Catholic Weddings

NFP

I'm hoping to get a little guidance on this whole NFP thing.

I am from a MASSIVE Catholic family, and the first time I heard anything about NFP was after we got engaged.  At Pre Cana, we heard about NFP from a couple who were very compelling, but also had seven children (which made me think, how can this be effective?).  We then attended a one on one session with an NFP instructor, who has six children (again, there's no way this is effective at preventing pregnancy!).  She informed us that our marriage would not be valid in the eyes of the church if we continued to use contraception.  This was shocking news to hear.  Again, this is all very new to me - I never learned about this in CCD or from family members/friends.  The priest didn't mention this at our initial meeting (and he knew that FI and I were living together).

I do not want to offend anyone who uses NFP, so please do not take my ignorance as an attempt to be offensive!  I am a skeptic at heart and don't tend to trust information unless I can talk it through with a friend with similar experience, or review the cold hard facts myself.  I personally know not a single couple that uses NFP.

Can anyone tell me how well this works? My fiance and I love children and hope to have at least two - more, if we can.  Right now we use birth control and it's worked well for us.  I have heavy bleeding without it.  I've been told (by NFP instructors) that I should get this checked out, so the cause can be treated as opposed to the symptoms.  I am absolutely open to this, but am doubtful that a cause will be found.  My Mom has a history of the same thing.  My periods have never been painful, which makes me think that this might just be a genetic trend as opposed to a fibroid or cyst which can be treated.  I'm also hesitant to undergo surgical treatment, if taking one little pill will fix the issue.

Any words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated... My FI is adamantly opposed to NFP, and has the same concerns that I do (that it won't work, or that we'll somehow not chart correctly, causing an oops or two or more).  I'm a little more open minded, but would love to hear from someone who came at it from my point of view (as in skeptic initially, but won over at the end).  Thank you!

Re: NFP

  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    Just one thing to note - and trust me, most people think this way, you're not the first or the last!

    So:
    Having a large family DOES NOT mean NFP doesn't work. Some people truly do want a large family. The faith encourages us to be fruitful. For some this means MANY! You can use NFP successfully and simply plan to have a ton of kids.

    Just wanted to get that out of the way!
    Smile
  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    Good for you for looking into this. Most of us were skeptical/scared in the beggining. And it will likely take a few months to feel comfortable, but it is well worth it!

    As for NFP. It's really no less scientific than any pill you could take. You take a pill making a bunch of assumptions: that the pill itself is appropriately composed of the proper chemicals, that your body will respond to the pill the way it is intended, that the side effects of taking the pill aren't going to hurt you in any way you aren't already aware of. In many ways - you are taking a HUGE risk relying on all of this to be true.

    With NFP - you learn how your body works. Your body sends out signs that aren't very difficult to distinguish (once you learn about them), telling you "Hey, I'm approaching my fertile time" or "Hey I'm likely not fertile anymore". You simply read the signs and decide whether you want to have sex depending on whether you are ready to conceive or not.

    There are a few different methods, but most rely on cervically-based signals. Some utilize temperature or ovulation predictor kits in addition, but some don't. If you have a medical condition, the latter are not preferred.

    There is a book written by a doctor from a non-religious perspective that discusses the sympto-thermal method of NFP, which she calls Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). The only difference is that during your fertile window, she would allow for use of condoms, while the Church would require abstinence (unless you were looking to conceive). The book is called Taking Charge of Your Fertility and I would highly recommend reading it, and possibly showing certain sections to your FI.

    NFP is just as scientifically based as the pill. Only with NFP you KNOW when/if you are ovulating, you KNOW when/if you're going to get your period. With the pill, you have no idea what is actually happening inside bc the pill alters your natural cycle. You may get symptoms of a period, but it's not a period. women with reporductive issues often are asked to start using these methods in order to diagnose conditions and prescribe the proper treatments.
  • Thank you so much!  I understand where you're coming from with the family size issue, and that it's intentional to have had so many children.  I'd love to get a chance to speak with a couple that effectively used it to have 2-3 children... Based on our careers, extended family makeup, and a few other issues specific to us, I think 2-3 will likely be all that we'll be able to take on (although in an ideal world, we would have many more!).
  • edited May 2012
    To piggyback on what Riss said,

    NFP forces responsibility on the couple.  Now, many people will argue that using artificial contraception IS responsible because it removes "all" (I use quotations because ABC is often ineffective) chances of conceiving.  However, with NFP, if your goal is to postpone pregnancy, you have to accept that there will be times that you simply cannot have sex.  Obviously there are lots of other ways to express your love for your spouse, so most couples who are TTA use the fertile phase to strengthen their bond in other ways.

    I would strongly encourage you to pick up the book PP mentioned.  The author has a great (albeit kind of new-agey) way of explaining the sympto-thermal method.  If you still need guidance, there are tons of in-depth classes to help you learn how to chart better.  It really is just as easy as taking a pill.  I'll bet you have an alarm on your phone that reminds you exactly the right time to take your BCP, right?  NFP doesn't always even require that kind of regimented time schedule.  It's a matter of recognizing your natural fertility signs and recording and interpreting them, rather than covering up.

    While H and I are currently TTC, while we were not, I loved NFP because it helped to assure me that I am, in fact, healthy enough to have children when we're ready.

    ETA: I made the assumption about the alarm because I definitely had a "Pill" alarm when I was on BC, as do a ton of my girlfriends.
  • You've gotten great answers so far, but just to emphasize a point:
    One reason that it may appear that people using NFP usually have many children, is that first of all, the very fact that they are using NFP shows that they are open to life. Not in every single sexual encounter, but as they understand the woman's cycle, they know that there are infertile times where they won't get pregnant, but the kinds of people who use NFP instead of artificial birth control are already saying, "I love YOU, and ALL of you, including your fertility, which I believe is not a disease to take a "medicine" against." The people who have that attitude are more likely to be the "kind of" people who are more open to children to begin with. 

    Secondly, instead of with birth control where it's just the woman's responsibility to take a pill every day, and the couple just assumes that they're not going to get pregnant indefinitely, by using NFP couples find that the lines of communication are SO much more open. Every single month they realize that they have the opportunity to create a new life! And most NFP couples end up having conversations much more regularly like, "are we sure that we don't want to get pregnant right now?" Wink
    By using NFP, every married act is a big YES to the partner.

    I just finished reading the book "Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love," (click here) which was AMAZING. It was a summary of Pope John Paul's book "Love and Responsibility," which is a much heavier read. But "Men, Women..." wasn't just a summary, it really gets into some of the Theology of the Body in a very practical and readable way. I would highly recommend it to you (or anyone for that matter!)
    Also, Christopher West's book, "The Good News About Sex and Marriage" is a great book with a question and answer format about many things sex-related.

    Finally, NFP does work! It's worked for us for 6+ months so far! Cool
  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_nfp-7?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:1c0f06f7-de43-4a91-adf9-ea54c3f5e975Post:6e7b8759-b130-4aaf-bafb-65afb8b8b120">Re: NFP</a>:
    [QUOTE]Finally, NFP does  work! It's worked for us for 6+ months so far! 
    Posted by lalaith50[/QUOTE]

    We're on month 34!
  • Hello! PP’s gave a lot of good info. I did want to point out that professorscience actually is one, if that does anything for your confidence. It may be worth considering when it comes to your cycle issues, aside from the points already mentioned, that the pill comes along with some health risks that are worth weighing if you have not yet done so.

     Aside from that, spiritually—I do not know that your marriage would be invalid by using contraception but it could call into question your answer to one of the questions you will be asked at any Catholic ceremony: “Will you accept children lovingly from God and raise them up according to the laws of His Church?” or similar. In some way we are saying “no” to that question by using contraceptives. The more immediate concern is that by having sex (with or without bc) prior to marriage and/or intending to use bc within marriage, one could be in a state of mortal sin, and receiving a sacrament (aside from baptism or confession) in a state of mortal sin is a sacrilege, which is a sin against a sacrament. I am not trying to be preachy here but just letting you know so that you are fully informed of what this would entail (and  trying to guess at what your instructor could have meant by her comment.)

     Finally I would echo the others in the sense that seeing a large family from an NFP instructor ABSOLUTELY does not mean it doesn’t work. I was once in that mindset myself—I do remember (with sadness now) that at our first meeting with our teaching couple, they told us they had seven children, all planned, and I didn’t believe it. I thought “Who would ever want that many kids?” Now I hope and pray for at least that many. I am about halfway through my second pregnancy in three years of marriage, both much desired (this one probably sooner than otherwise because my first child has passed away.) However, we still had occasion to postpone pregnancy for a total of 16 cycles over the course of our short marriage and I have full confidence in the method. In fact, if I ever had a truly serious or life-threatening reason to avoid pregnancy, I would only ever consider NFP, religious and moral beliefs aside. Maybe Calypso will chime in here as she has used it for something like three years continuously if I remember correctly.

    Warning No formatter is installed for the format bbhtml
  • newlyseliskinewlyseliski member
    1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited May 2012
    To add to the ladies above, my husband and I have used Creighton NFP to postpone pregnancy since we were married almost a year ago and are about to start TTC since my husband is almost finished (finally!) with school.  My husband and I are pretty involved in a catholic young adult group... so we know at least a dozen couples who have used various methods (Creighton, Billings, Sympto Thermal...) of NFP to postpone or achieve pregnancy.  I know at least two of the couples have successfully postponed for 2-3 years due to financial struggles or one of them being in grad school.  

    When we had first started dating... my husband was Catholic but had also not had the opportunity to learn anything about Catholic teachings on sex, birth control or NFP... so was initially very skeptical about it.  I brought him to a Christopher West talk and he also read through the book that lalaith mentioned above.   Eventually, he "got it" and it's been a great opportunity for communication in our marriage.  I posted this earlier, but this satirical article might help clear up a few misconceptions about the Church's approach to sex and NFP:  http://www.ncregister.com/blog/simcha-fisher/how-to-ruin-your-marriage-with-nfp 

    That said, I also have several reproductive health issues including PCOS, which I've had for over 10 years and have been able to treat fairly succesfully with Metformin.  NFP charting has allowed me to see how my cycle is affected by not only PCOS but any change in stress levels or illness.  Since getting married, I've been working with an NFP-friendly physician who has helped me to more precisely pinpoint nutritional and hormonal deficiencies that may still be affecting my condition... especially since we're going to start trying soon and want to reduce the chance of a miscarriage since PCOS can cause infertility!
  • Charting Creighton method has helped my doctor diagnose and treat health issues I never would have found otherwise. It happened again at my latest appointment, where the charts have alerted him to something that could be serious. Thank GOD I chart.

    The pill just masks symptoms, doesn't actually treat anything. If you have a chronic headache, is it better to get an MRI and possibly have surgery to remove a life threatening tumor, or just take a "little pill" (which is a class 1 carcinogen) to ease the pain? (and doesn't actually fix the issue).

  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_nfp-7?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:1c0f06f7-de43-4a91-adf9-ea54c3f5e975Post:c0ad4d7d-20c0-4f48-a228-0819fe451981">Re: NFP</a>:
    [QUOTE]Hello! PP’s gave a lot of good info. I did want to point out that professorscience actually is one, if that does anything for your confidence.Posted by caitriona87[/QUOTE]

    <img src="http://cdn.cl9.vanillaforums.com/downloaded/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-cool.gif" border="0" alt="Cool" title="Cool" />

    This year I was both proud and a little scared when a few of my students came to the realization that a girl can get pregnant only a few days out of a cycle. 
  • Thank you for all the words of encouragement.  I found the FAM book online and am looking forward to reading it. 

    Did any of you have to convince your husbands to start using NFP?  If so, what did he find compelling in order to move away from condoms/birth control? I am planning on telling my FI that I would like to stop taking the pill to idenitfy whether there are any issues that might prevent us from getting pregnant... obviously the sooner we know, the sooner we can treat it.  We are hoping to conceive after a year of marriage, so that we'll have time to buy a house and get settled first :)
  • My husband was all for it -- I was the resistant one.  I think one way to sort of get him on board is to include him in what you are learning.  My H is all kinds of grossed out by most aspects of the menstrual cycle, but he went to every one of our Billings classes and now it's just really easy to talk about ("Is today a green day?  Please say today is a green day!")

    You are definitely right that the sooner you start, the better.  Just know that since you are on the pill now, it may take a while for your cycle to get back into it's normal rhythm (they say it varies depending on how long you've been on it, but I was on it for about 7 years and it only took a couple cycles to get regular again after I stopped).  This is why it's so important to start BEFORE you are married, because if you are TTA, you basically HAVE to abstain until you really know what you are doing, otherwise your chances for error are huge.
  • Yes to all the above advice! As for getting your fiance on board, my husband, for some reason, figured it out on his own that it was good. He is not Catholic so doesn't really have a strong stance on the spiritual aspect of it. But I guess I just kind of started charting (when we were engaged) after reading TCOYF and I explained it to him and I basically said "this is what we are doing". He never really said anything contrary. And now he always says "I don't understand why people use birth control pills when you can just look at your cycle!" Ahh, love that man.

    Also, there are a few couples I know from work (I work at a Catholic school) who I would bet money are practicing NFP and have only 2 or 3 kids. I can't tell you how well it worked for us yet since we TTC right away (and were successful). And, to be honest, we're not totally following the rules for our NFP method right now so pregnancy is a possibility, even though we're not actively TTC. BUT that is the beauty of NFP - you *know* when your birth control is likely to be "ineffective" because *you* are in charge of its effectiveness.

    Also, Prof, how exciting you are TTC!!!
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_nfp-7?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:1c0f06f7-de43-4a91-adf9-ea54c3f5e975Post:175d13d0-3a5f-4bc9-98b8-08e712bece74">Re: NFP</a>:
    [QUOTE]Yes to all the above advice! As for getting your fiance on board, my husband, for some reason, figured it out on his own that it was good. He is not Catholic so doesn't really have a strong stance on the spiritual aspect of it. But I guess I just kind of started charting (when we were engaged) after reading TCOYF and I explained it to him and I basically said "this is what we are doing". He never really said anything contrary. And now he always says "I don't understand why people use birth control pills when you can just look at your cycle!" Ahh, love that man. Also, there are a few couples I know from work (I work at a Catholic school) who I would bet money are practicing NFP and have only 2 or 3 kids. I can't tell you how well it worked for us yet since we TTC right away (and were successful). And, to be honest, we're not totally following the rules for our NFP method right now so pregnancy is a possibility, even though we're not actively TTC. BUT that is the beauty of NFP - you *know* when your birth control is likely to be "ineffective" because *you* are in charge of its effectiveness. Also,<strong> Prof, how exciting you are TTC</strong>!!!
    Posted by TeaForMe[/QUOTE]

    I didn't want to thread-jack to say this, but since Tea did, I'll jump on the bandwagon! The excitement goes for you, too, Newly (at least soon)!

    OP -- There was a time when I was really skeptical about NFP, for most of the same reasons others mentioned. Opening my heart and doing a TON of research really helped me out. I would echo others and encourage reading TCOYF. I like that it is a non-Catholic writer (so it doesn't have Church bias), so it is about science. It is also very easy to read and understand.

    As far as your fiance goes, I think a lot of it depends on what his issue is. My DH was totally on board from the beginning, because of the Church teaching aspect (in fact, that's what got me started thinking about it, because it was the only acceptable choice when we started dating and I still had doubts), but still went through a phase of distrust.

    Really studying my charts and taking time to understand them (it came to me more quickly, because I found that it explained all of the things I already knew my body did, and made them a wonderful, beautiful part of how God made me) that gave him the confidence he needed. We successfully avoided for about 4 cycles before TTC (and got pregnant right away, which I know isn't the case for everyone). I think reading something like TCOYF and understanding the science (not just the theology) behind it would probably be really helpful to him.

    Oh, and we use Creighton, which uses stickers and my DH is obsessed. We decided not to chart through pregnancy, and I think he actually misses them a little. He decides on the sticker based on my observations, so we talk about it every night and are able to make decisions together, so, for us, it is a great communication tool.
  • TeaForMeTeaForMe member
    Fifth Anniversary 100 Comments
    edited May 2012
    Oh yeah, I meant to add that if you can get a copy of Janet Smith's lecture "Contraception:Why Not?" On CD or even just the transcript of it, I think it is fantastically informative and may help to convince your fiance, too.
  • Several other benefits of NFP-

    -Allows for a courtship and honeymoon every cycle...anticipation, exploring ways to show love, physical affection that doesn't always lead to sex 

    -Revisiting reasons to avoid children every month.... when there is "temptation" when a couple has decided to avoid pregnancy--- they revisit their reasons they are avoiding--- and are they important enough to delay pregnancy, its a good climate check to true movitations and what is really important

    which leads to helping (read: making sure) a couple communicates well with each other motivations for their marriage vision, children, needs, etc

    -it is sacrificial-- requires self control, sacrifice, and self-lessness 




  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_nfp-7?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:1c0f06f7-de43-4a91-adf9-ea54c3f5e975Post:177c1088-153a-4130-9740-c2bd1fbba65a">Re:NFP</a>:
    [QUOTE]Oh yeah, I meant to add that if you can get a copy of Janet Smith's lecture "Contraception:Why Not?" On CD or even just the transcript of it, I think it is fantastically informative and may help to convince your fiance, too.
    Posted by TeaForMe[/QUOTE]

    <div>Here's (I think...) the transcript for starters!  Janet Smith is great...</div><div><a href="http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0002.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0002.html</a> </div><div>
    </div><div>
    </div>
  • my husband and i were both skeptical at first, but reading TCOYF helped immensely (i self taught with that book) because it was based on science, rather than faith.

    i think im on chart #38 right now, and we've been charting to avoid. 

    i know at least 5 people who got pregnant on the Pill so its not foolproof.  i feel very confident with NFP and i love being hormone free.  its very easy once you get the hang of it.

    the beauty of it is that when you are ready to get pregant, you will hopefully be able to do so relatively quickly as you wil know exactly when you are fertile.
  • As far as getting your FI on board, I found that education is what made NFP the only option for us. We were both opposed to the pill already, which may have made it easier.  FI was ok with condoms, but the idea of them made me uncomfortable, so I started doing a lot of research.  I read Theology of the Body Explained (which I highly recommend) and it completely changed how I thought about everything relating to sex and marriage and the Church's teaching on them.  I was so excited about it that FI read it after me and we took an NFP class.  

    I highly recommend taking a class.  I think ours really helped to get FI on board practically even after he was on board spiritually.  Plus it gave us confidence that we'll be able to avoid when we need to.  
  • I was worried about NFP when we watched the video during our marriage prep classes. Every family featured in the video had at least 6 kids and we would like 2 at the most.

    I have also been on the pill for years. First, for heavy periods, and now because I was diagnosed with endometriosis about 5 years ago. I was diagnosed at a pretty high level and not only have I been on the pill, but I've also had to be put into medically induced menopause.

    Suffice it to say I was concerned about the church's stance on BC when I began the RCIA program. After talking with my priest, who assured me my reasons for being on the pill were valid, he suggested NFP not only because of the church, but because he had talked with other couples in similar situations who had used NFP successfully. I also talked to my doctor who said he's been researching NFP and said it was actually probably the best option I have without needing to use fertility.

    I'm currently still on the pill until after the wedding and we're ready to start trying for a baby. We fully intend to switch to NFP. And side note: my cousin hadn't been able to get pregnant for 5 years! She decided to try NFP since she's Catholic and knew about it, and was pregnant within a month!
  • futuremrsbruno,

    Please PLEASE start to learn NFP now. Please do not wait till your wedding to try to learn it. It can get confusing, and one has to abstain from sex while learning because there can be many different signs to observe. 

    In my training in teaching NFP, so many couples have a very hard time learning it when they are already married, rather than those that learn it before hand. It took me a couple years to get my health straightened out (that I learned was messed up -- only learned this from charting) THEN I had to learn how patterns are supposed to go. I promise you you will be very grateful for learning it before hand. 
  • Oh, we have already learned it, unfortunately, I had a few cysts and some endometrial spotting on my fallopian tubes late last year. Until I'm cleared of those, the pill is the only thing that regulates it. We are currently abstaining anyway since it was a condition of taking our sacraments at Easter instead of closer to the wedding. It's not the best situation, but at least I know there is something out there. Unfortunately, NFP can't control the growth and production of endometrial cells so while that is my best hope in conceiving a child, it doesn't do much by way of anything else related to GYN. At this point it's a waiting game to see when would be the best time to switch. I can't just suddenly stop taking the pill without the chance for some serious harm to my body.

    I will say on another note, that I think this is also one of the reasons I was meant to choose to be Catholic. Before going through the RCIA program, I had heard of NFP, but didn't really know a lot about it. At that time I was fully expecting to have to go through some sort of fertility treatment if I ever wanted to have a baby. I wasn't completely comfortable with that as I am convinced I have would be one of those women who end up with extreme multiples, plus the idea of fertility isn't something I've ever been a huge fan of, at least for myself. So when I found out about this, and about how women with endometriosis have been using it to get pregnant, I was elated!
  • futuremrsbruno,

    I will echo Agape in saying that it is much easier to learn NFP before you are married.  I know that endometriosis makes it that much more difficult, but if you can begin alternative treatments, I would think now would be better than later.

    It sounds like your heart is in exactly the right place, though, so I truly hope everything works out for you!  Welcome to the board!
  • @ professor - Thanks! We have learned it, just not at the point where we're ready to begin using it. It's frustrating, but it's sort of the light at the end of the tunnel. I've been on the 84 day cycle with BP for almost a year now. While getting my period 4 times a year rather than 12 is nice, it's also a bit worse than getting it once a month. However, my doctor is happy about the rate my endometrial cells have slowed their growth which makes me happy. When they first diagnosed me at 23, I was already in Stage 3. Had I not spent a month thinking I was having appendicitis, and had my doctor not decided to take the appendix as a precaution because everything else came back clear, they never would have found the endometriosis and who knows when they would have discovered it. He said had they found it earlier, they wouldn't have had to be as aggressive as they have been in these last few years.

    I did have it lasered off when it was found, but it's come back. Not as badly, but it's there. When I first told my OBGYN about RCIA and NFP, he was happy I had already learned about it. He also was able to give me some more information and answer some things I was confused about. I have 1 more cycle after the one I'm currently in, then if all looks okay, I will go off the BP and go into NFP. I can't just switch now because of not having a regular cycle. My body needs to transition naturally before I can go into that.

    I am glad someone started this post and it's been a nice open forum to discuss this in. I'm the only person I know with endometriosis and having people really understand what I'm talking about is a nice thing!!
This discussion has been closed.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards