Natural Family Planning

What does it mean to be married?

Marriage is a lifelong union of love blessed by God. It is a sacrament, an external sign of internal grace.

God made husbands and wives to give themselves as gifts to one another — gifts in which we offer our entire selves, all body and all soul, to our beloved. It is through our sexuality that we are able to offer this gift in its totality and truly achieve the “one-flesh” union God desires for us to experience in marriage.

After all, God himself is a communion of persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The love between the Father and the Son is not only perfect, but it is life-giving; from the Father and the Son proceeds a third person — the Holy Spirit. Men and women, made in the image and likeness of God, are called emulate this life-giving love by gifting themselves to one other and generously opening their hearts to the gift of children.

We are called to generosity and responsibility in our family life.

What is Natural Family Planning?

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is the umbrella term to describe the various ways or methods by which a couple can scientifically chart the woman’s fertility cycle by observing simple, biological markers in order to achieve or avoid pregnancy without using contraception.

NFP works by monitoring a woman’s naturally occurring biological shifts throughout a given cycle. Attentiveness to these signs provides the couple with the best information possible about their shared fertility so that they can discern how to best achieve or postpone pregnancy.

How is NFP different from contraception?

Contraception attempts to prevent conception. In short, it attempts to remove the life-giving component of a couples’ fertility from the equation when they make love. Often this is accomplished by the use of a barrier or some combination of chemicals that suppress the woman’s natural fertility process.

NFP, on the other hand, helps couples avoid pregnancy through abstinence during the fertile times. When the couple does come together during the infertile times, there is no deliberate attempt to sterilize their love-making. They are still able to offer each other the total gift of self and achieve the “one-flesh” union God desires for them.

What are the benefits and myths of NFP?

Click here for an informational pamphlet with academic references and sources.

What are the recommended Methods of NFP?

Cervical Mucus Methods

Best for those on a variable sleep schedule and those who want the option to treat other women’s health issues without recourse to the pill. Relies on the observation of cervical mucus alone to determine fertility.

  • Creighton Model Fertility Care System uses standardized mucus observations for monitoring a woman’s fertility. Creighton also is the usual way to access Natural Procreative (NaPro) Technology, a robust system of women’s health used to address medical issues like infertility, chronic discharges, PMS, endometriosis, polycistic ovarian syndrome, and postpartum depression in a medically effective and natural way.
  • Billings Method uses cervical mucus observation as well as sensation at the vulva to determine times of fertility for the woman.

Sympto-Thermal Methods

Best for those on a fixed sleep schedule. Relies on cervical mucus observation and daily body temperature to determine fertility.

  • Couple-to-Couple League uses observations including cervical mucus, temperature, and the position/softness of the cervix. These classes are taught by trained couples. Classes can be live with a number of trained couples in the diocese or done online.
  • Southern Star uses observations including cervical mucus and body temperatures. This method is taught by a trained instructor, and is currently available only in Charlottesville.

Sympto-Hormonal Methods

Best for those who prefer the monitor to make the observations and can afford the initial investment on supplies. Relies on cervical mucus observations and the analysis of hormonal levels in urine by use of the ClearPlan Fertility Monitor to determine fertility.

  • Marquette Model has a great online presence with the possibility of learning how to chart with virtual assistance as needed, and a breastfeeding protocol. Couples learning this model need to buy a ClearPlan Fertility Monitor and test strips monthly.