Sunday, March 2, 2014

Creighton Model Training AND Giveaway!

This was already posted on our new site, but I know many readers still return to this one. I wanted to include my giveaway to all our loyal readers. Simcha recently wrote about my fundraiser too!

As many of you know, I am hoping to become a Fertility Care Practitioner through the Creighton Model! I have started a fundraiser for myself to earn money for tuition and travel expenses. In honor of this adventure (and this blog), I am including a very special giveaway to any readers that are willing to help me accomplish my goal of $4000! I will send the winner a beautiful Love & Faith Locket by Origami Owl Custom Jewelry, valued at $60.

Winner will receive a similar Locket with Love & Faith Charms by Origami Owl
 
There are 5 ways to enter! By donating ANY amount to my fund (include your  name),  OR Post on your own blog about the giveaway (Link to your post below), OR comment below, OR Tweet about the giveaway (include @RealCathLove), OR even just say a prayer for me. 
 
Please click to DONATE and enter the CONTEST !!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

We're Moving!

We are MOVING to a new site!

Because Blogger has become a near occasion for sin (it frequently makes me want to take the Lord's in vain and think malicious thoughts about those who designed it) this site is being moved to a Wordpress site.

One of the nice things about the move is that we have our own domain.

http://www.realcatholicloveandsex.com

The posts and comments have been moved, but it's still very much "default Wordpress". Hopefully, we should have a new look soon.

-  James

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wild Wednesday: Incorporating Play into Your Relationship

Wild Wednesday posts are totally non-theological posts that are designed to help your love life and your marriage. Enjoy.  - James

Last week's Wild Wednesday column was about the importance of play in a relationship. If you're single, play can help you develop the solid intimate friendships that can lead to a relationship. If you're in a relationship or are currently married, play can deepen the bond between you.

This week's post is about how to incorporate "play" into a relationship.

Kinds of Play

The National Institute for Play describes seven different types of play:

  1. Attunement — Play that establishes connection with another person.
  2. Body — Physical play.
  3. Object — Playing with toys or other objects.
  4. Social — Playing with groups of people or teams.
  5. Imaginative — Role playing, pretend, fantasy.
  6. Narrative — Storytelling.
  7. Transformative— Playing to learn or discover new knowledge. Explorative play.
An activity might involve several types of play.



Dancing may involve attunement play and body play.



Playing a team sport may involve body, object, and social play—perhaps even a bit of transformative play, if the game involves finding creative ways to win or score points.

Ideas for Play

The previous column suggested that couples schedule "play time". But what should you do? Sometimes as adults, we forget how to play.

Don't think that "play" has to be limited to just the two of you to build a relationship. Any kind of playing that you do together is going to bring a relaxed sense of fun into your relationship that will bring you closer together.


Take up a hobby or activity that you both enjoy. Not only can this introduce you to fun experiences, but it can also introduce you to fun people who enjoy the same things you do. After all, you're all in the activity to have fun.

If you have children, your kids are experts at play.  Playing with kids helps us experience the magic of play through their perspective. Let yourself be a kid again and join in the fun. (Just don't join in so much that your kids don't have time to play as kids. They need that.)

Schedule game night. Game night can be a great way to have fun with friends. It can be a great way to connect with the kids. Or it can be something fun for just the two of you to do together.


Overcoming Barriers to Play

Many adults find that they have forgotten how to play. Naomi Brower of Utah State University writes about how to overcome common barriers to play:

So how do we add more play into our relationships? Consider some of the following suggestions on how to overcome common barriers to play:

1. Schedule some fun. Many couples intend to play but never actually make it happen (Parrott & Parrott, 2006). Agree on a date and time and put it on the calendar (Markman, et al., 2004). When we schedule time for fun, we are more likely to make it happen.

2. Get active. Lack of energy and unhealthy living habits can often leave us feeling drained even when we find time in our busy schedules for fun (Braff & Schwarz, 2004). Make a plan to help each other eat right and participate in physical activities. You can make physical activity fun!

3. Give yourself permission to be a kid again.
Because we spend so much time acting like adults, we may feel it is childish to play and instead want to act serious to maintain our dignity (Markman, et al., 2004). Let your partner know your fears and trust him or her to help you overcome them. Do fun things that you feel comfortable with (Braff & Schwarz, 2004).

4. Be open to trying new things. Sometimes our idea of fun is different than our partner’s idea of fun. Find out why your partner enjoys what they do by asking questions and trying it yourself. Be open minded and willing to compromise. You might like it much more than you thought you would!

5. Protect fun from conflict and resentment. Sometimes negative feelings for our partner or conflicts may threaten to ruin a fun activity. Agree ahead of time to focus on having fun during the activity and to discuss important issues and conflicts at another time (Markman, et al., 2004). It may be hard to do this at first, but spending this important time together will strengthen your relationship and your ability to resolve conflicts in the long run.

6. Focus on teamwork. Some people are very competitive and may avoid playing games because they know they will become too competitive and want to win, even at his or her partner’s expense. In this case, learn a new game together, or find an activity where you can play or work as a team (Braff & Schwarz, 2004).

7. Budget for some fun. For many, money is tight, but there are often ways to find a small amount of money in a budget for some fun activities or for a special occasion. Just remember, having fun does not require a lot of money, and there are lots of fun activities that are free!

8. Make having fun more of a priority. Some people feel they are too busy to have fun or that it’s unproductive and unnecessary (Braff & Schwarz, 2004). Play really can help us to strengthen our relationships with others; just try it and see just how much more enjoyable your relationship can be! Take advantage of the simple and seemingly mundane moments you have every day to add a little fun. Try a silly twist to saying hello or goodbye, add something fun to meal time or take time to just stop and watch the sunset on the way back from running errands. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time to add a little fun into your routine, and it can create many lasting memories


There are even "Play Workshops" to help grown-ups remember how to play.


Play: Not Just Fun, It's Vital!

A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun.


Any time you think play is a waste, remember that it offers some serious benefits for both you and others. As Brown says in his book, “Play is the purest expression of love.”

Readers: Any other ideas for incorporating play into your relationship?

Next week's column will be about ways that married couples can incorporate play into their intimate relationship. No reason why play has to stop at the bedroom door. ;-)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

NFP: How Much Abstinence?

A reader asks the following about Natural Family Planning:

I have heard the average of Phase II being 12 to 14 (at least, on the NFP forums I am involved in).

I think 10 days is quite unusual, and quite "lucky" in the NFP world. Or, you are just more "open" to children than others. :)

When I read West or Popcak say "7 to 10", I just shake my head.

How much abstinence?

A common question about Natural Family Planning is how much abstinence should couples expect. Some couples ask "What's so hard about a week off?", while others reply "A week? Try two or more!"

It is also a question that few NFP advocates address. 

Disclaimer

This post deals with Phase II abstinence only. Some couples may abstain more during Phase I, but such abstinence is too variable and personal to address in a post. Some couples may be comfortable with sex during menstruation, others may not be. The decision to abstain during menstruation is a personal choice, not one required to avoid pregnancy or follow Church teaching. (Yes, I know the Billings/Creighton rule, but it remains low risk.) Some couples may be strict about the "every other day" rule, while others may feel confident enough about their observations to use every day.

This post only deals with non-postpartum cycles in a healthy, cycling woman. Some cycle disorders, such as PCOS, can cause the fertile period to seem unusually long. In reality, a woman with PCOS is subfertile and these days are simply false-positives. Also, cycles may be unusual postpartum. Extended abstinence is not uncommon in these situations.

Finally, every woman is different and every cycle is different. "Normal" for one woman may not be "normal" for another. Even if a woman usually has "normal" cycles, this is no guarantee that every cycle will be "normal"

The Fertile Window

The actual "fertile window" where sex can lead to conception is only a maximum of 6 days.


Among healthy women trying to conceive, nearly all pregnancies can be attributed to intercourse during a six-day period ending on the day of ovulation.
Ovulation = Day 0


 
 http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199512073332301

Sperm live for a maximum of five days (in good cervical fluid) and the egg lives for no more than one day. 5 + 1 = 6 days of fertility. Conception is most likely on the day of ovulation and the two days before.


Method Days of Possible Fertility

Every method adds in some "margin of error" to make sure couples trying to avoid don't get pregnant. Additionally, methods must be able to predict ovulation from five days out and sometimes fertile symptoms last for longer than five days.


How many days do each NFP method mark as fertile, on average?

Symptothermal Method
 
According to one study of the Symptothermal Method, it's 13 days, less when you get more experience.
However, one has to realize that the median fertile time determined by the STM is 13 days a cycle (less days after the first year). The potential fertile time is in fact longer than the actual physiological fertile time.
This particular Symptothermal Method did not have a basic infertile pattern (Yellow Stamp) instruction, instead, it considered the "Last Dry Day" to be the end of Phase I. Common sense says that it may take more time for two fertility signs to coincide than only one. (Our own experience is that the temp shift tends to be later than the mucus dry-up.)


Many couples were aware that the method was conservative and used days of possible fertility at the beginning and end of Phase II without getting pregnant.


Billings Ovulation Method


Another study found an average of 10 days of possible fertility with the Billings Method.

Billings has generally has a higher overall pregnancy rate than STM, which makes sense. (Less abstinence=less margin of error.)

Billings instructor Kristin Putnam claims 6-8 days of possible fertility is normal and anything MORE than this is a sign something may be wrong, such as a hormonal or nutritional issue.

We ended up taking classes from her and were able to reduce our abstinence as a result. We were very pleased with this, but, as always, YMMV.


Rae of No Wealth But Life/Vita Catholic claims a minimum of 9 days of abstinence for women of normal fertility and anything LESS than this is a sign of possible sub-fertility. Many of the commentators had similar experiences.

Rae also notes that fertility declines with age. While it may seem like abstinence lasts forever and an amorous look during Phase II can get you pregnant when you are in your mid 20s, when you are in your 30s, the observed fertile period may be shorter and the likelihood of pregnancy may be reduced.


Creighton Model Fertility Care

I have not been able to find any studies of Creighton Model (please provide studies in the comments if you have them), but because Creighton is a derivative of Billings (the rules are similar, but the observation techniques are different) then they should have about the same amount of abstinence. Anecdotally, this seems to be the case for most women.

A small number of women can use Billings, but not Creighton and a small number can use Creighton, but not Billings. Obviously, for these women, the methods will provide very different results.

Marquette Method

I am not aware of any studies on the length of the fertile window under the Marquette Method. (Please provide studies in the comments if you have them.)

The materials provided on Marquette's website note that the actual fertile window is 6 days.

In the charts provided in the user manual, however, the fertile window appears to be closer to 13 days. This is unsurprising because the official rules of the Marquette Method are very similar to the rules of Symptothermal in the Frank-Herrmann study cited above.

That being said, the fertility monitor gives many couples the confidence to days marked as fertile by the method, but not by the monitor, although this does increase the risk of pregnancy.

Comparison

A recent study from Poland compared the Billings Method, Creighton Model, the Two-Day Method, various Symptothermal Methods, Rhythm, and Phase III BBT only. (Marquette Method was not included.) They also proposed a new symptothermal method (DBN) with the beginning of Phase II calculated by a computer algorithm.

They looked for the number of days available in a cycle and the number of "false negatives", that is, days in the 6-day fertile window that were marked as infertile. The results were as follows:

Not surprisingly, Billings (BO) and Creighton (CM) had the most available days and the highest percentage of false negatives (highest risk). Billings and Creighton supporters would counter that pregnancies resulting from intercourse on a day marked infertile within 6 days of ovulation are rare due to poor quality cervical fluid or poor follicular development, although they are certainly possible.

The various Symptothermal methods all had fewer false negatives, but fewer available days (more false positives).

To demonstrate the differences between methods, the following charts are for the same woman on the same cycle. (Intercourse markings have been removed):

Billings Ovulation Method = 8 days (CD 8-15)



Symptothermal Method (Fertility Awareness Method) = 13 days (CD 5-17)


Conclusion

Multiple studies have shown that the "fertile window" during which intercourse may lead to pregnancy is no more than six days long. Due to the difficulty in predicting and detecting ovulation,  methods of Natural Family Planning often consider days beyond those in the fertile window to be potentially fertile. Different methods take different approaches to calculating the potentially fertile window. Generally, methods that mark the least number of days as potentially fertile expose couples to the greatest amount of risk of possible pregnancy. Although all methods claim a low perfect-use failure rate when used to avoid pregnancy, the "actual use" pregnancy rate can vary widely. Methods with a shorter average abstinence period leave couples who want to avoid pregnancy with less of a margin of error.

In choosing a method of Natural Family Planning, couples should weigh their need to avoid pregnancy against the strain that extended abstinence will put on their marriage. A couple who does not have a very serious reasons to avoid pregnancy would be well-served by choosing a method with less abstinence or by using a more conservative method, like Marquette, less strictly. A couple who has a very serious need to avoid pregnancy can gain peace of mind by choosing a method designed for maximum security.