People today want everything in an instant. That is why NFP or Natural Family Planning is not very popular nowadays. Condoms, the pill, surgical sterilization (tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men) and even abortion are the more popular choices when it comes to birth control.
Engaging in sexual practices require a deep sense of responsibility but sadly the influence of media and the lack of education of the youth has paved the way to rampant premarital sex and unwanted pregnancies. The purpose of sexuality has been disregarded repeatedly, and that is to give life, unify human relationships and express love between a married couple.
This post is designed to educate you dear reader on how to be a responsible sex partner by elucidating on the different methods of Natural Family Planning.
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a way of following God’s plan both for achieving and for avoiding or postponing pregnancy. NFP uses the physical means that God has built into human nature.
Two Basic Forms of Natural Family Planning
1. Ecological Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding infertility is 98%-99.5% effective during the first six months postpartum. The key to the natural child spacing aspect of breastfeeding is frequent and unrestricted nursing.
2. Systematic NFP. This is based on the systematic observation of the naturally occurring signs of fertility and infertility in a woman’s menstrual-fertility cycle. The woman monitors her physical signs of fertility by noting the changes that take place in her cervix, cervical mucus and body temperature throughout her menstrual cycle. These changes are tracked using a cross-checking charting system called the "sympto-thermal method," so the couple can know when it's most likely that they can conceive. Couples who do not wish to get pregnant practice abstinence during the woman's fertile time.
Fertility of the Human Body
In order to understand the science behind NFP, it is important to understand the fertility of the human body. An excellent article on human reproduction & signs of fertility can be found on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USSCB) website. You can also read more about the Anatomy & Physiology here.
Systems of Fertility Awareness & NFP MethodsOnce we have understood the basics of fertility, we need to learn how to identify the fertile & infertile periods using the 3 primary fertility signs – basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and cervical position. All NFP methods require the woman to make routine observations about her body, in order to apply the rules to achieve or avoid pregnancy. Pregnancy is prevented by avoiding intercourse during a woman’s fertile days. Pregnancy can be achieved by using the fertile days. Here is another excellent blog post on NFP by a certified NFP Teacher. The post covers the basics of NFP, making observations and understanding hormones.
- Cervical Mucus Methods
This involves the careful observation and charting of the presence of the woman’s cervical mucus on a day to day basis. There are different NFP Methods based on Cervical Mucus such as Billings Ovulation Method (BOM), the Creighton Model Fertility Care System (CrMS) and the Two Day Method.
- Sympto Thermal Methods (STM)This involves the observation of Cervical Mucus, Basal Body Temperature and sometimes Cervical Position on a day-to-day basis. One such Sympto-Thermal Method is taught by Couple Couple League International.
- Sympto-Hormonal Methods
This involves the observation of Cervical Mucus and monitoring of hormones using Fertility Monitors and Ovulation Predictor Kits. One such method is the Marqette Method.
- Other Methods of NFP
There are some other methods of NFP like Calendar-based methods. The Standard Days Method is one such method which can be used by women whose cycles are always between 26 and 32 days.
At present, anyone in the world who has access to the Internet can teach themselves how to practice NFP from the NFPI manual, “Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach”, available both in print and online. You can download it for free or buy the printed version. This manual is a USCCB-Approved NFP Home Study Program.
You can also learn the Billings Ovulation Method from their website.
You can learn to monitor and chart your fertility on the Marquette University website. You can learn to use the Marquette Model from their website. Also, the website has specific instructions for achieving & avoiding pregnancy.