I'm very excited to bring to you Part 2 of my interview with Dr. Northrup. We received such positive responses to Part 1. So many women were not aware of the NuvaRing scare, and a number of you were grateful to receive important guidance and information that you didn't even realize you needed about yourselves.
I'm thrilled we got you thinking about your contraception choices. And that was exactly the point...to bring more consciousness to your body's reproductive workings and own your sexual choices. Healthy sexuality is an important part of your total vitality, and this depends on you being awake and conscious about what you're taking into your body (both medicinally and sexually).
There are no right or wrongs when it comes to choosing the pill, IUD, fertility awareness, or other. What's important is to know and understand your choices, and to make them from a place of empowerment, knowledge and self-honor. For that I give you more Dr. Northrup...
Sandra Lanshin Chiu: You brought up a really great point about how hormonal contraception interferes with our intuition. Of course shutting down physiological function and altering natural hormone systems would dull our 6th sense. Mind and body are the same thing, after all! Not only that, but it also interferes with sex drive - which is the ultimate cosmic joke that you would take the pill so that you can have more sex with more peace of mind, but then you want it less.
Dr. Christiane Northrup: I know - this really is a cosmic joke. The fact is that the mid-cycle surge of testosterone is eliminated by the pill - and it changes levels of sex hormone binding globulin for months, maybe permanently even after one stops the pill. What a price to pay for being "sexually available for intercourse" 24/7. (See Part 1 for more comment on this)
SLC: In China certified acupuncturists and herbalists also train for medical degrees. So they work directly with allopathic and holistic models of care. From this integrative point of view, one of my teachers in Beijing lectured passionately about the need to take breaks from the birth control pill.
In Chinese medicine we say that if the function of an organ is shut down, it stagnates. So if the pill is shutting off ovulatory function, the ovaries energetically (and sometimes physically) stagnate because they don't get to "run" as usual. This could be why some women have a hard time getting their natural menstrual cycles back after going off the pill. I've treated many patients who have experienced this. What is your opinion – do you think women should take breaks from the pill?
CN: I absolutely agree with this approach. The women who are most likely to have problems re-establishing regular periods when off the pill are those who went on the pill to "regulate their periods." Know this - the pill doesn't regulate anything - it just masks the underlying problem. Now, there are situations where this is necessary - such as when a woman is having really really heavy bleeding and nothing else works. But in general, this kind of pharmacologic approach should be a stop gap measure only. And then, the approach should be to reestablish hormonal balance in the body naturally.
SLC: You are a proponent of bio-identical hormones. You mentioned before that these could work just as well as the synthetic hormones used in the pill. Are bio-identical hormones readily accessible to consumers? Do any renegade physicians out there have a program or system of using them for contraception?
CN: I know of no physician who prescribes bio-identical hormones for contraception even though I've met people who have studied this. And theoretically, it is entirely possible to do. Melatonin could also work. But again, there is no financial incentive to develop these safer methods.
SLC: How amazing would it be for women to have a bio-identical option?! Maybe now that we are aware this is even possible, we can get to work dreaming it up for the future.
So I was re-reading the section in your book on the various contraceptive methods. I love what a useful and easy resource this is to understand the basic ins, outs, pros and cons of each type - from the pill to cervical caps. But when you educate women about contraception you always speak first about our self worth and honor. Can you elaborate a bit on this connection between our contraception choices and our sense of value?
CN: When you value yourself, your sexuality, and your fertility, you simply are NOT WILLING to allow low vibration partners to enter you sexually. It just doesn't make sense. A man's etheric energy remains around a woman for at least 6 months after she has intercourse with him. Would you eat bad food that you knew stayed in your body and adversely affected your health for 6 months? Would a serving of that food - no matter how compelling in the moment - really be worth it?
Women who KNOW their value NEVER believe that they must have sex with a guy in order to "keep him." Women have been taught to give themselves away too freely. Now - if you are a woman like Virginia Johnson in the Showtime series Masters of Sex - who is able to completely separate sex and love and attachment, then this might be fine for you. Though even she, at the end of this season, becomes attached to Bill Masters. The bottom line is to be highly selective about what you let into your body.
SLC: Yes! Ain't that the truth? We can have our fun, but also be more selective and insist on good, safe partners. Sometimes our programming is so deep that we don't even realize when we're settling. But getting really conscious about this is especially important if you practice or are thinking about exploring the Fertility Awareness Method, which I'm personally for.
You describe this on page 399 of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the effectiveness rate is up there with the pill and condoms (when used correctly of course). That's amazing! I like to take my BBTs (basal body temps), but didn't realize that so many studies point to the Cervical Mucous Check as the most effective measure of ovulation. Can you give us an idea of what this method entails on a daily basis? Any resources you suggest to learn more about this in depth?
CN: Earlier I talked a bit about the Fertility Awareness Method [See Part 1, topic 2]. At the beginning, it's good to feel your cervix and actually test the cervical mucous. There are little microscopes you can get that actually test the ferning pattern of your saliva - yes - estrogen levels in saliva will dry into a fern pattern at midcycle, just like cervical mucous. Over time it becomes really really fun to get to know the miracles of your body in this way!!
SLC: You have pointed out that one of the benefits of the Fertility Awareness Method is the opportunity for couples to partner with each other in their contraceptive strategy - so that the onus isn't always on a woman to dose herself daily with hormones, or deal with the side effects of the IUD or other methods. What would it look like for a man to be a more equal participant in contraception with his partner? These men seem few and far between...where are they?
CN: The only reason we don't see them is that we have been so brainwashed into thinking that we have to be sexually available to be "hip" and "cool." So we have seldom asked men to 'step up" and honor our fertility along with us.
It's time we SHARED this responsibility. It is STAGGERING to me that so many women are getting pregnant "accidentally" with men who unwittingly then become fathers. Yes - there are birth control failures. But 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are still unplanned.
You can actually use a man's behavior about your fertility as a guide to the quality of his character. Men who are tuned in can actually TASTE the difference in a woman's vaginal secretions over the course of a month. And those who have lived and loved women can actually tell where she is in her cycle by her behavior and her moods. Is she more withdrawn? More outgoing? Knowing how to cherish a woman in all the various phases of her lunar cycle is the mark of a man with great integrity.
SLC: Amazing. I'll take one of those please. On that note, I love that you describe "Outercourse" as one of your top conscious contraceptive methods. You define it as "any form of sex play that does not involve intercourse, making pregnancy impossible.."
Where exactly did the art of sex play go? According to sexperts there is far more to outercourse than intercourse that we just don't explore. We are so trained to think that intercourse is the goal, when sex can also be about exploring different methods and realms of pleasure.
Thre's also the tendency for many women to prioritize their partner's desires over her own needs and boundaries. Even the most intelligent and strong women have been in that position. It's such a deep programming. Can you talk a bit on how to overcome that?
CN: Here's the truth. You elevate a man by allowing him to worship at the temple between your thighs. Good men LOVE to pleasure women. And many will tell you that they love GIVING pleasure MORE than receiving it. But you have to make the first move. And no man is going to honor you unless you honor yourself.
The woman sets the tone for everything. She trains a man in how to treat her. (And yes - I am painfully aware that 1 in 3 women have been raped or beaten in her lifetime - thus setting the tone for more victimization.) But we have to change this one woman at a time. (This doesn't preclude working for change at a policy level or with organizations like V-Day.)
This is one of the reasons why I tell women that self-pleasuring is a key part of their sex lives - whether or not they are in a relationship. Because if they don't know what feels good to them, they won't know how to convey this to their partner. There's nothing more important than learning how to own and operate your own erotic anatomy!! And doing so is a great way to heal one's sexuality. The vast majority of men are not born knowing how to pleasure a woman. And those who do are a treasure! And every woman who learns about her own erotic anatomy and conveys this knowledge to the men she is intimate with is part of the solution.
And there you have it, Northrup wisdom in full effect. It just doesn't get any better than this. Stay tuned for more in the future. Have questions for me or Dr. Northrup? Email us and your question may just inspire a future post (firstname.lastname@example.org).
by Sandra Lanshin Chiu