Secondary Infertility with NFP?

Are there any couples out there that have suffered from secondary infertility? Meaning at least 3 years of not being able to conceive another child? And if so, did you need to practice NFP to avoid pregnancy because of a medical condition or medication that would be dangerous if conception occurred? How did you wrap your head and heart around NFP when your heart was still aching for another child and you knew the likelihood of pregnancy was slim? Didn’t you feel as if you were trying to conceive, charting your cycles, mucous, ovulation without the reward of pregnancy? How did you stick to it if you really wanted another child? My husband and are stuck between our beliefs, the dangers of my medication and our desire for another baby. The clock is ticking and we’re watching our chances for another child disappear.

At the same time, I’m ready to move on and end the months and years of dashed hopes. I want there to be a way that I no longer need to focus on my fertility and can live my life not thinking about my cycle anymore. How do I recover from my infertility if NFP is going to cause me to continuously focus on my fertility? I have probably a 2% chance of pregnancy. Is it irresponsible to not practice NFP while taking a medication that causes birth defects in the first trimester? My desire is to move on from this time in my life and focus on the children God has given me. How can I do that while practicing NFP and worrying about conception on this medication? Sterilization would allow me to move on. NFP will be like rubbing my face in everything I can’t have. I do not think I will be successful at it. My husband won’t agree to sterilization. I agree with our core beliefs on birth control but my life has placed me in these difficult circumstances.

If you have experienced something similar, can you please tell me how you coped? How long did you practice NFP for and were you successful? Did the burden of infertility become less over time? Were you able to move on without ever conceiving another child?

NPF would be the way no matter your feelings on the matter. I know that sounds harsh but Jesus didn’t tell us to put down our cross when times got tough or it inconvenienced us. Please don’t try and rationalize yourself into sterilization. It seems your looking for a reason to do so. This isn’t acceptable from the churches perspective. You certainly have free will to do what you want but if you want the orthodox solution its to tough it out and carry the cross God has given you.

I’ve never found NPF to be a burden or anything but a blessing. I’ve been married 10 years and have 2 children so far. Its been great. Its also been very hard. But that’s life.

Char706, Welcome to Catholic Answers. I hope you find your time here to be enjoyable and edifying.

I’m so sorry for your struggles with infertility. What a terrible cross that must be! It took me and my husband almost two years before we were able to have our first baby and I remember the agony of not knowing whether we were fertile and whether we’d ever get a baby. It must be such a struggle to wait year upon year with no good news.

Can I ask: It seems from your post that you’ve been on a medication that has necessitated use of NFP for a while now. Is that correct? If so, how do you know you’re infertile? I’m not doubting your assertion, I’m just curious.

NFP can be difficult, this is true. If it were me, I would probably try to explore alternative medications that would not require actively avoiding conception, so that I could just resume normal marital relations without having to chart or worry about potential birth defects. Especially if your heart aches for another baby and there’s a slim possibility you may be able to conceive if you were not practicing NFP.

I will say that a lot of the frustration you experience with NFP is also shared by other woman who desire pregnancy but feel it’s not best for the family at the moment. I think that, as women, we’re built to desire children in marriage and it’s tough when circumstances prevent that. In your case, infertility and a medication that precludes conception. In other marriages, it might be finances, or health concerns, or a special needs child. It can be helpful to see that NFP is not an alternative to contraception, but to complete abstinence which would probably be more difficult for you and your husband.

I’ll keep you in my prayers. God bless.

I would strongly advise you to seek medical advice from a physician familiar with NaPro Technology. This was developed by Dr. Thomas Hilgers at the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, NE. All the methods used by Dr. Hilgers are consistent with Catholic moral teachings. He has trained other doctors all over the country. Dr. Hilgers or someone familiar with his methods would be able to properly assess your infertility, current medications, and so forth.

In my own case, I was able to conceive a child after treatment at the Institute. This child remains our only one but I felt such a profound sense of peace in knowing that we had received the best medical/moral assessment of our situation. The whole ethos of the Institute is one of healing. You may not come away with the child(ren) you hoped for but you come away healed in other ways.

I have Graves Disease. I need my thyroid levels regulated or I could suffer from a condition called “thyroid storm” and die. I also need my thyroid levels regulated to conceive and not miscarry. I had been trying to conceive after a miscarriage for 2 years when I was diagnosed with this disease likely causing my infertility. Since treatment began, my understanding was that I could be on methimazole (the drug that causes a specific birth defect in the first trimester) until 4 weeks/positive pregnancy test and then, switch to PTU (another anti-thyroid that is safe in the first trimester). I have recently learned that I cannot take PTU because I have the rare reaction of my liver enzymes becoming elevated–the drug has inflamed my liver and I absolutely cannot be on it. I have consulted a surgeon for a thyroidectomy, which is a bit extreme as my Graves is mild and my thyroid is not enlarged/no nodules. But my Endocrinologist recommended thyroidectomy so that pregnancy is safe. The surgeon told me that I am not a good candidate for a thyroidectomy because of other issues with my jaw making jaw damage during surgery possible. The 3rd treatment for Graves is Radioactive Iodine treatment which would make conception unsafe for 6-12 months following the procedure. I may not need to be on methimazole forever. I may achieve remission where I can go off of it in another 4-10 months. But there is only a 40% chance of remission.

But to answer your question, since I was diagnosed 7 months ago, my infertility has continued. It wasn’t until last week that we realized I absolutely couldn’t get pregnant with this condition.

I have looked into NaPro. But until my Graves is in remission, there is no point. I have been charting my cycles for over 2 years. It took me over year to conceive my first child and many months to conceive my other children. So,I am familiar with what NaPro does. I know my cycles backwards and forwards. I know NFP backwards and forwards. I want it all to be done. If there are no more children in our future, I want to be like my husband and not have to worry/think about it constantly. In March, my husband took my thermometer and fertility monitor away because he saw that I cannot continue along this road of continuous disappointment. I broke down and wept at Mass in late February after noticing another one of the women my age is pregnant with their next child.

I need to move on. NFP and charting/tracking my cycles no matter which way you do it is NOT moving on. Abstinence would be better. I have not considered abstinence before, but it would allow me to not track my cycles like I’ve been doing for the last almost three years. It would remove the possibility of conception on this medication. It would be a sacrifice for my husband and myself. But one that is I’m sure better in the Church’s mind than a vasectomy.

Can I ask maybe I missed this what is so hard about tracking?

Talk to your husband about it. Certainly if you feel like you’re at a breaking point and considering sterilization it may be worthwhile to step back from NFP charting and abstain for a bit. Even St. Paul says that when spouses agree, a period of abstinence can help us devote ourselves better to prayer.

I’m sorry for your health struggles and I hope you go into remission soon.

God bless.

Tracking my cycles is difficult with unstable thyroid levels. Your thyroid is the trigger for your ovaries. If your thyroid levels are constantly going up and down (hyper to hypo thyroid) with medication changes, ovulation symptoms/thermal shifts are not consistent or reliable. My temperatures are very flat sometimes not indicating a clear thermal shift.

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