Marquette Method of NFP: Getting Started Guide

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.

What is the Marquette Method of NFP?

The Marquette Method is form of natural family planning (NFP, or fertility awareness based method, FABM). The Marquette Method uses Clearblue fertility monitors to measure estrogen and LH levels directly. Daily fertility monitor readings, instead of mucus, are used to identify the fertile window. 

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. 

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Who Can Use the Marquette Method of NFP?

In short, just about any woman.

The Marquette Method has specific, research-backed protocols (a.k.a. the Marquette instructions or Marquette rules) for all the fertile phases of a woman’s life.

Marquette can be used by:

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.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. Buying a Clearblue fertility monitor (one-time purchase)
  3. 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.

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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.

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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?

Absolutely.

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-only
  • Mucus-only
  • 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.

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.

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 lesson
  • 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 

Marquette Method Teachers Directory

This website, maintained by the Marquette Institute for Natural Family Planning, lists all of the trained Marquette Method instructors worldwide.

Use the map to find an instructor near you, or consult the alphabetical list if you’re looking for someone in particular.

Marquette Institute for Natural Family Planning

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.

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