This week is "Natural Family Planning Awareness Week" according to the US Catholic Bishops, so I wanted to take a few minutes and share some of my thoughts on NFP!
My husband and I proudly practice Natural Family Planning. We believe the Catholic Church's teachings that contraception is at odds with God's plan for marriage and sexuality, and are grateful that God created women's bodies in such a way that it's possible to determine fertility and abstain during fertile periods if there's a serious reason to do so. When we feel we have a sufficiently serious reason to avoid pregnancy, we use the sympto-thermal method of NFP, which involves taking my temperature every morning and checking for cervical mucus when I use the restroom. I used to chart it by hand, but I'm lazy/making smart use of available tools and use a free app on my iPod Touch to chart now*, which also does a lot of the interpretation and makes that aspect easier too! We chose this method because the cross-checking of different fertility signs seems to most fool-proof to us, but there are also several other highly reliable methods like Billings, Creighton, and NaPro that other couples we know have chosen and had great success with, both in spacing children when necessary and achieving pregnancy even when struggling with low fertility.
As I've been reading other posts for NFP awareness week, one thing I've been struck by is the prevalence of comments essentially saying that NFP is way too hard. And for us that hasn't been the case at all, so it makes me sad that so many people seem to struggle so much with it. Reading those comments made me resolve two things:
1.) I'm going to try to seek out NFP messageboards like Fertility Flower** or discussions of NFP on Catholic messageboards and offer encouragement and support to women who are struggling with NFP. I think we need to build up a sense of community, and more experienced women can share tips on how they've made it through any patches where NFP seemed a heavy burden.
2.) I'm going to look into how to become a NFP teacher. It appears that there may be some free online courses to become an NFP teacher, so if that's really the case, I might try to take one or more and become an NFP teacher for my diocese so I really have the knowledge to support other women who want to succeed at NFP but feel like they can't for some reason.
Anyway, if you have never really read about Natural Family Planning, I encourage you to do so, and if you already do NFP, I'd love for you to leave your best tip for successfully practicing NFP in the comment section!
*In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I did help the app designers with some of their translations on a volunteer basis (they're based in Switzerland). I received no compensation then and do not receive any compensation if you download the free app other than warm fuzzy feelings
**I'm friends with the woman who runs Fertility Flower on Twitter and she is soooo nice! Seriously, if you're at all interested in NFP chat her up!