The beauty of the Sympto-Thermal method is that you have at least one other sign of fertility to back you up. There are a number of reasons, including fever, why a woman would be unable to have reliable temps for a while in a cycle. For this reason, the sympto-thermal method teaches women to carefully observe and chart her other signs of fertility (mucus and cervical position). If you are unable to accurately identify a temperature shift to indicate fertility, your mucus characteristics and cervical position will help you identify ovulation.
What is the difference between a BBT and a regular Therm?
The short answer is that a Basal Body Thermometer (BBT) is more sensitive than a regular thermometer. It is important to have as accurate a reading as possible and the BBT will be better able to respond to minute changes in your temps.
For a more detailed explanation, please see this BabyHopes.com article.
Can I chart while on the Pill?
No. Hormonal contraceptives work by basically breaking a woman’s body. They disrupt and suppress the natural hormonal fluctuations which NFP charts and reads. In brief, BC thickens the cervical mucus (so that observation would be defunct), prevents ovulation (no temperature rise), and in some cases can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg (so you’re pregnant, but would never know it). Source, Source
Taking hormonal birth control while trying to use NFP does not only not make sense from a purely biological standpoint, it doesn’t make sense logically either. The point of BC is to break a woman’s body – to disrupt a perfectly normal and healthy process, while NFP works with a woman’s body. BC says “My body is an object to be used” and NFP says “My body is to be respected for what and how it is”. The two are irreconcilably at odds with each other.
NFP = Rhythm Method?
NFP is not the rhythm method. NFP is not the rhythm method. NFP is not the frigging rhythm method.
The rhythm method is an archaic system of family planning. It assumed every woman had a perfect 28 day cycle and that ovulation would occur on day 14. So theoretically avoiding sex around day 14 of the cycle would be effective at avoiding pregnancy. Well as our grandmothers found out, that wasn’t the case.
Today’s modern methods of natural family planning are customized to each woman’s cycle. They teach when and how to recognize the signs of their fertility each month, not based off of a standardized number but off what their bodies are actually doing. By doing this each women can decipher exactly what time of her cycle is her fertile phase and plan her sex life accordingly.
Today’s modern methods have proven their effectiveness at avoiding pregnancy in multiple studies. They are as effective or more than hormonal contraception.
How is NFP different from the Pill?
We saw this in a combox and thought it was a fantastic way of explaining it. Thanks anonymous commenter!
“Think of it this way: say you have an iPad that you’re considering giving away to someone. You have a few options. You can keep it for yourself, which is a morally neutral act. You can take out a few key bits of hardware so that the person doesn’t get to use the entire iPad properly, which is morally objectionable. Finally, you could give the iPad to the person in its entirety as a selfless act, which is morally good. ”
I would use NFP but I heard only women with regular 28 day cycles can use it. Is that true?
We will be so excited once people realize how false a statement this is! People with any type of cycle can use Natural Family Planning, though they may fare better using a certain type of NFP.
The way modern methods of NFP work is to customize the charting to each woman’s particular cycle. Women are taught how to recognize their individual signs of fertility each month, what they mean, and what action (or lack of action ;-)) is appropriate for their intentions.
Another note on irregular cycles: irregular cycles may indicate a problem. Super long cycles have been associated with PCOS, while short luteal phases can be indicative of endometriosis. These aren’t hard and fast rules but they are clues into what’s going on. These are diseases that The Pill won’t cure but simply mask.
Natural Family Planning methods make women aware of what’s going on in their cycle and can be immensely helpful to your doctor when they are assessing your overall health.
Am I ever going to have sex again?!
Yes! At first when learning about and applying the rules of your chosen method, sex might be infrequent, especially if you are applying conservative rules. This won’t last forever though, we promise! As you become more comfortable and confident in NFP and yourselves, you will learn how you can be more flexible. We think you will be surprised by how much sex you can really have. In fact studies have shown that NFP couples have just as much (or more) sex as any other couple. It’s that ‘honeymoon effect’ thing. I swear it works better than Barry White.
I heard you can only have sex if you want to get pregnant. Is that true?
False. NFP is a Family Planning resource. That’s why it’s called Natural Family Planning. Sometimes family planning means postponing or avoiding pregnancy. That’s ok! NFP is used to identify the woman’s infertile and fertile times and couples are free to have as much sex as they want in whichever phase works for their family plan.
What’s the man’s part?
Each couple will use NFP together differently. For some couples, it is the man’s responsibilty to chart and interpret the info his wife gives him. For other couples, the man simply checks in with the woman about how the chart looks. Others find somewhere in between those scenarios. Some women like doing their own charts and some like the guy picking up the chart slack. Whatever best facilitates communication in your relationship is ideal. We recommend trying both ways and seeing what works for you as a couple.
Check out the Let Him Chart post for more information about the man’s potential role in charting.
What about overpopulation? Is the earth capable of holding the 1000 kids you want each woman to have?
2 problems with this one.
1- We want people to decide for themselves how many children they should have; whether it is only 1 or they want to give the Duggars a run for their money. We trust women to know what is right for themselves and their families.
Do I have to touch my own mucus?
Yes and no.
For the textbook answer: yes, you should touch the mucus that appears on the toilet paper and see how far it stretches. This will give you the best, most accurate results.
For the more squeamish: no, you don’t technically have to. I use another piece of toilet paper to test the stretchiness of mucus. I must warn you though, this is not the way the system says to do it and could skew results. It could be that your are abstaining on days where you don’t need to be or that you’re taking a chance on days when you don’t think you are. I have yet to see an effect for this adjustment of instructions but that does not mean it is universal.
I would recommend using your actual fingers to test though, especially if you have serious reasons for avoiding or are trying to conceive. It will give you the best observations. Plus you wash your hands afterwards anyways, right?
What if I have mucus all the time?
Some women do produce mucus all.the.time. This could be an indication of an underlying pathology or it could just be that your body likes to produce mucus. Regardless you should talk to your instructor or physician about it.
Your instructor can help you differentiate what type of mucus is fertile and what type isn’t. The downside of this is that if you’re trying to avoid a pregnancy this may mean an extended time of abstaining. If you have other signs of fertility that you’ve been observing this may help lessen that time.
Some women with persistent mucus choose to go with a mucus only method that is very detailed on the mucus observations. These detailed descriptions can help you differentiate more easily fertile vs non fertile mucus. On the other hand some women choose to go with a method that isn’t completely reliant on mucus so that they can cross check their signs of fertility. Whatever method you choose, know that your instructor is there to help you and that you can figure it out. Don’t be afraid to switch methods if you find that one isn’t working for you and your cycle. The whole point is to find something that works for you.
Only Catholics use NFP and I’m not Catholic. Doesn’t NFP stand for Not For Protestants?
This is so far from the truth it’s out of this world.
Everyone can and everyone does use NFP for different reasons. Yes, it is the only form of family planning acceptable for use by Catholics, but this does not make it a “Catholic only” thing. NFP holds benefits for all women which should never be denied to them. Self-knowledge, empowerment, and honesty about oneself and one’s circumstances are just the tip of the iceberg of reasons why all women regardless of religious affiliation should use NFP.
It is a real option. Every woman should be given this option. She deserves it.
NFP couples have a bajillion kids and you say it’s just as effective at postponing pregnancy as the pill. How does that work out?
I know, every family you’ve seen that uses NFP has at least 5 kids and the mom is pregnant. How can that be if it’s 99% effective?
Just because it is 99% effective doesn’t mean everyone uses it to always avoid pregnancy. Plus, one of the neat things about NFP is that it has its own litmus test built in. A couple with a good reason for avoiding a pregnancy may have an easier time during the fertile phase of avoiding. For example, if the women would…oh let’s say…die should she become pregnant the motivation would be much more intense to avoid than if the only motivation were “I don’t want a Christmas baby.” NFP puts to test the reason we are avoiding children in the first place and many people realize that their desire to avoid another child may not be as pertinent as they once thought.
Abstaining is hard!
You bet your ass abstaining is hard. We all hate phase 2, peak days, the fertile period, whatever you what to call it. It’s awful.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t doable though. While nothing we could suggest would be as fun as the alternative here are a few ideas:
Fancy date night
Family fun night
Watching Sophie’s Choice
Biting at the mattress
Trolling the iuseNFP website for ideas to help with abstaining
Ok, those last few are a little out there but hey, whatever works right? Check out our more thorough post about ideas for abstaining or go here to read about Creighton’s method of SPICE for all your abstaining fun. Just think – reading this helped pass a couple minutes.
What about condoms? Why not use them instead of worrying about abstaining?
There are ideological differences between the methods of Natural Family Planning that we provide here and the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). NFP does not allow for any barrier methods during a woman’s fertile time, while FAM does. We sympathize with why a couple would want to use a barrier method, either during the learning phase or perhaps for religious beliefs. However, we encourage and promote not using them. Please keep in mind several things. 1.) Your body is designed to only have a small window of fertility. 2.) If a barrier is ever going to fail, it will do so during your fertile times. Abstinence during those times is the only way to ensure not getting pregnant. 3.) For all Catholics: To be a Catholic in good standing, barrier methods are never permissible. Here at this website we propose to give you the information, the resources, and the confidence to have true freedom in your sexual life without being tied to any form of barrier/contraception.
More specific questions?
We know that sometimes there are really oddly specific questions that arise with using NFP. We can’t even begin to answer them all here (we wish though) but fortunately there are a few great resources we love where you can ask all your private questions.
One is the Living The Sacrament forum. You have to have a login created but after you’re approved you are good to go. Plus you may even find the answer to your question in an old discussion thread and not even have to bother bearing all your own personal details. (Although the site is closed and private so any information you put on there is as contained as possible.)
Another one we love is the closed Facebok NFP group. All you need to participate is a Facebook account. Again this is closed so only members of the group can see it and people are on Facebook all the time so responses come super fast.
You can also ask at Faith and Family Live Coffee Talk. Every Wednesday their combox discussion is geared towards NFP. The only downside to that is that it’s only available once a week.
And last but not least, every woman who is learning NFP should have an NFP teacher. Your teacher is a fantastic resource and WANTS you to ask questions. Go! Ask! Learn!
If you still can’t get your questions answered you can always e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to help you out.