“Why Women Get… Headaches”
by KC Schnitker
“I can take it or leave it.”
In 23 years of marriage I’ve heard many women confide they feel less than enthusiastic in regards to intimacy with their husbands. So much so, that it prompted me to explore why. As an instructor of moral family planning and in my continual study to find more effective ways to communicate God’s thrilling plan for love and marriage, I found the common thread that explains this phenomenon of sexual apathy- the use of contraception.
This kind of chronic sexual headache we often hear jokes about has many causes. The number one cause, contraception, is also tragically the least often considered as a source of marital discord, especially sexual problems. It is also the most insidious because we are immersed in a culture that sells and promotes contraceptive behavior as what is right, responsible, and sensible- it has become a no brainer. The message is that our fertility, and therefore, our maternity are unimportant. “Cut it off- no big deal! You will be happy and free and sexy.” But, if we are so happy, free and sexy, why are so many of us depressed and disinterested? Why the headaches?
Separating fertility from the sexual act causes headaches. Fertility is a healthy, normal, essential, fabulous, bodily function. Fertility is not a disease in need of a cure (especially carcinogenic, steroidal, abortifacients like the pill, patch, shot, ring, IUD). Frustrated by this misrepresentation, I asked my ob/gyn, “Where in medicine is an expensive, ongoing, potentially harmful drug given to someone for a perfectly healthy condition?” I was met with SILENCE. Crickets.
Contraception is an assault on the health of women that is perpetrated in the name of “women’s healthcare”. But not only the physical well being of the woman is damaged, but her integrity as a human person. She is created to be in union with God and with her husband fully, spiritually and bodily. Begin the use of contraception and you destroy the possibility for the rich relationship between spouses. You begin headaches.
If you are a supermodel, you won’t like this...
The following study done at the University of Vienna1 illustrates the importance of fertility to beauty and attractiveness.
A group of men were shown pictures of supermodels and asked to rate their attractiveness. Then, without their knowledge, a rag soaked in the human fertility pheromones was put into the room and the men were shown pictures of ordinary women. They were then asked to rate the attractiveness of the ordinary women. Well, ya know what? They rated the ordinary women as MORE attractive than the supermodels (Eeeee! I love this study!- sorry, supermodels!!).
Our culture, the media, and society want us to buy the idea that our fertility is not all that important. Just cut it off and no big deal, no effect! But is that really true? Why all the headaches if baby-free sex is so readily available and we are so free to engage our passions? Why is it that 24% of contracepting couples don’t have sex at all?2
Our fertility is an integral part of who we are. It makes women beautiful, which is far better than sexy. Beautiful continually inspires, sexy temporarily incites.
Women are beautiful.
I love the picture above. It really captures us and it REALLY captures them. Men are just ga-ga about us. To them we almost…glow (I’ve said this many times in my classes and never yet has a man contested it). We even appreciate our own beauty. Just consider all the fashion magazines for women. Are we to believe it is only the clothes we are appreciating? We are fascinating, even to ourselves. It’s not just our face or our bodies, it’s our lovely femininity- women make the world a better place- our compassion, gentleness, intelligence, kindness AND our fertility/maternity are gifts- that life is conceived in OUR bodies and nurtured there for 9 whole months and then we nurse and care for that life after birth and beyond is beautiful, valuable and of the utmost importance.
The philosopher Alice Von Hildebrand explains,
“…when a wife conceives a few hours after her husband has embraced her, God creates the child’s soul in her body…In other words, there is a personal "contact" between God and the woman which gives to the female body a note of sacredness.”
That ‘note of sacredness’ and that privileged contact with God make us glowingly b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l.
Beautiful vs. Sexy
I wrote in the previous article “Real Women Don’t like Lust,” that I am just sick to death of sexy; the new, modern, worldly-type, seemingly ultimate, female virtue. In fact, I am so sick of it that it can go… die.
What is sexy anyway? I wrote in Part 2 that when a woman looks sexy, she looks, well, ‘ready for sex’. Is that really what we want to aspire to as women? To walk around looking ready for sex? Do I want my children to see me like that? I certainly don’t want anyone looking like THAT around my husband. Do you? That is just, not… nice! Something about this incessant pressure to be sexy seems to divorce women from maternity. I suspect from a child’s point of view it’s even kind of…scary. Sexy and Mommy don’t mix.
‘Beautiful’ is approachable, kind, safe and seems to naturally allow for the idea of motherhood. Somehow, ‘sexy’ or “she’s hot,” doesn’t. When men can see us as sexy instead of beautiful, and consequently as an object of their self-gratification, it leads to the inevitable headache. The woman ends up feeling used because she’s been reduced to a mere means to an end. It’s not always the man’s fault: it’s the dynamic that the use of contraception facilitates.
I taught a young couple natural family planning (NFP). After hearing Janet Smith’s excellent CD, “Contraception, Why Not?” they wanted to plan their family morally. They had three young children and wanted to space the next child and so used The Ovulation Method of NFP to postpone pregnancy. I spoke with her after two months of using the method. She was totally astonished by her husband’s transformation. ““He is going around throughout the day saying, “You are so beautiful!” And this was during the fertile time when sex was off the table. They had not sterilized the marital act. The procreative aspect was always respected. She no longer felt used. Something happened when they could no longer consider intimacy with each other without fatherhood and motherhood attached. He began to see her differently, treat her differently. He developed a loving protectiveness for her as the potential mother of their children and truly began to appreciate the fullness of her beauty. She got an insight into his glorious masculinity expressed in his sacrificial willingness to ‘wait’ out of love for her and for the good of their family. She began to desire him. She felt truly cherished and treasured and her headaches…melted away.
When our combined fertility is valued and respected, and the intrinsically procreative meaning of the marital act is kept intact, either through “we are willing to parent should we conceive” OR when desiring to postpone pregnancy, “we are willing to abstain during the fertile time”, then the marital embrace continues to be the physical renewal of the wedding vows; special, magical, meaningful and exciting. Sex is connected to something very powerful – life, and someone very adorable- baby, and Someone very, very important- God. It is full of love and life. It is this love and life that prevents… headaches.
1 http://www.cmu.edu/CSR/case_studies/pheromones.html Research by biologists Astrid Juette and Professor Karl Grammer from the University of Vienna has found that men's perception of a woman's attractiveness is altered by the chemical signals she sends out.
2 National Opinion Research Center funded by U.S. Government’s National Science Foundation Social Science Data Program (19,786 women 18 and over) Family of the Americas Foundation