By Leah Pelto
There are many benefits to using natural family planning in marriage, but let’s start simple…
- It’s Healthy. There’s lots of hype these days around all-natural, non-GMO, organic, unprocessed, preservative free, grain free, dairy free, no added sugar, and additional choices for our diet. But have we thought about what we may be putting into our bodies for family planning purposes? Natural family planning (FNP) passes all of the above requirements and more. It’s medication-free! Which means there are absolutely no unwanted or troublesome side effects from its use.
- It’s green. It’s extremely friendly to the environment since it does not require oil or any kind of pollution for its production or shipment. There are no artificial hormones that end up in our tap water and environment from its use.
- It’s economical. After the one-time cost for the main class (around $135 for the book and supplies), it’s virtually free for the rest of your life. There is a small fee for supplemental classes, such as the Postpartum (fertility after childbirth) and Pre-menopause classes. But, NFP does not impose a monthly cost. That’s a lot of savings over a lifetime!
- Awareness to medical issues. Using natural family planning may bring attention to medical issues that a wife may not have known she had. When a woman’s cycle is unaltered by outside synthetic hormonal influence, and there is a certain irregularity or problem present, it could mean there is a medical concern that needs to be addressed, progesterone or thyroid deficiency for example.
- It’s effective. The Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP has several different rules to choose from for the different phases of a woman’s cycle. The married couple adheres to the guidelines for physical intimacy when wanting to space pregnancies. The most common rule to use for the longest infertile phase has a method-effectiveness rate or 99.6%. All of NFP science is based on decades (almost a century, really) of collective research and numerous scientific studies, particularly those of Dr. Petra Frank-Hermann and Dr. Josef Roetzer.
- Growth in virtues. Using natural family planning to space children in marriage compels practice in self-control, self-discipline, patience, purity, obedience to the Church in her insightful teachings, respect for God, and respect for your spouse to name a few. All of these being virtues we should strive for in our Christian life as well as our use of NFP.
- Shared commitment. The accountability of tracking fertility signs is meant to be shared by both spouses, not just one or the other. The husband is asked to hand his wife the thermometer in the morning to take her basal (waking) body temperature, which is one of the fertility signs. The wife then makes fertility observations throughout the day.
- It’s versatile. The strength (that I love!). of the Sympto-Thermal Method of natural family planning is its incorporation of three different fertility signs. That way, when one sign is possibly affected by sickness or stress, you can rely on the other sign(s) for accurate interpretation of the phases.
- Witness God’s design. When a married couple uses NFP, they can clearly see the intricate and beautiful way that God created their bodies and their gift of fertility.
- Practice of putting God first. When we choose to honor God and His design of our bodies first and foremost with our fertility, the practice of putting Him first in other areas of marriage more easily follows. When we elect the Lord as the center of planning our family, it innately flows to put Him first when it comes to communication, finances, education, parenting, work, etc.
Is using NFP always easy? No, not always. But I can’t think of a single thing the Church calls us to do specifically because “it’s easy.”
My husband, Michael, and I are certified teachers through the Couple to Couple League International and teach the Sympto-Thermal Method, which uses three different fertility signs to identify the natural fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s cycle. The Couple to Couple League is a Catholic non-profit organization established in 1971, and is the largest provider of NFP instruction in the United States.