July 22, 2012
General Information on Natural Family Planning
Natural Family Planning (NFP) methods represent authentic family planning. They can be used to both achieve and to postpone a pregnancy. NFP makes use of periodic abstinence from sexual intercourse based upon the observation of the woman’s natural signs of fertility, in order to space births or to limit the number of children when there is a serious reason to do so… this practice
fosters in couples an attitude of respect and wonder in the
face of human life, which is sacred. It also fosters profound respect for one’s spouse, which is necessary for…
authentic intimacy. (Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2009, p. 20) NFP 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 Minis-try, U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2010, p. 23) 2 The natural methods of family planning (NFP) do not depend on a woman having “regular” menstrual cycles.
NFP information treats each woman and each cycle as unique. NFP teaches a woman to watch every day for her signs of fertility.
NFP therefore works with menstrual cycles of any length and any degree of irregularity. It can be used during breastfeeding, just before menopause, and in other special circumstances. NFP allows a woman to understand the physical signals her body gives her to tell her when she is most likely to become pregnant. (See: NFP, Myth and Re-ality, NFP Program, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a unique form of fertility education. Specifically, NFP is the title for the moral, natural and healthy, modern and scientifically reliable methods of family planning. These methods teach married couples how to identify and understand their com-bined signs of fertility. This information then helps married couples plan to achieve or postpone a pregnancy. NFP is morally good because it helps married couples respect God’s design for married love. (Theresa Notare, PhD, Assistant Director, NFP Program, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) Who can use NFP? Any married couple can use NFP! A woman need not have “regular” cycles. NFP education helps couples to 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—a shared commitment. NFP is unique among methods of family planning because it enables its users to work with the body rather than against it. Fertility is viewed as a reality to live, not a problem to be solved. (What is NFP? NFP Program, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, see: http://usccb.org)