Should teenagers chart their cycle?
Isn’t NFP just for engaged and married couples? It’s just for avoiding and achieving pregnancy, right? While the Creighton model can reliably be used to avoid and achieve pregnancy, those are not the only reasons why women begin charting. There are many benefits to charting as a single woman. But how can this method help teenage girls specifically? Teenage girls have just begun cycling. When I was younger, I learned about my period, including how to manage the bleeding and maintain good hygiene. However, I didn’t learn anything about the rest of the cycle. When I first saw normal discharge, I thought I had an infection. By learning to chart their cycles, teenage girls will be empowered with information about how their body works. They will learn that hormones are not the enemy that merely cause periods and acne, but rather an important part of the normal functioning of the female body. They will learn that the cycle is more than just the menses. When I ask my clients at their first follow up the range of their cycles from shortest to longest, most often they will respond with the length of their menses. It takes a bit of explaining for them to understand what I am asking. We’ve focused some much on the period when teaching young girls about their changing bodies, that we’ve neglected to explain what happens during the rest of the month. There is a beauty in the cyclical functioning of our bodies. My hope for all young girls is that they can appreciate their cycles and their bodies rather than just dread when their period will come each month. Charting with the Creighton Model can provide valuable education and can nurture fertility appreciation.
Charting can also allow teenage girls who have issues with their cycles to get the help and care that they need early on. What drew me to Creighton when I started charting was not family planning but rather tracking my cycle, discovering patterns in it, and being able to see a doctor who could help me. The unique thing about the Creighton Model is that all our clients can monitor their cycles with the help of their practitioner to identify any abnormal patterns. Our clients can then see specially trained NaPro medical consultants who will work diligently to get to the root of what is causing the issues with the cycle, whether it is premenstrual spotting, PMS, or painful cramps. Teenage girls can access these same benefits. Too often the birth control pill is prescribed to teenage girls for everything from painful cramps to acne. While on the birth control pill, the issues with their cycles may be masked, but it won’t cure them. It may even worsen them. The pill can also damage fertility and may cause even more issues when they stop taking the pill. When I was younger, I got very frustrated with doctors who didn’t have the tools and training to help me. I explained the issues with my cycle and tried to show them the tracking I was doing. All they could offer was the pill, admitting it wouldn’t do anything to solve the issues I was having, only mask them while I was taking the pill. They dismissed my concerns, telling me that I shouldn’t worry about them until I was ready to have children. I hope other young women can receive the care they deserve from medical providers who have the knowledge and tools to help them long term.
Charting can provide teenage girls with knowledge of how their bodies work, so they can appreciate their cycles, rather than resent them. It can also help those with issues with their cycle to receive medical attention early on. With this foundation, young women will already know there are healthy, natural, and life-giving alternatives to the birth control pill. So many women are not aware that there are other equally effective options. Hopefully, if they get married in the future, they will already be familiar with their bodies’ cycle and will easily transition to using the method for family planning.