Frequently Asked Questions
Couple to Couple League of Arkansas
What is Natural Family Planning?
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a method of fertility awareness based on certain signs in a woman’s body that indicate her naturally fertile and infertile times. Observing and charting those signs on a daily basis and following the method rules allow a couple to postpone pregnancy or assist in achieving pregnancy.
The observed signs are the woman’s waking temperature and her cervical mucus. Each will vary during a woman’s cycle based on the influence of her naturally produced hormones. Once the information is recorded on a chart, a picture of her fertility emerges.
NFP is 100% natural, is 100% safe and has no health risks. It involves no potentially harmful birth control drugs or devices. It is 99% effective in postponing pregnancy – the same effectiveness range as hormonal methods and more effective than devices, creams, and other unnatural methods.
How is NFP different from Rhythm?
Modern NFP is not the Rhythm Method. The Calendar Rhythm Method was developed in the 1930s and was based on average cycle lengths, but it did not work well for women who had irregular cycles. Tremendous medical knowledge about the fertility cycle has been gained since then, and modern NFP relies on current-cycle fertility observations. Most women will experience some irregularity in their cycle at some point in their lives for various reasons. Modern NFP can still be used by women with irregular cycles.
How do I learn Natural Family Planning?
The Couple to Couple League teaches the Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP through a series of three classes taught by certified teachers over the course of about three months, plus optional classes for the postpartum and premenopause times. The Sympto-Thermal method takes about one minute each morning to measure the woman’s waking temperature plus a few moments for her to observe cervical mucus throughout the day. Those signs are recorded on a chart each day and the couple together determine where the woman is in her fertility cycle.
Doesn’t practicing Natural Family Planning cause stress in a marriage?
Periodic abstinence is a fundamental part of practicing NFP. However, all marriages require periodic abstinence because of travel, illness, children and other reasons. How that abstinence is viewed and dealt with, whether practicing NFP or not, will impact a couple’s relationship. Many couples have experienced that NFP helps them control their sexual drives (instead of being driven by them), which has a positive effect on their marriages. They find that rather than harming their relationship, NFP has a positive effect on their marriages and that periodic abstinence helps keep their relationship fresh, improves their communication, and gives them a deeper respect for each other. Those who practice NFP often find that they learn to communicate more fully and creatively with each other. They learn not to ignore each other during the times when they choose to forego marital relations. Rather, couples often develop other nonsexual ways of expressing their love and affection. Couples also like having a morally consistent message to give their children about sexuality.
How much abstinence is involved?
The amount of abstinence will vary somewhat depending on the woman’s individual cycle as well as how diligent the couple are in taking and recording the woman’s fertility signs. Seven to 10 days is the typical range.
How effective is Natural Family Planning?
NFP can be as effective as any of the artificial methods of contraception - up to 99%. Like the artificial methods, the couple must be properly instructed in the particular NFP method used and must be motivated to follow the simple rules for its use. If either of those conditions are missing, then its effectiveness will be less, but the same is also true for artificial birth control.
Does Natural Family Planning work for women with irregular cycles?
Modern NFP can still be used effectively by women with irregular cycles because, in general, if the fertile time comes earlier or later than usual, the fertility signs will come earlier or later as well.
What’s the difference, if Natural Family Planning and artificial contraception are trying to achieve the same end?
If you don’t believe there is a difference, then why not use Natural Family Planning? It is 100% natural with no side effects, allows a couple to cooperate with, rather than suppress, a woman’s natural fertility, and is just as effective as artificial birth control. NFP can be used both to achieve and avoid pregnancy, it requires shared responsibility and cooperation by husband and wife, it fosters respect and acceptance of the total person, and is low or no cost. Finally, it is considered morally acceptable as a means for a married couple to postpone pregnancy by those religions (Catholic Church, Orthodox Jews, and some Protestants) which teach it is wrong to use unnatural methods of birth control.
Artificial contraception requires the ingestion, injection, or wearing of artificial hormones, chemicals, patches, coils, caps, condoms or other devices, each of which have negative side effects, some of them serious.