(Closed) Does NFP really work? Future mum in law is a GP and says I am screwed

posted 7 years ago in Catholic
  • poll: Are we crazy for relying on natural family planning to avoid pregnancy.

    Your future mother in law is right...start prepping that nursery

    She is wrong. We have/are using NFP successfully- it just takes a little self control

    You should use NFP and something else (like a barrier method)

    Can't think of a fourth option...

  • Post # 152
    642 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: February 2013

    Hey! Successful NFP user over here. Hubbs and I use the Sympto-Thermal method and it works really well. We looked into other methods, but STM is the only one that can confirm ovulation, not just guess that it has occured. The problem with the typical “75%” stat is that survey was taken and the question was posed as “do you use any natural method of birth control?” so that stat includes people using the batshit rhythm method, just guessing, thinking they were magic, all that. The only study done just on the sympto-thermal method had a use effectiveness, not just method effectiveness, of 98 goddamn percent. That’s as good as the pill. 

    We’re actually just about to start taking a course on how to teach the sympto-thermal method, so feel free to PM me if you want more info.

    ETA: Here’s a link to the planned parenthood (so you know it’s objective and not just saying it’s good because they’re pro-Catholicism) report on STM http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/symptothermal-method-22142.htm








    Post # 153
    4 posts
    • Wedding: May 2014

    Please don’t go onto the pill! I was put on it when I was 18 years old, by a doctor promising me it would help me with my heavy heavy periods. (Please note that I was not sexually active). Six years down the line they started to make me sick. I developed heavy spotting in the middle of the month, common (TMI Sorry) thrush infections, the most painful cramps and the worst of all… I fell and broke my femur and developed Thrombosis (I had a fatally dangerous blood clot in the deep veins in my leg). I obviously went off of the pills straight away and took blood thinners (Under doctors orders) and I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier with my decision of coming off of them. I am more myself, less moody, feel more energetic, never had a thrush infection again and I am actually more in control of my body now more than ever (My cycle still has not come back to normal though). Please becareful of the pill as they pose some disguised threats that people don’t talk about often. They contain a hormone that can cause your baby to be aborted if you happened to fall pregnant not to mention increased chance of stroke and cancer.


    ”Oral Contraceptives (Birth Control Pills) – Delivers hormones orally through a daily pill that prevents ovulation, thickens the mucus lining so as to prevent fertilization, and thins the lining of the uterus, which may prevent implantation if fertilization does occur.


    Fiance and I are Catholic and what we are going to do is learn as much about NFP as possible and use Condoms (I know the church doesn’t agree with it but there are far fewer health risks associated with them and they dont cause abortions) until we are 100% comfortable that we know how to use NFP as our form of birth control. Best is to go to a NFP instructor to help you learn how 🙂

    Best of Luck!!

    Post # 154
    273 posts
    Helper bee

    To be honest, I don’t think you should base this on other people’s experiences. Even if you can be sure someone who claims NFP works is telling the truth (and you can’t)- so what? It doesn’t work for a large number of people. If you’re fine with the risk of a baby coming unexpectedly, then go ahead. Butif you categorically do not want a baby now, it’s an idiotic choice.

    The only people I’ve personally known claim NFP works (or read claiming it works online/in the media) are parents anyway. And while they claim that they used NFP successfully until they chose to have children, how can you ever be sure that’s true and not just a lie to keep face?

    I’ve never met a childree by choice couple who used NFP. And unless you’re 100% certain that someone would never ever have an abortion (and considering the amount of hypocrites in the world, you can never be 100% even if the person goes on “pro life” campaigns outside abortion clinics) you can’t even be certain that a childless woman is telling the truth if she says NFP worked for her.


    I’m not saying all your friends/people you read about are liars having abortions left, right and centre. I’m just wondering why the heck you would trust strangers on weddingbee on something like this.

    If you categorically cannot have a baby now, your choices are proper birth control or abstinence. End of. If you’d simply rather not have a child but you’re OK if you get pregnant “unexpectedly” then NPF might be for you.

    Also: It’s not NFP if you’re using a condom as well! It’s just called “using a condom”. Your NFP might help if you did experience the tiny failure rate that condoms have when used properly, but the main thing stopping you getting pregant is the condom.

    Post # 155
    1263 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: May 2015

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    @AmyJCardiff:  Question: Obviously people on the internet or anywhere else can lie, but you honestly think every family you know who used NFP until they had kids is lying about it?  And for internet people who’s NFP failed, you think they’re all going out of their way to tout to strangers about how well it works?

    Every single one of them is making up an elaborate plot to avoid the “shame” (is this actually a thing? I mean sure, having an oops baby is prolly embarrassing, but I don’t think everyone is like “OHMYGOSH THE WORLD MUST NEVER KNOW!” about it)? You just sound rather paranoid about the world, and people in general.

    Also, you seem confused about what NFP/FAM is with your condom comment – as per Planned Parenthood’s website:

    “FAMs work by keeping sperm out of the vagina in the days near ovulation, when a woman is most fertile — most likely to become pregnant.

    To prevent pregnancy, women can abstain from vaginal intercourse on their fertile days. Or they can use withdrawal, a condom, a sponge, a diaphragm, or a cap on those days. Or they may enjoy other kinds of sex play instead of vaginal intercourse on their fertile days.”

    Using a condom is actually a very common part of NFP. NFP isn’t necessarily about using no other forms of BC, though for some people it is.  I just want to make sure you know we’re talking about full-out charting, mucus testing, temperature tracking, etc. – not “hum de dum, let me count up 14 days and hope for the best!”  NFP is not the same thing as the rhythm method. And, when done completely correctly, the fail rates are pretty low when talking about full-out NFP.

    Post # 156
    469 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: May 2018

    View original reply
    @twoangels:  that was very interesting, I realise it was written a month ago and do not necessarily expect a response. I have a couple of questions 

    1) given that your methods described rely on one’s perception of ovulation as accurate and given what we see on the wedding bee forums from people who really are not sure when they are ovulating even though they chart every day, watch CM etc, how can a regular joe rely on NFP? You’d basically have to be close to abstinent, right? At least until you were confident you knew when you are ovulating. 



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    @AdriannaJean:  2) if your method can confirm ovulation,why on earth aren’t all of the bees on the TTC threads using it? I have never heard of it and yet it sounds like the break through in reproductive technology everyone is hoping for but instead are stuck with OPKs. What do you think is the reason for this lack of take-up?

    Post # 157
    347 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: April 2010


    You stated: “I’ve never met a childree by choice couple who used NFP.

    You won’t because people who use NFP tend to have more ambulant attitudes toward pregnancy. This is true in academic studies done on NFP and true in reality for two reasons. 1. NFP has a negative reputation. Because the method is considered not effective enough, people considering their options are told only to use the method if they’re ok with getting pregnant. 2. The vast majority of people who use NFP are Catholic. Catholicism teaches that matrimonial consent requires the consent to have children. As such, a such a couple who intends to enter a deliberately childfree marriage is failing to give matrimonial consent. IOW, it not morally permissible for couples to deliberately be childfree.

    In fact, there is the debate over the contraceptive mentality and the moral criteria for using periodic abstinence. Angela Bonilla pointed out this problem in “Humanae Vitae: Grave motives to use a Good Translation”, where she points out how one translation of Humanae Vitae has led to the American Catholic landscape to pressure young couples into having large families or to feel a sense of guilt over using NFP.

    This opinion pervades the American Catholic landscape and imposes, for some, a great burden. The message that many Catholics receive about the legitimate use of periodic abstinence is that they must have “grave motives” to use it. Even the term “serious reasons,” which is sometimes used instead of “grave motives,” communicates the same negative, but uncertain, meaning. In response to this, some Catholics never practice periodic abstinence no matter what the circumstances, while some silently agonize with guilt and uncertainty when they do use it and feel pressure to conceive before their youngest child turns two. Some ignore the Church’s teaching entirely because it seems unreasonable, while, at the other extreme, many reproach themselves (or worse, others) for “not trusting God enough” when they do use periodic abstinence.



    “given that your methods described rely on one’s perception of ovulation as accurate and given what we see on the wedding bee forums from people who really are not sure when they are ovulating even though they chart every day, watch CM etc, how can a regular joe rely on NFP? You’d basically have to be close to abstinent, right? At least until you were confident you knew when you are ovulating.”

    Its not so much knowing when you’re ovulating, as it is knowing when you’re fertile. Ovulation happens once per cycle. The ovum has to be fertilized within a 1 day. The reason NFP typically requires couples to abstain from sex for about a week is because fertile mucus (mucus the woman’s body produces as she nears ovulation) increases the lifespan of sperm. On average, the lifespan is increased to about 3 days, but the sperm can live inside the women for up to 5.

    On non-fertile days, the type of mucus present in a woman’s cervix is too thick to pass down to her vulva (as such she experiences dry days) and it acts as a natural barrier to sperm. More on the types of mucus here.

    In addition, the cervix of the woman opens wider during the fertile period while it closes leaving only a small opening during the non-fertile period. See photo of cervix here during both periods of fertility.

    A basic/healthy pattern of fertility looks like this (note that the hormone graph shown below is not a normal part of the Creighton chart)  The green days (what my husband call “go days”) are dry/infertile days. Fertile mucus is not observed. The red days are bleeding and the baby days are days of fertility. It should also be noticed that the white baby’s indicate fertile mucus, while the additional light green baby are the three days after the Peak fertility day that we abstain during if we wish to avoid pregnancy. Ovulation occurs sometime between P and 3, but we don’t know what the P day is until the day after.

    In this cycle, the couple has a 10 day mucus cycle that they need to abstain from if they want to achieve the method effectiveness of the method. Since sperm only survives about 3 days and at longest 5 days, if this woman had sex on day 14 (first day of mucus), she probably won’t end up pregnant. But she still abstained from sex because she did not know how long her mucus cycle was going to be. For all she knew, she could ovulate the next day, the day after, etc.

    When a woman’s chart doesn’t look remotely like this, this is the result of a health issue. Take these examples for instance. 

    Where things go crazy, is when women suffer with PCOS. Their charts tend to involve constant mucus throughout their cycles, looking like this.

    Oddly enough, though it looks like the woman is super fertile, women with PCOS tend to struggle with infertility, but I do have friends with PCOS who have had no difficulty getting pregnant. And in those cases, they do tend to feel like NFP is a shot in the dark.

    Now, PCOS has its own health risks in addition to difficulties in conceiving a child. It increases the risk of endometrial hyperplasia and cancer of the endometrium (uterine lining), diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

    Thus, while I’d recommend trying to find a physician trained in naprotechnology and really researching treatment options, it is morally permissible to be on the the same prescriptive used for its contraceptive purposes to treat something like PCOS. 


    Post # 158
    4334 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: October 2011

    View original reply
    @Truffle-hunter:  if your method can confirm ovulation,why on earth aren’t all of the bees on the TTC threads using it? I have never heard of it and yet it sounds like the break through in reproductive technology everyone is hoping for but instead are stuck with OPKs. What do you think is the reason for this lack of take-up?

    The women who are charting to TTC actually ARE using the same basic idea as NFP… mucus + temp confirms ovulation. It always baffles me that the same women who put such stock in the method to get pregnant by charting, won’t trust it to use the same information to NOT get pregnant! NFP takes time to learn, and yes, some women do struggle with interpreting their fertility signs especially without the help of an instructer. To try and simply answer it – OPK’s are a lot easier! (but they’re really just interpreting the same informationg that charting your signs does… the same biological/hormonal changes that would alert an OPK are also what makes your body, for example, start producing fertile mucus.)


    View original reply
    @arabbel:  Sorry to quibble, 🙂 , but actually, I do believe that the poster you responded to was correct in her comment about using a condom – the technical difference between NFP and FAM (as described in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility,) is that with FAM, use of a condom or other means IS permissible in the “rules” of the method, whereas to be defined as “NFP,” nothing is acceptable during the fertile periods except abstinence.

    Post # 159
    469 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: May 2018

    View original reply
    @red_rose:  I can understand why they wouldn’t trust NFP whilst at the same time employ charting to TTC. Here is why: charting uses what we know from science about reproduction. apart from praying and wishing and hoping to get pregnant that is all we have. Whereas in the world of contraception we have a lot of options Which are proven over the years to have efficacy rates as high as 97%. We know that people don’t always get pregnant the first cycle trying and that often it will take 3-4 cycles and then sometimes even more than that so obviously charting is not a guarantee of conceiving. also a lot of women do not know when they ovulate despite charting. The previous poster puts that down to PCOS but if the margin of error is so clearly there, how can Charting or charting to prevent be considered a good risk? What if a person doesn’t even know they have PCOS? The reason the vast majority of mainstream family planning professionals advocate for barrier or hormonal methods of contraception is because they are effective straight away for most people. I think NFP will only be satisfactory for people who a) have spent a lot of time collecting data about their cycles (and using barrier methods or other in the meantime) and b) they don’t actually mind getting pregnant. Also, NFP is not going to be suitable for people who like to have sex throughout their cycle. It seems to me that NFP requires minimum a week’s abstinence every month. that is if you’re pretty darn sure you have nailed your fertile window down. then some people do not have sex during menstruation so there goes another 4-8 days each month. From what I read on the bee about people’s’ sexual habits this would simply not be OK for people who need to have sex every day. But I concede that is an argument for the pros and cons for birth control; not the effectiveness of NFP. 


    Post # 160
    1979 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: November 2014

    @Julybride88:  A Catholic friend of mine used NFP after she got married- and she got pregnant within the first 3 months… in the middle of grad school… not ideal!

    Post # 160
    575 posts
    Busy bee

    No, definitely not crazy. I just found out that there is a huge difference in how people think about the probability of conception depending on whether they protect or try to conceive. If you are in the first category, they tell you: if you have had unprotected sex [under any circumstances] you might be pregnant. Even if you miss a single pill, right after your period, you might be pregnant and should use a second method of contraception, the package says.

    Once you start ttc, everything turns around: unless you have sex during the two precise days preceding ovulation, [no using of lubricant, spit, etc. allowed], you will not be pregnant and even then, your chances of conception on any given month are 25%.

    So in that sense, I would say, your attitude is rational. I would try charting using fertility friend – it seems to be pretty good at predicting ovulation. Of course, pregnancy can happen, but if you read the forums on fertility websites, they will reassure you somewhat 🙂

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