February 21, 2019
By Catherine A. Jimenez
Editor’s Note: This interview with a couple whose relationship has been strengthened through the use of fertility awareness based methods (FABMs) is one way we chose to celebrate National Marriage Week this year. It is part of our interview series through which we highlight the benefits and challenges of the various FABMs. Catherine Jimenez, a 4th year medical student and FACTS student ambassador, conducted this interview with a married couple as part of the FACTS online elective.
Regina and Diego are a married couple with three beautiful children and another one on the way. They readily agreed to an interview because of the positive impact NaProTechnology (Natural Procreative Technology, NaPro) has had on their lives. Without this medical application of a fertility awareness based method, Diego stated, “It’s very possible that we would not have any children right now.” This is their story.
Charting Helps Secure A Diagnosis
When Regina was a single woman in college, she had many health concerns related to her menstrual cycle. She experienced pelvic pain, painful periods, and longer than normal cycles lasting 45-50 days. Her doctors recommended the birth control pill to control her symptoms, but after taking the pill for two months, she felt her symptoms were worse. She told me, “I knew something else was wrong, and I felt prescribing the pill wasn’t an explanation (for my symptoms).”
Regina stumbled upon Natural Family Planning (NFP) and FABMs while in college through a friend and mentor who taught the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. After charting several cycles, her instructor recognized her cycles as irregular and referred her to an OB/Gyn physician who specializes in NaPro. With medical imaging and Regina’s Creighton charts, the NaPro specialist diagnosed Regina with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of infertility that was consistent with several of the symptoms Regina experienced. The physician also suspected endometriosis due to Regina’s increasing abdominal pain, and recommended surgery.
Regina had surgery and was, indeed, diagnosed with endometriosis. Her endometrial lesions were meticulously removed using NaPro surgical techniques, and her symptoms improved. Regina believes simply knowing the cause of her pain also helped her to understand and bear her pain better.
FABMs Enhance Marriage
While Regina was pursuing a diagnosis, her future husband Diego was becoming familiar with NFP and all it could offer couples. Through his former work as a missionary, he knew how to refer engaged couples and single people desiring NFP to instructors. Diego and Regina continued to learn about the Creighton Model during their engagement and specifically learned more about achieving and avoiding pregnancy.
Throughout their marriage, Diego and Regina have not had many challenges using the Creighton Model. For each of Regina’s reproductive cycles, they have achieved and avoided pregnancy according to their intentions. They were able to time their current pregnancy so Regina would deliver when Diego would have the summer off from medical school, allowing him to optimize his time as a father. Regina is able to interpret her cervical mucus signs with confidence and is always able to contact an instructor when she has questions, especially while breastfeeding. She feels the method has become second nature as part of her everyday life.
Besides having three successful pregnancies supported by exogenous progesterone, both Diego and Regina feel FABMs have enhanced their relationship. Regina feels empowered by knowing what is happening in her body and by having FABM knowledge to educate her children. When asked how the couple views the periodic abstinence FABMs require, Diego replied, “Abstinence must exist in every relationship because last I checked, you are not having intercourse 24/7.”
FABMs have allowed both their abstinence and their intimacy to be intentional. Diego explained busy couples may forget to come together in a marriage if they are not intentional about it. Regina and Diego see the beauty in being open to life, even when they are avoiding pregnancy.
Reflections From A Future Physician
Before conducting this interview and taking this elective, I knew FABMs had much to offer patients, especially those struggling with infertility. However, since behavior and motivation play a large role in effectiveness of the NFP methods, I wondered if FABMs could work for every patient. Knowing how Regina and Diego came to learn of FABMs, I know more about how to connect FABM resources and instructors to my patients. As a future family medicine physician, I can see how a woman’s needs and her use of FABMs may change over time, and I am more aware of how to help women and couples through their different stages of life and fertility.
Because of Diego and Regina’s experience with FABMs, I have more ways and examples to explain the practicality and numerous benefits of FABMs to patients. I am more confident that FABMs can work for a larger portion of my patients than I previously assumed. By encouraging and motivating my patients, just as I do for any other health concern or disease, I can help them understand their fertility and greatly improve their lives and relationships.
Author Bio: Catherine A. Jimenez is a 4th year medical student at University of Illinois College of Medicine and plans to specialize in family medicine. We are thrilled that she recently became a FACTS student ambassador. Reflecting on the FACTS online elective, she said, “The online elective has given me many useful tools for my future patients and a greater understanding of the complexities of fertility and pregnancy. I plan to practice women and children’s health within my scope as a family medicine physician. This course has greatly enhanced the care I can provide.” Photo credit: Amanda Rose Salazar
FACTS 2019 SPRING CONFERENCES
Fertility Awareness for Precision Women’s Health
In response to the growing interest in FABMs, the FACTS team is coordinating three one-day conferences in 2019. Join us in Cleveland, Indianapolis or Dallas to learn about timely issues in women’s reproductive health!
FACTS members save 20% to attend our Spring Conferences.
Registration is NOW OPEN!
February 23, 2019
8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Online registration has closed –
Onsite registration ONLY!
April 5, 2019
8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
And stay tuned for more details, as this conference will be offered in Dallas, TX in the fall as well! We hope to see you!
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