The world of NFP can be confusing, and choosing which method is going to work for you and your family is a big decision.
As a nurse and as a Marquette Method instructor, I’m all about informed consent. I want to make sure that couples considering Marquette have all the information they need to make the best decision for themselves and their family.
I’ve put together this guide to help couples considering the Marquette Method of NFP to learn more about the method: what it is, how it works, and what to expect.
Table of Contents
- What is the Marquette Method?
- How does the Marquette Method work?
- Who can use Marquette?
- How effective is Marquette?
- How difficult is Marquette to learn and practice?
- What materials do I need? How much do they cost?
- Which fertility monitors are compatible with Marquette?
- How much abstinence should I expect with Marquette?
- Can I also track mucus and temps?
- Where can I learn the Marquette Method?
What is the Marquette Method?
The Marquette Method is a form of Natural Family Planning (NFP). The Marquette Method uses Clearblue Fertility Monitors to track women’s urinary biomarkers—estrogen and luteinizing hormone levels—to precisely identify the fertile window in each menstrual cycle. The Marquette Method is up to 99% effective for avoiding pregnancy and can also be used to achieve pregnancy.
It is a custom-fit method of family planning with optional cervical mucus and basal body temperature (BBT) instructions.
How Does the Marquette Method Work?
Women using the Marquette Method of NFP track their reproductive hormone levels each day by performing a simple urine test and using a Clearblue fertility monitor to read the results. Within minutes of conducting the test, the monitor digitally displays one of three readings—low, high, or peak—which indicates the woman’s hormone levels that day. This information—together with the Marquette Method instructions, algorithm, and method of charting—provides couples with a highly accurate home-based method of fertility measurement.
- The Marquette Method Explained (For Couples Who Know their NFP): A detailed explanation of what’s the same and what’s different between the Marquette Method of NFP and other forms of natural family planning.
- Beginner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning (NFP), for Catholics: Written for couples who are new to NFP. Explains the biology and science behind natural family planning, explains each of the different categories of NFP, and ends with a explaination of Catholic teaching on marital sexuality.
Who Can Use the Marquette Method of NFP?
In short, just about any woman.
There are Marquette Method protocols for all the fertile phases of a woman’s life:
Marquette has protocols for:
How Effective is the Marquette Method of NFP?
The Marquette Method was developed by Dr. Richard Fehring and his team at the Marquette Institute for Natural Family Planning.
Here are the results of those studies:
- Regular cycles – 98.4% effective in perfect use, 98% effective in typical use
- Breastfeeding women – 98% effective in perfect use, 92% effective in typical use
The Marquette Method’s effectiveness rates were recently included in an infographic published by the British Medical Journal summarizing the results of a comparative study of the effectiveness rates of fertility awareness methods of family planning. The infographic compares the effectiveness of Marquette and other fertility awareness methods alongside a variety of contraceptive options.
Effectiveness is, understandably, a prime concern of most couples considering natural methods of family planning. I wrote a series of blog posts explaining, in plain language, how to understand and interpret the effectiveness research that underpins Marquette’s approach.
- How Effective is Natural Family Planning (NFP)?: The secret to understanding perfect use and typical use effectiveness rates is to know that they are meant to be compared.
- How Effective is the Marquette Method of NFP?: An in-depth review of the Marquette Method NFP effectiveness rates for three protocol variants: monitor-only, mucus-only, and monitor + mucus
- How Effective are Marquette’s Breastfeeding Protocols?: Many women choose to practice the Marquette Method of NFP while they are in the breastfeeding transition. Marquette’s breastfeeding effectiveness rates explain why it’s such a popular choice.
How Difficult is it to Learn and Practice the Marquette Method?
One of the reasons that so many women choose Marquette is that it’s easy to work into your day. It’s a once-a-day commitment.
A day in the life of a Marquette Method user looks something like this:
1. Wake up. Test your first morning urine with a disposable test stick. It’s as easy as taking a pregnancy test. Insert the test stick into your fertility monitor during your six-hour testing window.
2. Five minutes later, the monitor will read low, high, or peak. If you don’t want to wait the five minutes, you can always come back to check the result later in the day.
3. Record this result on your Marquette Method chart. With Marquette you’ll always know your fertility status of the day first thing in the morning, and you won’t have to think about NFP again until the next day.
What Materials Do I Need and How Much Does it Cost?
Couples starting the Marquette Method will need to budget for three categories of costs:
- The cost of learning the method, which can be done either directly through the Marquette Institute for Natural Family Planning, or through a private Marquette Method instructor.
- Buying a Clearblue fertility monitor (one-time purchase)
- Buying Clearblue advanced disposable test sticks (ongoing cost)
How much Marquette costs to practice varies considerably on a number of factors, including who you learn the method from, whether you buy your supplies new or used, and how long your typical cycle length is.
- How Much Does it Cost to Practice the Marquette Method of NFP?: Detailed breakdown of the start-up and ongoing costs involved in practicing Marquette, and tips for how to save on instruction, the monitor, and sticks.
Which Fertility Monitors are Compatible with the Marquette Method of NFP?
The Marquette Method of NFP works exclusively with the Clearblue fertility monitors. There are two versions of this monitor that have been tested with the method, the “old” monochrome monitor and the “new” touchscreen monitor.
- Old or New? Choosing a Clearblue Monitor to Practice the Marquette Method of NFP: Need help choosing a Clearblue Fertility Monitor to practice the Marquette Method of NFP? Find out the pros and cons of each model.
How Much Abstinence Can I Expect with the Marquette Method of NFP?
Many couples who switch to the Marquette Method of NFP find that it involves less required days of abstinence than other methods of NFP. Urinary testing allows Marquette to identify the LH surge, which (short of ultrasounds) is the most precise method available to identify the day of ovulation. In general, the more precise we can be about the day of ovulation, the less abstinence that is required.
Every woman’s body is unique, and even with the latest, high-tech urine tests we still cannot predict in advance and with perfect accuracy the exact day a woman will ovulate in a given cycle.
Biologically speaking, there are a maximum of 6 days per cycle during which sex could result in a pregnancy. Marquette (just like other forms of NFP) identifies a fertile window that is longer than this biological minimum. Even women with very regular cycles who are well established with the Marquette Method can expect to abstain 11 to 12 days per cycle. New users of the method are likely to need to abstain longer than that until they have a cycle history established.
The calculations about expected days of abstinence are different for postpartum, breastfeeding women whose cycles have not yet returned after the birth of their baby. Many breastfeeding women do find that Marquette identifies significantly more available days than methods which go by mucus observations only. For more information on what to expect in terms of abstinence for cycle zero, visit my breastfeeding page.
To sum up, some people find that Marquette results in less abstinence than another method they’ve tried, and some people find they observe more abstinence but feel more confident in their ability to track their fertility. If you want a personalized answer to the question about how many days of abstinence Marquette is likely to require, given your own personal charting and/or fertility history, do get in touch. I do free consults on the Marquette Method and will always give you an honest assessment of how the Marquette Method is likely to work out for you.
Can I Also Track Other Fertile Signs, Like Mucus and Temps?
Marquette’s “monitor-only” approach to NFP tracking is the most popular protocol variant, simply because Marquette’s research has repeatedly shown that the monitor-only protocols are, for most women, the most effective not just in “perfect use” but also, crucially, in “typical use.”
The Marquette Method of NFP offers women the option to track three different biological indicators of fertility, either alone or in combination. These three indicators are:
- Urinary hormone levels:
- Primarily we use the Clearblue fertility monitor to track estrogen and LH levels throughout the woman’s cycle. Marquette users may also choose to incorporate other tests that measure hormone levels in urine, including Ovulation Tests, which measure LH levels, and Proov tests, which track the woman’s progesterone levels.
- Cervical mucus
- Basal body temperatures (also known as BBT, or temping)
Any Marquette Method instructor can guide you in how to integrate these fertile signs effectively into your NFP routine. Some examples of the combinations of fertile signs you can track with Marquette include:
- Monitor + mucus
- Monitor + BBT
- Mucus + BBT
- Monitor + Mucus + BBT
Most women follow the monitor-only approach, but some women find adding an additional sign can give important insights into their fertile rhythms, and a “double-check” can put them at ease. You can see how the Marquette Method options compare with other NFP methods here.
Talk with your Marquette Method instructor about the pros and cons of tracking each of the fertility signs. They will tailor their advice to your specific needs, preferences, and fertility history and support you in developing a customized approach to that’s tailored to you.
- NFP is not “one thing.” Read a detailed comparison chart of the Marquette Method vs. Other NFP methods (including the Creighton Model, Billings Ovulation Method, and various symptothermal methods) based on which fertile signs each tracks.
Where Can I Learn the Marquette Method?
I’m a Marquette Method instructor, and I lead a team of three instructors who teach couples worldwide in comprehensive, personalized, one-on-one online training sessions.
One-on-One, Online Marquette Method Classes through Vitae Fertility Education
Vitae Fertility Education’s learning package includes:
- Private introductory Marquette Method class
- Unlimited follow-ups and same-day support for a year, with an option to renew
- Comprehensive Marquette Method user manuals available only through Vitae Fertility Education
- A starter pack of LH test sticks
This website, maintained by the Marquette Institute for Natural Family Planning, lists all of the trained Marquette Method instructors worldwide.
This website is the official website of the Marquette Institute for Natural Family Planning, lead by Dr. Fehring and his team of researchers. You can consult this website to learn more about the philosophy and research that underpins Marquette’s approach to natural family planning, or to apply to become a Marquette Method instructor. The institute also has a variety of options for learning the method, including Spanish-language instruction.