NFP Testimonies: Lydia
LYDIA’S STORY: WHY TEENS NEED NFP, TOO
“Women have a right to know how their bodies work, so that they can monitor and manage their health, and ensure that they are just as healthy as men. In doing so, women also have the capacity to manage their fertility, which is a sign of health. This information is their birthright.”
When I first heard this quote, it stopped me in my tracks.
I’d been in the NFP world for years, first using it for my own health in college, and then practicing the sympto-hormonal method within my marriage to plan my family for a decade. But, I’d never before considered knowledge of my cycles and reproductive system (aka fertility awareness) as a right.
I had always thought of it as amazing information that more people should probably hear about. But something shifted when I began to see fertility awareness as information that women not only can know, but must know. This conviction lit a fire in me.
Body knowledge is empowering, and it’s there for the taking. Women are totally capable of knowing their bodies intimately, and learning how to interpret their signs of fertility — not just for making babies, but also for maintaining and improving our health.
And this is absolutely true for teens, too. One of my joys in life is teaching young ladies about their reproductive system and how to chart their cycles! But do girls really need to know so much about their bodies and cycles?
The story of my own puberty can answer this question — and it’s also the reason for my passion for sharing fertility awareness with teens. I started my period when I was 11. I remember being devastated – it’s messy, painful, and embarrassing. I hated it.
My cycles were unpredictable and my emotions were a roller coaster that I could barely survive. And then in my teens, I began to have terrible acne and feel depressed. My parents took me to several doctors, none of whom ever thought to look for the root cause of my issues, such as hormones imbalances. They all just shrugged their shoulders — there was always the Pill I could try if I got desperate enough.
By the time I was a college freshman, I was bleeding every 10 days, for at least a week at a time, and was experiencing many other painful symptoms. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what to do about it.
You see, I had never really learned about my fertility. I knew that my cycle was “supposed” to be about a month long, and that I should probably not be bleeding so much… but what should a normal period look like? And ovulation? Why did that matter if I wasn’t planning on having kids until much later? I couldn’t tell you one thing about my reproductive hormones, other than blaming them for my bad mood swings.
No one had ever taught me the signs of a healthy cycle, and I had no idea how far away from that my body really was. As the stress of finals weighed on me at the end of my first semester, my health sharply declined and I was completely miserable.
On Christmas break, I went to my gynecologist, who diagnosed me with PCOS and handed me a prescription for the Pill. He also very nonchalantly told me that I’d need to use IVF if I ever wanted to conceive.
There was no mention of hormones. No explanation of periods or cycles. No reference point for what I should be experiencing each month versus what my reality was. And no warning of the vast array of side effects that using hormonal contraception could bring me. I left his office in tears, feeling broken and hopeless.
But I didn’t stay that way long. I quickly became dissatisfied with the way the Pill made me feel – and my mom had done her research and knew that hormonal contraceptives carried a lot of risk. So, with her help, I decided to look for an alternative. And I found an OB/Gyn who introduced me to the gold mine of fertility awareness.
I ditched the Pill and began to work towards a better understanding of my body, as I addressed the root cause of my PCOS, rather than fixing it with a bandaid approach. And eventually, this brought me to where I am today – mom to 5 children (conceived without IVF!), PCOS reversed, and solid cycle knowledge that allows me to see when my health is off balance.
This is a happy ending to my sad story, but you can imagine how often I think “if I had only known.” Fertility awareness would have spared me so much pain and distress, and would have alerted me to what was really going on in my body. It also could have helped me collaborate with my doctors, instead of feeling helpless and hopeless.
So now I’m on a mission to bring girls the knowledge that I never had — the knowledge that will equip them to monitor and manage their health. I passionately believe that teens have a right to know.
Young women who know fertility awareness are empowered to break the taboo. They know that periods, cycles, and fertility are nothing to be ashamed of — they’re the good and natural functions of the female body. And they’re part of the beautiful way God designed us.
Young women who know fertility awareness are empowered to be intimate with their own bodies. They develop a deep understanding of their cycle and hormonal health; they learn to read their bodies’ unique signs; and they have the amazing ability to interpret what their bodies are communicating.
Young women who know fertility awareness are empowered to make informed choices. They’re convicted of their right to know the science of their bodies, and to use that knowledge to participate and self-advocate when making decisions about their own health.
I teach teens that healthy self-love begins with an understanding of our bodies and the conviction that we were designed with beauty and purpose. Cycle knowledge plus body literacy equals less fear and more self-confidence.
I have three daughters, and although they’re still very young, I can’t wait to be the one to show them how wonderfully made they are – their biology, anatomy, fertility, mind, and emotions are not to be feared, but to be understood and embraced! I want my girls to grow up with a deep appreciation of the beauty of their femininity and a love for their bodies as God made them. I want to teach them from an early age that they are to be cherished and valued as whole persons, and that being female is not an accident or an afterthought, but a purposeful gift from our Creator.
Girls who are formed in this Truth grow up to be confident, empowered, whole, and holy women. And they will change the world!