It’s not a Catholic thing. It’s a science thing.
By Allison Dreher
Fertility awareness has nothing to do with religion. Understanding one’s body and recognizing the signs of ovulation are about health. Every woman has a right to know how her body works. Perhaps the term ‘fertility awareness’ is the problem since it may seem to imply a connection to sexual morality. Certainly, as a Catholic organization we are concerned with sexual morality, but as the title suggests, understanding the menstrual cycle is not a Catholic thing it is a science thing.
Maybe a better term is ‘cycle mindfulness.’ **Dr. Laura Briden says if you’re not thinking about ovulation, you’re not thinking about health. As endocrinology professor **Jerilynn Prior puts it, ‘ovulatory cycles are both an indicator and a creator of health.’ The regular rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone in the naturally cycling woman is as important as testosterone is for men. Hormonal birth control is not a substitute for regular ovulation, for the simple reason that progestins are not progesterone.
Dr. Marguerite Duane concurs. She says charting enables a woman to know her body by tracking the physical signs of her cycle. This knowledge can be used in two main ways; to monitor health, and for family planning. Her online webinars are a great non-religious place start learning about the signs women can observe and track to tell them if their cycle is healthy. Even Cosmo magazine South Africa has given a nod to the legitimacy of fertility awareness.
Of course, if you’re interested in how Catholics apply this knowledge to sexual morality please sign up for our free online course! We would love to have you.
**Both Dr. Lara Briden and Dr. Jerilynn Prior advocate for barrier methods and copper IUDS which are not compatible with Catholic teaching. I mention them only to demonstrate that we aren’t the only ones talking about the importance of fertility awareness. Copper IUDs can cause early abortions since the uterus is inhospitable to a fertilized egg. The Church teaches that a new person is created when sperm and egg meet in the fallopian tube, which can be up to 10 days before the baby implants in the womb. Anything that disrupts implantation is an abortifacient. As for condoms, I will address barrier methods in another blog post, but the simplest explanation is that every act of intercourse between husband and wife must always be open to the possibility of new life. The couple should not do anything before, during, or after intercourse to prevent pregnancy.
If you want to read further now, we recommend Humanae Vitae (http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae.html) #’s 11-17 in particular, and Saint Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (https://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/jp2tb19.htm).