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Natural fertility is focus of programs for teens, women

Office of NFP provides programs for teens, women

Marie Swoboda gained a new appreciation and understanding of her fertility, all because of an invitation to a moms’ group.

Several years ago, newly married, Swoboda was concerned she was experiencing infertility because of some noticeable health symptoms. A friend invited her to a Beauty of Eve presentation at St. Monica Parish in Creve Coeur. The hourlong presentation, created by the archdiocesan Office of Natural Family Planning, gives an in-depth look at the female reproductive system as it was designed by God.

“As I was listening to (the presentation) I felt like this lady was retelling my whole life story,” said Swoboda, a member of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Brentwood. “Everything I was going through, she went through in her teens … she also had a hard time finding a doctor who would take her concerns seriously.”

Aimed at women college-age and older, Beauty of Eve morphed out of a similar program for high school teens called Wonder of Eve, said Jeanne Stoll, supervisor of FertilityCare Services at Mercy Hospital and staff member with the NFP Office. Stoll said she had received a call from a MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers) asking if someone was available to give a presentation on fertility and natural family planning.

“Some of the moms told us they didn’t know any of this,” Stoll said. “That was our ‘aha’ moment.”

Other Beauty of Eve participants have reported being on artificial hormones for years to treat medical issues related to their menstrual cycles, unaware that there are alternatives to treat the issues. Some participants have gone on to receive instruction in one of several Church-approved methods of natural family planning. The presentation also has included information on medical-related issues with menstrual cycles, childbirth and breastfeeding, miscarriage and infertility.

“The women who have seen the Beauty of Eve presentations have been amazed at what they had not known,” Stoll said. “They have wondered why they did not hear about this before. We want people to look at fertility not as a disease, but to appreciate it as a gift from God.”

There are seven OB/GYNs in the St. Louis area who are trained under the Creighton Model FertilityCare/NaPro Technology (one of several Church-approved methods of natural fertility care) to treat reproductive issues. Several family medicine doctors in the area also are trained in the medical applications as part of their well-woman care. For a listing, see stlouisnfp.org or call (314) 977-7576.

Wonder of Eve was developed in 2019 for teenage girls in high school and includes information on the design and function of the female body, including the reproductive system, menstrual cycles and how to track them naturally. It also covers the impact artificial hormones have on a woman’s body, including how it could affect future health and fertility, and promotes the Church’s teaching that sex remains within marriage and other aspects related to Theology of the Body.

During the pandemic, the office has held virtual sessions, including to groups outside the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The NFP Office demonstrated the program two years ago at a meeting of the American Academy of FertilityCare Practitioners, and they found others were interested in offering it in their dioceses, including in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada and Georgia. Stoll said the office is going through the process to have the program licensed in the future.

“We want to introduce them to it … so when they come to marriage prep years from now, it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I heard something about that in high school one time,’” Stoll said. “It’s not the first time that they’re hearing it.”

Swoboda was so moved by what she learned at the Beauty of Eve presentation that she began charting her cycles using the Creighton Model FertilityCare system. By late 2019, she began training to become a certified FertilityCare practitioner and now teaches the method to other women through SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital. She and her husband had their first child in 2020.

“It’s such a great program, and there’s so much information there,” she said. “I went through public school sex ed and learned almost nothing about my period. Our bodies are such a gift, and there’s so much to it.”

>> Participate

The Beauty of Eve program will be offered to young adult women later this month.

WHEN: 6:30-8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 27

WHERE: Pauline Books & Media, 9804 Watson Road in Crestwood

MORE INFO: Registration is limited to 15 participants. Register online at bit.ly/PBM-BoE01-2022

To learn more about the Wonder of Eve and Beauty of Eve, or to host a program, contact the archdiocesan Office of Natural Family Planning at (314) 997-7576.

The NFP Office also is online at stlouisnfp.org, and Facebook and twitter @stlnfp. The office is supported by funding from the Annual Catholic Appeal.

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