By Jacqui Rapp
Have you ever had questions about Natural Family Planning (NFP) but you didn’t know whom to ask? Have you ever just wondered what NFP is all about? I’m hoping to answer some of those questions that I’ve heard over and over again. I’m not an expert, just a regular old user of NFP, so these answers just come from the heart of myself, and others, who have been using NFP over the years.
What is Natural
Natural Family Planning is a way of spacing your children naturally. It uses the body’s natural cycles and cues to determine when a woman is fertile. If you do not want to get pregnant, then you avoid intercourse during the fertile time. If you do wish to get pregnant, then you know when the fertile time is so that you are more likely to get pregnant. There are different methods of NFP and each one checks slightly different symptoms, but they all work on the same premise.
You mean there are
different forms of NFP?
Yes, there are several different ways to practice NFP. There are methods that check different cues that the woman’s body is giving during a fertile phase in her cycle. There are many different types of NFP out there and it’s best to investigate them all to see which one will be best for you and your spouse.
Is NFP difficult?
Learning a method can be a little challenging, I’ll admit, but with a certified instructor and a few cycles of practice, it gets much easier. The instructor works with you along the way and will guide you in how to best interpret your body cues. I will also admit that it’s not always easy when you are trying to avoid pregnancy.
It’s been my experience, as well as the experience of others, that women tend to be most “in the mood” when they are fertile. If you have discerned that now is not the time for you to bring another member into your family, then the abstaining time can be difficult. But, it is important that at that time, you and your spouse have discovered other ways to be intimate that will keep your fire kindled when you are “safe” to be sexually intimate again.
It is expensive?
The main expense of NFP is taking the class. Once you have learned the method, however, there are no more costs for the rest of your life. It has been my experience that once you have learned a method then you have instructor support for the rest of your life as well, so there is no need to worry about continuing fees. Unlike artificial birth control that you have to keep constantly paying for, this is a one-time investment in your marriage that will last a lifetime.
Isn’t it just Catholic birth control?
No, artificial birth control interrupts the natural course of events. It keeps the body from functioning the way that it was meant to function or comes between the spouses in their ability to procreate. NFP works with the body of the woman and does nothing to interrupt her fertility. Artificial birth control says, “I give you all of myself except my fertility.” NFP says, “I give myself completely and totally to you.” Not having sexual relations while you are fertile is not contrary to that notion.
Where can I
There are lots of great resources out there about NFP. You can start by contacting the diocese to see what classes are being offered. There are also online resources like, Northwest Family Services (https://nwfs.org), Couple to Couple League (https://ccli.org), Billings Method (https://www.thebillingsovulationmethod.org/), Creigton Method (https://www.creightonmodel.com/) and Marquette Method (https://nfp.marquette.edu/). There are also great books like “The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning” by Simcha Fisher. Check it all out and see what will work best for you.
I know these aren’t all of the questions that could be asked, but I hope that I’ve given you enough of a taste of NFP to get you to want to know more. It is a wonderful journey into a world of knowing your body and being empowered as a woman, and it allows you to fully embrace the church’s teaching on the theology of the body. I know that the journey for us has been fulfilling and has taught us a lot about ourselves and our marriage. I ask you to consider the journey for yourself.
Jacqui Rapp is a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church and is a canon lawyer in training to be a Natural Family Planning instructor.