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Natural Family Planning

What is Natural Family Planning?

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Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a reliable method of birth regulation which is effective, natural, medically safe, inexpensive, and morally acceptable. Studies have demonstrated that the method is effective in avoiding or achieving pregnancy when it is properly taught by a qualified teacher and then correctly applied. NFP has no harmful side effects and can be easily learned and practiced.

NFP is an umbrella term for methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Couples use NFP to avoid pregnancy by abstaining from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman’s cycle. The method is completely natural using no drugs, devices, or surgical procedures to avoid pregnancy.

The basis for NFP is the couple’s knowledge of their naturally occurring cyclic phases of fertility and infertility. Men are ordinarily fertile at all times. During each cycle a woman normally becomes fertile and then naturally infertile. As this happens, her body provides certain signs or symptoms which indicate her fertility or infertility. Couples learn to observe, record, and interpret these signs with a very high degree of accuracy. They can then use this awareness to either plan or postpone a baby accordingly.

Using NFP offers a shared responsibility by both the man and the woman to understand and use their combined fertility and their total sexuality. NFP teaches loving cooperation of both partners in using all aspects of their sexuality—physical, spiritual, intellectual, creative, and emotional.

How effective is NFP?

For Achieving a Pregnancy: Couples of normal fertility have a 76% chance of achieving pregnancy in the first cycle of charting, when having intercourse on days identified as fertile. The chances jump to 82 percent by the third cycle and 98 percent by the sixth. (1).

For Postponing a Pregnancy: Overall the rate is as high as 97%-99% when used correctly! (2,3,4,5,6) A 2007 study in the Journal of Human Reproduction suggests that symptothermal methods of NFP are as effective as the birth control pill. (7, 8).

  1. Hilgers, T. (2002). Reproductive Anatomy & Physiology: A Primer for Fertility Care Professionals (2nd Ed.) Omaha, NE: Pope Paul VI Institute Press.
  2. Barron, M., & Daly, D. (2008). Expert in Fertility Appreciation: The Creighton Model Practitioner. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 30 (4), 386-391.
  3. Kambic, R. (2000, Winter/Spring). The Effectiveness of Natural Family Planning. Current Medical Research, 11. Retrieved November 25, 2008 from http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issue/nfp/cmrwin00.shtml#microscope *Based on meta-analysis of 23 ovulation method and 15 STM method studies.
  4. Trials of the Billings Ovulation Method. Retrieved November 25, 2008, from http://www.woomb.org/bom/trials/index.html.
  5. The Effectiveness of Natural Family Planning. Retrieved November 25, 2008 from http://ccli.org/nfp/basics/effectiveness - p0l.php.
  6. Research and Scholarship in NFP. Retrieved November 25, 2008, from http://www.marquette.edu/nursing/NFPResearch.shtml.
  7. New Research finds that a natural family planning method is as effective as the contraceptive pill. Retrieved November 25, 2008 from http://www.njnfp.org/documents/NFPaseffectiveasthecontraceptivepill.pdf.
  8. 8. Fehring, R. (2007, Winter/Spring, Addendum). European Double Check Sympto-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning Highly Effective When Used Consistently and Correctly: Researchers Claim Efficacy Comparable to Modern Methods of Contraception, including the Birth Control Pill. Current Medical Research, 18, 1-5. Retrieved from http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/nfp/CMR-Winter-Spring07-Addendum.pdf.

NFP Methods

The Creighton Model FertilityCare System (CrMS)

The Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System (CrMS) is a standardized modification of the Billings Ovulation Method. The CrMS is based upon a couple’s knowledge and understanding of their naturally-occurring phases of fertility and infertility. It provides women the added benefit of being able to monitor and maintain their procreative and gynecologic health over a lifetime. The Creighton Model System has expanded into a new reproductive science called NaProTECHNOLOGY (Natural Procreative Technology). It provides medical and surgical treatments that cooperate completely with the reproductive system. Unlike common suppressive or destructive approaches, NaProTECHNOLOGY works cooperatively with the procreative and gynecologic systems. When these systems function abnormally, NaProTECHNOLOGY identifies the problems and cooperates with the menstrual and fertility cycles that correct the condition, maintain the human ecology, and sustain the procreative potential. Women now have an opportunity to know and understand the causes of the symptoms from which they suffer.

More information may be found at http://www.creightonmodel.com/, http://www.fertilitycare.org/ and http://www.naprotechnology.com/.

SymptoPro™ (Northwest Family Services)

SymptoPro™ is a Sympto-Thermal Method of Fertility Education based on changes in a woman’s cervical mucus, waking or resting temperature, and cervix. We teach detailed, objective markers that are both easy to chart and come with highly effective guidelines. Our particular strengths lie in the highly personal support that each couple receives when they take instruction from us. 

Sympto-Thermal Method (Couple to Couple League)

The Sympto-Thermal Method relies upon the observation of three useful fertility signs: the cervical mucus, the basal body temperature and the cervix. Couples learn to observe, record, and interpret these signs with a high degree of accuracy. During each cycle, the three signs complement and reinforce each other in forming a positive system of fertility cross checking. The cross checking nature of the Sympto-Thermal Method gives many couples an increased confidence in learning and using the method. The Sympto-Thermal Method is taught by instructors trained by the Couple to Couple League: www.ccli.org.