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Unusual NFP Case wrote:

Hi, guys —

My wife and I have been married for almost 25 years and have used Natural Family Planning (NFP) throughout our marriage though we are not planning for anymore children. The last seven years we have had major problems using NFP because my wife does not have regular menstrual cycles and bleeds randomly and frequently. She started having irregular cycles seven years ago so the cycles can't be measured using NFP. (NFP worked fine for us before this time.) It has caused a severe strain on our marriage due to a lack of marital relations.

During the first three of the seven years, my wife went to three different doctors for a battery of tests and they have all said there is nothing wrong with her. (We thought it was a medical problem.) They gave her different hormone pills that haven't worked at all and my wife's cycles are still irregular and bleeding was still random and frequent. My wife is 50½ years old, and I am 49.

The doctor gave my wife birth control pills about four years ago. She took the pill for about one year from February 2008 to February 2009 in which her menstrual cycles were regular. The doctors now think it is menopause causing these issues.

We were not comfortable about her taking the pill so she stopped taking them to see if her periods would stay regular. They did not and became very irregular again. She has not had a regular period since she came off the pill in February 2009. She has had breakthrough bleeding many times with no clear temperature rise in the last three years.

In 2010, the doctor gave my wife hormone replacement pills because she:

  • was a nervous wreck
  • had:
    • prolonged crying spells
    • severe cramps
    • bouts of depression, and
    • several other medical problems which were attributed to menopause.

We have not had marital relations for almost three years. My wife and I read and studied the book The Art of Natural Family Planning by Kippley more than once, especially the section about menopause but that did not help in our situation. We have received documentation from the Couple to Couple league with no success. We even talked to a Catholic NFP counselor and described the situation. They said, since there was no period with a clear temperature rise,
we must use mucous observations (four dry days) to verify that my wife cannot get pregnant during this time. My wife cannot get four or more consecutive dry days during a month, so we can't use this suggestion. The NFP counselor did not know what to do since NFP was not working in this unusual case.

For the last two years, my wife has had infrequent bleeding episodes. I call them bleeding episodes, and not menstrual periods, because there is no temperature rises or changes in mucous patterns to show any cycles or infertile time periods. She has gone for 6, 8, or even 10 months without any bleeding then a bleeding episode occurs. A bleeding episode can occur two months in a row after a 10-month period without one.

We don't know what to do but we want to follow Church doctrine.

  • Is there something we can do?
  • Would it be sinful if she went on the pill again, knowing this is menopause, and she does not have regular cycles?

The pill may give her regular cycles again. She clearly does not have regular cycles which can be measured with NFP. This has put a severe strain on our marriage for the last seven years.

Any advice you can give us would be appreciated.

Unusual NFP Case

  { Would it be permissible to be on the pill knowing that her irregular cycles are due to menopause? }

Mary Ann replied:

Dear Unusual NFP Case —

You can contact a Naprotechnology practitioner, both a physician and a fertility care specialist. They can help you. They use natural means and methods to cure or modulate the difficulties.
I would also counsel patience and generosity.

As for the pill, she should not be on it, or, if she is, you have to abstain during fertile times.
The pill is not the best medicine. A good physician can prescribe different sorts of hormones
than the ones in the pill. You can also use an ovulation monitor.

In any case, her fertility is most likely very lessened, and your marriage is very important,
as are the goods of marriage so, "be not afraid."

Mary Ann

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