The Use Of Contraceptives (Part 10) – With Leonie McSweeney (LM)
The Use Of Contraceptives (Part 10) – With Leonie McSweeney (LM): I am very delighted to have met Dr McSweeney in my seminary days. She is a Rev Sister of the Medical Missionaries of Mary. She has dedicated her life to teaching Billings Method. Her book, Love and Life: Billings Method of Natural Family Planning is a handbook for almost every instructor teaching Billings Method. I will advice everyone interested in this topic to please look for the book and get a copy for yourself. This excerpt is re-echoing yesterday’s class, but this time around, in a very simplified manner.
After this, we shall now move to contraceptives proper.
Meanwhile, enjoy the chat format I adopted for today’s class. Note: The questions are purely mine; it is just my creative way of putting her words into conversational format.
“Tell us about a woman’s safe days?”
L. McSweeney: It is not quite correct to apply the word “safe” to infertile days because not everybody is trying to avoid conception.
“Okay, when is a woman fertile?”
LM: A woman is possibly fertile when she notices the presence of fertile mucus (ovulation mucus) and also during three days after the peak.
“Fertile mucus, ovulation mucus, three days after the peak; I am lost!”
LM: Many women see some kind of mucus everyday, but the special ovulation mucus appears on only a few days in every cycle. It takes only a little experience to distinguish one kind from the other. Once a woman begins to take note of it, this mucus sign is clear and unmistakable.
“What are the possible signs then?”
LM: The mucus sign can be both seen and felt. You feel the slipperiness and see the stretching. Feeling the wet slipperiness is the most important thing. It is distinctly different from what is felt on other days. The majority of women notice it while walking about, but every woman who ovulates notices the slippery sensation while wiping after urination in the normal way.
“So, this sign can be readily seen by women?”
LM: Yes! She does nothing unusual to find it – she simply dries herself after urination. The tiniest bit of fertile mucus is enough to give obvious slipperiness even if stretching is not seen and it is also enough to allow pregnancy to take place.
“What about a woman taking contraceptive pills?”
LM: A woman who is taking the contraceptive pill does not notice regular slipperiness because the pill does not usually allow her body to ovulate.
“Let us talk more specifically about the ovulation mucus, can we?”
LM: There are two kinds of ovulation mucus. They are Early Pap and Eggwhite.
“Early Pap and Eggwhite, I don’t understand?”
LM: I used the word Pap to describe it because it feels and looks like the baby food known as pap (a sort of corn flour) as well as Eggwhite because it looks like the ‘white’ of an uncooked egg.
“Okay, I get! Let us start with the first kind of ovulation mucus, the early pap.”
LM: This is the first kind of ovulation mucus to appear and the first indication of the approaching ovulation. We call it Early Pap because it occurs in the early days before the peak. When you feel it, it is not slippery (compared to Eggwhite), and sometimes it is even sticky. If you stretch it between your fingers, it soon breaks. It is very cloudy.
“What do you mean by it being cloudy?”
LM: It means not too clear in appearance. It can be confusing to use colours to describe the appearance of mucus, as the one word ‘white’ is used by some to describe something cloudy and by others to describe something clear. For this reason it is simpler to keep to the two words ‘cloudy’ and ‘clear’.
“How can you describe the second kind of ovulation mucus?”
LM: Early Pap develops into Eggwhite. Eggwhite feels, stretches, and looks like what is commonly known as the ‘white of an uncooked egg. However, there is one difference – the ‘white’ of an ordinary egg is always clear but ovulation Eggwhite can be either clear or cloudy, but not so cloudy as the Pap.
“So, what you are saying in essence is that, once the mucus feels definitely slippery it is certainly Eggwhite.”
LM: Yes! No matter what it looks like and even if nothing is actually seen. Feeling is far more important than seeing.
“So, once a woman sees or feels Eggwhite, it means the woman is fertile?”
LM: Eggwhite Mucus is fertile. Scientific studies have shown how the sperm is nourished by it and led along the branching canals of the mucus to reach the egg.
“Is it the same with Early Pap?”
LM: Pure pap (not mixed with Eggwhite) is infertile. The same studies have shown how the pure Pap acts like a blocking agent, preventing the sperm from entering the uterus. But Early Pap soon begins to hide Eggwhite even within a few hours, enough to cause pregnancy. So, in practice, consider Early Pap as always possibly fertile, even on the first day.
“Is there any other type of Pap, since you kept using the the word “Early” Pap?”
LM: Yes! There is Late Pap.
“When does this one occur?”
LM: Most days after the Peak are dry but there are occasional days where pap is observed, this is Late Pap, especially just after the Peak. Late Pap is always infertile – it never hides Eggwhite. So, the Pap you notice after the Peak is Late Pap. The one you notice before the Peak is Early Pap.
“You kept talking about the Peak. What do you mean?”
LM: The Peak is the last day of definite slipperiness whether there is any obvious stretching or not.
“If I get you right, the Peak is the last day one sees or feels the Eggwhite mucus. Though, I am not a woman, but assuming yesterday was the day I felt the slipperiness or saw Eggwhite mucus, that means yesterday was my Peak?”
LM: Exactly! Scientist gave the name “peak” because on the last day of slipperiness the amount of one of the chemicals (hormones) in the blood is at its highest level. So, ovulation occurs at the Peak or within 24 to 48 hours after the Peak. And note this, the word ‘Peak’ does not mean the day of most Eggwhite, because the amount can be either large or tiny on the last day. In fact on every day of its appearance, Eggwhite is quite irregular in quantity and at times it may be so little that some beginners call it a dry day and are surprised to see Eggwhite again the next day.
“How many days does the Eggwhite last before it get to the Peak?”
LM: The number of Eggwhite days varies from cycle to cycle. It is therefore impossible to know which one is the last day (the Peak) until one sees that on the next day there is no Eggwhite.
“You talked about the three days after the peak as being fertile.”
LM: Yes, since it is not possible for a woman to know the moment of her ovulation, she can however recognise the sign which informs her that ovulation has already taken place. Scientific studies have shown that most ovulation take place at the Peak or on the following day. An exception is sometimes present with twins or triplets. The second and third eggs are released within 24 hours of the first one. It is therefore necessary to leave 48 hours after the peak to be certain that all ovulations have taken place. Then, since the egg can survive up to 12 hours, one must wait for a third day after the peak before we can be sure that there is no egg alive.
LM: The infertile sign is Dryness. Most women feel nothing for most of the cycle and we call this “nothing”, or dryness. A woman feels dry on most days. Dryness is the infertile sign for the majority of women. These dry days usually occur before the peak and after the peak.
“Summarily, a woman is fertile once she starts noticing early Pap which then becomes Eggwhite after which on the last day of the Eggwhite it is her Peak; she is still fertile until three days after the peak.”
LM: Very apt! It is good for the couple to abstain for a little time so as to help the woman to understand her body, as she tries to chart her everyday experiences on paper.
“Thank you so much. . . I really appreciate!”
Please, all right reserve!