What is Natural Family Planning (NFP)?

Natural Family Planning, or NFP, is a way of managing your fertility without hormones or barriers.

NFP works through fertility awareness. Couples learn how to identify the days during each reproductive cycle on which it is possible to conceive. Using this knowledge, couples either abstain from intercourse on fertile days to avoid pregnancy, or engage in intercourse during that time in the hopes of becoming pregnant. Intercourse outside of the fertile window is naturally infertile. On infertile days, couples aiming to avoid pregnancy can engage in intercourse freely.

As I cover in my free online natural family planning class, NFP isn’t “one thing.” numerous methods of NFP exist, and each is a little different in how it identifies the fertile days.

As the woman’s menstrual cycle progresses, hormone levels fluctuate. Hormone surges cause the woman’s body to exhibit physical signs and symptoms, indicators of the hormonal changes that are happening internally. Other NFP methods teach women how to interpret these symptoms to help identify the days leading up to ovulation and the days following ovulation.

The most significant external fertile signs include:

  • the presence, absence, consistency, and quality of cervical mucus;
  • shifts in a women’s basal body temperature;
  • and the changing position of a woman’s cervix.

The Marquette Method of NFP is different than most other methods of NFP because it involves monitoring the reproductive hormone levels themselves rather than the symptoms of changing hormones.

For women who experience ambiguous fertile symptoms, such as constant cervical mucus, or who experience unclear hormone shifts, such as a woman in “special circumstances” like breastfeeding, perimenopause or with an underlying health condition, an NFP method that tracks the hormone levels directly will be much more effective.

The Marquette Method of NFP tracks a woman’s hormone levels daily and uses that information in real-time to determine the beginning and ending of fertility in each cycle. When used correctly, the Marquette Method of NFP is as effective as most forms of contraception at avoiding pregnancy.

Benefits of Natural Family Planning

Couples from all walks of life turn to NFP to manage their fertility in a natural, holistic way.

Some are drawn to the method for religious and moral reasons, in a deep belief that they are called to live their married life in accordance with their body’s design. All the Vitae Fertility Marquette instructors are Catholic, and most of our clients are Catholic too.

But NFP isn’t just for Catholics. A growing number of couples turn to NFP (or other fertility-awareness based methods of pregnancy avoidance) because they find out that, for them, hormonal birth control comes along with unpleasant side effects such as mood disorders, headaches, nausea, weight gain, or decreased libido.

Many couples also wish to forego condoms and other barriers, and choose to practice NFP to deepen their intimacy.

Deciding to practice NFP and choosing which method will work best for you is a very personal decision. Whatever your reason for wanting to learn the Marquette Method of NFP, we would be glad to work with you at Vitae Fertility.

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