Do you ever wish there was a way to prevent pregnancy that was affordable, reliable, consistent and that didn’t carry the additional risk of pumping your body full of hormones and dealing with their potentially dangerous side effects? The good news is that there is a method that provides all those benefits and so much more and that millions of couples around the world use it to prevent pregnancy and even to plan pregnancies when they’re ready to expand their families. It’s free, easy to use and the only investment to get started with incorporating it into your family planning repertoire is a bit of education about about how to properly utilize it.
The answer is Natural Family Planning (NFP), a method of achieving or avoiding pregnancy by simply following a woman’s natural fertility signs. These signs are typically easier to recognize and interpret that you may think and they include taking note of fertility signals like cervical mucous, cervical position and basal body temperature. NFP requires very little time investment on the part of couple using it and is absolutely free of chemicals, synthetic hormones, barriers, or other invasive implements. It utilizes a women’s own fertility cycle to either help avoid or to plan a pregnancy.
It really is an amazing method because it’s not just for managing fertility. Aside from being used to space children and plan pregnancies, NFP can also be used to help identify and treat gynecological problems, or just to help a woman and her partner become more familiar with her body and its natural fertility patterns. NFP is not the “rhythm method” and is more than simply tracking a woman’s menstrual periods on the calendar to take a guess at when she may be fertile. Since NFP uses biological markers to track fertility, it can be used for women who have even the most erratic cycles in addition to women who suffer from PCOS, women who are breastfeeding, and women with many other conditions or environmental factors that may cause fertility to be otherwise unpredictable.
Why use NFP instead of another form of contraception?
Although NFP may seem like more work than taking a pill or having a device implanted, it is well worth learning. NFP, when used correctly, has a nearly 100% success rate for avoiding pregnancy and is a great tool for trying to conceive as a woman and her partner will know with certainty of when she is fertile. Hormonal contraception carries increased health risks including higher incidences of female cancers, blood clots, stroke, miscarriage, damaged fertility, and a lowered sex drive.
Hormonal birth control is a class-one carcinogen that is bad for environment, too. In contrast to implants and barriers, which carry health risks such as infection, perforation, or allergic reaction, NFP has absolutely no harmful side effects! NFP empowers women and their partners as they learn about and embrace their bodies and their fertility, instead of treating fertility as if it were a disease in need of medication and artificial management. A wonderful complement for healthy intimacy, NFP doesn’t carry the risk of interfering with natural attraction between partners that synthetic hormones do. Couples can discern from month to month whether they are ready to have a child, and they will know when they are fertile by closely monitoring fertility signals. When a couple is ready to conceive, there is no waiting for synthetic hormones to leave the woman’s body or for a device to be removed and also no worries of lasting effects on the woman or their unborn child.
What are some NFP methods?
There are many NFP methods, all of which work on the same basic priciples. Some are religiously-based methods that are offered by churches and some are unaffiliated with any particular religion. Regardless of a couple’s religion (or lack thereof), the NFP principles can be applied and used and carry the same benefits. Some of these methods offer online courses and some of them certify instructors who teach classes in their local areas. Here are some NFP methods that are available to couples today:
Billings Ovulation Method (BOM) The BOM involves tracking the consistency and quantity of cervical mucous, as well as other sensations.
Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System (CrMS) This method is a modified version of the BOM, but is the basis for NaPro Technology (see below).
Marquette Method integrates the ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor, in addition to tracking other biological signs.
Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) STM uses the cervical mucous observations that the BOM and CrMS methods use, but adds the tool of tracking Basal Body Temperature (BBT) to its arsenal. The BBT is checked by using a Basal Body Thermometer (found in many drug stores, and reads in 0.01 degree increments for detecting even the tiniest of shifts) to check the body’s temperature at roughly the same time each morning upon waking, but before rising out of bed. A woman’s temperature will change depending on whether she is fertile or not.
NaPro Technology is used to identify and treat infertility and gynecological disorders, by using the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System. Many women use hormonal contraception to treat certain conditions. While in some cases hormone therapy is absolutely necessary, it is often prescribed as a one-size-fits-all treatment and becomes a way of “bandaid-ing” symptoms rather than getting to the root of reproductive health concerns. NaPro Technology can help identify problems and find ways to treat them at their root.
We hope that this article has helped to explain the basics of NFP and to clarify some misconceptions about using NFP. We highly recommend finding an instructor (in person or online) to coach you and your partner and work with you both on learning about fertility signals and how they can help you as you plan your family. You can follow the links above to learn more about each method, find an instructor, and decide what is right for you and your family. Stay tuned for more on NFP in the coming months!
Ashley is a stay-at-home mom to Dominic and wife to Joseph. She is lovingly passionate about many things, especially her Roman Catholic faith, car seat safety, vaccine importance, breastfeeding, and cloth diapering. Her hobbies include going to Mass, spending time with family (including her dogs and turtle!), traveling, swimming, rollerblading, playing video games, and being silly. She was homeschooled, and her favorite job prior to being a stay at home mom was her job working with “specialty” animals such as fish, reptiles, and birds. Ashley loves to talk and has never met a stranger!