Many Catholics are familiar with the benefits of using natural family planning (NFP) in married life. The ability to abstain from or try to achieve pregnancy each cycle, increased communication and intimacy in marriage, and an ability to be open to God’s will for our lives and family size are familiar pluses of NFP. However, did you know that NFP has another benefit for both married and single women? NFP methods help women identify if they are ovulating or not.
Ovulation is a hallmark of physiological harmony in a woman’s body. Biologically, ovulation is when an egg is released into the fallopian tubes from a woman’s ovary. The egg then travels into the uterus where it implants into the endometrium, if it has been successfully fertilized in the fallopian tube. The egg is shed with the endometrium during the bleeding phase of the menstrual cycle, if the egg is not fertilized.
Ovulation only occurs if a woman’s hormones are properly balanced. This balance indicates proper endocrine and gonadal function (Vigil, Lyon, Flores, Rioseco, and Serrano, 2017.) Often times, menstrual cycle irregularities or absence of a period can be the first signs of larger health problems associated with endocrine, gynecological, autoimmune, nutritional, and genetic disorders (Vigil, Lyon, Flores, Rioseco, and Serrano, 2017.) For example, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the most common female endocrine disorder, causes women to have irregular cycles, as a result of irregular ovulation.
One reason women with PCOS have irregular cycles is because their bodies have excess androgens. Testosterone is the most well-known hormone in the androgen group. Excess testosterone (and other androgens) prevents proper follicle development. A properly formed follicle is important for support of the egg and ovulation through hormone production. Excess androgens cause other familiar symptoms of PCOS like hormonal acne, weight gain, hair loss, mood changes, or hirsutism, the growth of thick, dark hair on face, chest, abdomen, back, or thighs in women.
You can see why it is important to track your ovulation. Irregular cycles or amenorrhea (absence of a period) could be the first sign that your hormones are not balanced. Hormone imbalance compounds over time and research shows that symptoms in these women continue to get more severe (Vigil, Lyon, Flores, Rioseco, and Serrano, 2017). For example, a woman with mild PCOS may be having irregular periods and acne now, but later in life she may suffer from infertility or miscarriages.
NFP and fertility-awareness based medicine (FABM) are the best preventative medicine a woman and her spouse or a mother and her daughter could invest in. FABM can help restore proper hormone balance in PCOS patients to help achieve regular cycles. Proper hormone balance has the additional benefits of maintaining a healthy weight, regulating mood changes, and improving brain health and cognition.
This is why I plan to bring fertility-awareness based women’s healthcare to women living in North Carolina, through MyCatholicDoctor. My practice is dedicated to seeing patients via MCD to help bridge the lack of access to fertility-awareness based medicine to patients living in North Carolina. Because MyCatholicDoctor is a telehealth company, patients living all over North Carolina will have access to my medical practice.
Through my practice, I aim to harness the power of various NFP methods, like the Creighton Model, FEMM, and Marquette Model, to restore and optimize ovulation in women to improve their health. Optimizing and restoring ovulation will help treat irregular cycles, mood disorders, irregular bleeding, amenorrhea, acne, premenstrual syndrome, painful periods, recurrent miscarriage, infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and various hormonal deficiencies, like progesterone deficiency.
Additionally, I will practice medicine in accordance to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Catholic healthcare is pro-life, pro-woman, and pro-family healthcare. This is my sixth year in the Church, and St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body was a catalyst for my conversion. I strive to honor women’s God-given dignity and design in my medical practice. I will leave you with one last thought from Psalm 139:14“I praise you, for I am wondrously made. Wonderful are your works!” May we all experience the wonder in God’s glorious design of women and their gift of fertility. I cannot wait to see how God works through my practice, and I look forward to accepting new patients!
Vigil, P., Lyon C., Flores, B., Rioseco, H., Serrano, F. (2017) Ovulation, A Sign of Health. The Linacre Quarterly, 84, 343-355.
Author: Megan Blum, Physician Assistant and Fertility Provider with MyCatholicDoctor
Editor: Samantha Wright, Director of Education and Online Resources with MyCatholicDoctor
PA Megan Blum is a physician assistant with a special interest in providing restorative reproductive care to women of all ages. She has special training in FEMM and Marquette Method and is a medical consultant for both models of women’s healthcare. She became a medical provider to help provide access to fertility-awareness based medicine to all who seek it. She believes in finding the root cause of women’s health and endocrine issues to restore women’s bodies to optimum health.
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