Thursday, July 28, 2016

National NFP Awareness Week


This week is National Natural Family Planning (NFP) Week. It started July 24th and ends July 30th. All week I have been praying that I would be inspired about what to share about this extremely important topic. I am a little disappointed it took almost the entire week to figure out but I think what I have to share is important and meaningful.
It is no coincidence that this important week includes the Feast of Saint Anne and Joachim. Saint Anne and Joachim were the grandparents of Jesus and were the role models to the Blessed Virgin Mary through their faith, marriage and lives. They were unable to conceive and prayed to have a child for a long time before conceiving and they were in their old age. We all need to be setting an example and holding ourselves accountable to what is an important aspect of marriage and family life. NFP is often something that most do not know much about or may have a misunderstanding about what it is truly about. Here are 5 common myths and the real information about NFP. These myths and more can be found at the website for United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 
MYTH 1:
NFP is based on guesswork: it's what people used before modern science developed contraception.

REALITY:

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is not based on folktales! NFP is a general title for the methods of family planning that are science-based, accurate, natural, healthy, reliable and moral. There are many NFP methods and all can be used to achieve, or to postpone, a pregnancy naturally.
NFP is based on scientific research about women's cycles of fertility. Over a century ago, scientists discovered cyclic changes in cervical mucus and their relation to ovulation. In the 1920s, scientists identified the temperature rise that signals ovulation. But it wasn't until the 1950s, that scientists developed programs to teach others how to observe and interpret these fertility signs.
NFP methods are grouped according to which signs of fertility are being observed and charted. They are as follows: the basal body temperature method (BBT) monitors changes in a woman's temperature when she wakes up each morning; the cervical mucus method ( more commonly called "Ovulation Method" or "OM") monitors changes in a woman's cervical mucus; the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) combines observations of temperature and cervical mucus with other indicators, such as changes in the cervix and secondary fertility signs; and the Sympto-Hormonal Method (SHM), which is similar to the STM, includes the self-detection of reproductive hormones in the urine with the assistance of an ovulation predictor kit or fertility monitor.

MYTH 2:

NFP can be used only by women with regular cycles.

REALITY:

NFP does not depend on a woman having regular menstrual cycles. NFP treats each woman and each cycle as unique. These methods rely on daily observations of the woman's signs of fertility.
NFP works with menstrual cycles of any length and any degree of irregularity. NFP can be used during breastfeeding, just before menopause, and in other special circumstances. NFP allows a woman to understand the physical signals her body gives her to tell her when she is most likely to become pregnant (around the time of ovulation). Once the woman understands this information, she and her husband can use the information according to their family planning intentions (i.e., to either achieve or postpone pregnancy).
Instruction in NFP provides women with information about their bodies that is specific and observable. The natural methods can be used throughout a woman's reproductive life. These methods teach couples to monitor current, daily fertility signs of the woman's menstrual cycle. When special circumstances occur, (e.g., stress, illness, breastfeeding, post-miscarriage, perimenopause, etc.), NFP instructors can provide additional guidance in interpreting signs of fertility. 

MYTH 3:

NFP is too complicated to be used by most people.

REALITY:

NFP can be used by anyone who learns the method and is motivated to apply the guidelines.
NFP information is easy to learn. In fact, the methods have been successfully adapted to suit the needs of people and cultures all around the world. The key to using NFP effectively is for couples to learn together the information about their combined fertility, and to change their behavior, applying the guidelines according to whether they wish to achieve or postpone pregnancy. This process is learned in NFP education, where the couple can practice observing and charting the wife's signs of fertility. This is not hard to learn, but will take effort. NFP couples say that NFP is worth the effort because many benefits will be gained, including stronger communication, mutual responsibility and greater respect for each other.

MYTH 4:

NFP is not a reliable method of family planning.

REALITY:

NFP is not only reliable, but it is the only authentic method of family planning.
Since NFP methods are not contraception, their effectiveness works both ways—for achieving and postponing pregnancy. When couples wish to achieve a pregnancy they can time sexual intercourse to the fertile window of the menstrual cycle, thereby optimizing the possibility of becoming pregnant.When wishing to avoid pregnancy, studies show that couples who follow their NFP method's guidelines correctly, and all the time, achieve effectiveness rates of 97-99%. Others, who are unclear about their family planning intention (i.e., spacing or limiting pregnancy) or are less motivated, will not consistently follow the method's guidelines and have a lower effectiveness rate of 80-90%. 
Effectiveness of Natural Family Planning in Avoiding Pregnancy
Couples who carefully follow all the rules for avoiding pregnancy all the time: 97%-99%
Couples who do not follow all the rules for avoiding pregnancy all the time: 80%-90%
*Note: these percentages represent the range of effectiveness provided by NFP studies. They are based on the number of pregnancies among 100 couples in one year of NFP method use. 

MYTH 5:

There is no difference between NFP and contraception.

REALITY:

NFP methods are different from and better than contraception.
NFP methods:
  • have no harmful side effects
  • are environmentally friendly
  • are virtually cost free
  • cooperate with, rather than suppress, a couple's fertility
  • can be used both to achieve and avoid pregnancy
  • call for shared responsibility and cooperation by husband and wife
  • require mutual communication
  • foster respect for and acceptance of the total person
  • encourage maturity and the virtue of chastity
  • value the child
  • honor and safeguard the unitive and procreative meanings of married love.
In other words, there is a big difference between NFP and contraception. NFP, as opposed to contraception, does not deliberately frustrate the procreative potential of sex. So, NFP is morally acceptable while contraception is actually sinful and never morally right. NFP is unique because it enables its users to work with the body rather than against it. Fertility is viewed as a gift and reality to live, not a problem to be solved. Ultimately, NFP respects God's design for married love.
Check out the following links for more information on National Family Planning:

Another important issue to discuss during NFP is infertility. Personally, I have been blessed with two children but my husband and I have been struggling with infertility for over the past two years. For full disclosure: I was previously married but it was annulled due to domestic violence and other things. If you are interested in my story you can read it in my post My Cross: Surviving Domestic Violence. I am remarried and my husband, Harry, adopted my two children but we have no biological children together. We are still undergoing doctor visits to pinpoint what is medically contributing to our infertility. I am afraid that the abuse and trauma I endured earlier may be a contributing factor. If there is something we can do within the appropriateness of medical techniques, we will discuss our options and we are also considering adoption. Either way we are staying faithful that one day our family will grow but in God's time, not ours.


Adoption is not considered enough in an effort to overcome infertility. In all honesty, I have several cousins that became family through adoption and they are family--nothing less. I would encourage you to read Prayer Wine Chocolate: God Hears Us: A Spiritual Adoption Miracle to see from the perspective of someone who is actively wanting to adopt a child and the heartache that those of us fighting infertility deal with on a daily basis. Infertility is truly a roller coaster. I am so blessed and happy with my two boys but I can not describe the longing I have in my heart for more children. I continue to pray daily that I may be blessed with conception but I am also starting to come to terms that I may not be able to conceive anymore. Maybe God's plan for me includes an adoption or two, only time and prayers will tell. Please take some time to pray for your marriage and your families during this week.

God Bless!

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story! Your family is beautiful. My family will say a prayer for you and your intention of growing your family. :)

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