The Truth About Reproductive Health

by Theresa Notare

November 22, 2002

Sadly, I find myself lately losing patience with my gender. I am thoroughly perplexed by the fax that so many women can't connect the dots between the true nature of female fertility and its downright abuse by the contraceptive industry. A conversation I overheard the other day just confirmed my confusion. Two women were talking about their preferred contraceptives. The conversation went something like this.

"Did I tell you I had to go off the pill?"

"No! What happened?"

"The pill was ruining my skin, I didn't know what to do."

"That happened to me too, when I went on it. You know, the skin is soooooo sensitive. In fact, my doctor told me never to use even make-up—it ruins the pores you know. I would never put anything on my skin that clogs up the pores like that!"

"So you don't use any make-up?"

"Oh never, just a little moisturizer."

"But what about birth control?"

"Oh, I used the IUD for years."

Hello? The IUD? For those not familiar with this device, an IUD is typically made of plastic, or plastic and copper, attached to a string. It must be inserted into (and removed from) a woman's uterus by a health care professional. An IUD can inhibit sperm function and survival, and disturb the Fallopian tube's ability to allow sperm and egg to travel through it. Should conception take place, however, it also prevents this new life from implanting in the lining of the uterus. Among its terrible side effects are increased bleeding, ectopic pregnancy, uterine and/or Fallopian tube infection which can lead to infertility, septic abortion and uterine perforation.

How could a woman believe that make-up is harmful, but an IUD is not? Has the cultural brain-washing we've been subjected to in favor of contraception—anything's better than a baby—deadened our brain cells?

The idea that a woman's fertility is a problem and needs to be controlled—meaning everything from suppressed to altered to altogether deleted—is the cornerstone of the contraceptive mind-set. It's also part and parcel of the "hook-up" generation-sex with no ties.

Women have a complex hormonal and reproductive system that helps us through the ebb and flow of emotions and physical changes as our ovaries prepare to release eggs. These eggs are precious, only one or two at a time typically mature, and they are intended for procreation. (If you question this, talk with a women who has a fertility problem.) Women are nurturers. If conception doesn't take place, a woman's body begins the process over again—persistent, ever hopeful. We have this remarkable system for only part of our lives. It deserves respect, understanding and acceptance.

All women—and men—should be educated in fertility appreciation and learn about the natural methods of family planning. And women should demand that the medical profession work with our fertility, never against it.

Theresa Notare is Assistant Director, Diocesan Development Program for Natural Family Planning, USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities