The Billings Ovulation Method assists couples in spacing their pregnancies and is an effective tool for family planning, once used accurately. As shown in several trials, the Method is 99% effective, as effective as hormonal contraception in postponing or avoiding a pregnancy, again, once guidelines are properly followed. Many people, however, do not know that the Method can also be used to achieve pregnancy, even in sub-fertile couples.
There are many reasons for sub-fertility, ranging from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Endometriosis in women due to hormone imbalances, to genetic defects, low sperm count and hormonal imbalances in men. Other contributors to sub-fertility or complete infertility in both men and women are Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) that have caused Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. STIs that can do this (usually if the STI is not treated in time) include Chlamydia, Human Papilloma Virus, Gonorrhea and Trichomonas. Sometimes infertility simply cannot be explained, and is a sad reality for approximately 10-15% of couples in their reproductive years.
Some couples, after trying to achieve a pregnancy naturally for some time, may want to try In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). According to Wikipedia, IVF “is a process by which an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body: in vitro (‘in glass’)”. However, in accordance with the natural law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2377) states that IVF is morally unacceptable. What happens in IVF is a dissociation of the sexual act from the procreative act and so human beings become like products to be manufactured in a test tube or a dish. What the Church is stating then is that human beings are not cars or trucks to be manufactured! In conformity with the dignity of the human person, each child deserves the right to come into this world through the natural act of sexual intercourse. Human procreation should always be more than just biology. Babies deserve and ought to be born out of and into the loving embrace of their parents.
Also according to the natural law, from the time an egg and sperm join, conception occurs and the new human life is recognised in the fact that the fertilised egg has its own DNA from day one of conception. With IVF there is a purposeful wastage of human embryos and sex selection. Usually, a number of eggs are fertilised and then only a few are chosen to be implanted, while the rest are frozen for future use or discarded. Each one is a life destroyed in its first stages. Could this ever be right? Can you imagine throwing away your boy-child because you wanted a girl? This could never be God’s will for new human life and diminishes the dignity of the human person.
The Billings Ovulation Method can be used by couples who are sub-fertile to achieve a pregnancy, as it helps couples identify their fertile phase. Just as we have two seasons in Trinidad and Tobago, the infertile phase that women have can be thought of as the “dry” season and the fertile phase as the “wet” season. With the Billings Ovulation Method couples learn to understand the signs of fertility and to recognise the woman’s peak day, which is the most fertile day in her cycle and very close to the time of ovulation or the release of the egg(s). Knowing the signs of fertility is the best chance of conceiving naturally. One study reported a 63% success rate with those who accurately use the Billings Ovulation Method.
For couples who are indeed infertile, St Pope John Paul II addressed their philosophical concerns in Familiaris Consortio. He stated that “even when procreation is not possible, conjugal life does not for this reason lose its value. Physical sterility in fact can be…the occasion for other important services to the life of the human person, for example, adoption, various forms of educational work, and assistance to other families and to poor or handicapped children.” There is something else these couples are being called to, be it adoption – a beautiful option – or helping society in some tangible way.
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