As I sit down to write this post, “Gimme Some Lovin'” comes on my Pandora. Coincidence? Not a chance.
Ok. So I’m not gonna lie – I’ve had this week marked on my calendar since I found out about it. It’s NFP awareness week! And usually I hate awareness groups, it’s almost like “I get what you’re saying and all, but what can I do about it?” Well if you’re female, NFP should at least be something you’re familiar with. It’s an issue near and dear to my heart. And maybe you’ll find it’s a passionate topic for you, too.
So first things first. What the hell is NFP? Natural Family Planning is an umbrella term for all methods of tracking cycles to naturally avoid or achieve pregnancy. There are a handful of methods – each with different benefits and drawbacks. Couples who wish to avoid a pregnancy steer clear of certain activities when the women is fertile, or use a barrier method. This is just an overview, if you’re interested in a more in-depth description of all of them visit http://iusenfp.com/home/nfp-methods/ and they can point you in the right direction!
Before I go any further I want to debunk some common myths about NFP.
1. It is scientific. Not a guessing game. Modern methods (namely Creighton and Marquette) have effectiveness rates that rival with hormonal contraception. (http://creightonmodel.com/effectiveness.htm) Yup 99% effective. You know the joke, what do they call couples who practice NFP? Parents. Not now a days. The Rhythm Method is so 20 years ago.
2. Which brings up my next myth – NFP is not the Rhythm Method. Do away with this idea right now! The Rhythm Method = Guessing game. Modern Methods (Billings, Creighton, Marquette etc..) = Systematic Game with Explicit Rules (Kind of like Tic Tac Toe and you get to go first every time.)
3. Yes, it technically is the only form of birth control that the Catholic church approves, but it is not just for Catholics! There are plenty of secular places that provide NFP. For example, http://ovaova.com/ and http://www.lady-comp.com/en/ and http://kindara.com/blog/blog/ are just a few.
4. Women are really quite infertile beings. This is something, believe it or not, I was not informed of until I was 21 years old. (Yea, thanks a lot Sex Ed.) We are generally fertile for 5-10 days. A typical cycle looks kinda like this:
5. The last myth I must debunk. You do NOT need to have regular cycles to utilize NFP. With modern methods, females with cycles of all lengths (regular or not) can participate.
So now these fallacies have been negated, to move on. Who is NFP for? While I am all for it, it is not for everyone. Typically, people in a committed relationship who are willing to follow the rules. (I love charts and graphs, so I was all “sign me up!” You, however, may not be this gung-ho about it.)
And lastly, here are some advantages to practicing NFP:
1. No medical side effects.
2. After the initial cost of classes to learn, it’s totally free! (And even some insurance companies will pay for these classes.) No more trips to the pharmacy and no refills required!
3. Here’s a scenario, you don’t get to eat chocolate for 6 days. 6 whole days! But on the 7th day, you can eat all the chocolate you want. How good do you think that chocolate’s going to taste? They call this Phase 3, also called the “honeymoon phase”. And you get one every month. Supposedly couples who use NFP have an extremely low divorce rate because of this. Not sure if this is a biased study or not, but hey, I’m willing to give it a shot. (This is the Never Forgetting Passion part…)
4. You learn more about your body than ever before.
5. It’s very real. Instead of stuffing my body with chemicals to work against my natural cycle, I am working with it. And call me crazy, I kinda like getting a period every month. You know, the “old fashioned” way.
6. NFP isn’t just birth control! It can tell you all about the woman’s health. Unlike hormonal contraception, charting allows the woman to look at trends and treat the symptoms rather than covering them up. It’s women’s health care. And we can all agree that women need that, right?
7. NFP is totally pro-women. It respects women, it honors our bodies, and it treasures our beautiful natural qualities.
So there you have it. Here’s my contribution to NFP week. There will probably be more to come. I understand this method is not for everyone. And if that’s that case for you, that’s okay! As I have stated before on this blog, I am pro-education. I just think every woman deserves to know about NFP as an option. Which currently, is not the case. I will leave you with this: