Thursday, July 24, 2014

NFP... When There's No Chance of Conceiving "Naturally"

With it being NFP Awareness week, tons of Catholic writers are discussing NFP, from explaining why newlyweds are afraid of the wrong thing, to when is it licit to use NFP to avoid, to what NFP actually is. It reminded me of this discussion that Amy started, about what might persuade more people to try NFP/NaPro. Many of the commenters focused on emphasizing the "natural" aspect, how it doesn't involve putting "chemicals" that could be carcinogenic into your body. (As a chemist, I take issue with how those words are sometimes misused, but that's an entirely different post.) Kat raised the issue of how NaPro uses many of the same medications that a reproductive endocrinologist would use to treat infertility, which doesn't fit the "natural" aspect being emphasized. Someone may have asked something to the effect of "does it really matter if it's a NaPro doc or an RE who puts you on Clomid?" I know someone else in the discussion said that women struggling to conceive just want a baby and don't necessarily care about treating the source of the problem.

Maybe I'm weird.... hold that thought, I know I'm weird. However, I also don't think I'm the only woman who was diagnosed with "unexplained infertility" and was frustrated by the lack of answers. (I've talked about this with a friend who saw a different RE in the same practice and was also labeled unexplained.) Maybe it's all those years of scientific training, or maybe it's just my personality, but I knew something was wrong, and I wanted to know what it was. Contrary to some of the comments in that discussion, I don't think RE's are skeevy or only out to make money; there are good and bad doctors of every stripe, just as there are good and bad lawyers, auto mechanics, etc. (There are probably even some really good people that are used car salesmen, despite all the jokes.) We had a really great RE, who we worked with for about a year and a half. Before we started seeing her, I was convinced that something would show up in the tests (probably my thyroid), and we'd be pregnant in no time. Getting hit with the diagnosis of unexplained infertility was a major blow, but we trusted our doctor. After 9 rounds of Clomid, we were given the option of switching to Femara, which might or might not improve our chances, or moving to injectables, which she thought would improve our chances, but would cost about $5,000 per cycle. Femara was described as more of a lateral move, whereas the injectables would be stronger medicine. That was the point where we decided to switch to NaPro. We were both fed up with the lack of answers, side effects, and "just push harder" mentality. (Our RE was interested when we gave her some information on NaPro and wished us well; there was never any hard sell or strong push to do IVF. She asked us to send baby pictures; I'm still hoping that some day we will have pictures to send.)

Here I am, approaching a year after our first NaPro visit, and I'm on more medications and supplements than I was with our RE. I'm even back on the same dose of Clomid as I was with our RE. Is there a difference? Does it matter who put me on 50 mg of Clomid CD3 - 7? I would say yes. In our RE's words, her approach was about "pushing the reproductive system harder." I can, and do, grumble about my growing list of diagnoses, but NaPro has truly focused on identifying the problems that I have and specifically treating them, not just pushing my body harder. If it weren't for the extended hormone profile that NaPro does, I would be at a much greater risk for an early miscarriage (or implantation problems). There are times I wonder whether my estrogen and progesterone levels dropping prematurely contributed to our early loss; I feel confident that if it did, the post-peak HCG that I am on will provide the necessary support for the beginnings of pregnancy if we conceive again. 

With my long list of diagnoses and medications, there may not be much "natural" about our NFP-coupled attempts to get pregnant, but it has made me much more aware of my fertility and health. (I think there's a lot to be said for re-branding NFP as Fertility Awareness.) I can't say that I am super hung-ho about NFP and plan to chart forever; if/when we stop trying, I may stop charting, but I would certainly recommend NFP to both couples of normal fertility and infertility. 

Simcha's week of giveaways continues, here and here. And that's another reason to be happy for NFP! (Who doesn't love free stuff?)


  1. Yay for free stuff! I agree the word natural bothers me soooo much! I like calling it fertility care because it just sounds better to me and I would think that women would respond better to it than NFP but I digress. I pray you have baby pictures to send to that RE too :)

  2. Im glad that you are getting some answers through working with a napro doc, even if it means lots of meds. I find that its tough to keep trying new or additional things with no results, but at least womens bodies are getting healed.