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Something better than contraception

Lindsey Marugg | Thursday, November 8, 2012

As a female member of the Notre Dame family, I want to first say that I support whatever treatment is chosen for relief from endometriosis. It is a horrible disease that often goes undiagnosed for a long time. I know this from studying endometriosis this summer. I would also like to offer an alternative.  

I had my own reproductive problems freshman year here at Notre Dame.  Within the first month of school, I ruptured two ovarian cysts. The doctors in the ER didn’t catch them early enough to do surgery, and I had to try to get by with narcotics that barely helped. After, I went through my own judgmental issues: Even though I had chosen to wait until marriage to have sex, my birth control prescription earned me judgment from friends and nurses on campus.   

I did my own research into the Catholic teaching on using contraception for medical purposes. There is actually church teaching on the legitimacy of lawful therapeutic means in Pope Paul VI’s famous contraception-condemning encyclical “Humanae Vitae.” From this, I felt empowered to shout from the top of the Dome that sometimes there are legitimate reasons for birth control and no one should be chastised for them. It is no one’s place to cast judgment on why someone takes a prescription.  

But something in my heart kept me searching. Perhaps it was unhappiness with the judgment I felt, or part of my career discernment between medicine and music, or maybe because I still was having some pain every other month on my left side. No matter what it was, it caused me to take more than a cursory glance at a flyer about NaProTechnology.  It boasted: “What every woman has a right to know!” Although I was one of the only students at the seminar, I was fascinated by what Dr. Parker was saying. Things started to make better sense to me. Even though my pain was lessened, there was an underlying problem.

Birth control halts the natural menstrual cycle and suppressed ovulation. What was going to happen when I wanted to start a family in the future? I was magically expecting the problem to not reappear? Of course I would need to figure out what the cause of the problem was and work to fix it. Why wouldn’t I do that now?
When you read about endometriosis online, it says that birth control pills are the medicinal treatment for it. It also says that endometriosis often causes infertility. It recommends fertility drugs with artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization as treatment for that.  Now here’s something that should strike a nerve with Catholic women. Are the only options birth control when you don’t want kids and in-vitro when you do?  

Another part of Pope Paul VI’s same encyclical gives a call to scientists:  “Medical science should by the study of natural rhythms succeed in determining a sufficiently secure basis for the chaste limitation of offspring” (section 24). Dr. Hilgers, founder of NaProTechnology, took this as a personal call to find something more effective than the rhythm method. In 1980, he invented the Creighton Model FertilityCare system, which has now been shown to have a 96.8 percent typical use pregnancy prevention rate, compared to hormonal birth control’s 92 percent typical use rate. Since developing the Creighton Model, Dr. Hilgers now uses the charting to diagnose and treat the underlying painful gynecological issues and also infertility. His recent study on the rates helping infertile couples achieve a natural, full-term pregnancy are 50 percent amd in-vitro’s rate is 22.4 percent.

I helped work on this study this summer as a research intern in Omaha, Neb. I can tell you that the science behind NaProTechnology is real.  Beyond that, I am a success story myself. I have polycystic ovarian disease, am on medication to treat the underlying problem and am now 8 natural cycles in a row, pain free. NaProTechnology has been successfully treating endometriosis without birth control for years.  

Why does no one at Our Lady’s University know about NaPro? If we claim to be a preeminent Catholic research institution, why isn’t NaPro on our radar? Why don’t we ever talk about how the World Health Organization labels hormonal birth control a class 1 carcinogen? The conversation always seems to fall back on: “The Catholic Church is against women.” False. The Catholic Church has been right all along.  Catholic teaching has led to a better way.  One that I confidently stand behind not based on the Catholic teaching alone, but on the proof offered in scientific statistics and in my own life. There is something better than contraception. But we need to open our hearts and minds to it.      

If you want to learn more about NaProTechnology, contact Saint Joseph FertilityCare Center at  574-335-6472.  
 

Lindsey Marugg is a senior majoring in music and pre-med. She can be reached at lmarugg@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.