Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Pill: Masking vs. Healing

On the night of my last full day on Facebook (yep, I quit it!), I jumped into (and immediately out of) a contentious debate on Abby Johnson's page. I only left one comment and then scurried away forever, but I had to get in that word.

Abby, former Planned Parenthood director and author of Unplanned, had reminded her (mostly pro-life) readers that not only can the Pill act as an abortifacient, but its routine use for treating menstrual disorders and other pathologies is ill-advised and even dangerous to a woman's health (the Pill can cause life-threatening conditions and is a Group 1 carcinogen according to the World Health Organization). Abby went on to say that there are always better means of addressing women's health issues, including treatments offered through NaPro Technology*.

Several commenters went into attack mode then, defending the use of the Pill for treating all kinds of female problems. They simply could not live without the Pill, they said, to get relief from their endometriosis, menstrual dysfunction, debilitating pain from ovarian cysts, etc. These pro-life women were angry, and they were standing by their Pill.

The quick comment I added to the thread simply reiterated Abby's point. The Pill only masks symptoms, it doesn't address or cure the underlying pathology. It doesn't restore a woman's health. Women who have disorders of the reproductive organs and cycle, I wrote, should look to NaPro or other medical interventions to identify and actually fix their disorders.

I want to be clear: There is nothing inherently immoral about taking the Pill to ease the symptoms of a disorder. But while swallowing a pill to cover up symptoms is easy, women are left living with the same pathology in the end. By contrast, curing the disease or addressing the disorder at its root is much more difficult: It requires more personal care, more thought, more individual strategy, and often tedious, time-consuming work -- lab work, months of hormone panels, even surgery. But the end result is restored health and wholeness.

The choice seems obvious, but sadly most women don't get this choice, as these days the Pill seems to be the only tool in most doctors' toolboxes.

I used to talk a lot about this sort of thing when my audience and interest was largely the Catholic infertility bloggers (man, do they know a lot about true reproductive health, women's issues, fertility, and NaPro!), but up until now I never thought about how this concept of masking vs. healing the disorders of the body applies to how the Church deals with the whole human person, body and soul.

We've talked about the physical, but it's true of the emotional and spiritual planes, too, isn't it? We love the quick fix to mask our existential pain, pleasure-seeking to make us forget our despair and loneliness, the avoidance of suffering at all costs. Masking the pain seems so much easier than working to fix the underlying problems in our fallen, sinful selves, and for a while it is easier. But as with the Pill, we are ultimately left with the same pathology in the end, only this time it's our soul that remains sick.

The Church's approach is so different from the world's! The Church wants to heal, not mask, and to restore integrity of body and soul. To walk the way of Christ is to take the long view and the narrow road (with a cross on one's back). It's tedious to set things right, it's laborious to make things work according to their nature, and it's painful to bring order out of disorder. It takes heroic virtue and sacrificial love fueled by the grace of the Sacraments, and it is the work of a lifetime.

Christ, the Divine Physician, warns that the process will hurt, but that in the end, we will be completely healed, whole and holy.

Body and soul, I'll take the real cure over a mask any day.

Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician


*Aesthetically speaking, NaPro has the worst website, painful to the eyes, and I keep praying that someone will make it attractive and appealing. Even the best product or service in the world needs to be presented beautifully in order to be well-received! Sigh. That said, please don't let the schlockiness of the website fool or deter you. NaPro is legitimate and effective modern medicine. 


  1. I always wince when I see people touting the pill as the cure for all ills, which some honestly seem to believe couldn't be "cured" without it. After I had my miscarriage I had a doctor that seemed to believe that. He kept pushing the pill and making fun of my faith and the fact that he knew I didn't want to be on it. I'd been bleeding for three months and he said it was my only option, but that if I bled for another three months he would see me again to talk about other possibilities. He also suggested that any pain I was feeling was purely psychological, despite the fact that I had been incredibly ill for months.

    I found a NaPro doctor in the area and got in to see her and found out that I'd been retaining placenta for three months. In his hurry to prescribe the pill and send me on my way he'd missed it (I was still having positive pregnancy tests, so it was pretty obvious). But to him the pill seemed to be the cure all and he was determined to make sure I left the office with a prescription.

    I am so, so grateful for that NaPro doctor who took ten minutes to discover why I was so sick. And I wonder how often doctor's who push the pill as a cure all miss the obvious in their attempt to sell the pill as the answer to every problem women face.

  2. Thanks for this article, Leila. I hope it encourages women to seek true healing instead of accepting the "easy fix" (which doesn't fix anything) from doctors who should know better. I am grateful for the doctors who are NFP-only and who take the effort to learn about NaPro Technology. They are swimming against a strong, dangerous tide but those doctors are truly helping to heal women. Cam, your story is scary! So glad you found a doctor who really took care of you!

  3. ^Chasing (I'm not sure why I am coming up as unknown)

  4. I don't know how many recovering addicts read your blog, Leila, but I'm one and I'll tell you that this is a really uplifting read. For the addict, the abused substance/behavior is the mask, and over time it will completely suffocate us. We have to learn to take it off, and of course, as any 12-step program will tell you, we need God to help us do it!

  5. Cam, I wish your terrible story were uncommon!!

    And mcbabyadventures, thank you! I shudder to think of the day that the 12-step programs go all PC/atheist on us and drop the "higher power" part! I pray that never happens!

  6. Amen! My husband and I were asked to be an NFP witness couple due to our cross of infertility, yet when we speak we focus on Women's Health and Pro-Life. NFP is much more than achieving or avoiding pregnancy, just like being Pro-Life is much more than being anti-abortion. We only get 10 minutes, but that time is full of the truth: the pill is an abortifacient, and I used it for years but once I understood how it works and realized how it helped my endometriosis to grow in addition to covering up my PCOD for years, and I read more about church teaching on why we are against it, we realized how right the church is. Once you know better, you can do better, but you have to seek it. If I did not learn about our faith more, if I didn't seek out NaPro, not only would I not have my babies, but I also wouldn't have my uterus per Dr. H, whom insisted that eventually I would have been in such severe pain that a trip to the emergency room would have lead to a doctor to remove my uterus. And since we make the mistake of thinking our doctors know what they are doing, we might have agreed. What I've learned more than anything these past years is that doctors really don't know what they are doing when it comes to reproductive health, made evident by the millions of prescriptions for the pill for everything from endo to acne and which cures nothing. Nothing. When it comes to Women's Health, they are just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. But NaPro...Thank God for doctors that saw the truth of NaPro Technology!

  7. Christ gradually and progressively heals our concupiscence (sin natures) and our spiritual infirmities, and transforms us into righteous children of God by His sanctifying graces. Through the refining fire, the Divine Silversmith burns away our impurities until we are whole and strong again, able finally to withstand the overwhelming Beatific Vision of God. Unfortunately, Protestantism, by its doctrine of imputed righteousness (instead of infused graced) has totally discarded this truth, this mighty and continuing work of our Savior. Seems to me Protestants view being "covered by the blood of Jesus" as a mask, or some sort of holy disguise, which somehow (I'm not sure how) fools the Father into thinking we are blameless before Him, regardless of our sins and transgressions. Whereas we Catholics view the blood of Jesus as a salve that heals our souls and actually makes us spotless and perfect before Holy God - Who demands precisely perfection of us. Where would we be without the Church ministering the Body and Blood of Christ to us, so that we might have life in us and spiritual health? As St Paul says, without discerning the Body (and Blood) of Christ, "... many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep" (1 Cor 11:30).

  8. Francis, you nailed it about Protestantism. That philosophy ("imputed" righteousness instead of a true cleansing) makes God a liar, i.e., He declares that a person is righteous when in reality the person remains (in Luther's estimation) a "snow-covered dung hill". It is nonsensical, and as it does set up God as a liar, it is a gravely sinful proposition.

    My Heart Exults, praise God and thank you for your witness!

  9. Love this, as I'm sure you knew I would! haha.

    Thanks for the shout-out for NaPro! (although I agree the website needs some MAJOR improvements).

  10. This is so timely, Leila! I will have to bookmark this and use it as a reference!

    I got into an argument about the pill (and birth control in general) a few months back on Twitter with a couple of women who thought the pill was the best thing ever: If it weren't, why would doctors prescribe it, and so often, they reasoned? At face value, their reasoning makes sense. They trust their doctors. When I brought up examples? My examples were just "anecdotes" that they laughed off, because Enjoy the Kool-Aid, ladies! The reproductive industry, which treats women as profit mules, will be there ready and waiting when you've contracepted yourself out of fertility and will make money off your infertility pain and desire for a baby.

    The problem is, people don't think things through. They go for the easiest, obvious, (and often most culturally accepted choice) in most matters. From personal experience, I say: Do not trust your doctor so easily. It's YOUR health. YOU are the only person who's going to care the most about it. YOU (as I have learned on my own) have to do your due diligence with regards to all of your healthcare decisions. Your doctor has other patients to see, insurance companies to argue with and so on. Your health is up to you. The Pill is an easy "fix" to everything to most doctors who don't have the time to spend with you or want to spend time with you. I am guessing it's covered by every prescription drug plan out there (or will be under Obamacare), so no problems with prescriptions being denied.

    I had a Twitter convo about it a few days ago with a woman who suffered from blood clots after being on a patch equivalent of the pill after only TWO weeks. This woman's now at risk the rest of her life for blot clots, so she's been afraid to get pregnant. All of the physicians she's seen have warned her about the potential dangers of her becoming pregnant, which Jen Fulwiler's blogged about profusely during her most recent pregnancy when blood clots became life-threatening. I referred her to NaProTechnolgy. I told her I wasn't sure if the doctors who practice NaPro specialize in blood clotting disorders during pregnancy, but that she should do her due diligence and investigate them for that purpose. (In that same conversation, I told her, thanks to one of the previous posts here, that the pill stops your body from a normal, healthy function. How could there NOT be danger or side effects from that? But people don't think of that (neither had I), even though it's logical. You have no idea how much I have learned from you, Leila.)

    S., an acquaintance of mine told a group of our friends a while back how her young (30s) sister had breast cancer and was going to have a mastectomy. Doctors believed the pill caused her cancer. Since she could no longer use the pill, she had to have a hysterectomy for birth control. Then one of our other friends piped up and said that she, too, had been on the pill for her endometriosis, which got so bad, she became infertile and evenually had a hysterectomy. Some cure, that pill.

    There are things about which we can argue on a strictly secular level, and the pill, and similar birth control methods, is one of them.

  11. Leila thank you so much for this post! I was one of those whom all the Drs. wanted to do was give me the pill for my horrific pain I had every month and they scoffed at my inability to conceive. I would describe the pain to them to be like someone stabbing me and twisting the knife, I would be crying on the bathroom floor every month unable to keep food down the first day of my period sometimes two. My poor hubby was at a loss of what to do. They said it was all normal and I am young and blah blah blah. It was such a difficult time for me and my husband to have no medical help to turn to. Thinking back on it I know it was the grace of the sacrament that kept us going and seeking answers. Until we found NaPro Dr. we had no known diagnosis, now working with a NaPro Dr. I have been diagnosed with PCOS and am having it treated I also had a lot of adhesions that was putting my intestines, left ovary and tube in distress and I had blocked tubes. So to those Drs. who wanted to give me the pill to mask this I pray they get educated. The pill was NOT the answer for me! Have we been able to carry a full term pregnancy yet, no but I am glad we found NaPro for restoring my health. I wish my story was not the norm but as a Creighton practitioner I see this story in a lot of my clients. Thanks you Leila for soldiering on and speaking the truth!

  12. Leila, I don't think the "higher power" talk will leave 12 step, because ultimately that's what they are. There is no program without God. There are other programs emerging now that (at least in the materials I've seen for them) are explicitly focused on "reason" and "empowering yourself" rather than "inventing a deity to fix your problem." Which is too bad, IMO, because it feeds into the delusions addicts have about themselves: that we are in control over our addictions or can be very easily, as soon as we choose to. No we can't, because most of us wanted to quit very shortly after starting, have continued to use for years, and only accepted help just before or shortly after our lives were in complete ruin thanks to our illusion of control. The other draw for these "alternative to 12 step" programs is that many of them promise that an addict will be able to use the substance "normally" after completing the program. That will appeal to the addict...who will then dream about using again as soon as the program is over. Great prep for a relapse, if you ask me.

    I'm not opposed to research into how addictions work or how they could be treated or cured, but these alternatives seem mostly to exist to make somebody rich ("retreats" and the like) or spit in the face of the idea that anybody could need someone besides themselves. And we wonder why so many people end up addicted...

  13. Leila, quitting facebook will most likely lower your blood pressure and stress levels! It did mine, and when I want to get angry and focus on things I have no control over, I can always log onto my husband's account and read about the articles on corruption in the White House/congress, or how angry people are over a whale washing ashore from eating plastic (while these same people ignore all the babies being killed every day by their own mothers). Facebook is good in theory and we all want to stay connected to friends and family, but in the end I needed to get off of it and focus on what God has right in front of me.

    What you said about masking symptoms vs. healing reminded me of when I was having kidney issues during my conversion process. After 2 long years of misdiagnoses and pain, a urologist finally realized that my ureter was being kinked shut by a vein and an artery criss-crossing and closing it. He said I could have a major surgery in which my ureter would be moved lower on my kidney so that I could live a normal life and be healthy and happy again, but what he actually recommended I do was stay on a low dose of antibiotics (for the rest of my life!) to keep the recurring kidney infections from flaring up! Needless to say, I went with the reconstructive surgery, and I'm SOOOO glad I did!

    Great post as always!

  14. I am not a huge fan of the pill by any means, but there are many many many diseases which have no cure, and symptom management is the ONLY treatment. You said there is no inherent immorality in taking HBC for treatment of a symptom, and for me the argument stops there then. Like I said, people never get healed from many of their diseases but takes meds every day to manage they symptoms.

  15. "how angry people are over a whale washing ashore from eating plastic (while these same people ignore all the babies being killed every day by their own mothers)."

    I hate generalizations like the one above. I like whales, I like it when babies are cared by their mothers, fathers, etc, , and I like planet Earth.

    As my dad says, 'There is a reason they call it practicing medicine."

    1. "I like whales, I like it when babies are cared for by their mothers, fathers, etc, and I like planet Earth."
      Aren't we forgetting something here? The fact that each baby has an eternal soul and is made in the image and likeness of God our Creator? I like whales, but each individual immortal soul is worth more than all the material world has to offer. Although I agree that we should care for mother nature and all God's creatures, we are first and foremost called to love and care for each individual soul. If we cannot love our own, how can we go out and care for these other creatures, anyway? When I constantly receive causes to save the dogs or the whales from people who ignore the issue of abortion I can't help but wince. I love that those people feel compassion for living things but our priorities are all out of whack if more people are horrified over a dead whale than the holocaust taking place in our midst each day in abortion clinics.

    2. The point is that a person can be pro-life and pro-whale. How do you know that pro-pet people or pro-fuzzy animal or pro-fish people are ignoring the issue of abortion?? You don't know that. There are a lot of things to take care of and worry about here: babies, fish, puppies, elephants, carrots, soil, space junk, cancer, blindness, medicine, air quality, drunken boaters, insects, bees, pre-natal care, airline safety, patient safety, sharp knives, guns, schools, education, mental illness, pandas, forests, auto insurance, lifeboats, bad lending practices, fair elections. So some people focus on this, other people focus on that because everyone can't focus on everything. And maybe if some people can only love a dolphin, they will someday grow to love a fetus. Maybe animals are a gateway to love sometimes..

    3. I never said people could not be both pro-life and pro-animal. I am for both as I am sure you are as well. In many cases, however, animal rights activists (those who cry the loudest against animal cruelty) are also activists for abortion. I have friends who are openly pro-choice yet they are vegetarians specifically because they believe eating meat is cruel to animals. This is what I was referring to.

    4. "I have friends who are openly pro-choice yet they are vegetarians specifically because they believe eating meat is cruel to animals. This is what I was referring to."

      You're perfectly right, Manda. The entire Greens Party here (not an insignificant entity in our politics) are vehemently pro "choice" even as they constantly jump up and down for "humane" treatment of animals. Their alliances with the abortion lobby and their sympathies with the rabid agenda of groups like PETA are both marriages made in hell. They'll rant for days about cows farting methane, and say nary a word about children being dismembered live in their mothers' wombs. Hypocrites. Whitewashed sepulchers.

  16. P, you said:

    "You said there is no inherent immorality in taking HBC for treatment of a symptom, and for me the argument stops there then."

    You would agree, though, that it would be better to cure or heal a pathology rather than mask the symptoms (esp. with a drug that has serious and even deadly side effects)?

    Surely that is not controversial, conceptually?

  17. I am a practicing Catholic who does not use birth control. I heard a radio ad a few weeks ago for the Pope Paul VI Institute calling our culture "sexually retarded". As the parent of a child with an intellectual disability (Down syndrome) an organization I once admired greatly made me extremely disappointed. The "r word" should not be used at all, but especially not on Catholic radio where families who have chosen life for their "retarded" children would be offended. I haven't had the heart to listen to our local Catholic radio station since then because I am so afraid to hear the ad. I don't know why I felt compelled to comment about this here but here I am.

  18. Elicia, I encourage you to contact the Pope Paul VI or the radio station and let them know of the offense. Most people don't know what could be offensive and it is wrong for them to keep using words like that. I am so sorry you had to hear that, there could have been so many other words that would have been appropriate. I have never heard or used that word in any of the advertising that I have been a part of or encountered so I hope that it was a one time thing.

    1. Honestly I am so upset thinking about it that I cry. I could never hold it together enough to call a radio station. I guess I could email. But honestly I think my heart hurts too much right now. I am so very deeply disappointed. It was GRN in South Texas if anyone else listens to that station.

  19. Elicia, whoa, that would seem so out of character for PPVI Institute. Do you know where it could be confirmed? I tried googling it but could not find reference to the ad. I imagine others would have been offended as well, and if that ad is out there, whoever heard it should contact the Institute and make their voices heard, for sure. Until I get it confirmed somehow, I don't want to comment further, as it just seems too bizarre to imagine that they would do that….

    1. It could be confirmed by someone listening to GRN in South Texas. I heard it a few weeks ago.

  20. All your points are pretty uncontroversial (obviously getting a tooth pulled is preferable to dulling a toothache indefinitely with Vicodin, for example), but if I'm not mistaken, endometriosis is one of those things that can't be cured. Haven't looked into it a lot, but while I think surgery is sometimes an option, it's not curative and it's often preferable to just use the pill rather than suffer the symptoms or a questionably useful surgery. This site explains the options well – I'm not arguing for or against the pill in general, but I can certainly see opting to use it for medical treatment being a pretty easy decision in some cases.

    Anyway, huge congratulations to your daughter – I can only imagine how excited you all must be!

    1. Exactly. Most medication has side effects; some worse than others. In fact, many of these conditions respond to various medications, but the pill is the least harmful in the long term for chronic conditions.

    2. Existence---I was cured of my stage IV endometriosis that left me in excruciating pain my adolescent and adult life---via surgery. I would suggest that you have more experience before you assume surgery is not an option.....Going on the pill NEVER does anything for endometriosis. I'm sure the blogs on the right of this page will lead you down that path of realization. As most of us girls have been destroyed or affected by the "pill" in some way.

    3. Well, I was kind of looking at an NIH site (which I linked to), so...not really making any assumptions, but point taken.

    4. "Oral contraceptives offer a regulated, low-dose combination of estrogen and progesterone to prevent ovulation. Because ovulation is difficult for many women with endometriosis, this can be a big plus for OCs. Also, women who stay on the pill often have reduced menstrual flows and fewer cramps. Mild disease can remain quite stable for long periods of time. Side effects are relatively minimal for most women, and expense is not great."

      This is a direct quote from Center for Endo. Yes, BPC can keep endo stable for mild disease. Many people do not want to have surgery if they can take a pill and get the same result. Sew, your experience is not the experience of every person with endo. Some women may actually be helped by hormone suppression.

    5. "Going on the pill NEVER does anything for endometriosis."

      This is simply untrue. To extend your own personal experience to the rest of the population is a HUGE (and erroneous) leap! The pill may not have helped you personally (given that you had stage IV endometriosis), but current medical literature has proven that it is effective for the relief of mild-to-moderate pelvic pain associated with endometriosis (see the citation in my much longer comment below). In addition, it has been shown to retard progression of the disease and reduce the recurrence of lesions after surgery.

  21. Elicia,
    While it has become an emotionally charged word due to frequent misuse, the word "retarded" was not misused in the context you presented here. What word would you propose is used in its stead? We don't really have another word in our language to describe that exact phenomenon because that's the word!
    I can certainly appreciate your "momma bear" reaction- it's because people use it inappropriately far too often. But that reaction would be far more effective if it were reserved for when the term is used improperly. Doesn't it make more sense to call for the word to be used correctly, rather than not at all?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. First, I am not a physician. I don't know what lead you to that conclusion & I don't want to misrepresent myself.
      Secondly, I re-read your original comment & changed my mind. From what you described, I do believe the use of the word in the ad was not only insensitive, but inappropriate. It sounds like the intent of the comment in the ad was to remark on the degraded intelligence & sense that our society has with regards to sex & sexuality.
      I still think the word has a proper place and can be used appropriately in our language. I guess I feel just as strongly that by using the word properly, it can retain its meaning and people with developmental delays don't have to feel victimized by a word that doesn't refer to them.
      I have actually worked with a number of folks (mostly children) who have Down syndrome or other chromosomal anomalies who were quite clever. I don't believe "intelligence" is completely understood, nor can it be definitively quantified.
      Would it make sense to argue that the "r word" is appropriate in the context of describing a process that has slowed or ceased to progress, but that it is never appropriate to use it to describe a person?
      (I know this is against the 'reply rule' but I hate to pepper a conversation about the OP with random linguistic tid-bits!)

    3. Bri, it's okay to break the "reply rule" in certain cases like this! I do it when I make a correction, or when the conversation really is just between a couple of folks and on a very different tangent! :)

      Generally, though, I like the comments at the bottom if everyone is following, and so that I can find the latest comments on the blog without spending hours searching, after I see them in my email inbox.

  22. I am a Napro trained, NFP only OB/GYN and I can tell you that endometriosis can be cured. This is not true for every case, for example if the disease is extremely advanced. Thankfully very advanced endometriosis is rare.. Statistics from studies demonstrate that 80-90% of women have significant improvement in their symptoms after laparoscopy and about 30-40% of them will require a second surgery in the future for endometriosis. Endometriosis must be treated appropriately, or it will continue to be present. It is true that there are hormonal options (that are not birth control - but actually tied to a cycle to overcome the hormonal abnormalities that occur with endometriosis, thus working to restore normal) to treat endometriosis, and there are alternative treatments. These treatments are first line often for some women who wish to not go to the operating room. I do not prescribe birth control for my endometriosis patients unless I have exhausted all of my other options. Birth control covers up symptoms and does not in anyway cure the disease. This is especially problematic when you think of the side effects of these hormones, and also if this person gets off of the birth control for one reason or another (tired of side effects, hoping to get pregnant, no longer safe to take due to other medical issues etc). The disease will come back full force in most cases.

    I completely disagree that using the pill is an easy decision. It has been an easy decision for many doctors, but it must be thought about carefully and other options must be attempted first. This is not a "no-brainer" to jump to, as hormonal contraception is full of risks, and not something that should be taken lightly.

    As I stated above, a surgery for endometriosis that is performed well can be curative, and is often a MUCH better choice for a women, for lots of different reasons.

    1. Well, good to know! I stand corrected, then.

  23. One more thought, the title of this post could just have easily been:

    Antihypertensives: Masking vs Healing

    Statins: Masking vs Healing

    Motrin: Masking vs Healing

    NyQuil: Masking vs Healing

    Antidepressants: Masking vs Healing

    Betablockers: Masking vs Healing

    I could go on and on. Know what I'm saying?

  24. (This comment was supposed to be above the last one, but I'd copied Leila's comment into the combox while I was typing so as to address her question fully, and then forgot to delete her question, so it wound up looking confusing, so I deleted it. I hope this is some how LESS confusing, lol!)

    Leila, of course a cure for a disease is always the most perfect goal. "Masking" is never the goal. That is not controversial. Treating symptoms is not the same as "masking", and although I agree that HBC is likely over-prescribed, I believe that it helps alleviate some women's symptoms when there is no cure for their disease. I was trying to say that I appreciated your statement that women who take HBC to manage an incurable, and otherwise debilitating disease are not acting immorally. I completely agree that it should be a provider's last ditch effort, and that any option for real healing should be attempted first. I was just pointing out that a cure, and complete healing are not always possible for many many diseases. Diabetes is not curable, so those with the disease take insulin. The insulin does not cure them, but it enables them to live and function, ykwim? But no one is railing against diabetics for just taking a med that "masks" anything.

  25. I suffered from stage 4 endometriosis throughout my teen years and into young adulthood. Unless a person has experienced the depth of this physical pain, there is just no way to describe it. And it happens every single month without fail.

    I went to countless doctors who all told me the same thing: "You are a woman and some women have it worse than others. Let's try a different birth control pill."

    I tried a few pills but found little to no relief from my cramps and the side effects were awful. It wasn't until I married my husband at the age of 28 that I discovered the culprit was endometriosis. My husband also happens to be a Catholic Ob/Gyn who specializes exclusively in surgically excising (removing) endometriosis wherever it is found. His surgeries can be long and arduous but I believe He is doing the Lord's work for these women.

    As bad as the physical pain of endometriosis was, the heartbreak of infertility in a Catholic marriage was far worse. By the time my endometriosis was discovered via laparoscopy, the disease had ravaged my pelvis and we truly wondered whether it was caught too late. Why are women short-changed in this way? If someone had told me when I was in high school I likely had a disease that could be treated, and I had gotten surgery back then, I would have likely had normal fertility. Endometriosis is a progressive disease. Early intervention is key. Women truly deserve better! No one ever bothered to listen to me or actually take visual examination of my pelvis until I was devastated by infertility. Lucky for me, (it was actually God's hand), I happened to marry a surgeon who passionately treats the disease the only way it should be: by removing it wherever it is found.

    Yes, the disease is curable, and I am living proof. I conceived my daughter after my surgery and have had no pain since my surgery 6 years ago. ZERO pain. That's miraculous if you ask me. God is using these surgeons as instruments of His healing. Speaking of God, I loved the parallel mentioned above. The Catholic approach to healing a women's health and infertility versus the mainstream secular "bandaid" approach of writing another script for birth control pills parallels quite well the Catholic understanding of how God truly cleanses us and makes us holy and heals us from sin versus covering up that pile of dung. WOW. Never appreciated that before.

    Hopefully my husband can comment further from a medical perspective, but if you or someone you know are suffering from PAIN or INFERTILITY, please consider a well trained excision surgeon who understands the value of excision surgery and is determined to do what it takes to remove all endometriosis from the pelvis. You owe it to yourself.

    One final thought: if you decide to seek healing for yourself and your family ( or the family you hope to one day have), don't expect an easy or short road. It can happen, but often times it can take many, many cycles to truly diagnose and treat all hormonal or nutritional deficiencies that might accompany physiological pathology. Just because it has been a few years of trying doesn't mean you should lose hope, however. With God, all things are possible!!

  26. Thank you for your comment, Mike. As a fellow physician (Emergency Medicine, not OB/GYN, though), I was gratified to see that you touched on both the pharmacologic as well as the surgical options for treatment of endometriosis. That said, I must point out that when you say that the pill ”must be thought about carefully and other options must be attempted first.”, and then almost immediately afterwards, make the assertion that surgery is “often a MUCH better choice for a women, for lots of different reasons.”, this can be easily misconstrued. I would argue that any sort of invasive option should be reserved for cases that have failed with medical management (which would include oral contraceptive pills), or else cases that are found to be exceptionally advanced, such as in the case of deep infiltrating endometriosis.
    In addition to it being the ideal first-line treatment, pharmacologic therapy is also effective at preventing recurrence of disease after surgery. The literature suggests that the administration of medications, including oral contraceptives, are useful.
    Also, could someone enlighten me about NaPro? I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit this as a Catholic physician, but this is the first time I am hearing about it and a PubMed search really didn’t yield any useful information.

    Lastly, may I make one comment about the whole Group 1 Carcinogen controversy about the pill? I really feel that this is a silly objection. It is true that oral contraceptive pills are on that list, but the following things that are on that very same Group 1 list as well:
    - Sunlight (yes! As in solar radiation…)
    - Pretty much every chemotherapy medication available (oh the irony!)
    - Aflatoxins (found in peanut butter)
    - Salted fish (a staple of many Asian diets)
    - I can go on and on, but I guess my point is that several things can be both a poison or a cure, depending on how they are utilized.
    Also, there is pretty clear evidence that oral contraceptives are protective against both ovarian and endometrial cancer.
    I am in no way trying to make the case that OCPs are some sort of panacea, but I do feel that they do play an important role in the management of several disorders, endometriosis being one of them. That said, I do feel that doctors DO tend to be quick on the draw to prescribe OCPs, and that we can definitely do a much better job about advocating for our patients in that regard.

    1. Oh sir, with all do respect, you obviously have no FIRST hand experience with the pain and devastation of endometriosis. There are absolutely NO words to describe the pain of a hot knife being twisted inside your pelvis and it burning day in and day out. There are no words to describe the absolute crippling pain that women such as myself, have experienced since we first started our periods. Thankfully, by the grace of God and these blogs, I was healed through excision surgery of my stage IV endo.

      Can you imagine picking up your daughter from middle school and have her laying on the floor in fetal position crying sheer pain...You would not recommend the pill for her. But unfortunately, most doctors go to medical school to prescribe the pill as the cure all. And that is an objection that should be silly.

    2. Actually, I am a woman, not a man. That said, I do not have endometriosis, so you are right in saying that I do not have first hand experience with it. I did not mean to diminish your pain in any way by my comment. If you had stage 4 endometriosis, you did need surgery. I never claimed otherwise. I said that surgery should be used in "cases that are found to be exceptionally advanced, such as in the case of deep infiltrating endometriosis."

    3. Sorry, had no idea if you were a man or a woman. :) LOL

      The stage of endo does not equal the pain. Women with Stage I endo have excruciating pain depending on where the endo is located. My surgeon told me I could have Stage 1 or Stave IV endo but he wouldn't know until he opened me up. He could only assume that I "might" need a bowel resection but didn't realize that I needed a double resection with endo kinking my bowel. So, to place a woman on the pill for endo I can not support, ever. :)

      Obviously, I'm not a doctor, just a pt that suffered for years. At 14 one could assume that my endo was "advacned" due to the pain, but what if it wasn't and I was placed on the pill. I was never placed on the pill because I never complained about the pain because I knew no different.

      Women are relieved of their pain with Stage I & 2 endo after excision surgery. Why would one place them on the pill? When endo can not be diagnosed any other way than through surgery.

    4. "...endo can not be diagnosed any other way than through surgery."

      You are right in saying that in the sense that laparoscopy is the most sensitive method (and the gold standard) for diagnosis. It is also often therapeutic because if a surgeon sees implants during the laparoscopy, the obviously they will go ahead and remove them! It is also the only way you can determine staging, but many women are treated for endometriosis without laparoscopic confirmation. You can make a clinical diagnosis by taking a good history and physical, and/or doing imaging studies. An ultrasound may pick up large endometriomas, but a pelvic MRI would be much more sensitive. Surgery is an invasive procedure. If a woman responds to medical management, why would you cut a hole in her abdomen? Again, your personal experience does not translate into the experience of every other patient with endometriosis.

  27. @albinioni

    Jesus of Nazareth thought that mental illness was caused by evil spirits. He was, folks, in other words, a first-century Hebrew. Not a "physician" in any modern sense.
    We do best when our medicine is "evidence-based" rather than "faith-based". The Church has embraced evidence-based medicine for three hundred years now, and it deserves credit for this. It consistently defers to modern medicine. Nowadays we know that mental illness is not due to evil spirits. Some preachers --notably fundamentalist -- still hold to this view, and it is in my view a big mistake.

    1. Jesus of Nazareth is God and He in no way thought something incorrect as you have stated. When He exorcised certain people of a demon it was because they were in fact possessed, not because they had a mental illness that Jesus did not understand. Jesus never said that all mental illness was caused by demons. Your statement is blasphemous, ignorant, and erroneous.

  28. Captcrisis, mental illness is real, but please don't make the mistake of thinking that Catholics do not believe in demonic possession. Mental illness and evil influences should never be confused for one another. Interestingly, one of my half-written posts is about the devil, who is very, very real.

    Jesus Christ (God Incarnate, the One who created captcrisis and all spirits and all natural science) is the Divine Physician who certainly heals the soul, and can also heal the body. A bit better than a "modern physician", not less than. ;)

    M. Albinoni, while the Pill may reduce the chance of ovarian and endometrial cancers, those cancers are rare compared to breast cancer, the risk of which is elevated by the Pill. I am incensed, actually, that Planned Parenthood put me on the Pill as a teen, without batting an eye. A child, not fully grown or matured. Increasing my risk of breast cancer (not to mention stroke, blood clots, etc.). Not cool. And in my case, it wasn't medicine at all…. It was to ensure that my loser boyfriend could use me with impunity. But that's another issue. It's irresponsible how the Pill is prescribed, to say the least.

    Also, did LifeHopes testimony move you to reconsider your statements? I can't tell if you read it before you wrote your own comment.

    NaPro Technology is worth a deeper look, for sure. I really encourage you to find out more, and you can start by visiting the Pope Paul VI Institute's website:

    I know from many personal friends' experiences that Dr. Hilgers is a miracle worker, and some doctor friends of mine have trained under him.

    P, we don't disagree, but I would say that if diabetes were curable, we'd go for the cure, not an insulin pump, right? Especially if the insulin came with side effects that are riskier than the underlying disease.

  29. Rebecca, this is well stated: "When He [Jesus] exorcised certain people of a demon it was because they were in fact possessed, not because they had a mental illness that Jesus did not understand. Jesus never said that all mental illness was caused by demons."

    Thank you.

  30. M - I'm excited to see that another physician is getting involved in these issues as well. I don't have time for a full response at the moment, as I have surgery in a little bit, but I wanted to respond to some of your concerns.

    I agree that medical therapy should in most cases be attempted first, but I would argue that OCPs do not necessarily need to be part of that trial. There are other ways of treating endometriosis that do not suppress ovulation and are not abortifacient in their effects. I prefer to start with those. To your point of deeply invasive endometriosis being an indication for surgery, I would say that is true, however you cannot truly diagnose deeply invasive endo without surgery. That is not a clinical diagnosis, but one that requires visualization of the disease. Often OCPs are used for a diagnostic purpose as well, and if it works then we will often take them to the operating room for definitive treatment. This is not in any way cookie cutter medicine, there is not a perfect formula. There is no rubric that says you must fail a,b,c etc then we can go to the operating room. It must be individualized for each patient and their circumstances. Especially revolving around other reproductive issues they are facing (such as infertility etc).

    As to the prevention of cancer, there is no doubt that birth control decreases risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer. That is well accepted in the literature. What is not talked about much though is the increase risk of breast cancer. This has been largely covered up in our literature, but a pub med search will show some articles that demonstrate increased risk. Also there are some lesser known organizations that are working on this link, and have some interesting data. I will see if I can find that data later. Ovarian cancer is rare, and risk is also decreased by number of children a woman has, and how long they breast feed (decreasing ovulatory acts is the main mechanism). I do not recommend birth control only based on the fact that they decrease the risk of a rare (but terrible) cancer, as we have to take the whole picture of birth control into mind when counseling in that way. Also the risk of blood clots, strokes etc must be looked at, as these can obviously have huge impacts on young women.

    Basically, what I'm saying is that I agree with you that in most cases medical therapy should be attempted prior to jumping to the operating room, but in certain cases that may be first line therapy (depending on what else is going on with the patient). And I'm also saying that contraception should be considered in refractory cases, or as you point out to decrease recurrence risk. BUT, this must be taken seriously and discussed extensively with patients before jumping to that. As you point out we as physicians are quick to prescribe birth control, and need to evaluate what our goals are, and the risks/benefits of this.

    I have been on both sides of this argument, having only switched my practice 3 years ago to NFP only. I have seen the fruit of not jumping to birth control, and I can tell you my patients are doing better than ever with the new approach I have.

    Thanks for the interesting discussion!

  31. I'm a good Christian and don't have any of those problems, everything is working great in my life! I just wanted to share that with all you who struggle. Thanks. God Bless.

    Ha! Not only untrue, but don't you hate it when I try to have Christ without the cross, build up the facade vs. giving from my want and my authenticity?

  32. "BUT, this must be taken seriously and discussed extensively with patients before jumping to that."

    When I was 20, I lost a ton of weight in college, not due to anorexia at all [I love food, never had body image issues; it was because I was too lazy to go shopping when I lived off-campus]. My estrogen level plummeted, I stopped ovulating regularly [I could tell this, as my cycles got very long, etc.]. When I developed an ovarian cyst that ruptured [talk about painful!!!! My mom had a history of cysts, too, and had lost an ovary at 24, total hysterectomy at 34] and was hospitalized, the doctor sat next to my hospital bed with a prescription pad and immediately prescribed me the Pill. No discussion, that was the solution. Like the time at Planned Parenthood years earlier, that's just what's done, no questions asked, I guess. If one's only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, or something like that.

    Thanks for the education, Dr. Mike. I appreciate what you do for your patients. I also have to realize, as I was told by a NaPro-trained doctor friend [and fellow mommy] here in town, I shouldn't be too upset with the doctors who use the Pill to treat everything, as it's what they are taught in med school. It's all they know.

  33. "It's tedious to set things right, it's laborious to make things work according to their nature, and it's painful to bring order out of disorder. It takes heroic virtue and sacrificial love fueled by the grace of the Sacraments, and it is the work of a lifetime."

    Yes, healing and holiness are both front and center to the Catholic faith.
    I'd even say both play off of each other. I can't say I've ever read about a saint who wasn't being both perfected in the areas he/she needed healing (not just physical, of course, as many suffered physically, and it wasn't removed while on earth) while simultaneously being perfected in sanctity. One empowers the other to take root. Healing allows for greater capacity to holiness. Holiness allows for greater capacity to accept healing.

  34. Your statement is blasphemous, ignorant, and erroneous.

    I disagree. Captcrisis has a point. It is entirely possible that these so called "demonic possessions" were mental illnesses. It is also likely that Jesus knew only what was known at that time. People have made Jesus a god but he was just a man. His healing powers, if true, would have been amazing, but he most likely believed that he was driving out demons when he was curing people with mental illnesses. If this is not so, why don't we see more demon possessions as opposed to mental illnesses today?

  35. Every diocese has an exorcist, Bill. I don't encourage you to start diving into the study of the demonic (it can be dangerous, particularly to those who disbelieve in the devil), but please don't think that there is a lack of demonic activity today. There may be fewer overt possessions than in the time of Christ (lots has been written about the overabundance of miracles then, as well as other supernatural stuff… not time to look that up for you right now), but they still are very much around.

    And this idea that Jesus was some regular guy, just casting out demons (but really curing the mentally ill by words?), then got killed and everyone started worshipping a dead man and getting beheaded, arrested, losing everything, risking their families' lives, too, all for a work of fiction (which is what you are claiming the Bible is) and a lunatic dude (which is what Jesus has to have been in your vision) -- it's all nonsensical.

    "...but he most likely believed that he was driving out demons when he was curing people with mental illnesses." According to… Bill? Bill knows what was likely happening in Jesus' mind, a man who died 2,000 years ago. And, how was he "curing people with mental illnesses"?

    You give us so many generalities, but whenever I ask you for specifics, you change the subject or ignore.

  36. I'm merely suggesting that you have to exhaust all possible natural explanations before you can assume a supernatural one. It is just good science. There are people who are able to bring psychotic people under control just by speaking to them in a firm tone. If someone thought they were demon possessed and met a faith healer who commanded the demon(s) to depart, that might be enough of a hypnotic suggestion to calm them down. I'm guessing. It is better to guess at natural solutions than it is to blindly accept a supernatural one.

  37. Bill, if what you have gotten out of the thousands of words written by dozens of Catholics in response to your hundreds of challenges to our Faith is that we Catholics "blindly accept" supernatural explanations, then I really do need to step out of our conversations for good.

  38. Yeah, Bill, same here. I am more than happy to have discussions with people who have an open mind to Christ. But, if you are going to insist on rejecting any possibility of Jesus being God, then I'm done too. It is ridiculous that after months of discussions and reading through Leila's posts that you think any of us are "blindly accepting" the supernatural.

    Let me know whenever you're ready for a open-minded discussion.

  39. M. Albinoni (and really anyone, not just doctors, interested in improving women's health), please check out this very timely link that I just got from the wife of an OB/gyn! A trailer, featuring doctors who are involved in NaPro Technology. Eye-opening, and hopefully it will get the chance to get an even larger hearing:

  40. Great discussion Mike and Leila! I am enjoying this discussion and I will post more later but I have to go to work. I'm doing a late shift tonight so my response may be posted at a really odd time! I will definitely look into NaPro technology -- thanks for the links! :-)

  41. I think napro is great, I really really do. It has helped many, many people. I just want be the quiet voice that says, I know there are faithful Catholics out there who have tried all different treatments, and have not had relief from their monthly pain. Yes, the pill masks the symptoms, but it is false to claim that napro can cure every case of every reproductive disability and ailment. I know your post was written to the masses, to the doctors everywhere that just say "Take the pill! Its magical!" but I think we need to be careful not to oversell the benefits of napro as if it is some equally wonderful magic drug. It is possible in some circumstances that the pill can be used therapeutically as a treatment for endometriosis. This is clear in the catechism. It is not scandalous to say this. It is scandalous to use this as an excuse to take it for any old reason.

  42. Machingmoonheads, point taken and agreed! It's okay to choose to mask pain and symptoms (if the risk is worth it), but it's not okay that most doctors use something as risky (and non-curative) as the Pill (which has so many undesirable side effects, in addition to the risks) as the first choice. Not only is it the only tool so many docs seem to have in their proverbial toolbox, it also seems like they are wholly unfamiliar with other tools available. That's a darned shame, and unfortunate for women's health.

  43. As Mike's (the NaPro OB/GYN above) wife, I can guarantee you that they are hardly taught anything else when it comes to treatment of things like PCOS and endometriosis. He got ONE lecture in all of med school (at a big name school, mind you), and residency on any of the principles that NaPro is based on.....and it was the lecture that HE gave his chief year of residency.....Unfortunately, it is really the main tool in an OB/GYN's toolbox.

  44. I had endometriosis that caused me a lot of discomfort in my 20s. I went on the pill for a brief time and it got much much better and stayed that way. People respond differently. Doesn't make sense to me that surgery would be the first option in all cases of endometriosis.

    @Sew "Oh sir, with all do respect, you obviously have no FIRST hand experience with the pain and devastation of endometriosis. "

    Not sure it makes sense to diss a physician who is giving an objective knowledgable point of view. Doctors don't have to suffer from an illness to have informed opinions on how to treat it.

    "Jesus of Nazareth thought that mental illness was caused by evil spirits."
    "Jesus of Nazareth is God and He in no way thought something incorrect as you have stated. When He exorcised certain people of a demon it was because they were in fact possessed, not because they had a mental illness that Jesus did not understand."

    It's also possible that we don't know exactly what Jesus thought. Perhaps whoever wrote the bible ascribed thoughts to Jesus that were not actually his.

    It seems likely to me that Jesus's healing powers were so great and people had such faith in him that it was irrelevant whether someone was possessed or mentally ill. He could heal them either way. Perhaps the distinction was irrelevant to him because the cure was the same.

    1. J-you can be whoever you want on the internet...physician or grocery bagger. I don't trust so quickly.

    2. Sew, You'll just have to take my word for it, then. I assure you I do have a medical degree. :-)

  45. (This is a different Kat than the one above. I'm sorry I don't know how to change my name. I'll just sign my posts- Kathleen.)

    I'm sorry but the BC pill has got to be the most over-prescribed "medicine" in this country. I don't understand how so many women who are terrified of having their children eat something with red food coloring will then pop the pill like it is candy.

    I have PCOS just like my mother and grandmother. I avoided doctors as much as possible because almost all of them felt the only "cure" was the pill. Even today- it is hard to find a doctor who will take me seriously about trying to find a normal way to regulate my cycles so my husband and I will hopefully have children.

    It isn't just that I am Catholic. It is the fact I watched my friends on the pill and I was on it myself (when I turned 22 and decided I knew better than my old-fashion mother who warned me hormones do strange things to your body.) I remember going off birth control after only taking it about a year and a half. WOW! The roller-coaster my body went through was nuts and took YEARS to recover from. I suddenly understood why sometimes my girlfriends would turn into total monsters whenever they changed their dosage or stopped BC altogether. If you think BC does nothing expect stop you from having an unwanted pregnancy think again.

    As for the smart-aleck that thinks taking BC is the same as taking cold medicine. Two points: first, everyone (over 10) knows cold medicine is masking the cold and is not curing it; and second, you take cold medicine for a short duration (a couple days, maybe a week) not for YEARS on end.

    It wasn't until I was in my late twenties a doctor even bothered to tell me I had PCOS. All the rest just said "Oh, irregular cycles......just take the pill." Nothing about the fact it was an abortficate, nothing about the risks, nothing about ALTERNATIVE treatments. I was too young, stupid and naive to push the questions I should have.

    Trust me, if I am ever lucky enough to have daughters and anyone pushes that poison on them I will go into full mama bear mode. Talk about a War on Women.

  46. I just wanted to add: I don't blame my doctors. I am sure they did what they thought was right. I'm not really sure how and when PCOS because a recognized thing.

    But I have to wonder. If people weren't getting rich off of selling the pill to young women, would we have better health care for women right now?


    1. "when PCOS became" not because Sorry- bad autocorrect.

  47. So, ummmm, stupid question. Is NaPro like natural family planning and about charting your cycles or is it something different?

  48. "I'm merely suggesting that you have to exhaust all possible natural explanations before you can assume a supernatural one. It is just good science... It is better to guess at natural solutions than it is to blindly accept a supernatural one."

    I completely disagree with your assessment of what makes "good science".

    One does not (should not) begin to imagine away what one considers to be "all possible natural explanations".
    One merely needs to consult the actual historical documents themselves.

    Trying to get this leverage test of, "well, how do you scientifically test miracle accounts of Jesus?" doesn't set the criteria.
    The answer is not to imagine miracles accounts away, because imagining something away is neither scientific (esp in this case, because these gospel miracles have not been refuted), nor is it "good science", in terms of methodology, because excusing away valid documents in front of us isn't sensible, logical, nor intellectually honest.

    And one still would need to apply that line of thinking to any historical claim, even non-religious ones.

    Someone "claims" to put a man on the moon. Fine, how do you know it's true?
    Someone "claims" that we had a president named George Washington. Fine, how do you know it's true?

    The general question across the board should be and is: What is your criteria to satisfy any of those claims? What do you consult? Refer to?
    Answer: Documentation, Supporting Evidence

  49. "It's also possible that we don't know exactly what Jesus thought. Perhaps whoever wrote the bible ascribed thoughts to Jesus that were not actually his."

    A simple question I'd put to this point is:
    Is the bible inspired by God or not (inspired meaning men are the instruments of God, capturing all that God chose to reveal to man, while giving men freedom of expression as they wrote)?

    "It seems likely to me that Jesus's healing powers were so great and people had such faith in him that it was irrelevant whether someone was possessed or mentally ill. He could heal them either way. Perhaps the distinction was irrelevant to him because the cure was the same."

    The distinction is only relevant in that Scripture is not nebulous in these instances of healing. Scripture speaks of spiritual realities, as these are realities that God wants revealed for the salvation of man (via divine inspiration). Reading this, we cannot substitute "mental illness" where, clearly, Scripture says, "demons". Jesus Christ clearly wanted to show his power and domination over the spiritual world. He wasn't preaching that people ought to trust in Him as a good psychologist. We have to be careful not to substitute words or meaning where Scripture is clear.

  50. Perhaps so, but I don't think any good psychologist could cure someone who was seriously mentally ill with a laying-on of hands. I wouldn't consider healing a mental illness any less of a miracle than exorcising demons.

    1. But we're talking God-man, right.

      Again, Scripture recounts spiritual realities, and in the instances of "casting out demons", it's not inter-changeable with "healing mental illness". People that start taking liberties with phrase swapping or personalized exegesis will also be the ones claiming that the miracles were merely symbolic of Christ's desire for us "to share and to be kind"... it spirals into a complete denial of His divine power and authority.

  51. Kat - Charting is an important part of NaPro treatments, but it is not the sole option. Charting - and learning how to use a good NFP observation method - can provide the doctor with an incredible wealth of information about what is going on with your body and your hormones (every woman is so different! We have the same basic things happening, but there are so many different hormones and processes going on at once, that all it takes is one to be out of whack and we've got ourselves some nasty symptoms!). To really get the full benefit of NaPro treatments, a woman must learn how to chart her cycles and her reproductive signs/symptoms, and the doctor will use those (in addition to labwork, ultrasounds, and sometimes exploratory surgery, in cases of things like endometriosis) to formulate a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

    So, short answer: NaPro INCLUDES charting your cycles, like with Natural Family Planning, but it is not limited to only that.

    If you want to know more about the charting that is linked to NaPro (what the most common one is that doctors would like you to use, although they can work with other methods), look up the Creighton Model:

  52. Thank you, Heidi. I will go check it out- Kathleen

  53. People who can't be bothered exploring the supernatural (naturally) deny both the existence of good (God) personified (in Jesus Christ) AND the existence of evil (the devil) personified in Satan.

    God, Who by definition is the very essence of being, the very ground of all existence, openly and straightforwardly declares His existence: "I Am." So guess what the devil, who is the opposite of God, does? Of course he deceitfully pretends that he doesn't exist: "I am not!"

    In a deep theological sense there is a thread of truth though in the devil's assertion - for God makes even the devil involuntarily acknowledge truth in some matters - the devil is the very antithesis of being.

    This is why atheists do not believe in a heaven or life after death, but - and this is where it gets intriguing - they're happy to subscribe to a religious, iron clad belief in the opposite, the realm of the devil: black, dark, empty nothingness.

    Jesus curing mental illnesses instead of casting out demons? Bah! Lazy, ill-researched, presumptuous, non-evidenced, pseudo intellectual blathering!

  54. Mike -- Thanks for your reply. I defer to you completely when it comes to the discussion of specific therapies, as this is totally your arena. My one point of contention is your assertion that there is some sort of "cover-up" when is comes to the association between OCPs and breast cancer. I beg to differ. I've personally seen a bunch of articles in the last few years that have talked about it. In fact, I have actually changed my practice when it comes to managing issues like dysfunctional uterine bleeding because of all the literature I've seen.

    LifeHopes -- I was only able to read your comment after I posted my own. I'm sorry your doctors failed you. Your story does seem to suggest that a surgical option should've been presented to you much sooner. That said, not everyone with endometriosis has the same experience. As Mike so aptly put it, it is not "cookie cutter medicine", and surgery is not a cure-all.

  55. Allow me to address some specific issues wit regards to the Pill, endometriosis, and NaPro technology. (Leila, this will be a LONG comment, so I apologize in advance for hijacking the thread).

    Cancer risk of OCPs: Oral contraceptive use has been associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer and a decrease in others. However it appears that the pill is NOT associated with an overall risk of cancer. This was illustrated in a landmark study published in the British Medical Journal in 2007. (Cancer risk among users of oral contraceptives: cohort data from the Royal College of General Practitioner's oral contraception study. Hannaford PC ,et. al. BMJ. 2007 Sep 29;335(7621):651) This study included almost 50,000 women who were followed for a mean of 24 years.
    Treatment of Endometriosis: The treatment of endometriosis raises a number of complex clinical questions that do not have simple answers. That said, it’s pretty clear that medical management, including oral contraceptives, should be the first-line therapy in most cases. When dealing with pelvic pain associated with endometriosis, The Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that this will require “a life-long management plan with the goal of maximizing the use of medical treatment and avoiding repeated surgical procedures.” (emphasis mine). Current medical literature, as illustrated by placebo-controlled, randomized trials (the highest level of evidence) demonstrate that oral contraceptives are effective for the relief of pelvic pain associated with endometriosis. (I have a number of references, but in the interest of saving space, I will cite only one of them: Low-dose oral contraceptive pill for dysmenorrhea associated with endometriosis: a placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trial. Tasuku Harada, et. al. Fertility and sterility 1 November 2008 volume 90 issue 5 Pages 1583-1588)
    NaPro technology: My main concern is that there seems to be NO published peer-reviewed articles on this. I literally searched for over an hour for studies, and came up with nothing. Even more troubling, I found the graphs on the NaPro website to be extremely misleading and completely disingenuous. These were the graphs that seem to suggest that the technology was much more effective thatn current approaches to infertility. They basically took their own (unpublished, and therefore not peer-reviewed) data and plotted it against the data from “similar” (published and peer-reviewed) studies that examined “nonNapro Technology” approaches. This is comparing apples to oranges!!! Unless the studies were completely replicated, you can never compare the two sets of data! I can’t believe that they even had the nerve to present it like that. It is troubling, to say the least.Ultimately, my responsibility is to provide my patients with treatment that is consistent with the current medical standard of care. This means it needs to be based on recognized medical research, not anecdotal data. Right now, NaPro doesn’t seem to meet these standards. What am I missing, Mike?

  56. Week after my confirmation, I decided to quit Facebook too. Good decision.

  57. People who can't be bothered exploring the supernatural (naturally) deny both the existence of good (God) personified (in Jesus Christ) AND the existence of evil (the devil) personified in Satan.

    Do they deny good and evil? Or do they just see the personification of good and evil as mythical? I don't think one has to believe in the supernatural to be able to discern what is good and what is evil.

  58. One merely needs to consult the actual historical documents themselves.

    There are no "actual historical documents" that record any supernatural events. The documents you are referring to are religious as opposed to historical.

  59. M - We would spend a long time going back and forth with different literature references in regards to these issues. (Leila- I also apologize for the long comment!)

    OCPs and Cancer Risk - there are multiple different data sets looking at this issue. The statement that you included is directly from UptoDate, and directly behind that statement they say: "Depending upon the data set used, there was either a nonsignificant or significant reduction in overall cancer risk among users compared with nonusers, with an estimated absolute risk reduction between 10 and 45 per 100,000 woman-years". Just emphasizing that this is a mixed bag, and not all data sets suggest a decrease risk overall. Again, we could go back and forth throwing literature at each other, but just an example of a recent study and the link to breast cacner: A recent meta-analysis ( Oral contraceptive use and risk of breast, cervical, colorectal, and endometrial cancers: a systematic review. Gierisch JM, etal Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013) of the literature demonstrates a small (but statistically significant increased risk of breast cancer).

    For me this issue goes beyond the risk of cancer, there are multiple other risks associated with birth control pills (as we all know). And basically what I am trying to say is that using the birth control pill needs to be a careful discussion with patients, and needs to go over the risks/benefits of this.

    Endometriosis treatment - I am not arguing that medical therapy is not an important part of treatment. I am also not suggesting we should recommend multiple surgical treatments. What I am saying is that treatment needs to be individualized based on the presenting issues, and also looking at different medical options. I was pointing out that surgical treatment can be curative in some cases, and that surgery is sometimes necessary. In addition I am not arguing that birth control does not decrease symptoms, I completely agree that it decreases endometriosis symptoms. This has been well documented. What I am saying is that there are alternatives (medical therapy) to simply jumping to birth control, and those treatments need to be presented to women as well. So really we are agreeing on this issue, just framing it differently.

  60. (I guess you know your response to too long when you have to divide it into 2 posts - sorry Leila!)

    NaPro issues - I agree with you that peer reviewed literature is lacking in this field, and a lot of what Dr. Hilgers presents is based on his experience. Often looking at his graphs during his lectures was frustrating for the exact reasons you point out. I don't disagree at all with your interpretation of those comparisons. This is an area that those of us that are using napro principles in our practices are hoping to advance in the future, with further scientific studies and peer reviewed data. There are a couple of researchers right now working on collecting a larger data set to demonstrate effectiveness.

    The Creighton Model is based on very good scientific evidence and years of peer reviewed literature. This was not all completed by Dr. Hilgers but other researchers as well. This foundation is what napro is based on, and that scientific data is sound. Naprotechnology has a long way to go, there is not doubt about that.

    My take away message from my 6 months of research and education (during my training under Dr. Hilgers) and then 3 years of practice experience using naprotechnology principles is that this type of medicine and treatment makes sense, and I don't necessarily need peer reviewed literature to tell me that this is good medicine. There may be a lack of peer reviewed data on some of these issues, but what I can tell you is that when I am reading a patient's Creighton chart it often is very clear to me what is going on with their hormones during their cycle. When I'm following progesterone levels during their luteal phase I am able to determine if this is normal or not and supplement their progesterone levels and often have good results. When I am looking at a limited mucus cycle, or lack of ovulation, or lack of fertility focused intercourse when I am reading a chart I am often able to fix those things.

    After 4 years of focus in residency on hormone pathways, and focusing solely on this physiology a lot of the principles in napro make sense. For many of these treatments, I don't necessarily need to see peer reviewed literature because the treatments match my understanding of what is a normal, and ways to restore normal. My grand rounds as a chief resident was about napro. I presented the concepts and principles to 50 OB/GYNs, and I can tell you that I had some of the same questions that you presented, and it was an interesting discussion. But the other thing I can tell you is that many of the OB/GYNs there came up to me afterwards discussed how much this treatment makes sense based on a woman’s cycle.

    I agree that it is our duty as physicians to provide treatment that is in line with current medical standard of care. Napro principles are based on good scientific foundation (the Creighton Method) and a complete understanding of women's hormone cycles and diseases. The treatments that I offer patients are based on understanding of these hormone cycles and working to restore these to normal. There is a lot of work to be done in this area, and it is in its infancy.

  61. Everyone has to decide the risks and benefits for themselves. Surgery can be very, very risky. So if you have a disease or condition, do some research and read the labels and paperwork that comes with your prescription. Ask questions. Go to the library and check out some books on the subject.

  62. Bill,

    Having heard and responded (at length) to several months' worth of what you "think", I'm sorry I'm no longer that interested. And I suspect I mirror the sentiments of most intellectuals here when I say that. This blog isn't about what anyone thinks. It exists for an exchange of concepts substantiated by proofs and/or logic and/or history. You, sir, are patently too undisciplined to support any of your punditry with either proof or logic or indications from history. Perhaps taking pedestrian stabs in the dark in the hope of hitting on someone for an endless, unprofitable conversation just happens to be your thing - I don't know.

    Someday, if you come across some proof positive (not just your purported "belief") that the supernatural doesn't exist (meaning that the natural world - along with the concepts of good and evil - has sprung into existence by its own power and directive), let us know. Leila's commendably gotten off time sucking Facebook. Likewise, some of us are set to get off responding to wobbly one liners, such as those which you so persistently emit into the blogosphere.

  63. "The documents you are referring to are religious as opposed to historical."

    Expand your notation. One doesn't cancel out the other. Religious + Historical.

    That's like saying to me, "The documents you are referring to are secular as opposed to historical."

    Secular + Historical. Is the document as irrelevant, then? The formula is the same. By your logic it can only be one (secular) or the other (historical).

    Makes no sense to try and separate the religious adjective from the historical. Certainly doesn't refute the validity of the thousands of documents supporting the gospels, either.

  64. That's too bad, Francis, I'm sorry you feel that way. Your responses amuse me the most. I'm not being facetious. I really love reading your responses. Especially when you try to insult me. I know you are intellectually superior to me and I have learned a lot from you. Again, I am being totally serious. You must know when I am serious and when I am just pushing your buttons ;-). Ok. I will find a healthier way to amuse myself. Maybe I will see if I can be a greeter at WalMart.

  65. Nubby. I am thinking of a work like A History of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire as an example of a historical account as opposed to the Bible or the Koran which are religious.

  66. Has no bearing on the logic. In fact you're giving credibility to an author's perspective of the rise and fall of Rome but you won't allow that credibility for authors of Scripture.

    Beyond me, but ok.

  67. Bill, I have no interest whatsoever in insulting you or anyone, so don't put that on me. Sure, I might use some incisive or provocative language at times, but what I (and lots of others) are trying to get through to you is our frustration at the lack of substance in your comments/reactions to whatever most of us here have to say to you. You're so rooted in a one track cynical setting it's well nigh impossible to help your intellect into a wider spectrum of thought. That's OK, provided you can give considered reason for your cynicism, but you never bother to do even that.

    I might be convinced of your sincerity or even of your openness of mind if you were ever, for instance, to ask a question pursuant to something you read here (and demonstrate some openness to considering the response) OR refute anything you read here with some substantial response other than your usual "I don't think", "I don't believe" and the like. If you're not open to imbibing concepts that might be new to you nor challenging them with contra evidence, reason or logic, the question begs itself: why on earth are you here?

    Here's a throwaway suggestion. Quit this blog for a few days and go investigate the latest advances in science (which appears to be the only thing you have faith in). Read up especially about the emerging theories about time and space in contemporary quantum mechanics. Try to grasp some of the concepts. (My brain locks up and my eyes glaze over every time I try). If something similar happens to you, you might come to the realization of how limited our brains - and consequently even our sciences - really are within the big scheme of things, and that if we are to understand anything meaningful at all about ourselves (the "why" and "how come" questions, for example) we (scientists included) must earnestly delve into the worlds of theology, philosophy, the supernatural and the transcendent - all the things you so promptly, regularly and routinely scoff at. Which is exactly why you're stuck in the claustrophobic closed little circle that you are! :)

  68. we (scientists included) must earnestly delve into the worlds of theology, philosophy, the supernatural and the transcendent - all the things you so promptly, regularly and routinely scoff at

    Sorry. I do scoff at those things. Francis, you are an intelligent commenter. There are two types of people on this blog: the ones who want to believe and the ones who don't like me. I did but I don't anymore. I guess I keep commenting just to make sure that is really what I want.

    Like the person who recommended Nothing Short of a Miracle. I'm pretty sure it was Leila. I still haven't reconciled it with the worldview that I keep referring to. I would not have read it if it had not be recommended to me. Leila recommended From Atheism to Catholicism and I bought it and read it. It's just that, as I have continued on this blog, I have come to the conclusion that it is OK (as in I won't go to hell) to say that I don't believe in the supernatural. Nobody will die if I am wrong.

  69. "I have come to the conclusion that it is OK (as in I won't go to hell) to say that I don't believe in the supernatural. Nobody will die if I am wrong."

    How do you know?

  70. you're giving credibility to an author's perspective of the rise and fall of Rome but you won't allow that credibility for authors of Scripture.


    There is an immense difference between someone who spends years researching the subject as a historian and a prophet or mystic that lets the Holy Spirit speak through them.

  71. Bill, the NT was written by eyewitnesses and those who were not even a generation removed from the events, and it was written as history. So, what are you talking about?

  72. You're completely missing the logic.
    Everything scriptural is historical in category and context. Correct?
    Everything scriptural is supported by corroborating evidence of the time, culture, people, etc. Correct?

    You have this remarkable ability (or wish) to completely disregard the accurateness of the scriptures because of their religious nature.
    That's ridiculous reasoning.

    Can something be Electrical AND Engineered?
    Can there be Hydraulics AND Braking Systems?
    Can something be French AND Country?
    Can something be Religious AND Historical?

    There is absolutely no disagreement between the age of the scriptures, the authors, the religious nature of the documents, and the validity of those texts as accurate, authentic, and reliable. Logically, you're way off.

  73. I guess I am in disagreement with some of you about the historicity of the Bible. If you read a book by a historian and compare it to anything written in the Bible, you will see how drastically different they are. The historian includes references to sources. The Bible does not. The Bible is written more in the form of a novel and includes minute details of conversations and events for which there are no witnesses such as Jesus praying in the garden or the temptation in the desert. I didn't know that people seriously take these stories as factual.

  74. What I should have said is that nobody will die as a direct result of my being wrong. Of course we all will die eventually.

  75. "I didn't know that people seriously take these stories as factual."

    Yes, they have, for 2,000 years now. It's well-known. Christianity is based on an historical figure (Jesus) and an historical even (the Resurrection). Without that, there is no Christianity, as St. Paul (and every other Christian) made very clear back then.

    "I have come to the conclusion that it is OK (as in I won't go to hell) to say that I don't believe in the supernatural."

    On what basis do you conclude this? I'm not understanding. Is it simply based on your "belief", like everything else you write? You think something, so it's true?

  76. "The historian includes references to sources. The Bible does not. The Bible is written more in the form of a novel and includes minute details of conversations and events for which there are no witnesses such as Jesus praying in the garden or the temptation in the desert. I didn't know that people seriously take these stories as factual."

    Of course the Bible names sources, some right within the texts themselves! Other sources are un-named.

    Clearly, you haven't understood the biblical texts as they're intended to be delivered. Some books of the bible are narratives, some poetry, some prophetic, literal, figurative, etc. Because the texts vary does not make the Bible uninspired nor untrue in its recounting of the event(s).

  77. Luke even mentions his sources and the gospel writers had NO IDEA that what they were writing would be considered "inspired". What the authors affirm through their writing and what they decorate the text with are completely different things.

    The decoration (their own language, detail, etc) doesn't at all impede God from his message. The fact that you see error or misaligned facts, does NOT mean that the Bible teaches error!

  78. Thanks for the reply Mike! I never meant to imply that the Pill wasn't associated with breast CA. I think the literature is pretty clear on that. What I do get from the data out there is the the Pill does not appear to increase the overall risk of cancer, when taking into account its protective associations with other types of cancer. My omission of the sentence you quoted does not change that assertion. I clearly said that the data suggested it was a risk factor for some types and a protective factor for others.
    In truth, my comments were not really aimed towards you, but to other commenters who were making blanket statements about the Pill that were patently false. Some even come close to implying that doctors are not much more than puppets of Big Pharma who push useless medication onto unknowing patients, irregardless of the risks. Like you said, I think we are pretty much on the same page when it comes down to it.
    Some questions about your statements about NaPro (and I am sincerely asking these because I know close to nothing about it -- apart from the info on the NaPro website): when you say that the Creighton model is "based on very good scientific evidence and years of peer reviewed literature", is this data obtained from studies using the Billings Ovulation method? As far as I can tell, the NaPro model seems to be a derivative of this method -- am I correct? I have great respect for Natural Family Planning and I think the various methods of NFP are certainly very effective AND, backed up by peer-reviewed literature when it comes to avoiding pregnancy, however I'm not so clear about the data on its use as a tool for dealing with issues of infertility. My main concerns centered around the fact that the website was claiming superiority to the current conventional methods for treating infertility without having the data to back it up! In my opinion, it is intellectual dishonesty to do so! They were misrepresenting the effectiveness of the method by plotting their unpublished (and until then, unverifiable data) against published, peer-reviewed research. Not cool.
    I promise I'll shut up about this now. I'm sure you and I are the only ones enjoying our exchange!

  79. Leila,

    I ask you. Knowing what you know about me. Would you like to see me suffer forever because of what I have said on your blog? Do you really believe in a deity that is less merciful than you? What kind of sick bastard would punish me for not believing in anything supernatural. Really.

  80. Bill, that was not my point. My point was that you constantly come up with these statements of fact, based on your own thoughts at the moment. It makes no sense to me. It's like me saying (as I used to), "God won't send me to hell; he understands me!" while I was willfully committing mortal sin and essentially thumbing my nose in His face. See, I could make that statement, because it was my feeling at the time, but it was based on… nothing but my feeling.

    That's my point. I'm trying to get you to back things up with something other than your preference or your feeling.

    Personally, I know that God is infinitely merciful. But that doesn't mean we cannot reject Him. Are you rejecting Him? I don't think so… I think you are trying to find your way back to Him. But that's God's call, not mine. He's the only one who knows your heart.

  81. M.Albinoni, I am enjoying your exchange with Mike very much!

    1. LOL. I'm glad! My husband (who is not a doctor) always reminds me that doctors tend to shut others out when we get caught up in their own little unrelatable medical "bubbles", so I'm always a bit leery of committing that mistake.

    2. Ha ha, no worries here. My dad and uncle are doctors (and Mom's a nurse), so I am used to it!

  82. M - Thank-you again for your comments. We are pretty much saying the same thing, just getting caught up in semantics.

    I have the same issues you do with their website, and the graphs. When we were at the education sessions we brought this up as well (and hopefully the physicians that were there will eventually improve these things).

    Napro is directly related to Creighton, which is directly related to Billings. So yes a lot of the literature that I was talking about was based on Billings research.

    As much as we don't like the napro website, here is a link to the scientific research (mind you some better than others):

    If you look under the references for scientific foundation for Creighton there should be some good references there!

    thanks again for the discussion, I think I will be quiet on the subject now too! :)

    1. Thanks! This will be my "homework" for the weekend. :-)

  83. No, Leila. It is not my intent to reject God. If God exists, then I have no intention of offending God. I can say that there are no extraterrestrials and trust that I am not offending them if they do exist. Saying that God will punish me for not believing in God does not influence me to believe. To me it is just a ploy to scare me into believing. That's not how I decide what to believe.

  84. Bill, that's great, but Christianity is based on God's revelation (a loving, personal God would reveal Himself to His children, no? And make His will known so that we don't wander in the darkness, not knowing what to do, where to turn? No good parent would leave his children to wander in darkness and ignorance, right?).

    God's revelation is that rejection of Him is a very bad thing. And not believing in Him is rejecting Him, as His presence is all around us and He makes Himself known in so many, many ways (but will not force our hand; he's not a rapist, will not force Himself on us, unwanted).

    But back to the basic question: How do you "decide what to believe"? It seems like you base your beliefs on your feelings.

  85. I can say that there are no extraterrestrials and trust that I am not offending them if they do exist.

    Actually, you cannot say that. Science cannot make a negative assertion or declaration about what is beyond our universe. You cannot negate what is beyond from what is within. Your data set is incomplete. Your criteria is incomplete. You'd have to observe everything, and know that you've observed absolutely everything in the universe. You'd have to have all the details, all the questions and all the answers to those questions in order to make a negative assertion. Science has major restrictions because it knows its limits.

  86. Bill,

    I don't think I've interacted with you directly, but I've been following the exchanges for a while. It seems like despite being a self-described Catholic and "Jesus freak" for a time, you're frequently shocked at the actual teachings of the Church. Have you considered stepping back a bit and doing some basic reading about what Catholics actually believe? Not with a view of being convinced to believe these things yourself because then you seem to approach the reading combatively and dismissively, but just as a "hey, how do these crazy people actually approach the world? What *does* the Church teach?" You could think of it as an anthropology project.

    Although, now that I think about it, I probably shouldn't buck Francis on suggestions. He always has great ones!

  87. God's revelation is that rejection of Him is a very bad thing. And not believing in Him is rejecting Him

    I don't reject the intelligence in Nature which is closer to being the real God than the Judeo Christian God. I reject the Bible and the Catholic Church's claim that it somehow represents the creator of the universe and the intelligence in Nature. This being doesn't know me or care if I believe in it. You give way too much importance to what I believe. I don't even give it that much importance. It is what it is.

  88. Would you like to see me suffer forever because of what I have said on your blog? What kind of sick bastard would punish me for not believing in anything supernatural.

    None of us want to see you suffer, Bill, hence why we engage in discussion with you, because we care about you. If we wanted to see you suffer, we would just step back and say nothing.

    God's not punishing you; He's trying to reach out to you, but you keep refusing Him. It is in your control whether you go to Heaven or Hell. Do you think it is impossible for you to ever come to believe in God and Jesus Christ? That it's just too hard to believe in them? Too unfathomable that Jesus is the Son of God? God is very merciful, but only to those who truly desire it. He will not force His love or mercy on anyone, but leaves it to us, do we want Him?

    God exists regardless of any person's feelings or desires.

  89. "I don't reject the intelligence in Nature which is closer to being the real God than the Judeo Christian God."

    According to… whom?

    And, could you address sarahcecelia when you get a chance?

    By the way, happy Feast Day to all the Cecelias/Cecilias out there! And the Cecilys, too!

    1. Thanks! And I know "Cecelia" is misspelled, but it's a bit of a family tradition :-)

    2. My baby girl is named Louisa Cecilia, so I greeted her earlier. :-)

    3. Our oldest is named Maximillian ( yes with 2 L's) But not because of family tradition, because my wife entrusted me to fill out the paperwork by myself. Hehehehe

    4. That's how "Cecelia" entered the family naming scheme! Just think, someday your great-great-grandson will be telling the story of why he has two "l"s in his name :-D

    5. Hahahaha. Oh good. I can dig that! Start a whole new brand.

  90. "The Bible is written more in the form of a novel..."
    Have you ever played a game of Telephone, Bill? Almost invariably, the various retellings garble the message up so much, it is almost impossible to guess what the original message was. Don't you think it it is significant that the Gospels are remarkably consistent with their accounts? All the Gospel writers had to go on were either their personal eyewitness accounts, or oral retellings of other eyewitnesses, and yet the story is essentially the same in all four Gospels. Even today, with all our technology, when we can record voices and images, we get news stories incorrectly. Don't you think that is significant? Were they all just writing the same "novel". And if they were all in collusion, telling the same made-up story, don't you think they would've all told it exactly the same way?
    Bill, these were simple men: fisherfolk, carpenters and the like, and yet something inspired them enough to literally go to the opposite side of the globe (St. Thomas -- yes, Doubting Thomas -- was killed in India) and proclaim what they knew to be true. These men were transformed, Bill. It's one thing to say one man can proclaim a lie until his death, but another to say 12 men would do the same.

  91. Have you considered stepping back a bit and doing some basic reading about what Catholics actually believe?

    There are already too many things for me to believe. The more I learn about Catholicism the more unwieldy it becomes. My wife is devout because she doesn't even know all the things she is expected to believe. The more I learn, the less I see myself being able to take it seriously. How can knowing any more about make me want any part of it?

  92. Margo,

    First of all. I do not need any mercy and neither do you. What has either one of us done that we need mercy?

    This Catholic way of looking at myself, life, the world, etc. is warped. I'm free of it. I'm not going back to it. I have the rest of my life to try to enjoy and not worry about so many things.

  93. Nubby,

    I was only using the ETs as an example and it probably wasn't a very good one. How about this. I don't believe that you exist. I think Leila created a pseudonym named Nubby and is using it to spice up her blog by arguing with me about logic. Does that make you want me to suffer forever or do you just get a chuckle out of it? Believe me, if there is a God, he doesn't give a crap who does or doesn't believe in him.

  94. Believe me, if there is a God, he doesn't give a crap who does or doesn't believe in him.

    1) Why should we believe you?
    2) Why do you get to decide that God doesn't care about who does and does not believe in Him?

    God does not want you to suffer forever, neither do any of us!!!!!!! I am not sure how much more clear any of us could be. Each person decides for himself/herself whether he/she goes to Heaven or Hell. Okay? YOU decide, Bill and God cooperates with your decision.

  95. Same logic would apply, Bill. I see you're frustrated. Have a good weekend.

  96. Forgot to add - I never get a chuckle out of the thought of some potentially or actually suffering forever. Peace.

  97. First, Bill, I know I should love and care about you enough to want you to "be a part of" Catholicism, but right now I just want you to realize that so much of what you seem to think Catholicism teaches is just incorrect. You're railing against a straw man.

    Second, I think the reason Catholicism feels unwieldy to you is that you're trying to merge what you *think* the Church teaches and a few things that the Church *actually* teaches. At that point, yes, it just seems like random stuff to memorize and adhere to.

    However, one of the things I truly love about Catholicism is that it actually starts with a very few basic premises (e.g. There is a God and it's not me. The new testament includes actual eye witness testimony...) and the rest really does follow logically from the premises.

    But, like I said earlier. Don't approach it as something *you* should believe. Just try doing some reading so you don't get the teachings just flat out wrong. You seem to think you know a lot about the Church, but you know a lot of incorrect stuff.

  98. Bill,

    "I have come to the conclusion that it is OK (as in I won't go to hell)
    If you don't believe in God or the devil, and, by extension, heaven or hell, why would the threat or proposition of hell worry you in the least in the first place? You'd merely laugh at any such suggestion, wouldn't you? See the illogic?

    "What has either one of us done that we need mercy?"
    I'm sure Margot could construct a list of wrongs she's done in her life, as could I. Indeed, mine would be shockingly sensational - and, arguably, even land me behind bars. But you, Bill, have never done wrong in your life? Stuff that "cries out to heaven for justice" - and mercy? Are not all of us sinners (or, in secular terms, wrongdoers at some time or other)? Bill, Bill, Bill! Even an atheist would admit to that (even if it caused him to squirm) save the most dishonest or the most deluded! Where is your honesty? Where is your humility? Wherefrom this dishonest denial, this duplicitous disguise?

    Believe me, if there is a God, he doesn't give a crap who does or doesn't believe in him.
    Sorry, we don't believe you - we can't believe you - despite your earnest pleading! All you're providing here is yet another demonstration of your unreasoned and unlearned concept of God. God, per our (Christian) definition of Him, cares for every one of His children and desires all men to be saved - for, as I've just said, all men are sinners and all men fall short of the glory of God's perfection. If He didn't "give a crap" in the case of even a single one of us, He wouldn't be God! His love (and indeed, our religious logic and observations say He is love personified) would be limited and/or conditional - which would make the principal aspect of His nature imperfect. The God you're rejecting is not the true, benevolent God, as understood by most of believing mankind, but only a warped creature of your own creation, flawed allegedly by uncaring. That's a strawman, Bill, as sarahcecilia has just pointed out. A Guy Fawkes dressed in a strange pointy hat. No wonder you so enjoy setting fire to him and chuckling to yourself, mightily pleased that you've intellectually or "scientifically" proven something! :)

  99. Bill,

    "The historian includes references to sources."

    Always? What happens, when the historian doesn't need to quote sources, because he himself is the source? Nay, himself the first hand witness, who is recording for posterity what he saw and heard? The historian who says, for example, "The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe" (John 19:35). On what basis do you dismiss his word?

    Why do we take as "gospel" the testimony of witnesses (after corroborating and cross checking their stories and finding no evidence to the contrary) in just about every courtroom in the world?

    You seem to have such a stifling concept of "historian"!

  100. The Catholic obsession about Heaven and Hell is out of hand. Life is not about getting into Heaven, avoiding Hell or shortening time in purgatory. People who think on those terms have it all wrong. Why do people even think like that ?

    1. I don't understand you Bill. Are you being serious or purposefully obnoxious now? Everyone is asking for your proof regarding these statements you are making...and yet you keep making them without backing them up with any proof...or logic for that matter. It's kind of irritating. I normally subscribe to Leila's comment (always her posts), but reading your hundreds of comments in my email box make my head hurt! Please, please, back up this one comment. With anything that resembles any sort of logic...and with NOTHING that resembles "because Bill says so". Just this one comment...of all the comments. Back it up with something. Please?

  101. Gotcha, Bill. We have it all wrong. Our obsession, like yours presumably, should be to "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die". Gotcha. Loud and clear this time. Good luck with that!

  102. Oh, and "being merry" would presumably also include hanging around the Bubble, indulging in the free titillation of constantly emitting non sequiturs.

  103. Just wanted to share my experience. I had debilitating pain with my cycles since early adolescence, then 4 years of infertility after marriage before my diagnosis of Stage 4 endo at the age of 26. I was told by every doctor to go on the pill prior to this diagnosis but never did (thank God.) I had surgery and have since been cured of the disease. I am now 33 and not only have I not experienced ANY pain since then, but I have 4 beautiful children ages 6 and under. Thank God for surgery. If my daughters ever exhibit symptoms of endo I will get them into surgery ASAP.

  104. Life is not about getting into Heaven, avoiding Hell or shortening time in purgatory.

    I can't prove it, I can only live it.

  105. Okay, Prof Bill, now that you've defined for us what life is not about (thank you for that remarkable input!) could you please define for us what it is all about? Or would that be above your pay grade, requiring us to look elsewhere for insight?

  106. Francis,

    Just make a list of what things you consider life to be all about and then just cross out what I said that it is no about. That's what it's about. You probably live that way anyway. I'm sure you don't walk around thinking about how you can get into Heaven and minimize your time in Purgatory. You might think about that every now and then. Just don't. It's not relevant. Just be the best person you can be and feel good about being that way.

  107. Bill, surely you have sensed that the frustration with your comments has a common theme (even from those who have come out of lurkdom to comment): You throw out your opinions as facts. You back nothing up. This is annoying, and it's completely non-productive. It adds nothing to the discussion. We get your opinions, we have heard them numerous times. But if you can't back them up with logic or something other than "Bill believes it, therefore it's true", then please stop.

    It's not that we don't like you and don't want you to be happy. It's that people are busy and it gets tiring. I would not be surprised if I have lost readers on these threads where you go on and on about the same exact things, offering your subjective opinion and nothing more.

  108. Oh, but Professor, those things you recommend I cross out of my life are precisely the things that give my life - and all that I think , say and do - structure and purpose and meaning!

    What gives your life, thoughts, words and actions structure, and especially, purpose and meaning? Be nice now and tell!

  109. What gives your life, thoughts, words and actions structure, and especially, purpose and meaning? Be nice now and tell!

    My faith.

    Ok. This time I really will stop. Damn OCD!

  110. M. Albinoni, you had mentioned (if I remember correctly) that other treatments for endo-based infertility might be more effective than surgery. Could you elaborate on those treatments? I immediately assumed you were talking about IVF and that opens up a whole new discussion, but I may be wrong in assuming that.

  111. Amen! Love your blog!

    Soon after getting married at age 41(Thanks to the 54 day rosary novena! God and the Blessed Mother are the BEST match makers! Please come visit my blog?), I was diagnosed with endometriosis stage four. I needed two surgeries (My first one was with a secular ob/gyn who did not do a very good job, according to my Napro doctor. He just drained the cysts on my ovaries - he did NOT take them out. A year later, the cysts returned and I needed another surgery - this time with a surgeon my Napro doctor highly recommended!). I was told that I needed a prescription for the pill in order to control it. I told them, "No, thank you! I'm NOT taking that!" Thank God, I found a wonderful Napro doctor in my state (we have to travel three hours to see him, but he is worth it!) who recommended the Creighton Method and has a clue how to properly treat endo which is an auto immune disease (Secular doctors will try to argue with you and tell you it is not.). I also was told by another secular doctor that because I have endo, I need to have my uterus taken out because we seem to have a higher chance of developing ovarian cancer. Again, I consulted my Napro doctor and he told me: "No! You do not need to have your uterus taken out!" I love and trust my Napro doctor. I do not trust the secular doctors so much anymore.

    I highly recommend learning the Creighton method AND being treated by a Napro trained doctor especially if you have endometriosis, pcos, or any other reproductive disorder. My heart goes out to us all! Praying for all of us!

  112. Leila: I'm thinking you may have either misunderstood something I said or someone else said that, because I really don't have the experience (or knowledge) to make such a claim. My specialty is Emergency medicine, so infertility treatments are really WAY out of my scope of practice. The only thing I think I may have said that may have given you that impression was my objections to the way the NaPro website presented their own infertility treatment data against other non-NaPro methods (which included IVF).
    It's so funny how God works, though. I had been reading up a lot about this area because I just attended a day-long conference on Catholic Bioethics which was sponsored by my local St. Luke's Guild, (a group of Catholic healthcare professionals). We spent LOTS of time on stuff like IVF and infertility treatments.

    1. Thanks, M! I understand now what you were saying.

      I wonder if Mike can speak to the issue of morally licit options for treatment of infertility when endometriosis is the culprit (treatments other than surgery).

  113. Maria: At present, the pathogenesis of endometriosis is unclear. There are several theories about how is starts, but not one of them is proven. An autoimmune etiology is only one of them (and is actually not the most commonly accepted theory) , so your "secular" doctor was not lying to you. I doubt that someone's "secular" nature has any bearing on the quality of medical care they will give. I consider myself to be a Catholic physician, but I have several non-religious (as in either agnostic or even atheist) colleagues who I would entrust my life to.

  114. As for my story with living with endometriosis, as far back as I can remember my cycle has always been very painful. I thought it was normal for your cycle to be painful so I never complained. I suffered silently. I very rarely called in sick during my cycle and only a few times the pain was so bad that I couldn't move from my bed. All my life I had to take pain killers every day of my period. I also knew when I ovulated because that was painful too. Sadly, when I was in my thirties and had a CAT scan done for a kidney stone, they first noticed a cyst on my ovaries. They kept saying "we don't know if it's cancer", which scared me so much. They said they would have to watch it and if it grew, I would need surgery. I was sent over to a GYN who scared me even more giving me the CAT-25 test for ovarian cancer. I saw that GYN three times, she would give me an exam every time, but that was it. No mention of my needing a surgery or endometriosis was ever mentioned by any of these medical doctors. The one time I mentioned I had painful periods in my thirties my primary physician's response was: "Take three Aleve!" Again, no mention was ever made that I might have endometriosis. Nothing! No diagnosis or treatment ever given - just CAT scans and follow up visits to keep an eye on the cyst. I was told by my primary physician that many women develop them and they are called "functional cysts."

    So a couple of years past, I'm praying 54 day rosary novenas to meet a good Catholic man to marry and for the grace to be able to have children someday (I can't hardly write that without bursting into tears. Do you know when I was single and being treated for this cyst I had several dreams where I am pregnant and give birth to a child and wake up relieved? That was my fear - a fear of NOT being able to have children after getting married.), I meet a wonder Catholic man, we get married, we try to have children, we say no to IVF, birth control, even an offer from a friend to be a surrogate for us. And you know what? My fear, my worst nightmare came true - here I am at age 47, happily married, diagnosed with endometriosis at age 41, , and my arms and my womb is still empty except I have a womb full of endo. Sad! For several years of marriage, I used to cry myself to sleep over this. But seriously, what can I do? I'm 47 now and in hormonal decline. There is nothing I can do. We can't adopt. We simply don't have the $$$.

  115. I'm so sorry to hear about your story, Maria. Can you do foster care? Many foster parents end up being able to keep the children they care for. You usually get state support for foster care (including medicaid for the child). Also, these children are usually the kids who really need it (they were abused, their parents are drug addicts, etc). I can't tell you the number of children I treat in the ER who I just WISH I could take home with me.

  116. I am sorry, but I just can't keep thinking - if only I was properly diagnosed in my twenties or thirties, had that surgery to remove that so called "functional cyst", ect. Maybe then I would have a houseful of children (I would have accepted as many as God wanted to send!). But it's too late for me. And I think God's answer to all the prayers I said since I was in my thirties, was a painful no. I do not understand why. I used to wonder - am I being punished? Is it because of something I've done? I don't think so. I think I've been a pretty good Catholic all my life - not perfect, but pretty good. I have been a daycare teacher for twenty six years and given my whole life to help children. I still don't understand why I can't even have one. All I can think of is that because my endometriosis stage four developed from age 11 until 41 when I was finally treated, it somehow devastated my womb and conceiving is next to impossible. That's what I've been told. It's not easy to accept this, but what really helps me tremendously is praying for others, praying the rosary, and concentrating on the blessings I have been given like my husband.

    All I want are two things:

    1) For physicians to be trained better to recognize the symptoms of endometriosis.

    2) For all women to know that it's NOT normal for your period to be painful and if it is, to seek proper medical care (and if a doctor doesn't listen to you, seek a second opionion, a third, a fourth, ect. if you have to until someone listens!).

    3) For all women to know that the pill is NOT the answer!

  117. I am so sorry, I didn't mean to go on about it or get emotional, but it hurts. Hopefully some of you can understand and use what I've shared here to help (and pray for) others. May God Bless! Praying for all of us!

  118. Maria, you know how sorry I am about your situation. :(
    I agree with M., can you consider foster/adopt? That is not an expensive route to take to become a mother to children who need a safe home.

  119. Let's not confuse medical issues with moral issues.

    Pope Pius XII addressed the Catholic position on medical uses of the Pill when it first came out. (Sadly, there is no better English language source.)

    Humanae Vitae 15 reiterates this.

    As for the abortifacient issue, the possibility of the Pill having any post-conception effect is theoretical and highly unlikely. Essentially, the hormonal effects of completed ovulation (which is a sign the Pill isn't working) and from the newly conceived embryo are far stronger than those of the Pill. Furthermore, a woman with a severe ovulatory disorder that would require such treatment is far more likely to miscarry off the Pill than on it, because she wouldn't be ovulating or conceiving on the Pill.


  120. Please read the posts my dear Catholic friend Bobbi wrote several years ago on birth control:


    Is Birth Control Safe for My Body?
    by Bobbi

    Your Body Ecology
    I read a small pamphlet the other day called "Your Body Ecology". It stated the following:

    "Our body ecology is the natural balance of the inner environment of our body and the way it reacts to how we care for it. Just as we can disrupt nature on the planet by one single pollutant, we can disrupt the delicate balance of the inner environment of our bodies. We often fail to realize that the hormonal cycles that control our reproductive system also affect every part of our physical and mental well being. An offense against our reproductive system therefore is a serious offense against our general health."

    This statement makes incredible sense, particularly when you see all the damage that artificial contraceptives can do to a woman’s body. This is something that many women (both Christians and non-religious) are beginning to realize. Without talking morals into consideration, they are seeing that birth control is wrecking havoc within their bodies.

    Chemical Contraceptives
    The main forms of artificial contraception are made up of two types of artificial steroids that mimic the effects of the naturally occurring hormones, estrogen and progesterone. (Some make use of synthetic estrogen and progesterone and others use synthetic progesterone only.) These chemical contraceptives can be taken orally (i.e. the Pill, the mini-Pill), injected (i.e. Depo-Provera), or inserted under one’s skin (i.e. Norplant).

    Their effectiveness relies on three mechanisms. Only the first two actually prevent fertilization (the conception of a baby.) The last works as an abortifacient if a baby is conceived. The mechanisms are the following:

    Preventing ovulation from occurring.
    Changing the cervical mucus to prevent or delay the sperm from entering the uterus.
    Preventing the implantation (nidation) of a newly conceived baby onto the lining of the mother’s womb by changing the endometrium (lining). The unborn child is then aborted.
    (Note: According to Dr. Bogomir Kuhar, in Infant Homicides Through Contraceptives, it has been estimated by various sources that the third abortifacient mechanism comes into play anywhere form two to ten percent of female cycles per year. These forms of birth control take an estimated 8.1 to 12.75 million newly conceived lives each year.)

    These contraceptives work diligently at transforming a woman’s once fertile and baby-nurturing body into hostile ground. The normal womanly functions of ovulation, thinning of the cervical mucus to better aid sperm, and the protection of a newly conceived child within her body has been turned completely upside down. Altering a woman’s fertility so radically comes with a price. There are numerous side effects ranging from the annoying to the deadly.

    Because the Pill using hormones to make a woman’s body believe that it is pregnant (that’s why she doesn’t ovulate) she often experiences the same symptoms that a newly pregnant woman would - moodiness, weight gain, water retention, nausea and lowering of the sex drive. Other side effects include headaches, increased PMS symptoms, cramps, eye disturbances, liver tumors, cancers, high blood pressure, circulation disorders and blood clotting, and future temporary and permanent infertility. Side effects for injected and inserted contraceptives are similar.

  122. James, I hope I made that clear in the OP when I said:

    I want to be clear: There is nothing inherently immoral about taking the Pill to ease the symptoms of a disorder.

    That doesn't mean that the Pill is generally good medicine, even if there are times when it can be used licitly.

  123. As for the medical issues, NaPro has helped many people, but it's NOT the only option. My wife had a very bad experience with Creighton Model/NaProTechnology. It's not a cure-all, but has it's own benefits and drawbacks. It seems to be more focused on pregnancy achievement than on quality of life.

    Fortunately, we've had more success with a Billings Method based program. (BTW, the Billings Method website is fantastic.)

    Don't rule out non-sectarian sources either. Alisa Vitti has a nutritional program to treat many cycle issues that sprang from her own experience with PCOS.

  124. Leila - I will give you the short answer of options for infertility treatment that is morally acceptable.

    1. For many couples simply charting is enough so that they can recognize their fertile times, and use fertility focused intercourse. This is often very effective as many women ovulate at different times and when they weren't expecting it!
    2. Vitamins and supplements are often used - specific ones based on circumstances
    3. Medications to increase ovulation (clomid or femara) - these are very effective methods of ovulation induction and morally acceptable
    4. Injectable medications to increase ovulation - these are riskier but effective and morally ok, as the marital act remains at the center of this treatment (making this very different from IVF treatments)
    5. Luteal phase progesterone support - timed appropriately with a cycle

    This is not an exhaustive list, but at least gives you a good idea of the treatments we offer.

  125. I believe that good ethics is good medicine.
    It does not make sense that hormonal suppression which can be contraceptive and abortifacient would be the best medical option.

    Endometriosis is a good example of this.

    Hormonal suppression through birth control pills (inducing a chemical pregnancy) or by injections like Lupron (inducing a chemical menopause) are symptomatic treatments at best, at least while on them.

    However, hormonal suppression DOES NOT diagnose endometriosis, remove endometriosis, prevent progression or recurrence, nor help fertility.

    Please see this article for more details and references:

    Traditionally, it was presumed that women who felt better while on hormonal suppression had endometriosis (which is thought be to hormonally activated). However, we now know that lack of response to hormonal suppression when taken for pain almost guarantees having endometriosis among adolescents:

    Modern medicine is recognizing that a delay of diagnosis and intervention (and the use of hormonal suppression for symptomatic relief without a diagnosis is part of that)

    Clearly, the status quo of hormonal suppression (which is the standard way to treat adolescents and women with pelvic pain) is not working. We can and need to do better for women.

    If hormonal suppression were sufficient, there wouldn't be such an effort to promote awareness of this disease and to encourage early intervention:

    1. For the record, this comment was posted by an M.D. specializing in the treatment of endometriosis.


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