What is National Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week for anyway?
It's going to look different in the various dioceses across the country, but the gist is this:
The dates of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week highlight the anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (July 25) which articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love and responsible parenthood. The dates also mark the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne (July 26), the parents of the Blessed Mother. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.This week is an opportunity for folks like me to get rid of the idea that NFP is:
- the same as the rhythm method
- too time-consuming
- too difficult
- the same as using contraceptives
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is an opportunity for couples to "go green" and use their sexuality exactly how it was intended--no barriers, no pills, nothing but the complete gift of self for the good of the other.
Assuming the husband and wife have no health problems, the gist of Natural Family Planning is this: A man is always fertile, but a woman's monthly cycle has times of fertility and infertility. By learning about God's design for her body, a woman is able to discover the natural pattern of when she is and is not fertile. There are various methods for determining this information: Creighton, Billings, Sympto-thermal, and the Marquette Model. (Philip and I use the Creighton Model.)
The USCCB website sums up the benefits of using NFP very well:
What are the benefits of using NFP?Philip and I first learned about NFP during our marriage preparation. We took classes to learn about the gift of our combined fertility in the year leading up to our wedding so that we would be confident in our ability to use NFP effectively. NFP has been a tremendous blessing to our marriage, and we encourage other married couples to seek out the fantastic resources available to learn more about NFP.
In NFP both spouses are taught to understand the nature of fertility and work with it, either to plan a pregnancy or to avoid a pregnancy. Couples who use NFP soon learn that they have a shared responsibility for family planning. Husbands are encouraged to "tune into" their wives' cycles and both spouses are encouraged to speak openly and frankly about their sexual desires and their ideas on family size.
Other benefits include
- Low cost
- No harmful side effects
- Effectiveness for achieving, spacing, or limiting pregnancy
- Can be used throughout the reproductive life cycle
- Marriage enrichment and mutual understanding
- Appreciation for the value of children
- Fosters respect for and acceptance of the total person
- Moral acceptability
- Pope Paul VI Institute Internationally recognized Institute helping couples "in the field of natural fertility regulation and reproductive medicine"
- Creighton Model
- The NaProTechnology Revolution
- DrHilgers.com (founder of the Pope Paul VI Institute)
- Fertility Care Centers of America
- Sex Au Naturel: What it is and why it's good for your marriage (By Patrick Coffin)
- One More Soul (How I found an NFP-only doctor in my area)
- All of the documents on Catholic Teaching of Sexuality
- Find An NFP Class
I am happy to answer any questions you may have about NFP. Leave a comment below!