Thursday, April 8, 2010

A pro-life use for the pill

A long one...but necessary to show my point that the pill can help someone be more pro-life. This is still an exception as you will see my "exceptional" story below. We have a medical solution to the pain of endometriosis and we, even as conservative Catholics, are free to use it with specific guidelines.

Some readers may remember my three options to ease menstrual pain resulting in my decision for surgery last summer. It seemed an easy one to make at the time. I didn't want to live with the pain, and I didn't want to go on the pill. I'll take surgery please. I like using NFP so I know what is going on with my body. I know when I'm ovulating, I'm not suppressing my happy hormone that helps me do so, and I know when I can and cannot get pregnant. Let's not have that change.

However, even in my NFP classes, we teach that the pill can be prescribed for medical reasons. We can try supplements and even surgery first, but sometimes it is hard to find the cause and the pill may be the best source of relief. Starting a hormonal pill can balance out your body and hopefully even after you come off things will be better.

I chose surgery to diagnose the problem - endometriosis. I also found out that it can be caused by estrogen imbalance and cod liver oil (or other fish oil) supplements can increase that problem. Solution (treatment to prevent recurrence): get pregnant or try supplements, exercise and progesterone if necessary. Well I have tried all three (not the pregnancy part) and gotten nowhere.

NFP doesn't make life perfect and supplements don't always help. Even with my lifestyle changes, I still could be classified as having PMDD - meaning I can't function. At this point, I not only have pain but awful mood swings and anxiety attacks. By my charts, I know it is basically the week before my next cycle. It must be hormonal right? But increasing the progesterone doesn't help the emotional part and adds extreme fatigue to the mix. What is a girl to do? No pregnancy to blame the hormonal insanity on and no support from mainstream culture who would have put me on the pill 5 years ago.

If I could talk to my May 2009 self, I might advise the pill. I knew then and still know now it can be pro-life if used with periodic abstinence. I also know that my definition of pro-life includes many different things including quality of life. What can I do to make myself healthier - oddly enough that may have, and still could be, the pill. If I can't function for almost a week at a time, then it is hard for me to get outside myself and live a good example.

I don't regret my decision because I couldn't see into the future, but I would advise people in a similar situation to think about the option long and hard and not judge those who take the "easy" way out. No way is easy, and the goal is overall health. If over the counter supplements and progesterone do not help, the pill just might. I'm still reaching for that goal and I'm once again weighing my options.


  1. Recently back on the blog-o-sphere, so, hello again! this peaked my interest as I have recently realized I may have endometriosis, but have yet to get on official diagnosis (and from what I hear, that can only be done through surgery). as an nfp teacher, i know full well the huge exception to the "don't take the pill rule" is endo. this makes me a little sad too, as i thought when i was liberating myself 4 years ago by going off the pill and maybe I unknowingly hurt my fertility.
    All in all though, and all personal experience aside, there's no way to be sure about that except after the fact. And you can't treat the exception as the rule. I can understand taking the pill to relieve terminal pain, after kids are had, and I understand using the pill as fertility treatment. However, I've also heard that the best thing a married woman with endo can do to relieve pain is to try to get pregnant. For married couples do you reconcile taking the pill to treat the pain (while postponing children) instead of trying to have children? (I say trying since endo is a major cause of infertility and it may not be that easy for some people to just 'get pregnant' - from personal experience).
    I ask this in a theoretical sense. I understand the 'grave reasons' assessment that each couple must make, but I believe it would be only in grave, medical circumstances that a couple who admittedly doesn't want children now/is trying to postpone is honestly taking the pill to just relieve pain, knowing that having a child could relieve the pain as well.
    Anyway, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this!

  2. Alison,

    Thanks for the comment, and because my response was longer than yours - I emailed it. Hopefully you get it :-)

  3. Just catching up on commenting, and I wanted to thank you for this post. I came to a similar conclusion myself, and I'll admit that it was difficult. Two years ago I wasn't comfortable being on the pill without "very good" reason (meaning the need to actually complete my degree, and like you I simply could not function through the pain, and surgery to remove adhesions was not enough) even though I was not yet married. Now I would tell someone in a similar circumstance that they should consider staying on hormones until they get to the point where they have other options for surgery and alternative treatments.

    But it is so easy for others to judge when they don't know what it is like to live with the pain!