Cycle tracking. Fertility awareness. Cycle charting. Fertility Awareness Methods. Natural Family Planning. Fertility tracking.
All of these terms seem to get mixed and mingled in many conversations online and in-person, but do we really know what they mean? Furthermore, do we understand the power that exists within tracking our fertility and understanding the gift of our bodies as women?
The Catholic Church teaches Natural Family Planning (NFP) as the opportunity for married couples to live out the science of fertility awareness along with the integration of Theology of the Body. As single women, women more often hear this termed as Fertility Awareness (FA), but both definitions encompass what the Catholic Church embraces and proclaims: the goodness of women’s bodies and their fertility.
Contrary to popular belief, the Catholic Church does not value women merely because of their reproductive organs. But, can’t we all acknowledge just how amazing it is that women have the ability to create life and be co-authors of such a magnificent job?
The Church Celebrates the Feminine Genius
The Catholic Church embraces and celebrates the feminine genius, meaning that women are multi-faceted individuals who contribute to all aspects of life. The core of our motherhood—be it physical or spiritual—is what sets us a part to love and nurture those around us.
How does fertility awareness tie into this?The Catholic Church embraces and celebrates the feminine genius, meaning that women are multi-faceted individuals who contribute to all aspects of life. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
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The Heart of Who We Are
Fertility awareness is the practice of charting your cycle to learn the fluctuations of your hormones, identify the different phases within your cycle, and maximize workouts, work, mental, and emotional health through the knowledge of your cycle.
This practice, while deeply rooted in scientific methodology and effectiveness, is also spiritual because it gets to the heart of who we are as women and an aspect of ourselves we are so frequently told to cut-off from every other part of our lives.
Your body, your fertility, and your period are good and were made good by God. When we honor how our bodies work and learn how our bodies work—whether married or single—we honor our very own feminine genius.
The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. // Pope Saint John Paul II, TOB February 20th, 1980
We are not merely physical beings or only spiritual beings, but rather we live in the tension of this integrated reality as human beings. It is utterly beautiful and can sometimes be the source of some of our biggest crosses. But, in the process of learning and understanding our bodies, we come to lean into this integration more fully and recognize the unique genius God has endowed to women alone.
Your Unique Data
If you struggle with loving your body, have never thought about tracking your cycle, or wondering if painful periods will always be a part of your life, I encourage you to lean into the beautiful way you are created by using the tools available to learn you! The power of your body’s data tells a unique story that is specific to you and the care you receive should be tailored to who you are and how your body works.
This is the beauty of living an integrated life as Catholic women and honoring our bodies. We are able to lean into our uniqueness and more fully embrace our very own feminine genius that we are called to contribute to the world.
How has fertility awareness helped you understand your role and call as a woman?
Bridget Busacker is founder of Managing Your Fertility, an online, one-stop shop of fertility awareness resources for women and couples. She is on a mission to fuse the science of Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABMs) and Theology of the Body (TOB) into the everyday practice of NFP. Bridget is passionate about women’s health and sex education that promotes the dignity of the human person by integrating a holistic approach to self-knowledge of the body.
*Due to the conversation in the comments below, we would like to state plainly that Blessed is She fully submits to the teaching of the Catholic Church. To learn what the Church teaches on FAM and NFP, please read Humanae Vitae (especially paragraph 10), Catechism of the Catholic Church 2368, and this Q+A. In regards to expectations of NFP instructors and those who take on the responsibility of others’ health and wellbeing, the USCCB is clear that NFP instructors are bound to the same ethical treatment of clients as doctors are with their patients. As always, we are praying with you and for you.