Since Natural Family Planning is the only acceptable method of family planning within the Catholic church, we have to ask ourselves WHY are only 3% of Catholics actually using it?
This is not an article to convince you die hard NFP fans of the benefits of NFP. We know that you get it, you understand it, and you embrace it. But you are only 3% of the Catholic population, and truly are an anomaly. This is an attempt to dig deeper. So far we have been unsuccessful as a church, and we have to look at why?
We ran a family practice clinic for many years, in which we encouraged NFP, and even offered classes within our walls. We never offered another option, because other methods are not healthy for the women, or the couple. Remember that phrase "First do no harm"?
With so many easy options for birth control out there, it's no wonder that people don't want to take the time to learn a method, and then figure out when to abstain.
These are my observations and conclusions based on the women I have encountered over the past 10 years.
1. Cost. Even though the cost of birth control is expensive, and doctor visits are even more costly, we have found that the cost of NFP classes has been a significant deterrent for couple choosing how to plan their families. NFP classes can range from $110 and up. Follow up classes with instructors can cost $40-$60 or more per session. And even if you offer the class for free, you won't get flocks coming to you, because if it's free, it's probably not of significant value right? This is the mentality of so many, and we have to understand where people are coming from, and meet them there.
2. Time constraints. Most methods require the couple abstain for one month minimum while they learn the method. And how many couples are in favor of that plan?
Yes...true, if you are reading this article, you are probably in the category that did abstain, did take the classes, and maybe waited until marriage. Again, we must meet people where they are at, and make an invitation. This is the lesson I have learned from Mother Mary. She always invites. There is no coercion, no threats; its always an invitation to a better life.
In addition, the woman/ couple must make time to go to the classes. Classes can take several hours, and meet at least 3-4 times. While it is appropriate to do this, it is still a deterrent. I believe that couples should learn about their own bodies and their fertility. But let's face it: if it's too time consuming, the couple will choose a path of less resistance.
3. Confidence in their ability to do the method. Some couples might not even attempt to learn the method, because they already doubt their ability to follow the method. And even those who take the time to learn the method, have their doubts about how well they are actually doing it. If they are trying to avoid pregnancy, these fears drive them to more main stream methods of contraception.
And now to be perfectly frank, not all people have the capacity to learn and retain the information so well. They are going to be even less motivated to try and learn something that they fear they can't achieve at.
4. Several Methods? Which one do you choose? We were trained in all the methods, Billings, Sympto-Thermal, Saliva Ferning, Cervical position, and Creighton, and learned about Marquette on our own. All are valuable, and we applaud the scientists who discovered the correlations between fertility, and the different biomarkers. Couples new to NFP usually don't have a science background, or medical background, so they are a bit concerned about which one they should be using. If they are motivated enough to even be trying to figure that out, then they are probably going to have a higher chance of actually learning a method, and trying to follow it.
5. Accessibility. Are there classes at the time you want to take them? Is it in your language? Are there enough teachers in your area, that teach the method that you have determined is best for you? Is there an online program? Currently we are only aware of one online course for one of the methods.
6. Natural Family Planning. Maybe the name has a bad rap? Maybe it's time for a facelift, and repackaging? Organic Family Planning appeals to those who are headed down the Yoga, Granola, Whole Foods, Green, Lululemon, healthy lifestyle path. And if we make it technologically advanced, and visually appealing, it could take on a life of it's own. I think that a new NFP movement began within the last year.
7. What about support? Is there enough ongoing support ? Is anyone offering support to those who might have attempted NFP, or had a bad experience, or are afraid to try it? We have to use empathy in all these situations, and meet them, support them, encourage them. This is a similar model of a crisis pregnancy center. We know you are going to make a bad decision if you are operating out of fear, and do not have support. So let's offer that support and see what a difference it makes.
Our thought was this: What if we addressed all those concerns in an app, and a website? A charting tool that teaches the couple to observe their biomarkers, and saves their data online for them? So we did. We decided to address all the concerns that might prohibit a couple from even attempting to learn NFP if they had the inclination.
- MyFertilityMD app and www.Myfertilitycycle.com made it Affordable: $9.99
- MyFertilityMD made it quick: even if you watched all the instructional videos contained within the app, and website you could be charting within the hour, or as little as 15 mins.
- The charting method is EASY. MyFertilityMD ask the questions, client answers, and PRESTO...your fertility Status is available to you. There is no need to learn all the rules if you are not inclined to learn all the rules of the methods of your choice.
- Even if you have learned all the rules of your desired method, MyFertilityMD app removes the need to keep a paper chart. It's with you all the time on your smart phone, or available online.
- Accessible? If you have access to the internet, or a smart phone...then you are set! And that is pretty mainstream ! MyFertilityMD is online at www.myfertilitycycle.com , and will soon expand to Chinese and Spanish. Following that will be Vietnamese and Tagalog. And as MyFertilityMD grows, so will the number of languages we are able to offer.
- Confidence? You can trust that if you have made the observations throughout the day, that MyFertilityMD algorithm will give you a science based answer that takes into account any combination of biomarkers that you have chosen to follow.
- Support? MyFertilityMD has got your back. From those women coming off the pill, to postpartum, and breastfeeding, to never tried it before and have no experience. Have infertility? Let's walk you through some true options, and restore your fertility.
Again, MyFertilityMD is not intended to replace any of the current methods of NFP, or replace NFP teachers. MyFertilityMD is an Organic Family Planning Tool. We must broaden our reach to those couples who were not even interested in NFP previously, and address the road blocks. As a matter of fact, at MyFertilityMD we have received many, many letters from women abandoning their IUDS, abandoning NuvaRings, quitting their Depo-Provera injections, and coming off the pill. These are people who are looking for a healthier, cleaner way of living, and may have never taken a NFP class otherwise. We must meet people where they are at, and encourage them. They may become inspired enough to take a class and learn more.
What if we set a goal ? What if we set our sights on 25% of the Catholic Population using " Organic Family Planning?" I think it could happen, and with that, we will likely see shifts in divorce rates as well. Let's set that ripple effect into action, and watch with wonder!
Copyright 2013 Marya Jauregui
About the Author
Marya Hayes is mother to 3 active teens and is a military spouse. Her days consist of running the household and her mini business, and driving her teens daily all over the planet. Her favorite saints include St Francis de Sales, Saint Benedict, Padre Pio, and JPII. Marya enjoys cooking, hiking, and spending time with the family outdoors. Pray, hope, and don’t worry!