A Creighton Story: leaving behind hormonal contraceptives and embracing holistic natural family planning

I first learned about natural family planning when I was researching the Catechism of the Catholic Church. My husband and I were newly married and we were starting the RCIA process (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) to enter the Church. At the time I was taking hormonal contraceptives and I honestly was completely unaware of alternative natural methods to space pregnancy. 

Although I am a health professional with a doctoral degree, I never learned about fertility awareness in pharmacy school. My schooling and my own physician proposed hormonal contraception as the only effective option for avoiding pregnancy.

When I started digging into the Church’s teaching and the supporting Scripture, I felt convicted about not using hormonal birth control, but for a period of time I let my traditional medical education outweigh my nudging from God. A couple years and one child later, my husband and I wanted to get pregnant with a second child. Thankfully we were able to conceive again, but only after many painful months of trying (if only I had known the Creighton method then!). In my mind, it was my use of hormonal contraceptives that delayed our conception, and the experience convinced me that I never again wanted to use hormonal contraceptives. 

I found a Creighton Model instructor through the website of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul and with that I found instant peace of mind. To discover there was an option for avoiding pregnancy that both honored God and that was founded in scientific evidence satisfied both my mind and my spirit. As I learned and used the Creighton Model it became evident that something was not right with my cycles; namely, that I was not cycling at all, despite stopping breastfeeding over six months earlier. 

I went to my OB/GYN and then to an endocrinologist. I had multiple lab tests and a brain MRI. I received a diagnosis of functional hypothalamic amenorrhea. The physician told me to cut back on my exercise and my stress level, gain some weight, and that if my period did not come back in six months, she could just put me on hormonal contraceptives to get me to cycle again. At this point, I wasn’t planning on meeting with my Creighton practitioner, Karla, until I cycled again, but she reached out to me to ensure things were still going okay. I explained my situation to her, and she asked, “Would you like me to ask our natural family planning physician about this?” 

I was in complete shock. “There are natural family planning physicians?” I wondered. Again, though I am a trained health professional, I was completely unaware there were any health professionals trained specifically in methods of natural family planning and fertility awareness. Instead of giving me medication to cover up my symptoms and produce an artificial bleed (i.e. hormonal contraceptives), my Naprotechnology-trained physician identified the root cause of my condition and prescribed me a medication that helped to naturally stimulate estrogen production. I am more than happy to say that I am now cycling normally again! I cannot express how much the Creighton Model, and Naprotechnology have positively impacted my life except to share with as many people as will listen. 

I believe in this message so much that I have now started my own business, NFP Pharmacist, where I educate women and couples on natural family planning methods, help them determine which method would be the best fit for them, and then connect them with resources to be successful in their chosen method. Thank you to my Creighton practitioner Karla, my Naprotechnology provider Dr. Dawn Schreifels, and Twin Cities FertilityCare for changing my life!

Thanks to Emily for sharing her Creighton story! Are you interested in learning more about what the Creighton Model can offer you and your fertility? Sign up for an Introductory Session here!

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. If you have a similar problem, find out at Center for Vascular Medicine website. 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