Natural Family Planning (NFP) is the general title for the scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help married couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies. NFP methods are based on the observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy. Since the methods of NFP respect the love-giving and life-giving nature of the conjugal act, they support God’s design for married love!

  • Natural Family Planning is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman’s cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.
  • NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife. (Standards for Diocesan Natural Family Planning Ministry, p. 23)

God designed marriage as an “intimate partnership of life and love” (see Gaudium et spes, no. 48). In God’s design, marriage is a unique union of one man with one woman “for the whole of life” (see Canon 1055, The Code of Canon Law). Marriage is oriented to the good of the spouses and to the creation and nurture of new human life (see Gaudium et spes, no. 48). Making decisions therefore, about when and how many children to have in marriage is a sacred responsibility that God has entrusted to husband and wife. This is the foundation of what the Church calls, “Responsible Parenthood”–the call to discern God’s will for your marriage while respecting His design for life and love.

The Catholic Church supports the methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) because they respect God’s design for married love. In fact, NFP represents the only authentic approach to family planning available to husbands and wives because these methods can be used to both attempt or avoid pregnancy.

NFP is healthy and organic. No drugs, devices or surgical procedures are used to achieve or postpone pregnancy. NFP is safe for a woman, her unborn or nursing child, and her future fertility. NFP is also harmless to the environment.

NFP’s mutual responsibility for family planning encourages communication and fosters respect, maturity and generosity — qualities conductive to a long and healthy marriage.

NFP respects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child.

NFP is as effective in postponing pregnancy as hormonal contraceptives; unlike contraceptives, NFP can also assist a couple in conceiving a child.

NFP empowers women with knowledge of their bodies. Couples gain awareness of their mutual fertility.

Unfortunately, many physicians turn to the pill as a first option, rather than as a last resort, for treating menstrual irregularities and other women’s health issues. But the pill typically treats only the symptoms — it does not correct the underlying disease or condition. Hormonal drugs can also pose an increased risk of a range of harmful conditions, such as blood clots, tumors, strokes and some forms of cancer.

Thankfully, knowledgeable physicians can often prescribe non-hormonal drugs and recommend safer and healthier treatments for symptoms such as painful cycles, acne, anxiety and fatigue, and address underlying issues such as endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, infertility and menopausal disorders.

Generally, most couples learn best by enrolling in an NFP course that offers follow-up with a teacher who is trained in a proven method. Multiple NFP practitioners teach a variety of approaches to observe and chart indicators of fertility. 

The best NFP method is the one that works for you! Although based upon the same reproductive science, NFP methods vary in which fertility signs are observed and how they are charted. NFP classes may be offered one-on-one or in group sessions, taught by a married couple or by a health professional. While each NFP method has its own particular strengths, with proper training and motivation all can be used successfully. Modern types of NFP have an effectiveness rate of 97-99 percent in postponing pregnancy. NFP is also highly effective at helping couples achieve pregnancy.

Call the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization at (859) 392-1500!

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