Fertility Awareness/Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a way for women to become knowledgeable of the beauty of their bodies and their individual fertility. For couples, it is a reliable method of birth regulation which is effective, natural, medically safe, inexpensive, and morally acceptable. Studies have demonstrated that the method is effective in avoiding or achieving pregnancy when it is properly taught by a qualified teacher and then correctly applied. NFP has no harmful side effects and can be easily learned and practiced.
NFP is an umbrella term for 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 use NFP to avoid pregnancy by abstaining from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman’s cycle. The method is completely natural using no drugs, devices, or surgical procedures to avoid pregnancy.
The basis for NFP is the couple’s knowledge of their naturally occurring cyclic phases of fertility and infertility. Men are ordinarily fertile at all times. During each cycl,e a woman normally becomes fertile and then naturally infertile. As this happens, her body provides certain signs or symptoms which indicate her fertility or infertility. Couples learn to observe, record, and interpret these signs with a very high degree of accuracy. They can then use this awareness to either plan or postpone a baby accordingly.
Using NFP offers a shared responsibility by both the man and the woman to understand and use their combined fertility and their total sexuality. NFP teaches loving cooperation of both partners in using all aspects of their sexuality—physical, spiritual, intellectual, creative, and emotional.
How effective is NFP/Fertility Awareness for spacing births?
For Achieving a Pregnancy: Couples of normal fertility have a 76% chance of achieving pregnancy in the first cycle of charting, when having intercourse on days identified as fertile. The chances jump to 82 percent by the third cycle and 98 percent by the sixth. (1).
For Postponing a Pregnancy: Overall the rate is as high as 97%-99% when used correctly! (2,3,4,5,6) A 2007 study in the Journal of Human Reproduction suggests that symptothermal methods of NFP are as effective as the birth control pill. (7, 8).
1. Hilgers, T. (2002). Reproductive Anatomy & Physiology: A Primer for Fertility Care Professionals (2nd Ed.) Omaha, NE: Pope Paul VI Institute Press.
2. Barron, M., & Daly, D. (2008). Expert in Fertility Appreciation: The Creighton Model Practitioner. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 30 (4), 386-391.
3. Kambic, R. (2000, Winter/Spring). The Effectiveness of Natural Family Planning. Current Medical Research, 11. Retrieved November 25, 2008 from http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issue/nfp/cmrwin00.shtml#microscope *Based on meta-analysis of 23 ovulation method and 15 STM method studies.
4. Trials of the Billings Ovulation Method. Retrieved November 25, 2008, from http://www.woomb.org/bom/trials/index.html.
5. The Effectiveness of Natural Family Planning. Retrieved November 25, 2008 from http://ccli.org/nfp/basics/effectiveness - p0l.php.
6. Research and Scholarship in NFP. Retrieved November 25, 2008, from http://www.marquette.edu/nursing/NFPResearch.shtml.
7. New Research finds that a natural family planning method is as effective as the contraceptive pill. Retrieved November 25, 2008 from http://www.njnfp.org/documents/NFPaseffectiveasthecontraceptivepill.pdf.
8. Fehring, R. (2007, Winter/Spring, Addendum). European Double Check Sympto-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning Highly Effective When Used Consistently and Correctly: Researchers Claim Efficacy Comparable to Modern Methods of Contraception, including the Birth Control Pill. Current Medical Research, 18, 1-5. Retrieved from http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/nfp/CMR-Winter-Spring07-Addendum.pdf.
How effective is NFP/Fertility Awareness for managing women’s health issues?
Infertility: In a disease-based approach like the Creighton Model FertilityCare™System and NaProTECHNOLOGY®, the fundamental principle is to properly evaluate the underlying disease causes of infertility. Pregnancy is the natural state. If a couple is unable to conceive, by definition, there must be a disease process responsible. Infertility is nearly always caused by an identifiable, underlying disease process. This disease may be hormonal or structural, and often both. Examples of hormonal causes of infertility include thyroid disease, pituitary gland disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), anovulation, and adrenal disease. Examples of structural causes of infertility include endometriosis, pelvic adhesions, cervical mucus abnormalities, and blocked fallopian tubes. Charting the woman’s cycle through a Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness method is the foundation for identifying important information used to identify and treat the underlining cause of infertility. (1).
Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a remarkable and unusual condition affecting millions of women throughout their reproductive years. Many women with endometriosis experience painful menstrual periods, pelvic pain outside of their menstrual periods, and/or pain with intimacy. However, many women experience only the inability to become pregnant related to having endometriosis. Importantly, the absence of pain does not mean one does not have endometriosis. Charting the woman’s cycle through a Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness method is the foundation for identifying important information used to identify and treat the underlining cause of infertility like endometriosis. NaProTECHNOLOGY has a 56.7%-76.4% success rate in treating endometriosis. (2, 3).
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal, metabolic, and reproductive disorder that affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. As the most common endocrine abnormality in women it’s also a leading cause of infertility. Untreated, PCOS can lead to other serious conditions including severe anxiety, depression, obesity, endometrial cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Charting the woman’s cycle through a Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness method is the foundation for identifying important information used to identify and treat the underlining cause of infertility like PCOS. NaProTECHNOLOGY has a 62.5%-80.0% success rate in treating PCOS. (4, 3).
1. Infertility: A Disease-Based Approach to Infertility Utilizing the Creighton Model FertilityCare™System & NaProTECHNOLOGY®. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from http://fertilityandmidwifery.com/services/fertility-care/infertility/.
2. Endometriosis. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from http://fertilityandmidwifery.com/services/fertility-care/endometriosis/.
3. Effectiveness Summary: Natural Procreative (NaPro) Technology vs. Artificial Reproductive Technologies. Retrieved November 15, 2017 from http://www.popepaulvi.com/PDF/NaPro-vs-ART.pdf.
4. Polycystic Ovarian Sundrome (PCOS). Retrieved November 15, 2017, from http://fertilityandmidwifery.com/services/fertility-care/polycystic-ovarian-syndrome-pcos/
NFP/Fertility Awareness Methods
Cervical Mucus Methods (CCM):
The Creighton Model FertilityCare System (CrMS)
The Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System (CrMS) is a standardized modification of the Billings Ovulation Method. The CrMS is based upon a couple’s knowledge and understanding of their naturally-occurring phases of fertility and infertility. It provides women the added benefit of being able to monitor and maintain their procreative and gynecologic health over a lifetime. The Creighton Model System has expanded into a new reproductive science called NaProTECHNOLOGY (Natural Procreative Technology). It provides medical and surgical treatments that cooperate completely with the reproductive system. Unlike common suppressive or destructive approaches, NaProTECHNOLOGY works cooperatively with the procreative and gynecologic systems. When these systems function abnormally, NaProTECHNOLOGY identifies the problems and cooperates with the menstrual and fertility cycles that correct the condition, maintain the human ecology, and sustain the procreative potential. Women now have an opportunity to know and understand the causes of the symptoms from which they suffer.
Sympto-Thermal Methods (STM)
Sympto-Thermal Method (Couple to Couple League)
The Sympto-Thermal Method relies upon the observation of three useful fertility signs: the cervical mucus, the basal body temperature and the cervix. Couples learn to observe, record, and interpret these signs with a high degree of accuracy. During each cycle, the three signs complement and reinforce each other in forming a positive system of fertility cross checking. The cross checking nature of the Sympto-Thermal Method gives many couples an increased confidence in learning and using the method. The Sympto-Thermal Method is taught by instructors trained by the Couple to Couple League: www.ccli.org.
SymptoPro™ (Northwest Family Services)
SymptoPro™ is another Sympto-Thermal Method of Fertility Education based on changes in a woman’s cervical mucus, waking or resting temperature, and cervix. We teach detailed, objective markers that are both easy to chart and come with highly effective guidelines. Our particular strengths lie in the highly personal support that each couple receives when they take instruction from us. More information on this method can be found at: https://www.symptopro.org/
Sympto-Hormonal Method (SHM)
Marquette Method (MM)
The Sympto-Hormonal methods instruct individuals on how to observe several signs of a woman’s fertility, including the use of an ovulation predictor kit (OPK) or fertility monitor. The assistance of the OPK or fertility monitors adds the detection of reproductive hormones in the urine. The Marquette Method (MM) by Marquette University College of Nursing Institute for NFP and is taught by instructors online and in person. Visit this site for more information: http://nfp.marquette.edu/
Please check the How to Learn About NFP/Fertility Awareness page to view instructors/teachers in the Raleigh Diocese for each method.