Introduction

"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalms 139:14

We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made, and as we realize this we should see the need to understand how our body functions. The woman’s body is complex, but we can learn to listen to the cycles and observe the signs. We need to take an interest in how our bodies function and how we can best care for and manage them. Many today do not understand their body. This has lead women to choose the convenient and easy solutions. One such convenience is the contraceptive pill, there are more than 100 million women worldwide taking the oral contraceptive pill. This is causing untold damage to many lives.

The Pill

The Pill (oral contraception) is the most popular form of birth control and yet it has many side effects that most women are not aware of. Watch below as Dr. Sherrill Sellman gives a brief overview of some of these dangers.



How do oral contraceptives work?

The pituitary gland produces two hormones – Luteinizing Hormone and Follicle Stimulating Hormone. These hormones stimulate the ovary to ovulate i.e. produce an egg each month. Two important hormones are produced in the ovaries, estradiol, a form of estrogen and progesterone, a form of progestin. Contraceptive pills are generally a combination of synthetic progestin and estrogen.

Oral contraceptives trick the pituitary gland into producing less luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. These two hormones are required for ovulation to occur, therefore, oral contraceptives suppress, but do not eliminate ovulation. Oral contraceptives have two other effects on the body:

  • They thin the inner lining of the uterus, the endometrium, depleting it of glycogen and decreasing its thickness. There is a decreased blood supply in the thinner endometrium.
  • Thickens the mucus in the cervix which then inhibits sperm from penetrating the cervix.

Uses

The contraceptive pill is used to:

  • Prevent pregnancy
  • Regulate the menstrual cycle
  • Treat acne
  • As an emergency contraception – morning after pill

Side effects

There are always side effects when taking drugs and the contraceptive pill is no exception. The side effects associated with taking the oral contraceptive pill including:

  • Dizziness
  • Migraine
  • Loss of libido
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Lightheadedness
  • Stomach upset
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Severe depression
  • Groin or calf pain
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lumps in the breast
  • Weakness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • Sore breasts
  • Dry eyes
  • Increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the veins of the leg)
  • Increased risk of breast cancer
  • Increased risk of ovarian cancer
  • Rash
  • Abortifacient (causes abortion)
  • Candidiasis (thrush)
  • Cancer

There has been a number of studies showing the relationship between the oral contraceptive pill and cancer.

"Dr Kahlenborn focused on the younger, pre-menopausal women who had been on the pill before having their first child. His study looked at dozens of case-control and cohort studies and several other meta-analyses to reach his conclusions. He found 21 of 23 studies showed a connection between the contraceptive pill and cancer, something that certainly should be alarming women." – source

"Stanford and Thomas reported the results of a large WHO (World Health Organization) sponsored study and found that short-term use of oral contraceptives did not increase the risk of liver cancer. But what is the risk for women who take oral contraceptives for several years? Kenya et al quoted two studies in their 1990 paper. Kenya noted that two authors found an increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma with long-term OCP use: Forman (1986) found a 20.1-fold risk whereas Neuberger (1986) found a 340% increased risk [RR= 4.4 (1.5-12.8)] in women who took OCPs for more than 8 years. Prentice cited two other studies, one by Henderson et al, and the other by La Vecchia et al that both found increased risk for OCP use greater than 5 years: 13.5 RR (1.2-152.2) and 8.3 RR (1.4-48.1) respectively. Finally, in a large study published in 1993, Tavani et al noted that women who used OCPs for more than 5 years had a 290% increased risk [RR=3.9 (0.6- 24.5)]." – source

From this information we can conclude that medium to long term use of the oral contraceptive pill increases a woman’s risk of developing cancer. There are natural alternatives, but first we must understand a woman’s reproductive cycle.

The Menstrual Cycle

The average menstrual cycle length is 28 days, this does vary between women and from one cycle to the next in some individuals. The first day of the cycle is calculated from the first day of the period, the end of the cycle is the day before the next period begins. Girls start to menstruate around the age of 13, and continue to have periods until the time of menopause which occurs around the age of 51.

Hormones and the menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle is controlled by a variety of glands and their associated hormones. The hypothalamus influences the pituitary gland to secrete specific chemicals, these prompt the ovaries to secrete sex hormones, primarily oestrogen and progesterone. The menstrual cycle is a biofeedback system. This means that all of the glands and structures are influenced by each others activity. The menstrual cycle has four main phases: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase.

Menstruation

This phase involves the elimination of the thickened uterine lining, it usually lasts from three to seven days, depending on the individual. The menstrual fluid contains endometrial cells, blood and mucus.

Follicular phase

The follicular phase spans the length of time between the first day of the menstrual cycle and the time of ovulation. The hypothalamus triggers the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland. Follicle stimulating hormone then stimulates the ovary to produce around five to twenty follicles, each follicle contains an immature egg. At around day ten of a twenty eight day cycle, one of the follicles will mature into an egg. The growth of the follicles stimulates the endometrium to thicken in preparation for a possible pregnancy. During the follicular phase, the ripening follicle causes a rise in the level of the sex hormone oestrogen.

Ovulation

Ovulation occurs around two weeks before the onset of menstruation, and involves the release of a mature egg from the ovary. The hypothalamus in the brain recognizes the rising levels of oestrogen caused by the follicular phase and releases a chemical called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This hormone prompts the pituitary gland to produce increased levels of luteinising hormone (LH) and FSH. Within two days, ovulation is triggered by the high levels of luteinising hormone. The egg is funneled into the Fallopian tube, and towards the uterus, by waves of small projections. The life span of the typical egg is only around 24 hours. Unless it meets a sperm on its journey to the uterus within the 24 hours, it will die.

Luteal phase

This phase follows ovulation and lasts from about day 15 to day 28. After the follicle ruptures as it releases the egg, it closes and forms a corpus luteum. The corpus luteum secretes more and more progesterone, along with small amounts of oestrogen. This hormonal combination maintains the thickened uterine lining, awaiting implantation of the fertilized egg. Even if the egg is not fertilized and pregnancy has not happened, the secretion is still produced. The corpus luteum needs the presence of an implanted fertilized egg (blastocyst) and its associated hormones to continue producing elevated levels of progesterone and maintain the thickened uterine lining. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, the corpus luteum shrinks and dies, usually around day 22 in a 28-day cycle. The falling production of progesterone allows the uterine lining to come away. This is menstruation. The cycle then repeats.

The progesterone secreted by the corpus luteum causes the temperature of the body to rise slightly until the start of the next period. This rise in temperature can be plotted on a graph and gives an indication of when ovulation has occurred.

Natural Contraception

There are a number of natural methods a husband and wife can use to either plan or avoid pregnancy. More and more women are choosing to go natural particularly when it comes to taking synthetic drugs or using chemicals or invasive devices.

Rhythm method

This method has been around for a long time and is considered to be very unreliable. It is based on the probability that ovulation will occur between 10 and 16 days before a woman’s next period and the possible life span of sperm inside the woman’s body. The general idea is not to have intercourse from day 10 to 16 which is considered to be the time when the women is the most fertile. But because women are not totally regular in their cycle this method is notoriously unreliable.

Standard days method

The standard days method is simple and easy to use, it works best for women with a 26 to 32 day cycle. It identifies day 8 to 19 as the days when you are most fertile and should abstain from intercourse or use another form of contraception. All the other days of the cycle are deemed "safe" as the chances of conception are very low.

The standard days method is somewhat similar to the rhythm method in that intercourse should be avoided during certain days to avoid pregnancy but is based on some extensive research into a woman’s cycle. This method is based on certain statistics that have been collected after observing many women and their cycles. It has been found that the likelihood of pregnancy occurring increases as a woman approaches the day of ovulation. While the likelihood of pregnancy 5 days before ovulation is about 4%, just 2 days before ovulation it increases to 20 to 25%. But by the day of ovulation it begins to decrease to 8 or 9% and finally falling to 0% 24 hours after ovulation. Therefore, the standard days method works on the assumption that you can only become pregnant in a given month for 6 to 7 days before ovulation.

Ovulation also occurs in most women around the mid point of any cycle. If you have a 28-day cycle, there is a 30% chance that you will ovulate exactly on the 14th day; 60% chance of ovulating one day before or after your mid-cycle point and about a 78% chance that ovulation will occur 2 days before or 2 days after the mid-cycle.

These statistics help predict that, for any woman with a 26 to 32 day cycle, the days when she has to abstain from intercourse or use another form of contraception in order to avoid pregnancy are from day 8 to day 19.

Using this Method

To start practicing this kind of birth control, you will first need to know the length of your cycle. Once that is known, you can go through the following process:

  • Mark the first day of your period as day 1 of your cycle.
  • Through to day seven of your cycle you are in an infertile phase where having unprotected intercourse should not result in a pregnancy.
  • From day 8 to day 19 you are in a fertile phase when you will need to use a birth control method or abstain from intercourse.
  • From day 20 to your period, your post ovulatory infertile phase begins and you can again have unprotected intercourse.

Basal Body Temperature Method

A woman’s body temperature increases slightly after ovulation and remains up until the next period. You can chart this by using a digital thermometer to take your temperature every day as soon as you wake up. When your temperature has been higher for three days than the previous six days, your fertile time has finished.

You should not rely solely on this method to determine your fertile days, as it can be affected by many other factors such as a cold or fever, medication or even just getting out of bed.

Changes in the cervix

There are three changes in the cervix during the menstrual cycle:

  • Just after finishing a period the cervix may be lower in your pelvic cavity, and easier to feel. The opening – cervical os – is closed and it will feel firm.
  • Closer to your fertile time the cervix may move upwards away from the vaginal opening. It also becomes more spongy and softer around the time of ovulation. The cervical os begins to open and reaches its maximum width when ovulation occurs.
  • After ovulation has occurred, the cervix returns to its original position and the cervical os closes and becomes firm again.

Billings Method

The hormones that control your cycle also make the cervix produce mucus. The mucus collects on the cervix and vagina and changes in quality and quantity just before and during ovulation. This method is also known as the Cervical Mucus Method or Ovulation Method.

"By the early 1970’s the Tongan trial was under way. This was the first overseas trial conducted on the Billings Ovulation Method. The method-related pregnancy was reported in the Lancet (Billings et al. 1972) as 1% but later on it was proved to have been 0%, the couple involved revealing the relevant information at a later date. The total pregnancy rate was 25% due to couples choosing to become pregnant.

The menopausal study which was being conducted in Australia at about this time showed a method-related pregnancy rate of 0% and a total pregnancy rate of 1% due to a deliberate departure by a couple from the Peak Rule, having been influenced by the temperature chart to do so. Many of these couples had had a recent pregnancy before learning the Ovulation Method and this was the reason for them seeking informaiton about the method. By now the Rhythm count and the BBT had been eliminated fromroutine teaching.

Over the years many other trials of the Ovulation Method have been conducted, including the WHO five-country trial in 1979-90 (WHO 1981 a, 1981b, 1983, 1984, 1987). Now recent world trials consistently show a method-related pregnancy rate of less than 1%. These trials have taken place in India, Indonesia and Burina Faso and the couples participating have come from Muslim and Hindu as well as Christian communities. The Billings Ovulation Method has proved to be universally acceptable and has been used successfully amongst couples who are illiterate and living in abject poverty. The continuation rate is substantially higher than any reversible method of contraception. The Ovulation Method has also established itself as the primary measure to be undertaken for the management of apparent infertility." http://www.billings-centre.ab.ca/general/bc_703b.htm

The Mucus Cycle
  • During your period, your menstrual flow conceals the mucus signs.
  • Once your period has finished, there are usually a few days without mucus. These are known as "dry days", these may be safe days if your cycle is long.
  • As an egg starts to ripen, more mucus is produced. It appears at the opening of the vagina. It is generally yellow or white and cloudy and feels sticky or tacky.
  • Usually, you will have the most mucus just before ovulation. This mucus looks clear and feels slippery — like raw egg white. When it can be stretched between the fingers, it is called spinnbarkeit — German for stretchable. These are the "slippery days." It is the peak of your fertility.
  • After about four slippery days, you may suddenly have less mucus. It will become cloudy and tacky again. And then you may have a few more dry days before your period starts. These are also safe days.

Conclusion

Natural contraception when followed faithfully will prove to be an effective method for avoiding or planning pregnancy. We advise that you do not rely on one method only but combine a few methods to improve the effectiveness. We would like to encourage you to do further study on the methods listed above, as you will find more detailed information on the internet than what has been given here. There are also charts available for download to help you record the information relating to your cycle.