What is Natural Family Planning?
Natural Family Planning is a safe, moral and effective way to avoid and plan pregnancy. With NFP, a couple learns to interpret certain signs in the woman’s body that indicate her fertile and infertile times. If a couple is avoiding pregnancy, they abstain in the fertile time. If they are planning a pregnancy, they engage in relations during the fertile time.
What are some of the benefits of NFP?
NFP is medically safe. There are no harmful chemicals, devices or health risks. NFP also gives a woman more awareness of what’s going on in her body and can assist her in recognizing health problems sooner. It is 99% effective in avoiding pregnancy and can also work well in planning pregnancies, even if the woman does not have ‘regular’ cycles. NFP costs less than other forms of birth control and once you learn it, there are no continuing costs. It’s immediately reversible at any time. Periodic abstinence improves communication and gives husband and wife a deeper respect for each other. Most importantly, NFP is morally acceptable. All major religions, including Catholicism, accept the use of NFP by married couples when there is serious reason to postpone pregnancy.
How many different organizations teach NFP and aren’t they all the same?
There are two basic types of Natural Family Planning organizations: ones which teach a mucus only method and those which teach a multi-symptom approach to NFP (the sympto-thermal method). So, no, they are not all the same.
In the United States, the sympto-thermal method is taught by the Couple to Couple League. In Canada, it is taught by Serena, although there are a few CCL teachers (like us) up here. Both organizations stress a cross-checking symptomatic method, which includes observations of temperature, mucus and other signs, but each organization has a different approach and focus.
With regard to mucus-only methods, there are several: the Billings Ovulation Method and Creighton Method, to name a few. These are mucus-only methods but they offer their own unique approaches.
For couples with infertility issues, NaPro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology) has a high degree of success helping couples conceive naturally.
What about the devices which claim to be able to predict ovulation?
Many of the devices available online like Lady Comp and Baby Comp are very expensive, much more expensive than taking an NFP class with a certified instructor. If a couple want to spend a lot of money and have a small monitor do all the calculation, then this could work for them. However, I don’t recommend it because of the price.
There are also ovulation predictor saliva test strips which, although cheaper than the devices above, are still expensive. One site offered ten strips for ten dollars but another offered only five for $20. Given that there are 30 days in most months and that the strips would need to be used for at least 12-15 of those days, this could offer a less expensive alternative to the devices, but would still be more expensive than taking a class from certified instructors.
Isn’t NFP the same as the old rhythm method?
Modern NFP is not the same as the old rhythm method. Calendar rhythm was developed in the 1930's and did not work well with women who had irregular cycles. There have, however, been many developments since the 1930's which make modern NFP much more effective in avoiding pregnancy. The critical difference is that modern NFP bases its fertility interpretations on what’s happening in the current cycle, whereas rhythm was largely dependent on past cycles.
Where can I find out more information on NFP and NFP classes?
James and I will be teaching the CCL online virtual NFP class beginning Monday evening, September 27, 2010. All you need is a computer with speakers and high speed internet. With the virtual classes, you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to learn NFP. Space is limited to five couples. If interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, the following websites of these different NFP organizations will give you more detailed information than is provided here.
Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach
About the Author
Ellen and her husband, James, have been certified NFP teachers for the Couple to Couple League since 1984 and teach Theology of the Body to teens. She’s also an award-winning, bestselling author of ten books, an editor, a publisher and a self-publishing book coach. Her newest novel is Ella's Promise. The mother of five adult sons and grandmother of one precious grandson, Ellen lives in Pakenham, Ontario with her husband. Contact her at Full Quiver Publishing.