Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Review- Taking Charge of Your Fertility

Taking Charge of Your Fertility (TCOYF) by Toni Weschler, MPH receives a B+. I like the book because it discusses FAM. Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is similar to NFP (Natural Family Planing method) except during times of fertility you use a barrier method. NFP you abstain. The book is scientific and doesn't subscribe to a particular religion, which is what I like about it. I get a little uptight when religion is used to explain the science or the science to explain the religion. While I think the two aren't separate, I don't like dogmatic lessons when looking for scientific answers. But that's just me. Some people find it refreshing. I find it to be condescending.

The book discusses how to use FAM to achieve pregnancy and as a method of birth control. In addition, it goes into great lengths to discuss using FAM as a means of understanding a woman's overall reproductive health.

The reason for it being a B+ and not an A grade book is that although it doesn't contain religious dogma it does contain feminist rhetoric. Page 13 "It (talking about IUDs) is but one example of the type of medical nightmares to which many women have been subjected; history reveals countless ways in which women's bodies and those of their potential offspring have been exposed to dangerous drugs and procedures." emphasis mine. The word subjected implies that women have not been given the choice when using an IUD. This is not China; we all know that this isn't simply true.

She also bashes doctors quite a bit. Page 9 "It is unfortunate that some physicians believe and help disseminate the erroneous assumption that FAM is complicated and difficult to use." I've never had a doctor talk to me about FAM so I can't confirm or deny this statement, but I assure you I don't think doctors think that it is solely too difficult to use. There are other factors. Some women are on birth control pills anyway because of health reasons or because they do not want to deal with their monthly period. You don't use FAM while on the pill. Other reasons for not introducing patients to FAM is because some patients may find it gross to check their cervical fluid or their cervix on a regular basis. It's unfortunate that Weschler is short sighted to believe that doctors are selfish about not bringing FAM up. We live in a culture where the pill is in and alternatives are out. She needs to keep this in mind. Doctors don't work in a vacuum; they work with the public at large. Even Catholic doctors don't discuss NFP with their patients that often, but that's a whole other discussion.

She also doesn't like the use of the wheel, that device that gives you your due date based on your last period. It uses the 14th day as the day of ovulation when as she points out a majority of women don't actually ovulate on day 14. Problem is that the vast majority of women don't know when they ovulate. The wheel is standard on which to go by. Even if a woman did actually ovulate on day 14 there is no guarantee that a baby will be even born on the due date. It's only a standard of measure. We've standardized inches and miles; what's the big deal about a standard ovulation date as a tool.

And lastly, she bashes the medical terms to describe woman's reproductive conditions. She views them as being archaic and at worst crass. Problem with that is medical terms are based in Latin which has a different meaning than what they meanings in our vernacular language is. Language changes over time. Case in point: the word retard today has a negative connotation in our vernacular. It was used originally as a medical term and meant to be a "nicer" way to describe patients with mental disabilities. Unfortunately this is how language evolves. The medical community could keep changing it's terminology, but then it would change constantly. Weschler needs to keep that in mind, and instead of bashing the terms, study and include information on the etymology of the word so that patients understand that terms themselves aren't intended to be demeaning. But I think she likes to use them to convey her feminist leanings.

It's a shame that such a good book is so short sighted and a good method is being used a platform for feminist propaganda.


  1. Part of me wants to say I'd rate it a little higher... but prob not. And I love the book... I use her software too lol. My biggest issue is not just the feminist part, but she kinda makes NFP followers out to be nuts. At least that's how it seemed to me.

    In my experience (unfortunately) dr do tend to view NFP & FAM like she mentioned. The last OB I saw (w/ Kalila) laughed at me and said he'd see me soon. Every other friend I have that practices it has gotten something similar. One has seen one dr (out of several) who did not have an opposing reaction to it, but he's the one who recommended it to her too lol. I do know there is a list of dr's online that are for it, but I've only seen one here (years ago) and we didn't click for several other reasons. Trying out one of the others soon since hubby needs a family dr appointment.

    Honestly I don't like the wheel either so I can't complain with her views on that. Yeah it is what's used, but that doesn't mean its the best option. Our Ob insisting on using it had our first due date over 3 weeks off. Thankfully the 20 week ultrasound agreed with us (and the 2 early ones he was ignoring) and he let us change it, otherwise I would have been fighting him over not inducing way too early. Its not so much of knowing exactly when baby will come but preventing something like that from happening.

  2. I'm sorry to hear that you've had so many problems with doctors. I've never really had a great relationship with them. At some point or another, they say the stupidest things or piss you off. And not just obs. Drs. in general. The best experiences I've had are with NP (nurse practitioners) who basically can do all the things a regular doctor can. I really think it's because doctor's feel the need to be challenged and if, as a patient, we are a boring case they try to speed us through the process.

    I have a nasty habit of uncontrollable vomiting whenever I pick up a bug. I usually end up in the emergency room because I can't keep down water. I love the question: "Do you think your pregnant?" and then you say no but because they don't believe you they check anyway to tell you later that your not. To the ER doc, "Duh! Do you know of any pregnant women who vomit uncontrollably to the point of dry heaving?" If there is some, it's really really rare. I have a friend who has the excessive vomiting while pregnant and she doesn't vomit as much as I was nor does she dry heave. In other words, the emergency room doctors are the dumbest people on the planet. Turns out what I had was mono. All they had to do was look more closely at the blood work. I ended up going to see an NP and she diagnosed it. She figured it was mono because my lymph nodes were super swollen. Although vomiting isn't usually a symptom of mono, the doctors could have actually examined me and discovered that that's what I had.

  3. Oh yuck! I had mono as a kid... it was awful. Most of the dr's I've seen I didn't have an opinion one way or another honestly. I have hope that we'll find a good one. Unfortunately I've heard so many horror stories (from people I trust) about them with pushing bc or ignoring you when you know something is wrong that I'm a little jaded on them too. Mystery Diagnosis doesn't help either lol. If it weren't for the one across town being my ex employers dr (and the baggage that goes with that) and decided to lecture me as if he were my priest instead of a dr I might have tried again with him. The OB was probably the worst I've ever dealt with personally and the only I've discussed NFP with myself. The ones at the med clinic were close. They thought I was pg too, but not because I was vomiting, but because Kalila was a month old and it'd be so long since my last period. None of them (even the nurses) could understand that's completely normal. Good grief how did they get through med school lol. Or nursing school.

    No I've pretty much resigned to the fact that every hospital trip or emergency visit of any kind will equal a pg test. Even if you say you haven't had sex they will do it. They're liable otherwise. It used to make me laugh when I was younger... well after the first time when I freaked out why I was getting a paper in the mail telling me I was not pregnant. :-D

    As for vomiting in pg, its not really that rare. I did vomit to the point of dry heaving with both pg's. I'm hoping my next doesn't but if so I'm curious to try the self hypnosis thing to help with it... didn't even think of it this last time (hadn't started my classes yet). Thankfully it only lasted the normal first trimester with Zavier. With Kalila it was 5 or 6 months and sporadically after that (well happened sporadically after the first trimester w/ him too, but not to the same extent). It was bad enough a friend of mine pointed me towards HG groups. I looked up all the information on it, but I wasn't more than borderline and never diagnosed so I didn't feel comfortable in her groups. Those women have it to the point of multiple hospital trips for iv fluids. Poor thing (my friend) had it w/ all 3 pg's. I have another who's dealing with it right now for the second time. Anyways its not that uncommon. Obviously not the majority, but enough that they could think that was the problem. Mono is pretty hard to miss though. Swollen lymph nodes do not equal pg lol. So while I could see them running the test, they should have been running others at the same time. Is what's always happened to me when I've gone in. What frustrates me w/ those trips is they run a million tests and it always equals out to "we really don't know, it must be some stomach virus". ER docs can be kinda dumb lol.

    Right now I'm looking into a dr who is licensed both in trad medicine (MD) and homeopathy. Surprisingly my hubby is interested too so we'll see if we end up going with him.

  4. I think that there should be different training for obs, which are surgeons, and gynocologists, which are medical doctors. The best gyno I went to was a the University and a NP. She was the one who said "Oh your ovulating. And oh, you have a retroverted uterus. No big deal. It's really common and doesn't affect anything." She's the only person who bothered telling me that. All the others want to talk about the weather or something. I've learned now to start asking questions and avoid discussions about superfluous stuff.

    Yep, don't like ER docs. I've heard not to go into the ER unless you've damaged something that needs repair immediately (like a nasty deep cut), burned yourself badly, are dehydrated, ingested something dangerous, or are having trouble breathing. And then only if it's after hours and you can't get your doctor on the line. Other than that urgent care is best.

    I've heard about homeopathy. I guess because I live with a scientist I get a little skeptical about some of the more far fetched things. Even acupuncture has it's critics. Hubby makes me show him studies. I have to prove stuff. Which has it's perks because it makes me more critical of things too.

    Even reading TCOYF, hubby has been asking all sorts of questions and wants me to "show" him stuff. And what I mean by that is he would try and feel my cervix if I let him. That's hubby for you. I told him to stop skimming the book and actually read some of the content first before trying to ask me a million questions. I also told him that he missed his calling. He told me that being an ob/gyn would suck having to look at women's parts all day. LOL You'd figure we would have had this discussion before we were married, but we never really have. We're doing things a bit backwards I suppose.

  5. LOL I think its normal to keep finding out things like that. If we knew our spouses 100% before the wedding life would get dull. Plus we're gonna grow and change.

    My husband is a bit skeptical about alternative med too, but a few things that help here... This dr is also an MD (comfort level for hubby), he's been to all kinds of specialists who've found nothing when he knows there's a problem, and he's seen how well home remedies and homeopathic meds have worked w/ me & Kalila. I grew up doing a lot of it. The Hypnobabies helped too. He thought that idea was crazy until he started learning about it and realized it included things he does already lol.

    I grew up in a place there was no urgent care outside of ER's lol. I'm still getting used to that even existing. I don't care for the one we've been too and Jas is getting fed up with them too (was the start of his whole mess). I know we'll prob end up using them again though, at least if we don't find a family dr soon.

  6. I hope that you are able to find one you like. I know from looking around at new pedis that the search is a real pain. Just trying to get one to sit down and talk to me outside of an exam is liking pulling teeth. I finally gave up and have decided to go with the one lady who actually spoke to me in person. The practice is very small, she's only be in practice 6 years, and there's no separate sick area. Other than that I like her. She seems to have a good bedside manner and works with families on adjusted vax schedules.

    My grandma used to use home remedies too. I like them. Sometimes they work better. It didn't really slough off on my mom though.

    Yeah, we grow and change a lot. I've discovered that my number one, totally make me loose my cool thing is feeling like I'm being made to do something. I don't know what it is, but if Hubby harps on/reminds me to clean something over and over again, I will flat out avoid doing so. Call it my temper tantrum. I can't stand when people order me about. I don't mind working with people. And I understand that there is this whole hierarchy thing, but when I'm equals with someone, if they keep on suggesting trying something or buying something or whatever, it gets on my nerves. It's better to suggest it once and leave it alone. That's definitely something that I'm finally able to explain about myself. I don't like being treated like I'm a child when I'm an equal.


I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!