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Archive for the ‘flipside’ Category

Several (17!) posts later and I’ve done all the flipsides on Marriage, Children and Birth Control that I set out to do.  It only took 3 months!

Since there were so many of them, I thought I’d summarize them here and let you enjoy them at your leisure!

  • Some would argue that it’s wrong to not have children if you get married.  here.
  • Then some would reply that God could call you to marriage, but not to parenting. here.
  • My summary of these 2 positions here.
  • Some would say that it’s God and God alone who opens and closes the womb and you have no say in the matter.  here.
  • Then some would reply that God honors the choices you make.  here.
  • My summary of these 2 positions here.
  • Some would say that since children are a blessing, you should have as many as you can.  here.
  • Then some would reply that it’s okay to plan for children, considering your finances and abilities.  here.
  • My summary of these 2 positions here.
  • Some would say that since fertility is highest in a woman’s 20s, she should have children as soon as possible.  here.
  • Then some would reply that women are able to conceive in their 30s still fairly easily and even in their 40s with medical help, so don’t rush it just because of an age.  here.
  • My summary of these two positions here.

More days til a big annoucement!

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So, should you let your biological clock tell you when you have children?

Yes and no.

You can’t get around the fact that women’s bodies were designed for maximum fertility in their 20s.  You just can’t.  All the medical advances we make in this world can’t undo the Creator’s design.  They are, in some cases, trying to work around that.

A woman’s fertility does decline.  But as I said yesterday, it isn’t rapid.

There is medical help available.  BUT…it might not be what you want to do.  Before you go down that road, investigate what your options are and what you ethically find acceptable.  Prescription drugs are available to help women ovulate.  But there are also medical procedures (IVF) that can implant fertilized eggs into a woman, hoping that they’ll implant.  Some Christians would object to that because knowingly not all eggs will implant and to them, a fertilized egg is a new life.  But everyone has their own boundaries.  Again, that’s between you, your spouse and the Lord.

Don’t get to age 40 and be surprised when it is difficult to get pregnant.  It just is. A decision to have a family probably factors in all kinds of things: your fertility, finances, life stage, career, schooling, all kinds of things.  But really, all those factors shouldn’t mean anything if you don’t feel like God would have you having a family right now.  But, if you don’t feel direction from God one way or the other, I think you’re free to consider all those factors and make a decision.  the younger a woman is: the higher her fertility is, the better able she is to carry out a healthy pregnancy, the lower the odds of genetic problems are.  But none of that overrides God’s sovereignty.  Women who are 24 and perfectly healthy can’t get pregnant.  Women who are 28 miscarry all the time.  Women who are 22 give birth to a child with a birth defect. All of that is in God’s hands.

 

 

More days til a big annoucement!

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Part 2 of the latest flipside series.  This one deals with considering fertility in your family planning decisions.  Part 1 was all about keeping it in mind.  This one is the counterpoint: planning your family shouldn’t be held hostage by a woman’s fertility.  Here’s the flipside statement:

Some would say that since fertility is highest in a woman’s 20s, she should have children as soon as possible.
Then some would reply that women are able to conceive in their 30s still fairly easily and even in their 40s with medical help, so don’t rush it just because of an age.

Timing can be a difficult decision.  Especially if you’re not 20 years old.  You feel “I want children someday!”, but you also hear the biological clock ticking, and the temptation could be:

  • To rush into an unwise dating situation.
  • To rush into an unwise marriage.
  • To rush into parenting.

All because you fear that you won’t be able to conceive.  That you’ll get to be 50 years old, wake up and say “Hey…wasn’t I supposed to have kids?  I might have forgotten to do that.”

Your odds of getting pregnant next month are pretty similar to getting pregnant this month. Your odds of getting pregnant next year are only a little lower than this year.  Fertility is just a statistic and while it does decline, it doesn’t decline rapidly, unless something else medically happens.  Your odds of conceiving at 22 are about the same at 21.  Your odds at 30 are about the same as at 28.

Because the odds don’t decline rapidly, you can still use wisdom and prayer and seek God’s timing on all of these decisions.  It’s not a good decision to say “I think God wants to put off having children for a tad bit, but my biology says otherwise, so we better get started.”  God knows your biology.  God knows you.  God will lead you.  Don’t panic.  Don’t rush anything.

And like all of life, this is an opportunity to trust God.  This is an opportunity to say “I won’t let my fears get the best of me.”  It’s saying “Yes, I’m fearful that parenthood might not happen, but I will trust God with this.”  And trusting can be difficult.  You get those moments of panic that says “God won’t provide” or “This won’t turn out okay”, but your choice has got to be “God will provide.  It might not be the way I want it to be.  And His answer might be no.  But He is still good and I will leave it in His hands.”

Stay tuned – tomorrow I summarize all this!

More days til a big annoucement!

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Some would say that since fertility is highest in a woman’s 20s, she should have children as soon as possible.
Then some would reply that women are able to conceive in their 30s still fairly easily and even in their 40s with medical help, so don’t rush it just because of an age.

We’ve talked about whether it’s God or us who causes a pregnancy.
We’ve talked about whether people can choose if and when to have children.
We’ve talked about what methods individuals have in enforcing those decisions.

This isn’t the world’s most perfect flipside.  There are only kind of, sort of, maybe 2 sides to this issue.  First group is those who think that biology should be considered when deciding when to have kids and the second group is those who don’t think it should be considered.  Today, it’s all about  1) defining the facts and 2) arguing that this should be taking into consideration.  Again, in true flipside nature, this isn’t necessarily my position – it’s just easier to say “I” than to say “those who hold this view would say”…that gets really wordy!

Defining the facts

It’s a biological fact that women (in general) have an easier time getting pregnant in their 20s compared to their 40s.  It’s just how the average woman’s body is designed.  There are, as always, exceptions to this rule for a given individual woman.  An example would be a medical condition that causes infertility in a 25-year old woman is cleared up by the time she’s 35.  In that case, her odds would be higher.  But I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it’s usually easier for a woman to get pregnant at 25 than at 45.

Why this is

Because a woman is born with all of the eggs that they will ever have, she’ll face two main issues when it comes to age and fertility. 

As she gets older, fewer eggs remain.  Simply put: the number of eggs she has are finite, though usually this isn’t the major issue.

The predominant is issue is one of egg quality.  As women age, the percentage of genetically normal eggs remaining, decreases. This is why women will have a decreasing fertility rate (the eggs aren’t able to be fertilized even when released), increased miscarriage rate and increased chance of birth defects like Down syndrome as they age.

A nice little chart:

Courtesy Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine

 

 An article in the Boston Globe (hardly a Christian publication) sums it up nicely:

“Women who want to have children should make it a priority in their twenties to find a partner. That’s because one of the most dramatic issues facing Generation X is infertility. No generation of women has had more trouble with fertility than this generation, who received the terrible baby boomer advice, “Wait. You have time. Focus on your career first.”

But in fact, you have your whole life to get a career. Obviously, that’s not true of having a baby. If you are past your early twenties, and you’re single and want to have children, you need to find a partner now. Take that career drive and direct it toward mating – your ovaries will not last longer than your career.”

Keep this in mind

These are all just stats.  Our God can work around anything, but as I’ve stated before, I don’t think God usually works around the way He’s already designed the female body to work.

If you find yourself dealing with infertility, I’m sorry.  I imagine that’s really painful and I won’t for one moment tell you how to feel or even how to handle that.  That isn’t the point of my post.

The point of my post is to present the argument for keeping these things in mind when making family decisions.  I found a good quote that summarizes the reality on a infertility website: “As women delay childbearing, there is now an unrealistic expectation that medical science can undo the effects of aging.”  The fact is that it can’t.

Women are so often told that we can have it all.  And that we should have these rock star careers before trying to get married and “settle down” with a couple of kids.  But our bodies weren’t built that way.  Looking at just biology, it looks like God had a design for marriage and families and that women’s fertility was designed to match.  It’s our world that has pushed out to a different ideal.  It’s our culture that says “Live it up! You can do anything you want to at any time.  Don’t worry about the consequences of your actions.  Do what’s good for you now and worry about tomorrow later, much later.”  I don’t think God works that way.

 

 

More days til a big annoucement!

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I told you from the beginning that this wasn’t going to be a typical flipside series.  I usually present one side of an argument in one post, then the other side in another post, and wrap it all up with a pretty little bow in a third and final post.

I don’t have that here.  So, there isn’t much of a summary of the issue that I can provide.  So, to help alleviate any confusion, I’ll simply provide a summary of the posts that are involved in this flipside.

I’m just hesitant to share what we do because this is such a personal thing.  I will say this:  Whatever pregnancy control method you choose, include your spouse AND God in the decision.  If, before God, you think no pregnancy control methods are acceptable, then that’s what you need to do.  If, before God, you think almost all forms are acceptable, then you have a choice.  As believers, we have the Holy Spirit who will help guide us in our decisions.

Summary of My Posts

Flipside: Preventing Babies
If you’ve decided that it is okay to prevent having children now, how can you figure out what your options are?  There are many options to choose from.  Some are biblical.  Some are not.  What do you use to decide?

Flipside: Define “birth control”
As Christians, our real goal isn’t to try to prevent a baby from being born.  Our real goal should be to prevent a pregnancy.  There is a difference.  The key is to understand the process and determine 1) when life begins and 2) at what point in the “Baby Making” process is it okay to stop the process from continuing?

Flipside: Different methods of preventing pregnancy
Once you know where you think life begins and at which step you’re biblically allowed to prevent pregnancy, what are your options?  In this post, I again covered the “Baby Making 101″ steps and detailed which common pregnancy control methods line up with that step.  I didn’t cover hormonal birth control methods as they are trickier.

Flipside: All about Birth Control Pills
This post did cover the hormonal birth control methods, usually found in pill form (but not always).  I showed what they’re made of, how they worked and why some people are against them.

For More Research: What others say

John Piper.  “Is It Wrong To Use Birth Control?”

Mark Driscoll.  “Religion Saves: Birth Control”

Dr. Albert Mohler.  Birth Control Topics

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As I mentioned yesterday, birth control pills are tricky in the fact that different pills do different things, depending on what is put into them.

This is also a tricky subject because many people disagree on how birth control pills work.  So I’ll tackle this subject delicately, leaving my personal opinion out of it.

Forms

We think of hormonal birth control as coming in pill form, but it doesn’t always.  Examples are IUDs, patches, shots and implants.  It’s just a different delivery mechanism of how to get the hormones into the body and at what frequency.  So, when I talk about birth control pills, keep that in mind that it doesn’t mean just pills.  It just makes it easier for me to talk about it that way.

How they work

There are usually 2 synthetic (man-made) hormones in birth control pill: estrogen and progestin.  These do different things.

Estrogen:
Normally, in the middle of a woman’s cycle, her estrogen levels jump up.  That jump causes ovulation to happen (among other things).  The estrogen that comes in the pill keeps estrogen levels more consistent so that there isn’t a jump.  Without the jump, the pituitary gland doesn’t give the ovaries the signal to release an egg.  No ovulation.

Progestin:
Normally, as part of a woman’s cycle, the lining of her uterus thickens so that if an egg gets fertilized and tries to stick, it has something to stick to.  Progestin works to thin the uterus lining so that is less likely to happen.

Also as part of a woman’s cycle, her body produces a mucus. It happens because of hormones.  Progestin will cause this mucus to thicken, which can make it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus.

So, birth control pills are thought to prevent pregnancy in several ways:

  1. Prevent ovulation            (because of the estrogen)       Affecting step 1 from yesterday.
  2. Thin the uterus                (because of the progestin)      Affecting step 4 from yesterday.
  3. Thicken cervical mucus  (because of the progestin)      Affecting step 2 from yesterday.

Pill Make-Up

Birth control pills come in 2 make ups:
1) Those that have just progestin.
2) Those that have both estrogen and progestin.  Those are called combination pills. 

Because combination pills have both hormones, they’re considered more effective – which is common sense because it’s only with estrogen that you prevent ovulation.

Why Not?

So, if this is how they work, why do some people object to them?

Different people have their reasons.  Some don’t like the fact that they are artificial hormones.  They just simply don’t like taking pills or medicines when they don’t have to.

Some people believe that birth control pills are abortifacientwhich is a big fancy word for saying that something “might, possibly, it-could-happen cause an abortion”.  To them, they would say that life begins as soon as a sperm fertilized an egg (even before it has a chance to implant – Step 3 from yesterday) and if you’re taking or doing anything that could systematically cause that egg to be destroyed, then that’s an abortion.  So, for them, any pills that contain progestin (which is all of them), it is possible for that to occur.  So, for that very reason, they will not go this route.  Randy Alcorn has written much on this here.  Check it out if you’re at all curious.  Some people say that the chances are so remote, so unlikely that it’s not really a risk.  Since the primary way the pill works is to prevent ovulation, they believe this to be incredibly unlikely.  Others would say: “Do I really want to take a chance?”  That’s up to you.

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Okay, so you now know at which step you think its okay to interve in the whole Baby-making process.  Based upon that, what are your options?  I’ll go through these step-by-step.

Disclaimer #1: Ultra big, super important disclaimer from Jayme’s legal team: Jayme is not a medical doctor.  She didn’t even take Biology in high school (sad, but true – she really stuck to the physical and chemical sciences.  She did have a semester of Cell Biology in 8th grade, but her table partner was an annoying jerk, so her memories of that are less than fond).  She is not giving medical advice in any way, shape or form.  /Legal advice over.

Disclaimer #2: This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive.  I’m sure there are other options out there.  I either don’t know about them or didn’t consider them significantly different from other options enough to include.  But if you’re interested them, find out how they work and see how that lines up with where you think life begins.

Disclaimer #3:  Birth control pills are a tricky thing because there are different types.  What one type of pill does, another doesn’t.  It all depends on what goes into them.  So…in these steps, I’ll just say that there are hormonal pills that fit into a category.  But I don’t want to dodge the subject either, so I’ll take a whole ‘nother post to talk about them.  I include IUDs and implants in this category since they’re hormone based and work like pills.

Without further ado, here we go:

Step 1. Once a month-ish, an egg gets released from the woman’s ovary and makes its way towards the uterus.  “I’m free!  I’m free!  I’ve waited my whole life for this moment!” it screams.

Options: 2 main options:

  • Female sterilization where a woman’s fallopian tubes are tied so that the egg can’t make its way to the uterus. 
  • Hormonal pills.  Some birth control pills work by tricking the body into not ovulating.

 

Step 2. Sperm gets into the uterus (I won’t be teaching this part of the story!).  A whole bunch of swimmers swim along trying to find the egg.  As they go, they sing “Pick me!  Pick me!  Pick me!”  (I imagine.)

Options: 3 main options here:

Men could be sterilized  (a vasectomy) so that sperm isn’t present when they have sex.  That would definitely prevent a pregnancy from occurring.

A condom prevents sperm from getting into the uterus even when there is sexual activity. 

Spermicides don’t stop sperm from getting in, but it does start to kill them off rather quickly and prevents them from being able to swim fast. 

Diaghragms stop sperm from getting into the uterus and since they also require a spermicide, they get that benefit too.

Abstinence — there’s a “pregnancy control” methodology called Natural Family Planning that uses abstinence as its way of preventing the sperm and egg from meeting.  They use a woman’s body and its signs as a way of telling when a woman ovulates and then prescribes abstinence as the way of preventing pregnancy.  More on that in another post too.  Someday.  But it’s essentially “educated and temporary abstinence”.  Some people follow Fertility Awareness Method because they use those same signs of ovulation, but instead of abstaining, they choose barrier methods (or something else) during that time.  Think of it as Natural Family Planning with more freedom.

Step 3. Sperm meets egg.  Romance between them ensues.  One sperm fertilizes the egg.  At this point, the cell(s) begin to have a different DNA than the mother or the father.

Options: Hormonal pills are, again, your only option here.  Some birth control pills work by chemically changing the uterus’ environment so that eggs can’t be fertilized.

Step 4. The egg recognizes that it’s been fertilized and implants onto the wall of the uterus.

Options: Again, hormonal pills.  Some birth control pills make the uterus lining thin enough so that an egg can’t implant.

Step 5. The body says “Hey!  There’s something different here”.  It starts producing chemicals hormones that tells the body to do things differently than it did last month (most noticeably: not have a period).

Options: Hormonal pills are the only way to counteract these hormones.  Some birth control pills will force a period no matter what – even if an egg has been fertilized.  Even if an egg has been implanted.  This is often why women who menstrual problems are put onto birth control pills (when birth control isn’t the reason).  Some women don’t ovulate or have periods like they should, so doctors will often prescribe The Pill as way of making that happen.

Step 6. About 40 weeks later, the woman gets an insane urge to push and like magic a baby pops out.  It’s been born!  “Waa!  Waa!  Waa!”

Options:  An abortion is the only thing that can stop this.  An abortion could technically be performed at any stage in the pregnancy, but I think it’s illegal to have an abortion after 12 weeks.

Those are most of the options.  I’m sure there are more.  Next post will be all about hormonal methods.  I’m sure you’re excited!

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