Some of you have heard me mention “NFP” in our discussions about birth control. And if you haven’t, now is a great opportunity to learn more about it!
Natural family planning (NFP) is often interchangeable with fertility awareness. Both are umbrella terms for several different methods of avoiding and achieving pregnancy. Regardless of the specific model/method you are taught, NFP is a method of birth control that does not use any drugs, hormones, or devices. There are no risks, no side effects, and very little cost associated with it. How cool is that?!
Even better…the benefits of NFP:
-97-99% effective in avoiding pregnancy when used correctly
-Higher levels of self-esteem, spiritual well-being, religious well-being, existential well-being, intellectual intimacy and an overall holistic sexuality
-Together with a trained provider, NFP can help diagnose and effectively treat
o Menstrual cramps
o Ovarian cysts
o Irregular or abnormal bleeding
o Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
o Infertility and/or miscarriage
o Postpartum depression or the “baby-blues”
o Hormonal imbalances
o Chronic discharge
This all sounds pretty good right…so what does NFP look like?
Again, all of the methods rely on the interpretation of natural (biological) signs of fertility. The basic assumption of NFP methods is that that woman and/or couple abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile time of the woman’s cycle if they are avoiding pregnancy. Use of any artificial means to interfere with fertility is not natural family planning.
There are five basic methods of natural family planning:
•Calendar Based Methods (rhythm) – relies on counting cycle length and use of a simple formula to determine the beginning and end of fertility.
•Basal Body Temperature (BBT) – employs recording of the woman’s daily waking temperature and observing the changing patterns.
•The Ovulation Method (OM) – involves observing and recording the patterns and changes of cervical fluids.
•The Sympto-thermal Method (STM) – consists of combining daily waking temperature, changes in cervical fluid, cycle length and other minor signs of fertility.
•Hormonal Fertility Monitoring (HFM) – uses ovulation test kits and electronic fertility monitors to measure reproductive hormones in the urine.
In my opinion and experience, the OM, STM, and HFM, are the most “modern” and scientifically studied methods to date. For example, the Creighton Model and Marquette Model of NFP. These two models have extensive and fascinating research and information available! And yes…the Marquette Model was created by a nurse researcher and his colleague’s right here in Wisconsin, at Marquette University-Institute of Natural Family Planning!
This is just a very brief introduction to NFP, so I will leave you with a few great resources to check out:
*http://www.popepaulvi.com/FCYoungWomen.php (This is a really cool newsletter that pertains to fertility care for young women!)
Ok, I lied…one more thing! If you or anybody is interested in learning more about any of these methods, I would love to hear from you! NFP is near and dear to my heart and I am actually going to visit Marquette’s Institute of NFP this winter in hopes of establishing a graduate project in this field. One of my primary goals…to bring more awareness and education to women about ALL of their options for birth control, including natural methods!
God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving!