Let’s face it: the Rhythm Method created in the 1930s has given natural family planning a bad rap. When used without error, this calendar-based method (which most consider obsolete) has a 98% success rate for women with perfectly regular cycles (but only a 65% user success rate) and only a 55% success rate for women with irregular cycles. Last time I checked, 55% was a solid F, and not many women have perfectly regular cycles. Further more, if you’re trying to achieve pregnancy and aren’t having success, this method tells you nothing about what’s going on in your body or uncovers what the problem is!
Enter the Natural Family Planning choices of today: just as effective as artificial contraceptives, but without the hormonal component (the pill) or the annoyance component (condoms). We had a great class about the benefits and of NFP taught at the store on Saturday! A certified NaPro Technology Practitioner, Rosemary Clements, came in and gave a presentation and answered questions all about the Creighton Model of NFP, a clinically proven, successful method for either achieving or avoiding pregnancy (99% success rate, even!). The best part of this particular method is that there’s no daily temperature-taking, which can be a huge hassle for some (belive me: I tried the “Taking Charge of Your Fertility Method” and COULD NOT get up at the exact same time every morning to take my basal temperature). With the Creighton Model, you simply chart your cervical mucus and are able to tell what days of the month you are either fertile or infertile. This works for women who have irregular cycles, are breastfeeding, or are just coming off artificial contraceptives because it allows for each cycle to vary in length and tells you accurately what days to either go-to-town (if you want a baby) or avoid the bedroom (if a baby is no-go for now). This is great too because if you’re having a hard-time conceiving, a medical professional can look at your chart history and tell you what’s up with your body. Certain charts are indicative of having low progesterone, poly-cysctic-ovarian-syndrome (PCOS), and other various reproductive health problems. A lot of doctors out there will just put you on the pill if your cycles are irregular, which takes care of the symptoms but not the problems. Same thing with fertility treatments such as IVF: they’re only addressing the symptoms, don’t always work, lead to multiple births and premature babies, and are RIDICULOUSLY expensive! No thanks.
I think my favorite part of learning more about the Creighton Model (and just NFP in general) is how much closer it brings a couple. The fact that the divorce rate among users of natural family planning is a mere 3% (compared to the depressing 60% among the country in general) is a good indicator of how much it needs communication, commitment and trust between partners to work. It turns your relationship into a partnership. Both man and woman are actively responsible for avoiding or achieving pregnancy together, not just the woman. And when you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, a couple learns to appreciate each other in ways other than sexual intercourse during the woman’s fertile times through what is called SPICE instruction. SPICE is an acronym for Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative/Communicative, and Emotional and represents all aspects of a person’s sexuality. The couple learns new ways to express these aspects of their relationship to one another through communication, openness and trust and therefore build true intimacy that strengthens their bond and makes their sexual union all the more enjoyable and powerful. The couple begins to embrace the way they were created by working with their fertility instead of trying to suppress it.
Rosemary had such a great analogy for using artificial vs. natural contraception: “Knowing your body and when you can and can’t get pregnant is like having a wedding. You’ll invite someone who you know for sure can come; that’s like having sex when you’re fertile. Then you’ll invite someone who you know for sure can’t come, but you still want them to know you’d welcome them to your celebration; that’s like having sex when you’re not fertile. Having sex with artificial contraceptives when you could be fertile is like telling someone, “I wanted to let you know I’m having a wedding, but you’re not invited.” ‘ Perhaps this analogy strikes more of cord with believers of a higher power…they want to make sure God knows He’s always invited…but the beauty of natural family planning is it’s a great tool for a couple regardless of their religious beliefs. It educates the woman on her reproductive cycle and gives her control over her body. It encourages trust and commitment. It doesn’t mess with a woman’s hormone levels. It is inexpensive. It basically rocks.