Monday, July 23, 2012

NFP... Not your mother's rhythm method!

Did you know that it's Natural Family Planning Awareness Week? GET EXCITED! Ok, now that you're sufficiently pumped, I have to share something really awesome with you. Have you seen the new website iusenfp? It is awesome! It's your go to secular resource for accurate, in depth information on all forms of natural family planning. I'm excited about the site for many reasons, but a major one is that I know a lot of people discredit NFP as soon as they hear the faith elements of it (and for me, those are big!). But it makes it hard to share something that is so incredibly scientifically based and beneficial when someone is turned off by the religious aspect. So then comes iusenfp which makes it so simple for me to share my love of natural family planning with people who have different (or no) religious beliefs. LOVE IT! 

We've been using natural family planning for about 8 months and it has been an incredible journey. I have learned more about my body in the past 8 months than in the 26 years before that. I had no clue what a luteal phase was, or that you could pinpoint the exact day of ovulation, or the super interesting role that cervical mucus plays in a woman's body and fertility. I've finally begun treating my PCOS instead of throwing hormonal birth control at it (which, by the way, is a class 1 carcinogen just like cigarettes!) and pretending it went away because the symptoms were masked. For the first 5 or so months, we used NFP as a means to monitor my health, and that's how we began treating the PCOS with progesterone. All thanks to a doctor who can read my Creighton chart and treat based off of it, and thanks to my instructor who helps us interpret what's going on as we learn the ins and outs of charting. Since we've been married, we've been using the method to continue monitoring my health but also as a way to TTA, or try to avoid pregnancy. As Catholics, we are open to life at any point in our marriage, but have discerned that avoiding pregnancy is what we are called to do at this time, and NFP has been extremely helpful with that, though yes, a challenge. 

An example of how charting (this is a Creighton chart) can diagnose health problems... source

Having PCOS makes using NFP a bit harder than it is for your average couple, but we've seen the fruits of our labor in increased and improved communication. We have to talk so much more about my health, our circumstances, whether we want to use NFP to avoid pregnancy, achieve pregnancy, or "TTW" (try to whatever) each month, and ,in those times of abstinence, have meaningful contact and communication to be both intimate yet chaste at the same time. And yes, it can be really hard, and there have been days of frustration, days where I'm baffled by my body, and days where we want to throw the charts out the window and feel that our prior ignorance was bliss. But more often than not we are so thankful for the gift of NFP, the knowledge it has given us, and the role it is playing in our marriage. One of the known benefits of NFP is that, due to periodic abstinence, you are always in a 'honeymoon phase' with your spouse. Speaking of abstinence (that scary word that makes people discount NFP almost immediately), did you know that couples using NFP actually have more sex than couples who don't use it? Yes, please. 

We'll be celebrating NFP Awareness Week by attending a special NFP mass next Saturday followed by a luncheon. I'm so excited to see other families in our diocese also using this, because we don't know many people in real life who are. I am also incredibly thankful for the Cathsorority group on facebook and the natural family planning group on there as well for the sense of community they provide. In the NFP group, we have a rule that nothing is TMI and really, you can ask ANYthing and no one even blinks. It's wonderful to have communities online where this way of living is normal, everyday practice and everyone supports each other. 

So there you have it, my appreciation for all things NFP! 


  1. I love having iusenfp to put this all in its true context! It always amazes me how many people can be so careful about what they put in their body, yet never consider birth control pills as something to be cautious about.

    1. I agree Sarah. I think a lot of it has to do with, "Well if my DR says it's okay it must be okay.." That is what I think at least not sure how others think.

      I think it's really cool that your diocese is having a special mass for NFP Awareness week. I haven't seen much here other than "This week is NFP Awareness Week" plastered all over the place. I was kind of hoping they would offer an intro class or something. At least they are recognizing it :)