Natural Family Planning

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Reprinted with permission from L.E.A.R.N. Inc.

What is Natural Family Planning?

Natural Family Planning (NFP) refers to the practice of achieving or avoiding pregnancies according to an informed awareness of a woman’s fertility.

Why is NFP the best in family planning?

NFP provides a medically safe, healthy, highly effective and very low cost method of planning your family. It is convenient (no birth control devices to use), and it’s immediately reversible for achieving or avoiding pregnancy. It is increasingly available throughout the world, it tells you when you have achieved pregnancy, and it’s morally acceptable.

What’s the basis for NFP?

It is scientifically established that during each menstrual cycle a woman normally becomes fertile and then naturally infertile. The fertile time is the part of her cycle when sexual intercourse can result in pregnancy. A woman’s body provides certain physical signs to indicate her fertile and infertile times.

What are the signs of fertility and infertility?

The most used signs are a normal discharge of cervical mucus and changes in a woman’s waking temperature. Other signs include changes in her cervix and a feeling called “ovulation pain.”

Cervical mucus is nature’s way of helping a man’s sperm reach a woman’s egg. Her flow of cervical mucus generally starts in a small way several days before she ovulates (releases an egg); it is a very positive sign that her fertile time has started. About the time she ovulates, her mucus may be abundant and have a consistency something like a raw egg-white. After ovulation, her mucus normally disappears.

A woman’s waking temperature is lower before ovulation and rises slightly but distinctly after ovulation. After it has been well elevated for several days (while her mucus has been disappearing), it is a very positive sign that she is infertile.

What is the Symptom-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning?

The Symptom-Thermal Method is a system of using the mucus and temperature signs in a cross checking way for the highest confidence and reliability in family planning. The other signs are also used by many women.

Is this what used to be called “the Rhythm Method”?

No. The Rhythm Method was the Calendar Rhythm Method developed in 1930. It was based on some biological averages, but it did not work well for women who had irregular cycles. It was the 1930’s model of NFP, and great progress has been made since then.

Can NFP work with irregular cycles?

Yes. Modern NFP assumes that every woman is irregular at least some of the time. In general, if her fertile time comes earlier or later than usual, she knows about it because the start of her cervical mucus comes earlier or later.

How can I obtain further information about Natural Family Planning?

The following organizations promote Natural Family Planning:

The Couple to Couple League
P.O. Box 111184
Cincinnati, OH 45211-1184
(513) 471-2000

Family of the Americas

National Family Planning Center of Washington, D.C.
8514 Bradmoor Drive
Washington, D.C. 20817-3810
(301) 897-9323