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Letter to the Editor

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.

Dear Editor: An article in the July 30 edition of The Reminder, entitled "Menstrual model challenged" prompted me to contact reproductive expert Roger Pierson at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. Pierson was recognized for his contributions in advancing women's health. His research team made a discovery last summer that "women experience two or three 'waves' of follicular development each month, though only one egg is selected for ovulation". Actually, researchers in the field of Natural Family Planning (NFP) have known this since the 1970s. This certainly does NOT mean that 40% of women cannot use NFP. Ideal conditions must still be present for an egg to become fertilized. Serena Manitoba teaches married couples how to recognize these conditions in order to achieve or avoid a pregnancy. I feel that this entire article was misleading to women and their husbands. Most articles I have read in magazines about birth control methods do mention Natural Family Planning but never have the correct facts. For the record, Natural Family Planning is 98% effective, just the same as the Pill, any woman can use this method, whether she is 18 years- old or menopausal, and NFP is based on scientific research. Researchers in this field are continually making advances, recently finding information which makes it possible for NFP to be even more reliable during breastfeeding in the first six months and beyond. In speaking to Pierson, I found out that his study involved 73 women. Forty percent of 73 women is 29.2 women. I have to question what the results may have been if he had studied 500 women. I hate to think that these amazing scientific breakthroughs are based on 73 people. Also, I wonder what stage of life these 73 women were at? Were they in their teens and 20s (generally, the most fertile time in a woman's life), were they peri-menopausal, had they used artificial means of birth control recently, did they gather their own data, were these findings consistent month after month and for how many months? What bothers me the most is that this article just gives women another reason to discount Natural Family Planning methods. "Pierson expects the discovery will lead to the design of safer and more effective means of contraception..." read the article. Chemicals and other artificial means of contraception are NEVER safe for women. How can anything made in a science lab, meant to disrupt natural body functions, be safe? I was talking to the husband of a Natural Family Planning teaching couple, who also happens to be an Agricultural Engineer. When he and his wife were first considering using Natural Family Planning, he did some research on the birth control pill. His conclusion? "I wouldn't give this stuff to my cattle, how could I ever consider giving it to my wife?" The article goes on - "perhaps lead to a new understanding of puberty and menopause." What's to understand? Puberty, fertility, childbirth and menopause are all natural body functions. But science is now telling women that if they are taking birth control pills, menstruation need not interrupt their vacation. If you don't want the inconvenience of your period, all you have to do is skip the seven days of placeboes and continue taking the other pills. They claim that there are no ill effects from this practice but only time will tell. Menopause is treated as an illness with hormone replacement therapy. European women embrace menopause as part of the natural aging process. Now the government is telling women that they don't have to have babies naturally ? they have the option to choose a scheduled Caesarean section even when there is no medical reason to do so. I have had a natural childbirth, two C-sections (both unnecessary in my case) and a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). Let me tell you, this legislation does not "enhance" women's health care. It is a step backward, in my opinion. The human reproductive system is awesome, when you really stop and think about how it works. This was not a fluke - we were made this way for a reason. Certainly, we need medical science so that we can discover ways to cure illness. Fertility, childbirth, menopause and menstruation are NOT illnesses! See 'Birth' P.# Con't from P.# When couples choose sterilization as a method of birth control, I suspect that they are not that well informed on what is actually happening to them. For example, how many men who have had a vasectomy have been told by their physician that their risk of prostate cancer has just increased? A vasectomy does not stop the production of sperm. Since the sperm is no longer being released from the body, it must be re-absorbed back into the body. This has been linked to cancer. What a surprise?! God designed our bodies perfectly and yet, science wants to improve on the design. Then we wonder why there is so much cancer. The article ends by saying that this is "research that enhances women's health care." I disagree. I feel that society in general discourages a woman from having full control of her body. Society teaches young women that control over your body means having sex when you want to and having the choice to terminate your pregnancy. (A whole other subject for another time.) I feel that Natural Family Planning has not been given fair publicity and therefore, not been taken very seriously, because some scientists are telling us that there is an "easier" way to do things. Unfortunately, in this case, easier is not always better. The Billings method of Natural Family Planning, developed by Dr. John and Dr. Lyn Billings, is based on the observation of cervical mucus. Fertile type mucus must be present in the woman for the sperm to be carried to the egg. When I questioned Pierson about the relation between cervical mucus and follicular development, he said and I quote, "I have no idea." When I told him that I thought it was unfair to say that 40% of women may not be able to use Natural Family Planning, he stated that it was up to Billings to prove otherwise. Well, guess what? They (as well as many other experts in the field) already have! Serena Manitoba teaches the sympto-thermal method of NFP. They use a private couple to couple teaching method. Unfortunately, we have not had a teaching couple in the North for some time now but we are hoping to have one in place by the new year. In the meantime, if you would like more information on Natural Family Planning, please feel free to contact Serena Manitoba in Winnipeg at 204-783-0091. Thank you. Marilyn Jackson Marriage Prep Co-ordinator St. Ann's Parish