What is Natural Family Planning? "Natural Family Planning is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman's cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.
NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife. " (Standards for Diocesan Natural Family Planning Ministry, p. 23)
Is Natural Family Planning the same as the Calendar Rhythm Method? No, it is not the same as the older and significantly less effective “calendar rhythm method” which estimates and projects the couples fertile and non-fertile phases by observing when these phases occurred in previous cycles. The NFP methods known today are scientifically based on the observation of the changes in the woman’s cervical mucus, temperature changes and/or other signs to determine fertile and non-fertile phases on a daily basis. Why Use Natural Family Planning? Why not!! When we live in a world where everyone wants to go organic , to eat healthy, to exercise, using natural means to regulate fertility seems to be the most logical. NFP doesn’t have any side effects on a couple’s body. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy. It is medically safe and proven reliable. Natural Family Planning accepts our fertility and does not suppress it. The use of NFP means an acceptance of the divine gift of fertility within marriage, wherein the couple monitors their fertility to determine fertile and non-fertile phases for the purpose of either achieving or postponing pregnancy. Say no to dumping those contraceptive chemicals in your body to stop it from working in the way it is designed for. Say YES to natural means of fertility regulation and appreciation!!
Who can use Natural Family Planning (NFP)?
Any married couple can use NFP!! The couples are taught and educated in the method of their choice so they can understand and interpret their combined fertility. Then they can discern and use this knowledge to put it to use based on their intentions in achieving or postponing a pregnancy. The key to the successful use of NFP is cooperation and communication between husband and wife--a shared commitment. The use of NFP opens the door for a sacrificial way of life, a selfless way of love and a new lifestyle.
The use of NFP is not only limited to married couples these days due to the different methods that exist in our time. Since some methods can help single women, married women and teenagers to monitor, maintain and evaluate their own gynecological health, it can be used at any stage of a couple’s and woman reproductive life. It can be used whether the women is in regular cycles, in irregular cycles, if she is coming off hormonal contraceptives, or breastfeeding, or experiencing difficulty in achieving pregnancy.
Is NFP morally acceptable? The following is copied from One More Soul Website All major religions including the Catholic Church accept the use of NFP to avoid pregnancy when couples have a sufficiently serious reason for spacing babies or limiting family size. Also, the Catholic Church, some Orthodox churches, some parts of Judaism and an increasing number of Protestants are opposed to sterilization and the use of contraceptive or abortifacient drugs and devices. It should be noted that intrauterine devices (IUD), birth control pills, hormonal implants, patches, morning after pills, and injections can cause abortions as they change the uterine lining reducing the likelihood that the embryo can implant. NFP is unique among the methods of family planning because it enables its users to work with the body rather than against it. Fertility is viewed as a blessing, a reality of life that is accepted, instead of a problem to be solved or a disease to be treated. NFP is also an excellent tool for helping diagnose problems of couples suffering infertility. Treatment of infertility using NFP to monitor the fertility cycle has achieved pregnancy success rates of 70-80%. This holistic approach honors the integrity of the marriage act, respects the dignity of parents and children, and is consistent with Catholic Church teaching.
Is NFP it a natural method of contraception? NO! It is a not natural birth control. The couple does not use any hormonal contraceptive or device or barrier to chemically alter, inhibit or destroy a man or woman’s fertility. The couple selects days of infertility to have intercourse if their intention is to avoid pregnancy. No barriers being placed, total gift of self, openness to life yet no pregnancy will result since the woman is not fertile.
What are the methods of NFP? The USCCB website list the different methods of NFP that exist today. Each NFP method is focused on one or more signs of female fertility. They can be grouped into three categories.
Cervical Mucus Methods (CMM) The methods that observe cervical mucus are commonly called the "Ovulation Method" or "OM." In NFP education, a woman learns how to identify the normal, healthy, cervical mucus which indicates the days that sexual intercourse is most likely to result in pregnancy. A number of NFP providers teach a variety of approaches to the observation and charting of cervical mucus (e.g., Billings Ovulation Method Association—USA, Creighton Model FertilityCare™ Centers, Family of the Americas, etc.).
Sympto-Thermal Methods (STM) The methods that observe several signs of fertility and cross-check two or more of the signs to pinpoint ovulation are commonly called the "Sympto-Thermal Method" or "STM." STM typically combines charting of the Basal Body Temperature (BBT) and cervical mucus with other optional indicators, such as changes in the cervix and secondary fertility signs. A number of NFP providers teach a variety of approaches to the observation and charting of these signs (e.g., Couple to Couple League, Northwest Family Services, various diocesan programs, etc.).
Sympto-Hormonal Method (SHM) The method that observes several signs of fertility and adds the use of an ovulation predictor kit (OPK) or fertility monitor is called the "Sympto-Hormonal Method" or "SHM." Similar to the STM, this approach adds the self-detection of reproductive hormones in the urine with the assistance of an OPK or fertility monitor. Various diocesan NFP programs make use of the SHM as well as Marquette University's Institute for NFP (Marquette Model).
What are the benefits of using NFP? The benefits of suing NFP are beyond your imagination. Its use paves the pathway for a blessed and fruitful marriage. The USCCB website and One More Soul lists many of those benefits which can be found below. NFP is good for marriage!
Supports reproductive health
Has no harmful side effects
Is environmentally friendly
Cooperates with a couple's combined fertility
Is useful to either achieve or avoid pregnancy
Can be used throughout the reproductive life cycle
Requires shared responsibility and cooperation by husband and wife
Fosters mutual communication between husband and wife
Encourages respect for and acceptance of the total person
Promotes marital chastity
Values the child
Honors God's design for married love!
Is based on scientific research
Treats each fertility cycle as unique
Teaches a couple to observe their signs of fertility on a daily basis
Builds strong marriages
Is morally acceptable
Strengthens the marital bonding
Other benefits include:
Marriage enrichment and mutual understanding
Appreciation for the blessings of every child
Assistance in achieving pregnancy
Early identification of sub-fertility
Effectiveness for spacing or limiting pregnancy
Can be used throughout life, including postpartum, breast-feeding, and perimenopause.
In NFP both husband and wife are taught to understand and live God's design for married love—this will give them countless blessings! NFP methods promote a holistic approach to family planning which both respects procreation and has the potential to deepen the intimacy of husband and wife.
NFP methods support reproductive health. They are good for the body. The natural methods have none of the harmful side effects caused by contraception, especially chemical contraceptives (e.g., pill, injection, etc.). For the woman, NFP charting can even assist in the diagnosis of underlying medical problems. And, if a couple find they are having trouble conceiving, NFP information can help them pinpoint the most fertile time of the wife's cycle. NFP methods can be marriage strengthening. NFP relies on couple communication and behavior change. NFP methods require husband and wife to cooperate with each other in the most intimate area of their lives. During times of periodic sexual abstinence, husband and wife live a renewed courtship as they discover non-sexual ways to express their love for each other. On a practical level, husbands are encouraged to "tune into" their wives' cycles, and both spouses are encouraged to speak openly and frankly about their sexual desires, hopes for number of children, and prayerful discernment of God's will for their marriage. When living the NFP lifestyle, husband and wife learn that they have a shared responsibility for safeguarding God's gifts of human sexuality, marriage and family. They also grow in their understanding of God's will for their family size. NFP has the potential to make good marriages great!
How effective is NFP? For Achieving Pregnancy: According to the Pope Paul VI Institute for the study of Human Reproduction, 76% of couples using the Creighton Model System and having normal fertility will achieve pregnancy in their first cycle of using fertile days for intercourse. This means that couples using NFP can accurately time conception and their due date to within about a month, 76% of the time. Those rates go up to 90% after three cycles and 98% after six cycles. For couples struggling with infertility, 20-40% will become pregnant within six to twelve months of use by charting alone. When couples receive medical treatment along with charting, their pregnancy rate goes up to 80%. Numbers may vary with the different methods; however, all NFP methods help couples to identify the most fertile time to try to conceive. Further, all methods can help identify cycle issues which can impact the ability to conceive and can pinpoint when pregnancy occurs--making calculating accurate due dates possible. For Avoiding/Postponing Pregnancy: Overall, the rate is as high as or higher than any contraception systems--97%-99% method-effectiveness! No, really! It's THAT good. Plus, the continuation rate of NFP (people who love it and keep using it) is around 93%. The continuation rate of contraception ranges from 43% to 72% (see Jason Evert's Love, Sex & Babies, p. 2 [Catholic Answers, 2004]). More Effectiveness Studies Effectiveness in Delaying Pregnancy (Sympto-thermal Method such as CCL)
How can I learn to use NFP? Depending on the method you wish to use, on your need for in person sessions or online instruction, you can check the list below to contact the appropriate NFP providers. The Director of the Office of Family and Sanctity of Life, Marise Frangie, is a Certified FertilityCare Educator, who teaches the Creighton Model FertilityCare System in English language primarily and Arabic, in person and online. For more information, you can check Cedar of Lebanon FertilityCare Center
Creighton Model FertilityCare System: Ovulation Method This is a mucus-only method that uses a standardized and detailed recording system to differentiate among types of fluids produced by the woman's body throughout her cycle. Charting: Paper and stamps (Phone app coming soon!) Class Type: One 90-minute intro session taught by a practitioner or practitioner intern, possibly with the instructor's spouse, in a group setting or individually, followed by approximately eight individual follow-up sessions with the practitioner over the next year.[Note: online instruction available] Couples receive regular individual attention and have flexibility in scheduling. The first few follow-ups are scheduled about every two weeks so that the couple can build confidence in the method. Subsequent follow-ups are after a longer period of time as a way to check-in to see how things are going as more cycles have passed. Cost: [Note: the fees can vary depending on the center. Those fees listed here are for the Cedar of Lebanon FertilityCare Center] $50, for Introductory Session only. When you register, you are only committing to attend the Introductory Session. At the end of the Intro Session, you can decide if you would like to learn the method for your own personal use, purchase materials, and sign up for a first follow-up session. If you choose to sign up to learn the method, there is an additional $25 for materials, bringing the total due at the Introductory Session to $65. However if follow up sessions are to be done online, it is recommended that a user manual of picture dictionary is purchased for $30. Follow-up sessions cost $60 each, with payment due at the time of each follow-up. Practitioners may be willing to work out a payment plan or waive fees for those with financial difficulties. Materials Fees Include: User Manual and six months of charting materials. After six months, additional charting materials can be purchased for about $10/year. Notes: If needed, offers seamless referral to physicians trained in NaProTECHNOLOGY for help with fertility concerns or other menstrual health issues. Website: Visit creightonmodel.com or fertilitycare.org Couple to Couple League (CCL): Sympto-Thermal (ST) Method Observation Types: Basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and an optional cervical check Charting: Paper, computer software, or smartphone app Class Type: Live in-person, live stream (real time) online, or self-paced online. To learn in-person, couples attend three, two-hour classes in a group setting taught by a teaching couple to encourage male involvement. Classes are typically taught about a month apart. Private chart reviews are done with the teaching couple usually before or after the group session, and follow-up is available as needed once the course is completed. Optional postpartum and premenopause classes are also available. Visit herefor more information on the online options. Cost: $135 for each class type, plus shipping fees for materials. Separate Postpartum and Premenopause Classes are also offeredhere. Billings Ovulation Method Observation Type: daily observations of any discharge that a woman feels and sees. With these simple observations, women apply the 4 rules to avoid pregnancy with high effectiveness. Charting: paper or app Class type: One 60-minute intro session taught by an instructor, usually in a group setting, followed by one-on-one follow-ups as needed until the woman is confident. The first few follow-ups will typically be every 2 weeks. Follow-ups will be conducted in person, via Skype, or on the phone. Cost: The fees can vary from one place to another. Check with the provide. To find a teacher in your area, click here.
Infertility and Hope "Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology" (USCCB, 2009) "It is estimated today that one out of six couples will experience infertility. The suffering of unanticipated childlessness is real. Spouses may feel they have somehow failed, that they are inadequate in a basic aspect of marital life. Their pain may even be aggravated by regret or guilt over past contraceptive use, sterilization, abortion, or other factors that can contribute to infertility. The sight of other couples' children may make them year for a child all the more and add to their distress. Infertility can affect a couple's sexual relationship and the stability of their marriage. It may even affect relationships with parents and in-laws who express disappointment at the absence of grandchildren. Catholic couples may feel this pain even more deeply as they hear the Church praise family life and teach that children are the 'supreme gift of marriage.'
In an age of advances in reproductive medicine, many solutions are offered to couples going through this distress. Some solutions offer real hope for restoring a couple's natural, healthy ability to have children. Others pose serious moral problems by failing to respect the dignity of the couple's marital relationship, of their sexuality, or of the child. The Church has compassion for couples suffering from infertility and wants to be of real help to them.
Healing restored Through NaProTECHNOLOGY and Diet Changes NaProTECHNOLOGY uses the biomarkers of the Creighton Model FertilityCare System to recognize health and disease. These biomarkers are "an authentic language of a woman's health and fertility." NaProTECHNOLOGY identifies the problem, cooperates with the menstrual and fertility cycles, corrects the condition, maintains the human ecology, and sustains procreative potential. NaProTECHNOLOGY is of greater effectiveness than in vitro fertilization for helping infertile couples achieve pregnancy. All NFP charting methods provide insight into a woman's fertility status. In many cases, changes in diet & lifestyle may be enough to improve fertility cycles and chances for conceiving and sustaining a much desired pregnancy. For more information on how your diet can affect your fertility, check out Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition: How Your Diet Affects Your Menstrual Cycles & Fertility
Humanae Vitae Conference Videos are online 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae and there were many conferences and celebrations across the country. One of the biggest was held in Ontario, California in July. There, hundreds of people gathered for the purpose of witnessing and praying that all would be “Faithful to God’s Design”. Click the link below to view the presentations of Diane Daley, co-founder of the Creighton Model FertilityCare system, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of the Diocese of San Francisco, George Weigel, Christopher West, Dr. Ray Guarendi, Pia de Solenni, Dr. Janet Smith and our very own Philadelphia deacon – Dr. William Williams.
Please continue to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae by sharing the free videos from this conference by clicking here.
Seminar on the Creighton Model and NaProTECHNOLOGY - Innovations in Women’s Health Care Few seminars on the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and NaProTECHNOLOGY were done in the Eparchy of Saint Maron. Each seminar shed light on the great work being done in building a culture of life in women’s healthcare using the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and NaPro Technology and provided lay people, medical professionals, clergy and religious with information and resources useful to help couples struggling with infertility (and contemplating in vitro fertilization (IVF)), couples who want effective natural birth regulation, and women struggling with various gynecologic issues such as repetitive miscarriage, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, postpartum depression, premenopause, etc. The videos can be accessed by clicking here . There are 1 upcoming seminar in the Eparchy of St Maron. For more information, you can click on here. Sunday, October 6th, 2019 at Saint John Paul II in Sleepy Hollow NY
Resources Lot of video resources are posted on Cedar Of Lebanon FertilityCare Center website and can be accessed here. You can also check the website of nfp outreach by clicking here. Lot of resources are available here and on the USSB website