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Catholic Life | Tag Archive | Fertility
Tag Archives: Fertility

Let’s Talk About Fertility

I have a nice long post sitting around about Fertility Awareness/NFP and how it requires a lot of work/abstinence. But over the past few years I have become aware of the fact that others have a very different view of this than I do. It has also been 3-5 years since I was reading NFP studies and I am beginning to realize that I don’t remember as much as I’d like to think I do. So, this is a call for help.

In your experience, how many days in a typical cycle would you identify as fertile for the purpose of avoiding pregnancy? And by “identify as fertile” I mean abstain from sex on the day in question, not which days you’d guess were actually fertile once you were looking back on the completed chart after the cycle was over.

The second request is for you to provide studies that show how effective your method is for avoiding conception.

For instance, CCL cites a study that indicates a 99.6% method effectiveness for avoiding pregnancy. And when you look at the actual study you see that there was an average of 13 days per cycle that were identified as fertile and required abstinence.

Based on my understanding of NFP, there are 6 days per cycle that could really be fertile (sperm life + egg life), and an additional 3 days (to account for the possibility of double ovulation and to confirm that it was indeed ovulation– not merely a disturbance in temperature or cervical fluid building up to ovulation but then stopping without ovulation). That means that unless one is either counting on lower fertility (for instance, assuming that a woman will only have a few days of fertile cervical fluid so the sperm could only survive 2-3 days) or else taking chances with not really confirming ovulation, the minimum number of days a (blessedly healthy) woman can expect to identify as fertile is 9.

I recently re-read through the instruction manual for the method that Josh and I learned while engaged (the Cross-Check Method: think STM flirts with Marquette) with the goal of figuring out the least amount of abstinence possible for a healthy woman who was seriously determined to avoid pregnancy. After playing around with the various rules, the shortest that I could come up with was 10 days. A quick review of our practice charts (theoretical, not my body’s data) revealed that the shortest was, in fact, 10 days.

And I am just focusing in on the shortest possible length of time. I know quite well that for many women there will be many months where they must abstain for much longer if they are truly serious about avoiding conception.

So, help me out here. Does your experience or training indicate something else? Please, please, please do direct me to studies. At this point I am thinking that a week of abstinence may get many women a 90-95% method effectiveness rate for avoiding pregnancy, but I just can’t see how it would take less than 9 days to get to 99%.

What am I missing? I don’t want to be ignorant and say silly things in future posts. :-)

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Fasting and Fertility

First of all, yes this is serious, and no, this isn’t about abstaining from sex, it is about fasting from food. And I’m not talking about fertility signs that one must chart in order recognize, though obviously those are great to consider too, if you’re the charting sort. Secondly, part of me thinks that no one will respond, but do remember that anonymous comments are fine. You can even call yourself things like NotASAint to make up for publicly admitting to penitential practice, okay?

Please talk to me about fasting and fertility.

It only recently occurred to me that it makes sense for fasting to impact a woman’s fertility cycle. Obviously if one is experiencing a shock of not eating meat and dairy and/or dramatically reducing calories, one’s body is likely to respond in many ways, among them going into starvation mode and delaying ovulation.

I don’t think that I shock my body enough or reduce calories enough to have fasting impact my fertility directly (at least not these days, and I didn’t pay such close attention back in the day when I fasted more). But one way that it might impact me is stress. Required fasting is incredibly stressful for me. I continually have to figure out what is appropriate in order to both be penitential and still do all of the things that I need to, and I am not yet adept at balancing different needs for food and fasting in one kitchen.

Fasting is so much easier for me outside of Lent, because there are basically no rules. Even though there are times when I eat far less than what is allowed/suggested for Lenten days, it is easier. At times it can be stressful to try to figure out what is most appropriate for me on any given day, it is at least less stressful than having the whole YOUMUSTFASTTODAYORELSEYOUAREINDANGEROFMORTALSIN thing hanging over my head. Seriously, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday fill my heart with dread and my mind with stress.

And my body shuts down. Then I am somehow shocked by the fact that it magically starts back up again once we return to feasting and leave our fasting far, far behind.

Of course that is just my best recent guess of how things play out in my body. I don’t actually know which factors of fasting impact fertility, and whether it is that direct. But there does seem to be something there, and I am really very interested in what others have noticed in this area.

I don’t care if you’re male or female and speaking from personal experience or random abstract hypothesizing. Just tell me what you know about fasting and fertility!

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