Common Questions About Natural Family Planning

Who can use NFP?

Any married couple can use NFP! A woman need not have "regular" cycles. NFP education helps couples fully understand their combined fertility, thereby helping them to either achieve or avoid a pregnancy. The key to the successful use of NFP is cooperation and communication between husband and wife, in other words, a shared commitment.

As a method of family planning, NFP:

  • Calls for mutual responsibility by husband and wife
  • Requires the couple to communicate
  • Is based on scientific research
  • Treats each menstrual cycle as unique and teaches a couple to observe their signs of fertility on a day-to-day bases
  • Has no harmful side effects
  • Is effective for those wanting to achieve or avoid pregnancy
  • Can be used in special circumstances--such as, post-partum, during breastfeeding, and premenopause
  • Is virtually cost free!

How is NFP different from contraception and sterilization?

NFP is different from contraception and sterilization in that it enables its users to work with the body rather than against it. With NFP, fertility is treated as a gift to be lived and worked with, not as a problem that has to be medicated or "fixed".

Please watch the video series, Contraception: the Real Story, to learn more about the many moral, spiritual, emotional and physical differences.

What are the natural signs of fertility that NFP uses?

A woman's body provides several physical signs to indicate the fertile and infertile phases of her cycle. Recognizing the pattern of those signs forms the basis for all methods of NFP.

The primary sign of fertility is the mucus released from the women's cervix. A woman learns to identify the normal, healthy, cervical mucus which indicates the days that intercourse is most likely to result in a pregnancy.

A second sign is her basal body temperature. Due to hormonal activity, a woman's waking temperature changes during the menstrual cycle. Lower temperatures indicate that ovulation has not yet occurred. Higher temperatures indicate a rise in progesterone which signals the end of the fertile time.

Other signs can also be observed, such as changes in the shape or texture of the cervix, minor abdominal pain or pressure at the time of ovulation.

How does NFP work?

NFP instruction helps a couple identify the most opportune time to achieve as well as avoid a pregnancy. Understanding that intercourse or genital contact during the fertile time can result in pregnancy, couples using the natural methods must be clear regarding their family planning intention, that is, whether they wish to achieve or avoid a pregnancy. If a couple wishes to achieve pregnancy, they have intercourse during the fertile time. If they wish to avoid pregnancy, they abstain from intercourse and any genital contact during the fertile time.

No contraceptive methods are used during the fertile time as this would not only distort the meaning of intercourse but also interfere with a women's observation of her fertility signs.

What are the benefits of using NFP?

In NFP both spouses are taught to understand the nature of fertility and work with it, either to plan a pregnancy or to avoid one. Couples who use NFP soon learn that they have a shared responsibility for family planning. Husbands are encouraged to "tune into" their wives' cycles, and both spouses are encouraged to speak openly and frankly about their sexual desires and their ideas about family size.

Other benefits include:

  • Low cost
  • No harmful side effects
  • Effective for achieving, spacing, or limiting pregnancy
  • Can be used throughout the reproductive life cycle
  • Enriches marriages through mutual understanding
  • Builds appreciation for the value of children
  • Fosters respect for and acceptance of the total person
  • Is morally acceptable

How effective is NFP for avoiding pregnancy?

When couples understand the methods and are motivated to follow them, NFP is up to 99%* successful in spacing or limiting births. The effectiveness of NFP depends upon the spouses following the rules of the method according to their family planning intention (i.e. achieving or limiting pregnancy). Those who are strongly motivated to avoid pregnancy and follow the method-defined rules are very effective in meeting their goal.

*Effectiveness of Natural Family Planning in Avoiding Pregnancy in terms of the number of pregnancies per 100 couples in one year:

  • Couples who carefully follow all the rules for avoiding pregnancy all the time: 1-3 /100
  • Couples who do not follow all the rules for avoiding pregnancy: 2-15 /100

For a detailed comparison of the effectiveness of NFP methods in avoiding pregnancy versus the effectiveness of contraception, CLICK HERE.

Where can I learn how to use NFP?

The best way to learn NFP is from a certified NFP instructor. CLICK HERE for a list of instructors in the Diocese of Sacramento.  CLICK HERE to view approved online NFP courses.