Suzy Younger, Guest Contributor

I wish someone had told me.  I wish someone had given me the truth, about my body, about my health, about my fertility, about my options.  I wish someone had been there for me.  But they weren’t.   If they had, perhaps my story would have been different.

Like many women I know, the physician I saw for my health issues had only one solution for my situation: go on the Pill.  So I did.  After all, didn’t he know best?  He had seemed so confident that this would solve my problems.  Without even examining me, he had written me a prescription for the Pill—a triple dose in fact.  So I tried it.  But instead of relief, my problems remained and now I experienced a myriad of side-effects as well.  Eventually I took myself off of the Pill and began a quest for something better,  for authentic and complete healing.  A quest for hope.

I battled heavy periods, abnormal bleeding, incapacitating bouts of hormonally-induced depression and anxiety attacks, irritability that strained even my closest relationships, shed more tears than I can count and ultimately endured years of infertility before I would come to learn what I know now: the truth. The truth that saved my hopes of one day becoming pregnant.  The truth that healed my body and mind. The truth that restored my spirit.  The truth that indeed saved my life.

Finding the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and NaProTechnology was the answer I was looking for.  A scientific system that allows a woman to observe her body’s biomarkers and therefore monitor her own gynecologic and reproductive health.    A system that telegraphs abnormalities in her cycle and guides her physician in identifying, diagnosing and treating the underlying medical conditions she faces.  A system that offers effective alternatives to the Pill.  A system that works to restore and protect her fertility, not suppress it as is the case with hormonal contraceptives.  A system that empowers a woman with knowledge of her body and herself.  A highly-effective system that can be used by couples to achieve or avoid pregnancy.  A system that is morally acceptable to people of all faiths.  My mind was blown. Why had I never learned this before?  Why was no one talking about this?

This powerful women’s health science has healed me and changed my life—so much so that I left a career in higher education and went back to school to become a FertilityCare Practitioner.  Now, in my work at Saint Joseph FertilityCare Center, I am able to share with others the information that I so wish I had known years ago.

So here we go.  The 10 things I know now and wish I had known in college:

1) Ovaries aren’t Catholic

Know what? Ovaries are not Catholic.  Ovaries are non-sectarian.  They don’t care if they are in the body of a Catholic or an atheist.  They function according to science.  What I share here is not just for Catholics.  It’s science and it’s for everyone, regardless of faith or lack of it.

2) Women are empowered when they chart their cycles

It’s embarrassing how little most of us women know about our bodies and how they work.  Charting your cycles changes this.  For me it was as if a veil was lifted.  For the first time I really understood myself.  In charting you come to understand the inner workings of your body.  You understand why you can’t stop crying one day and yet feel ready to take on the world the next.  You understood how various choices you make positively or negatively affect your health.  You understand precisely how and when you could become pregnant.  With knowledge comes empowerment.

3) The Pill is not the only way.  There are effective alternatives.

We are bombarded by the message that the Pill is essential to a woman’s health—that it is the only way to address her gynecological issues.  That’s simply not true.  I have lost track of the number of my patients that I have seen healed through NaProTechnology’s alternatives to the Pill.  Many of them are walking this campus—your fellow Notre Dame students, faculty and staff.

4)  Women deserve something more than a Band-Aid.

Hormonal contraception for medical purposes is little more than a Band-Aid.  It suppresses a woman’s fertility cycles and manipulates them to appear regular.  In doing so, however, it masks the real issues and fails to correct them.  When the “Band-Aid” is removed, the issues are still there, unhealed.  NaProTechnology on the other hand is a cooperative approach to women’s health.  It allows the woman and her physician to observe her cycles in their natural state, see where things are not working properly and then work to address and heal those specific areas—not mask the issues or suppress her entire fertility.

5) Now is the time to address your health concerns!

Don’t wait until you are ready to start a family to address your gynecologic health concerns.  I firmly believe that if my issues had been properly diagnosed and treated when they first appeared in my early 20’s, I would have been able to have biological children by now. Instead, because my conditions remained masked by the Pill, and I didn’t know about NaProTechnology, healing was delayed by 10 years.  Get help now.

6)  You’re not crazy!

Ladies, have you ever experienced any of the following symptoms before your period starts: irritability, depression, crying easily, breast tenderness, bloating, weight gain, carb craving, headaches, fatigue or insomnia?   Gentlemen, do you know a woman in your life that fits this description?  This is called premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and it is no joke.  It is a legitimate medical condition that can destroy a woman’s quality of life approximately one week per cycle.  That’s approximately 25 percent of her life!  She’s not crazy, she just needs help.  NaProTechnology is 95 percent successful in alleviating or completely eliminating PMS without the use of antidepressants.  In all seriousness, it has saved my life.

7) You can go green with your health

Organic and environmentally-sustainable living is a hot topic.  So as you carefully select your organic, non-hormonally altered foods, consider this: an 8-oz steak from a steer given a hormone implant contains 45 percent more estrogen (5.1ng) than a steak from a non-implanted animal (3.5ng).  By contrast, just one birth-control pill contains 35,000ng of estrogen!  So for a woman on the Pill, that’s the hormonal equivalent of eating 3,431 lbs of beef from a hormone-implanted animal, every single day!  Doesn’t that put it into perspective?  To go green with your health, consider natural family planning and Pill-alternatives for medical purposes.

8) Natural Family Planning is scientific and it actually works

When used to avoid pregnancy, the Creighton Model FertilityCare System is as or more effective than the Pill and more effective than any barrier method such as a condom— 99.5 percent (method effectiveness), 96.8 percent (use effectiveness).  When used to achieve pregnancy, 70 percent of couples of normal fertility are pregnant within in the first cycle and 98 percent by the sixth.  For those couples struggling with infertility, nearly 80 percent can become pregnant within the first year.  This is nearly three times more effective than in vitro fertilization and other artificial reproductive technologies.

9) Men need to know this!

The information provided by FertilityCare and NaProTechnology is absolutely pertinent to men. Not only can a man can better understand the conditions under which he could become a father, but also because knowledge of a woman’s health helps him understand, support and assist the women in his life be they wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, or friend.

10) Faith and Science, not Faith versus Science

FertilityCare and NaProTechnology stand on their scientific merits alone.  But I want to point out that faith and science are not in conflict here.  In this area of women’s gynecologic and reproductive health, faith and science agree.  One does not diminish or exclude the other.  This system allows one to be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church while having effective family planning options and access to excellent medical care.  It’s the best of both worlds.

The need and desire for this authentic view of women’s health and fertility are abundant.  Now it’s time to respond.  Count me in.

Suzy Younger is a FertilityCare™ Practitioner and Manager of Saint Joseph FertilityCare™ Center at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center.  She may be reached at or (574) 335-6472.