Natural Family Planning: Nature’s way, God’s way

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Natural family planning NFP is a means for couples to achieve or avoid a pregnancy that is acceptable to people of all faiths and cultures including those who chose to live their lives in accordance with the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

NFP requires a couple to identify the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle, by observing the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of fertility in the woman’s body. The couple will practice periodic abstinence during the fertile days if for serious reason their desire is to postpone pregnancy. Couples using NFP are always open to life and God’s plan for their family.

The fertile phase lasts for only six days every cycle, these account for 5 days of sperm survival in the female genital tract and 24-hour survival of the ovum after ovulation; intercourse during these 6 days can result in a pregnancy. As our understanding and knowledge of the science of the fertility cycle improves, it is possible to more and more accurately identify these 6 days and thus the beginning and end of the fertile phase of the woman’s menstrual cycle.

The most popular NFP methods are The Billings and Creighton methods, which relies on the cervical mucus sign and the Symptom-Thermal Double Check STDC method, which uses multiple fertility indicators including mucus and basal body temperature. The STDC method has a reliability of 98.2 %.

Of course, nowadays couples can also use technology to assist their fertility awareness with ovulation predictor kits such as Persona and IPhone apps such as iCycle and Kindara. The out dated rhythm method used calendar data only, was unreliable, and has not been recommended by natural family planning groups for many years.

Studies show that NFP enriches a couple’s relationship and improves communication since the man and woman both share responsibility for fertility regulation. Women report that they feel more cherished since the husband must respect the natural ebb and flow of her fertility cycle rather than expose her to harmful effects of artificial contraceptives. Modern NFP offers couples a means to plan or avoid a pregnancy that is safe, effective and free from side effects.

Couple motivation and proper instruction by a qualified teacher are key to successful NFP. Most couples require 3 months of instruction to become autonomous in confidently identifying the fertile and infertile phases of the woman’s cycle. The NFPTAI (Natural Family Planning Teachers Association of Ireland) trains and supports teachers in STDC method since 1988.

Our next teacher training course will begin in September 2020 in Knock with 6 weekends of lectures over 6 months followed by 3 months of supervised practical training in instructing couples on the art of NFP. Trainees are eligible to sit the exam for the certificate in Natural Family Planning and for membership of the NFPTAI. The course is open to everyone and is accredited by The European Institute of Family and Life Education IEEF/ EIFLE.

The NFPTAI also run one-day workshops in NFP. If you would like to attend the full course or host a one day workshop in your parish, please make contact through The NFPTAI website: www.naturalfamilyplanning.ie. info@naturalfamilyplanning.ie  085 7130103

Dr Deirdre Gleeson, Course Director NFPTAI