The Author of Life
As a Creighton Practitioner, we are trained to help couples to both achieve AND avoid pregnancies. As a lot of people know, Creighton has a 96.8% effectiveness rate for avoiding a pregnancy. Creighton also has up to an 80% effectiveness rate for infertile couples to be able to achieve a pregnancy rate; both of which are very important.
In order to understand the importance of both of these, it’s important to remember how and why couples decide to chart and the process that goes with it. It is up to the couple, God, and possibly a priest or trusted spiritual director, to discern how they feel called to use the method. That being said, I think people tend to two different tendencies in regard to conceiving.
Within the context of marriage, it can be thought that using something like the Creighton Model, or other method, either to achieve or to avoid a pregnancy negates trust in God. The thought can occur that using something like Creighton contradicts total entrustment or total freeness in deciding to have kids or not. Couples sometimes think that using Creighton, or other methods, to avoid a pregnancy as a lack of trust in God’s providence and will for their lives. Now, discernment does need to be given in the couple’s intention of using any method, including Creighton. Circumstances like psychological conditions, physical conditions, financial reasons, or other reasons (see Humanae Vitae) can impact a couple’s decision, and must be taken into consideration. We also know that God has given us an intellect and a will, and we are able to reason and to trust God in our decision making.
We know from a woman’s cycle that there are natural periods of fertility and infertility, which extend beyond the application of a typical cycle where the woman has naturally fertile and infertile periods (sign up for a Creighton Model intro session to learn more). We know that women are infertile for a given amount of time after giving birth, breastfeeding tends to suppress ovulation (which would mean temporary infertility), and once women have reached menopause that they are not able to conceive. These natural phases of infertility are built into a woman’s cycle and are part of God’s good design. Again, the couple should discern and discuss their intentions in selecting days for intercourse (or abstinence), and in taking into account being responsible parents, while being open to life, does not negate trusting in God. You can use Creighton to track for achieving or avoiding pregnancy (or for health purposes) AND trust in God’s good design. Discussing intentionality in selecting days for intercourse and making decisions accordingly, is a good means of participating in the good and holy call to marriage.
The other standpoint that often goes unchallenged is a false notion that by understanding our fertility we control everything. We are not in fact the ones in control, and we do not have absolute control of our fertility. As Pope John XXII reminds us, “human life is sacred…from its inception it reveals the creating hand of God” (Humane Vitae, 13). We can participate, we can run lab work, select specific days and time of day for intercourse (contact a FertilityCare Practitioner for more information!), but we are not the ultimate creators. We are co-creators, meaning through natural acts and by participating in life with God, we participate in creation. That being said, we can discern what our intentions are for using a natural system and implement those decisions.
98% of couples with normal fertility are able to conceive by the sixth cycle of charting with Creighton, and up to 80% of couples who experience infertility are able to conceive with Creighton Model and NaproTechonology. This method works for its expressed purposes, and has scientific evidence to show for it. Creighton has a 96.8% use effectiveness (which means when real people use it, and factor life circumstances, etc) to avoid a pregnancy. Even still, God is still the Author of Life. There have been couples who I have known who tried to conceive, with normal fertility, who for a period of time were unable to conceive. No other circumstances seemed to indicate infertility. After circumstances changed, not a diagnosable medical issue, the couple was then able to conceive. This couple took the logical steps: they continued to select days of fertility for intercourse, they had doctors run lab work, and had different tests run. Still, God provided and in time the couple was able to conceive again at a time that was better timing than they were originally thinking. I’ve seen friends who have been diligent in charting and keeping track of their fertility who by accident didn’t count their 3 days after peak correctly, and resulted in a pregnancy (which they welcomed). And for those who have been given the extreme burden and suffering of being unable to conceive, it takes time, patience, and hope. God is the ultimate Creator of life. As Creighton Practitioners, we will walk alongside of you, and seek countless answers for you to use this method with your expressed intention, all the while trusting in God, the Author of Life, and respecting life that comes from conjugal love.