceive again after 6 years of infertility.

– Katie

A Creighton Story: User Turned Practitioner

In celebration of National FertilityCare Week, Twin Cities FertilityCare Center is featuring the stories of five women who have discovered the benefits of charting. Today’s post is written by Karen Schultz, Creighton user and Practitioner Intern, and reprinted from the blog of the Minnesota Birth Center [www.theminnesotabirthcenter.com] where she teaches.

Karen Schultz - Twin Cities FertilityCare CenterI was 25 years old when I made the discovery that my body made cervical mucus. At the time I was a single woman living in a house of seven, and I mentioned to one of my roommates this “strange slippery mucus” that I had noticed while going to the bathroom. My roommate said pointedly, “Oh, that’s your peak-type mucus! You’re probably about to ovulate!”

Peak-type mucus? Ovulate? While I had had eight years of sex education in school, I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. Of course, I knew the basics: I knew that I got my period about once each month when the lining of my uterus was shed, and I knew, at least generally speaking, that I had days of fertility and infertility. But beyond those factoids, I realized I knew little about my reproductive health.

Fast-forward a few years. With the prompting of a friend I found myself learning the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning, also often referred to as a method of “Fertility Awareness”. The Creighton Method is one of a few well-known and well-reputed ways for women and their partners to learn more about their fertility and how to either achieve or avoid pregnancy by charting the woman’s cervical mucus.

Perhaps it should be said before I go any further that Natural Family Planning is not the Rhythm Method. Many use the terms interchangeably, but to do so is grossly inaccurate. The Rhythm Method is an outdated means of tracking fertility that assumes a menstrual cycle of 28 days with ovulation (when an egg is released from an ovary) happening on Day 14. You can see the problem here, right? Many women do not have 28 day cycles (some more, some less) and many women do not ovulate on precisely Day 14. It is easy to see how so many unexpected pregnancies resulted from the Rhythm Method! Natural Family Planning, and specifically the Creighton Model of NFP, uses simple observations of cervical mucus to track fertility: Couples wishing to avoid pregnancy abstain on the days that they notice fertile or “peak-type” mucus, while couples wishing to to achieve pregnancy use those days as their primary days for intercourse. Under the guidance of a trained practitioner and when practiced correctly, the Creighton Model of NFP is over 99% effective in avoiding pregnancy.[1] For couples of normal fertility wishing to conceive, 76% will do so within the first month of charting, and a whopping 98% will conceive by the sixth month.[2] And because the observations are done daily, it doesn’t matter if a woman’s cycle is regular or irregular, or if she is breastfeeding or even pre-menopausal. Each woman learns to recognize the signs of fertility that are unique to her cycle.

Creighton Model FertilityCare

But NFP isn’t just for couples. I am a single woman who charts regularly because I find that it is a great way for me to stay in tune with my body’s rhythm. I often notice that certain medications can affect my fertility, along with varying levels of sleep, exercise, diet, and the daily stressors of life. Charting is a beautiful window into my overall health and wellness. It reminds me to take good care of myself so that I can take good care of my fertility. I love charting. I really, really do.

I often reflect on that naive 25-year-old version of myself and wonder, “How could she have not known such important wisdom about herself?” Thus, my mission: That every woman be empowered to understand the beautiful logic woven into her fertility. Because like birth, breastfeeding, and a host of other facets of a woman’s life, “empowering” is exactly what NFP is meant to be.

[1] Journal of Reproductive Medicine, June 1998.
[2] Journal of Reproductive Medicine, June 1998.