Becoming Aware of Fertility Awareness
Shortly after I turned 19 I decided to spend a Saturday morning at a Catholic bioethics conference. It was free, and the topics looked interesting, so I signed up, even though I could not convince any friends to go along.
I arrived late and hurried in to catch the second half of Christopher Klofft’s talk on the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception and natural family planning. In less than half an hour I was completely sold. I cannot remember exactly what Klofft said, but it worked. I went from only knowing that NFP existed and was not that great to being entirely convinced that the ideal sexual relationship would not involve contraception. I was still convinced that it would not be good for me to have 10+ children, but figured that I would find out all that I could about NFP. And if there was no good option then I simply would not get married. But I wanted what Klofft had.
I went back to my dorm room and read Humanae Vitae (the 1960s document that reiterated the fact that the Catholic Church was not about to change it’s anti-contraception stance) for the first time. Then I read about Why Humanae Vitae Was Right and a few other such books that I can no longer remember. I also read the only book in my school’s library about fertility awareness, and interlibrary loaned everything I could find on the topic. I was not impressed with the Catholic materials that I read on the actual practice of NFP, but the combination of Catholic theology and secular fertility awareness information was simply wonderful.
Soon I was not only convinced, I was confident.
Mine wasn’t as big an event. I remember seeing a pamphlet at the Parish I went to in college… and one of the girls there got up and spoke about it a little one week, had an article on LAM in the newsletter. I may have heard about it before, but that’s when I knew I would eventually practice it. I kinda wish I’d started learning more about how it works back then and started charting just to learn how… but no regrets.
I’m not Catholic, but practiced NFP for a long time.
When my friends say, “it doesn’t work — you have five kids!” I say, “oh – it works well! I knew that I would probably get pregnant, because I was so in tune with my body from NFP… but I chose to have sex anyway.”
Really does help you become aware of your body and arms you with excellent date in the case where you require OB-GYN medical intervention. Exact date of ovulation, even can pinpoint thyroid issues from temperature ranges.
These are pretty cool bodies God’s given us! Praise Him.
PS: Can no longer have children due to a stupid tumor. But, as you know, I’m thankful for the five I did have. God knew when I was 28 I would no longer have more children. He rocks like that.
How effective is NFP?
I’ve seen diff stats on it… about 98 to 99% when practiced correctly is the most common one I’ve seen. Either way statistically its even with the main forms of contraception.
Anywhere form 75% to 99.9% for preventing pregnancy depending upon the method of NFP used, the user verses method failure, and the study in question.
I’m planning a Catholic post on why it is that I couldn’t find the best studies in Catholic materials. It sometimes seems as if pious Catholics (and by Catholics I do *not* mean “the Church”) are afraid of admitting how very effective this can be because they believe that is “not open to life” to have a virtually certain method of avoiding pregnancy. So, in *my* view, some prominent Catholic teachers actually downplay the potential effectiveness.
Also, studies of practicing Catholics using NFP are a royal pain, because such people tend to be very open to life and thus not as interested in seriously avoiding pregnancy for the length of the study (which is obviously very good in most ways, just not for getting solid stats!).
Sorry I’m on this late–don’t know if anyone will see it. I have a science and nursing background and direct a Catholic diocesan NFP program through Catholic Social Services. I do not downplay the effectiveness. I couple my talk on effectiveness with the importance of responsible parenting, risks of contraceptives, purpose of marital love, etc. Please see my list of effectiveness studies here:
That’s great to hear! I did not mean to imply that all Catholic NFP instructors downplay its effectiveness. It is, however, something I’ve seen in some circles. Your talk sounds great.
I happened to come across this post during a routine “self-Google.” It kinda made my day.
If I can be of assistance in any way, please let me know.
I’m glad to make your day as you’ve been quite a help to me! Thank you.
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