We get asked a lot about whether someone can use NFP if they have irregular cycles. Of course we know that the answer is yes but sometimes people can still be skeptical when they hear that they can in fact use NFP from the two crazy NFP advocates when everyone else has told them they couldn’t. The odds aren’t staked in our favor friends. So that’s where this post comes in. Our friend Stacy wrote a great post about her experience learning and using NFP with crazy, wonky cycles.
What if I have irregular cycles?
I have heard a lot of people say that they can’t use NFP because they have irregular cycles. I’m here to let you know that just isn’t true! But about 2 years ago, I thought the exact same thing. My journey to NFP began at an engagement retreat that my husband (fiance at the time, of course) and I attended. I was attracted to the idea of NFP but due to having PCOS, I had been on the pill on and off for about 8 years. That was the only ‘treatment’ ever offered. So when the presenters of the section on NFP mentioned that people with irregular cycles could use it as well, I was instantly hooked. In fact, I sort of jumped in front of the lady on the way out to get more information. She gave me the name of a Creighton practitioner in my area. I quit taking the pill that very day and we met with our practitioner about 3 weeks later. I was excited for real healthcare!
From unsure to confident!
Learning NFP was overwhelming, as it almost anything worth doing, and probably more so because I was having long, irregular cycles at that point. For the first few months, while I was learning the Creighton Model of NFP, I was cycling about every 40-50 days. It was overwhelming because it took me longer to see if I correctly identified ovulation (which I knew I had once a period started). I had a couple false starts while I learned my signs. But I will tell you, when I did start a period, my confidence level soared!
For a married couple learning the method, they are asked to abstain one cycle while they learn. I would say it took me 3 months to feel really confident, not in the method, but in my use of it due to my extra challenges. My then-fiance was a huge help and support. He really helped me to not over analyze every little thing. Using NFP helped me to learn so much about my overall health. My practitioner could point out issues like low progesterone just by looking at the signs I was charting each day.
Why an instructor can make all the difference
When we first married and I was still cycling, we were trying to avoid (or postpone) pregnancy. By that point, we were very comfortable with our use of Creighton, but we knew we could go to our instructor any time we had questions or concerns. Creighton is a mucus only method, and I’m here to tell you that you can have cervical mucus (CM) every single day of the year and still use a mucus only method. I was put on yellow stamps a few months in, once it was clear that having CM everyday was going to be normal for me due to my PCOS. Adding yellow stamps in just added the step of a few questions and a few more marks on the chart. This helped me become confident in figuring out what was actually fertile and what was not.
During our first month of charting, had we been looking for opportunities for intercourse, they would have been very rare. But that’s because we weren’t yet on yellow stamps. Once we got on yellow stamps, there actually became very few days that we didn’t have the opportunity, due to my longer cycles. So charting to avoid pregnancy with long, irregular cycles and continuous mucus is completely doable with the help of an instructor and a method that you feel works for you. Some people with irregular cycles have learned NFP on their own. You can certainly do that, but for those with serious intentions to avoid or postpone pregnancy, I would suggest learning from an instructor.
Getting Pregnant with PCOS
Let’s take a step beyond that, though. You can use NFP to try to conceive a baby with crazy cycles, too! After a few months, my practitioner recommended that I see a doctor familiar with NaproTechnology due to my PCOS and long cycles. Then a few months after the wedding, my cycles actually disappeared all together. By the time we decided that we wanted to change our intentions to trying to conceive this past January, my fertility was still MIA. But in working with my instructor and now my doctor, we have been able to seek out treatments to restore fertility and balance my hormones out. None of which include treatments that we feel threaten the dignity of our marriage (basically any treatment where we don’t come together as a
couple to create new life). We are able to use our chart to time intercourse for the best possible chance of getting pregnant and my doctor is literally treating me based off of my chart, which I find cool and fascinating! It’s empowering to know you are able to provide your doctor with so much information about your cycle so he/she can assist you in correcting or managing any issues you might have.
Someone can come to NFP with non-existant cycles, non-existant cervical mucus, crazy temperatures, long cycles, irregular cycles… any of it! Bring it on and see what NFP has to offer you. Often times NFP will help you correct these issues and you will certainly learn to manage them and interpret your signs to fit your intentions. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.