Another Reason Why NFP is the Safer Choice

25849838_sCommentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

There’s a reason why more and more women are opting for natural family planning methods, and one of those reasons was 27 year-old Sarah Cobb.


As the Daily Mail reports, Sarah’s story starts out like so many others. Young, in love, looking forward to her wedding which would have taken place three years ago this month. A teacher, she was looking forward to spending the rest of her life with Phil Kemp, also a teacher, whom she had met in college. Everything was ready for the July 18 nuptials – the venue, the dress, the honeymoon – the plans to travel a bit then settle down and raise a family.

And then one day she started to complain about a pain in her right leg.

“She’d been playing netball and had been out with friends and worn heels for several hours, so we put it down to muscle strain,” Kemp told the Mail.

When the pain persisted for three days, she went to the doctor who also believed it was muscle strain and gave her an over-the-counter pain reliever,

The pain only worsened.

“Sarah was wincing and having difficulty walking,” says Phil.

She went back to the doctor who once again diagnosed muscle pain and told her to use hot and cold compresses along with a pain reliever.

Soon after this appointment, they were supposed to go to see a band, but Sarah felt too ill to go. “She was hobbling and grimacing with the pain, so she insisted I go alone,” Kemp remembers.

birth control pillThe next morning, Sarah woke up struggling to breath. “It was so sudden. She was trying to get her breath. She looked panic-stricken and couldn’t say a word.”

Because she lived just a few doors away from her parents, she went there for help, then collapsed on the floor of their bedroom and began to have seizures.

Kemp remembers calling for paramedics who arrived swiftly but couldn’t determine where the pain was because Sarah was pointing to both her stomach and her chest.

“And then she stopped breathing,” he said.

Kemp administered chest compressions while paramedics gave her blood-thinning drugs. She was transported to the hospital where Kemp and Sarah’s family anxiously awaited word about her condition.

“After what seemed an age, a doctor came out and I instantly knew,” Kemp said.

Sarah was dead.

“At first, I felt complete disbelief, then numbness and an inability to accept it. We were eight months away from our dream wedding day. It seemed like a cruel, cruel joke.”

A post-mortem examination determined that Sarah had died of a pulmonary embolism — a blood clot that had formed on her lung, possibly as a result of taking the contraceptive Pill, which she had been using for ten years.

She started taking the Pill when she was 16 to help improve her skin and then remained on it for contraceptive use until the day she died.

The pill she was taking was known as a “third generation” pill which was developed to eliminate side-effects such as weight gain and headaches.

What Sarah may not have known is that any Pill that contains estrogen has a high risk factor, particularly if a woman is overweight, experiences some kind of trauma, is on prolonged bed rest or has a family history of clots. However, third-generation pills come with an even higher risk because they contain a new type of synthetic progesterone which is designed to thicken the mucus in the neck of the uterus to prevent penetration by sperm.

“Research from the University of Nottingham published in 2015 found taking a third-generation Pill such as Yasmin, Marvelon and Femodene — three of the most commonly prescribed — raises the risk of a blood clot four-fold compared to women not taking the Pill,” the Mail reports.

12045751 - clinical thermometer located on fertility chartEven though Sarah had clear signs that something was wrong, some women never know they have one of these clots in their body until it’s too late. Nor do they need to fall into a high risk category. In Sarah’s case, she had no risk factors, had normal blood pressure, and was not overweight.

Sadly, Sarah’s story is not an aberration.

Thirty years ago, I was experiencing difficulty breathing and had sharp pains all around my rib cage. I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when the doctor asked if I was on the Pill. He was clearly stunned that this question would even be asked. When I said yes, I was immediately sent for a CT scan. My husband was so upset at just the thought that the pill could cause something like this that, even though I was ultimately diagnosed with pleurisy, he went home and flushed the pills down the toilet. They were no longer worth the risk, he said.

His fears were confirmed just a few months later when the wife of a dear friend of ours was diagnosed with a minor stroke caused by a blood clot that doctors believe was caused by birth control pills. Thankfully, she fully recovered, but too many others don’t get a second chance.  

Instead, we’re told that only a small percentage of women experience adverse effects from these drugs; however, if just five percent of the 37 million American women who are taking the pill experience a problem, that’s more than one million women!

Which is why it should come as no surprise that there are more than 12,000 lawsuits for personal injury and death currently pending against Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and their popular Yaz and Yasmin pills. These injury claims range from blood clots, gall bladder disease, stroke, heart attack and death. And this is just one type of Pill currently on the market today!

Is it any wonder that women are opting for more natural methods to regulate births?

These methods include the Billings Ovulation Method; Fertility Care Creighton Model; the Sympto-Thermal/Couple to Couple (CCL); and the Marquette Model (MM).

All of these methods require nothing more than monitoring of natural bodily symptoms and have the same effective rates as hormonal contraception.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has set aside this week for raising awareness of these natural methods. It’s the perfect time to spread the word to the women in your family and community. Let them know they have choices and don’t have to settle for ingesting these dangerous drugs.

You never know whose life you could be saving.

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