Let me start this off by saying I don’t want to have a big ol’ controversy here. But when I open my big fat mouth laptop, sometimes it’s inevitable.
Looks like the crashing economy is “good” for a sector besides pawn shops: the family planning clinics.
Maybe it’s because we’re all jobless; we’re all at home with nothing better to do. Maybe it’s because our unemployed butts have no health insurance. Maybe it’s because we have to make a monthly choice between groceries and contraception. Or a perfect storm of the three.
Whatever it is, for one Planned Parenthood clinic, January was the biggest month for abortions.
We’ve seen some people who said that they didn’t really think that they would ever be making this decision, but recognize that this is a time when they have to think about taking care of the families that they have.
Though the abortion thing isn’t the case everywhere, it’s one of the more difficult choices for some families. Across the board, no matter the assumed socioeconomic status, more women are turning to Planned Parenthood, looking for some relief from the high price of birth control. Some forms of hormonal contraception costs up to $60 per month. So some women and families have to decide whether they can afford birth control without the help of insurance.
But if they can’t, the choice gets increasingly more difficult.
Of course, the obvious answer to me would be natural family planning. This involves a combination of the rhythm method, and both the basal body temperature and cervical mucus tracking.
Rhythm/Calendar Method: The average menstrual cycle is between 28 to 32 days. Your cycle begins on the first day of your period. From there, you ovulate, depending on the duration of your entire cycle, somewhere between Day 11 and Day 21. If you are avoiding pregnancy, you want to abstain from sex or use a barrier method during this time. This method should not be used alone, but in combination with the other two.
Basal Body Temperature: Every day, wake up and take your basal temperature before you start your day. I know: it’s hard to set aside a few minutes of “your” time. But do it before the kids know you’re awake. Then track it alongside the other two methods. Watch it over the course of a few months. You’ll see that your temp drops just a bit before ovulation and rises between .4 and 1 degree after you ovulate.
Cervical Mucus Method: The consistency of your cervical mucus changes during the menstrual cycle. In the average cycle, there are 3 to 4 dry days following a 5 day menstrual flow. From the American Pregnancy Association:
The mucus wetness increases daily, lasting approximately 9 days until the wettest day. Your mucus is easily recognized at this point. It should be abundant, slippery, clear, and very stretchy. It has been described as egg whites.
That is, when you are ovulating, your body is most “ready” or “ripe”
I will say a couple of things about these methods:
First off, I am not your doctor. You must let your OB or family practitioner know that you’re giving this a whirl. Maybe she can give you some pointers.
Second, you must not let your body fool your tracking. What I mean by this is biology is very strong. When you ovulate, your body might be screaming, “Get me pregnant!” If you’re trying to avoid this, don’t listen to it. For me, I’m pretty sure my exact words were
Don’t worry, Mark, I don’t think I’m ovulating anymore.
Welcome, Baby E!
Third, this takes the ability to listen to your body. It also takes work and time. But hey! Isn’t that something that more of us have nowadays?!
Helpful tool: a personal calendar to track these three elements. Not sure you need your personal mucus tracking on the kids’ school calendar. Also, for those who like the visual aid, check out Cycle Beads, which follow the Calendar Method in bead form.
For more tips, check out the American Pregnancy Association’s Web site and again, absolutely talk to a medical professional.