(Closed) Also…Natural Family Planning: Does it work?

posted 9 years ago in Catholic
Post # 3
Member
5823 posts
Bee Keeper

I posted this in response to another thread as well but it applies to your question:

 "Natural Family Planning" hah.  Yeah right.  Scientists have discovered that women ovulate more than once per month (and sometimes more than one egg per time).  Some women ovulate continuously, which is why they can get pregnant on their period.  My roommate did the NFP method, and it didn’t work.  Like she got pregnant…her first time ever…on her honeymoon!  You can’t work around "magic dates" because you just don’t know.

Unless you have a magic mirror that tells you if you’re ovulating (and basal temps are difficult to interpret) the NFP is not practical.  It doesn’t work.

Post # 4
Member
30 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: August 2009

My sister tried "natural family planning" after the birth of her first daughter.  Now she has 2 little girls and she is back on birth control.

Post # 5
Member
1423 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

To give you some scientific data (Source: Understanding Human Sexuality, Eighth Edition, by Janet Shibley Hyde and John D. Delamater, pages 202-204) fertility awareness methods of contraception have a typical-user failure rate of 25%, i.e. in a typical year if 100 women are practicing fertility awareness methods, but the end of the year 25 will be pregnant. 

The ideal-user failure rates (when the methods are perfectly executed) are between 2-5%, depending on which method you use.  You’re also supposed to collect data for at least 6 months before using the method, and have to abstain from sex at least 8 days a month, but perhaps as long as two or three weeks, depending on your cycle.   

For the sake of comparison, birth control pills have a typical-user failure rate of 5% and a perfect-user failure rate of 0.1% (one in a thousand). 

I know the odds that I prefer!

Post # 6
Member
2008 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

An important thing to note is that people can be talking about two things here.  Natural Family Planning (NFP) or the Rythmn Method traditionally relied on not having sex two weeks before your period.  As MightySapphire pointed out, that’s not reliable at all unless your cycle happens to be one of the few that matches up perfectly. 

Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM) is becoming more common and can be effective for both prevention and conception.  The trick is that it’s not like peeing on a stick and getting a clear yes or no answer.  You have to interpret your temperature and mucus characteristics AND sucessfully abstain from having intercourse. 

Another thing to consider is bluegreenjean’s comment about failure rates, which is all very pertinent and FAM does have a lower rate than "artificial" birthcontrol methods.  Then again I think I counted about 5 women I know personally who all got pregnant while on the pill within a timespan of just a few years.  That was the impetuous I needed to leave the pill (I wasn’t happy with the way the hormones were messing with me either) and get an Intrauterine Device (IUD) that I LOVE. 

Since you posted this on the Catholic board I’m assuming that may also play a part in your decision as they do not condone birth control other than NFP or FAM.  (Personally, I don’t really see how they’re much difference than the "artificial" ones, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.)  If that’s the case, you’re much better off using FAM than nothing at all. 

Either way?  Talk to your gynocologist!  He/she is the most qualified person to help you determine what suits you the best.  Good luck!

Post # 7
Member
18 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: August 2008

I’ve been following these conversations about NFP with interest, as my husband and I have been using it very sucessfully since our wedding. I just wanted to point out that NFP methods (such as the Sympto-Thermal Method that chelseamorning describes on the other thread, and that we use as well) are NOT the Rhythm Method and are in fact, what you describe, caitlanc, as fertility awareness methods.

Post # 8
Member
2004 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

I use the sympto-thermal method (STM) of natural family planning. I have been using it for 1.5 years. I have not gotten pregnant. I find it easy to use and my temperatures easy to interpret. I was taught NFP by a couple who have used it for more than 35 years. They have five children, all planned, no mistakes. I really like the method and would love to talk with you about it further. I have considered becoming an NFP teacher. When you learn the method, you usually take a class by a seasoned nfp couple, and they double check all your charts for several months to make sure you’re doing it right.

There are many methods of NFP or fertility awareness. Some are more effective than others. Some are eaisier than others. Some have more research than others. That is why bluegreenjean can cite numbers from a sexuality texbook about fertility awareness that are so low.

If you are going to cite information about NFP’s effectiveness, it is important to specify which method of NFP you are talking about. Studies about NFP generally do not differentiate between types of NFP. Data from people who use the rhythm method or calendar method (which are JUNK) are lumped in there with data from people who use methods that actually work.

STM is the most effective nfp method. This study found it was equally as effective as the birth control pill when used correctly (which is not hard—I’ve done it, unlike most of the rest of the people on this board). This is a well-crafted study.

This study reviewed more than 17,000 charts of women using STM from 1985 to the present to look for unintended pregnancy rates. For women who had sex during the fertile time using condoms, the unintended pregnancy rate was 1.8%. For women who abstained during the fertile time, the unintended rate was 0.6%.

Those are numbers I trust.

Post # 9
Member
2004 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

Miss Sparkle, I realized I didn’t answer your other question, about what you do when you’re in the mood but you’re fertile….That can be really tough! It takes commitment and self-control but I think it’s worth it. It really brings you closer together as a couple.

You could decide to risk getting pregnant and have sex anyway (probably not the best choice, but hey, it’s a choice). You could use condoms or another barrier method (although if these fail the chance of you getting pregnant are higher since you’re more fertile right then). Or, you exercise your self-control and abstain from actual intercourse but find other ways to be intimate (whatever that means to you), and then wait to have sex when you’re not fertile anymore.

In the least, why don’t you check out a class? It’s not like you have to do it if you don’t want to. The Couple to Couple League runs classes all over the US. You can look up a teacher near you and contact them to see when the next class series is.

Post # 10
Member
2008 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

Cheleamorning – you’re right, I haven’t used a FAM, although I’d like to start charting for future reference.  I tried insinuating that as well as the fact I am not a medical professional but perhaps I should have been more clear. 

I think one of the things that people are trying to stress is that there is a higher risk of human error than with other methods.  Setting a reminder to take your pill everyday or using a condom correctly are much easier than abstaining when fertile, at least in my opinion.  (I’m also assuming absinence, not condoms or other methods, during fertile periods.) 

It doesn’t help that one of my closest friend’s was using a FAM, STM specifically, and decided during the honeymoon, Meh, it’s ok if we get pregnant.  (Not that I’d trade their two beautiful girls!)  Also, I don’t know about you girls, but I wish my sex drive was higher and the only time it really gets going is when I’m ovulating so I’m all about taking advantage of the situation! 

As with most things though, this is a very personal issue and we should definitely try not to insult other people’s choices.  I’ll try to be better about that myself.

Post # 11
Bee
981 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2008 - A tiny town just outside of Glacier National Park

IMO, family planning should not be used as birth "control" but when you are trying to conceive or don’t mind if you do conceive. It can be effective, but it requires a lot of education and work. Part of the reason that it can fail for many women is because they’re not able to (or comfortable with) constantly checking their vaginal temperatures and/or mucous levels.

I personally don’t believe it’s easy OR effective, but if you ARE ready to start a family, it might work fine for you!

Post # 12
Member
18 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: August 2008

@Miss Cherrypie, I think it fine if NFP isn’t the method for you or for a lot of women. But I also think it’s important that NFP isn’t a method of birth control; as you say, it’s a method of family planning. One of the promises you make when you enter into the sacrament of Catholic marriage is openness to children. So, essentially, NFP in the context of marriage (since according to the Church, this is the only place to use it, because sex is part of the marriage contract) is a place, one would hope, when you would be okay with the possibility of conception. I practice NFP, and yes, I take my temperature once a day and note mucous changes. Is it always convenient? Nope. But taking my temperature once a day and noticing mucous changes is pretty easy for me and it’s effective if, as you note, you’re attentive to it. You do need education; we had long class with an RN who remains a resources for our questions and concerns. And I know that when we’re ready to start our family, we’ll have an excellent idea of when the best time to conceive will be. Being so in touch with what’s going on with my body is one of the things I most appreciate about NFP.

Post # 13
Member
2004 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

In re cherrypie’s comment that nfp takes a lot of education and work, I disagree. I would say that there is a lot of investment educationally at the beginning (attending classses), but that as time goes on it requires no further education and vastly decreasing amounts of work. It does not take any more effort than taking the pill did, and it is certainly cheaper and better for your health. 

Here is how the STM of nfp really works:

You take your temperature once a day, orally, in the morning before you get up. You can do it vaginally as cherrypie said but I think that would be out of the ordinary. Ideally, your husband is in charge of taking it and writing it down. You have to do it plus/minus 1 hour or so of the same time every day. Nowadays we take it only about 2 weeks of the cycle (to catch the temperature rise—once it’s risen after ovulation there’s no need to take it again until you get your period, although it’s recommended to do so at the beginning so you can get to know your pattern and/or to just be in the habit).

There are rules to adjust the temps if they are at the wrong time or if you are sick with a fever, etc. There are rules for interpreting the rise in your basal body temperature to show that ovulation has come and gone. I have 16 charts so far and every one of them has a temp rise that follows a pattern in my manual, usually the basic pattern. If your temps looked funny (like they can right after discontinuing hormonal bc), you would call your nfp teacher or contact one of many online communities where people can help you out. I’ve never had to do this though. 

As for the effort involved in observing cervical mucous (CM), you do this when you go to the bathroom by (this might be Too Much Information, sorry, but you all deserve to know what is really necessary) looking at what is on the toilet paper after you wipe and paying attention to how it feels when you wipe. So if you can bear to think about how it feels and look at that, and maybe touch it to determine its consistency, you can make the CM observation (and then write it down). Some methods use an adjunct internal observation that some women are not comfortable with, but the STM does not. Getting your period is like a hundred thousand million times grosser than the CM observation. Really, it’s not bad or uncomfortable.

At first it might seem a little confusing, but after a month or two it’s like second nature. I would estimate that checking CM takes about 1 to 2 seconds of my time. Additionally, it is not really necessary to make this observation in the post-ovulation (luteal) phase of the cycle (other than to confirm that yes, you are dry with nothing to report for 10-11 days in a row).

The hardest parts of nfp are remembering to write the information down and exercising self-control when you want to avoid getting pregnant but are fertile. For some people this is harder than for others.

Nfp is a commitment you make to one another and I really do think it’s worth it. People who say it’s hard to understand or use the system  or that it doesn’t work don’t know what they’re talking about and/or aren’t doing it right (at least for the system I am talking about—there are systems out there that are total junk). Don’t knock it til you learn about it for real and try it.

Post # 14
Member
40 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: November 2009

It is very important that you talk to your care provider to make sure you are a good candidate for natural family plannig. Some women cannot use this method!

Post # 15
Member
2641 posts
Sugar bee

How many people here are criticizing NFP because they used it?  IS this other opinions you’ve heard elsewhere? 

Mightysapphire, you posted about women having ovulations all over their cycle before.  And I responded to that.  However, you still keep posting this.  Women don’t ovulate all over their cycle.  Depending on their CM they can keep sperm alive for several days -true.  They can ovulate on a day totally random from previous cycles.  However there are signals for ovulation. It’s not the rhythm method.  It doesn’t guess when you ovulate.  It helps you figure out when you ovulate.  So one cycle if I ovulate on day 12, that’s when I’ll avoid (and then some.)  But the next month I ovulate on day 20, so that’s when I ovulate.  If you aren’t tracking these signs, do you see how it might seem like you ovulate all the time…but  really don’t?  It is rare but possible for women to get pregnant during their period, but these are women who have very short cycles.  And do you think maybe your friend got pregnant on her honeymoon because she disregarded her NFP teachings?  Iunderstand she wanted to have sex on her honeymoon.  I’m just guessing she probably shouldn’t have according to NFP, if she wanted to wait to have children.

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