Natural Family Planning

For some of you this may be a new term, for others a misunderstood practice, and for others still it may be the beautiful form of family planning that you use in your own home.  Wherever you fall on that spectrum, we pray that you would listen with open hearts and minds to the message we have for you today. 

Natural Family Planning is a natural way of reading the body’s signs of fertility that is used to either achieve or postpone pregnancy.  God has made all of our bodies in beautiful and magnificent ways.  He has also endowed us with brilliant scientific minds who have been able to find natural signs that the body produces to guide us in whether the female body is in a state of fertility or infertility.  These natural signs are then used by a husband and a wife as they discern whether or not God is calling them to have more children.  Husbands and wives are taught how to read these signs through a series of courses or one on one meetings with a practitioner, depending on which Natural Family Planning method they choose.  The added bonuses to practicing Natural Family Planning are that there is little to no cost to practicing NFP, it is completely natural, it requires no trips to the pharmacy every month for costly supplies, it does not have the abortive effects or other negative side effects of contraception, and it is morally accepted and promoted by the Catholic Church.

Now, for those who may have heard of the term Natural Family Planning, many associate this method of family planning with the ineffective calendar rhythm method.  First, this is not the calendar rhythm method.  That is a method of the past that is highly ineffective and Natural Family Planning has come a long way since the calendar rhythm method was introduced.  The Natural Family Planning methods of today are scientifically based and have research to back up their effectiveness.  While Natural Family Planning has come to be associated with having a large family, this is not always the case.  Neither scripture nor Church teachings convey the message that you must bear as many children as you are physically capable of bearing in order to follow God’s commands.  Scripture and Church teaching do, however, ask us to be fruitful and to be open to life.  Only a husband, a wife, and God can know what their physical, spiritual, financial, and emotional situation is.  The Church asks us to prayerfully discern our physical, spiritual, financial, and emotional state in life and our ability to welcome another child into our family.  The beautiful part of practicing Natural Family Planning is that it involves prayerful discernment every month as to whether or not God is calling your family to welcome another child.  

While many couples enter into the use of Natural Family Planning with a set family size in their head, through their discernment of God’s call and the openness to life that comes with practicing Natural Family Planning, they may end up welcoming more children into their family than they had first planned.  But, this is not the calling for all families.  For those families wishing to postpone a pregnancy, Natural Family Planning is over 99% effective.  In addition to this, for those families who are struggling to achieve a pregnancy, Natural Family Planning has been shown to be as effective as In-Vitro Fertilization.

Now to those who are already embracing Natural Family Planning within their own homes.  We ask that you would prayerfully discern becoming a spokesperson for Natural Family Planning.  Whatever the method is that you practice, we can always use more families to share their story and their testament to Natural Family Planning.  Even if it is just taking a more active role in your own parish and giving a name and face to the beauty of Natural Family Planning, we would love to have you on board.  Jesus calls us all to be fishers of men and to seek to draw others to the faith.  What better way to do that than by bringing other families in your parish your testament and the truth and beauty of Natural Family Planning?
A little more about the different methods of Natural Family Planning:
The Ovulation Method
The Ovulation Methods is a simple but highly effective way to precisely identify the days of fertility during the menstrual cycle. Cervical mucus appears as a normal discharge around the time of ovulation and is essential to human fertility. Dryness, the absence of mucus, identifies the days of infertility. Through the Ovulation Method instruction, a woman learns to become aware of the presence or absence of mucus as a part of her daily routine. With this information, the couple knows day by day whether or not they are fertile. Together they share the important decision-making process to achieve or avoid pregnancy.

The Ovulation Method can be successfully for couples if the woman has regular or irregular cycles. If a woman is not ovulating due to breast feeding, discontinuing the contraceptive pill, or for some health condition, infertility can be confidently identified. During the transitional years leading to menopause, couples can also confidently recognize fertility and infertility.
  • The presence of mucus indicates the days of fertility. Intercourse on days of fertility is a highly effective means for a couple to achieve pregnancy. The Ovulation Method can be of great help even for couples who have had difficulty becoming pregnant.
  • The absence of mucus, or dryness, indicates days of infertility. Extensive research has demonstrated that intercourse on days of infertility will not result in pregnancy.
  • Couples learn and successfully use the Ovulation Method under the guidance of professional Natural Family Planning practitioners.
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The Sympto-Thermal Method
A woman has several signs of fertility and infertility. The Sympto-Thermal Method is based primarily on two observations of these signs - changes in the cervical mucus and changes in the waking temperature, or the basal body temperature. Changes in the cervix may also be observed as a means of cross checking the other signs.

In the Sympto-Thermal Method course, couples learn to observe, record, and interpret these signs. They can also use them individually as a mucus-only or temperature-only system. By cross checking these signs, couples see how the signs complement and reinforce each other, giving them more confidence in learning and using the method.
  • In the Sympto-Thermal Method, the couple will learn about breastfeeding and its many benefits for both mother and baby. They will also learn about "ecological breastfeeding", which can postpone the return of fertility.
  • A high effectiveness rate is maintained in all types of cycles: regular or irregular, long or short cycles; during breastfeeding or pre-menopause. Help is also offered to couples having difficulty achieving pregnancy.
  • Acknowledging that fertility is couple fertility, the Sympto-Thermal Method encourages participation by both spouses in observing and recording the woman's day-to-day picture of fertility.
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