What do you mean you don’t use contraception? How many kids are you going to have? How will you raise them? Isn’t that… irresponsible? After many questions from my non Catholic friends last week regarding my husband’s article about Contraception, why not? A guy’s perspective, I wanted to dive deeper into what Natural Family Planning is, and how it is immensely beneficial to your health, your faith and your marriage!
I will go through the basic benefits of NFP below but in my next article I want to further explain why the Catholic Church teaches this practice and how it should be used prayerfully. But for all my friends who are not familiar with NFP, read on!
What is Natural Family Planning (NFP)?
NFP is the practice of learnings a woman’s natural fertility signs to either avoid or achieve pregnancy. There are numerous methods of what signs to look for, and www.iusenfp.com has a plethora of resources that explains each method in detail. The effectiveness of NFP when used correctly is over 99% if trying to avoid pregnancy. On the other hand, NFP is also great for achieving pregnancy as you know your most fertile time to conceive! The main methods are:
Mucus only methods: observing and charting cervical mucus throughout the day.
Sympto-Hormonal Method: use an at-home fertility monitor along with observing and charting cervical mucus.
Sympto-Thermal: observing and charting cervical mucus, basal body temperature and cervix signs.
So What’s So Great About NFP?
From my perspective there are three major reasons how NFP helps you. Primarily, it does not have adverse health effects, secondly, it helps to build a strong marriage, and thirdly, it strengthens your faith in God.
How Does Contraception Harm your Body?
Ladies, we know there are side effects to contraception right? The moodiness, hair loss, weight gain, bloating and loss of libido, those are all things we experience while on birth control. But we deal with them, because we don’t want to be pregnant. But did you know there are much more serious side effects? The overdose of artificial hormones can lead to depression, heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, cancer, ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. And to me the most heartbreaking side effect is that you could conceive a baby, but because birth control pills thin the lining in your uterus the embryo will not be able to attach to your uterine wall and you could lose the child. These are devastating side effects!
Contraception is a drug that you take to stop your body from functioning normally. This is not empowering for women. Why should it be expected that a woman suffers through the above side effects so that sex is always available? Would it not be much more uplifting for a woman to get to know her body well, to the point that she can determine when she is ovulating? That is empowering! Instead of covering up your natural fertility signs, NFP helps you learn how your body works without drugs or side effects.
How Does NFP Help My Marriage?
NFP has numerous benefits to strengthening your marriage. John and my marriage would not be this strong if it was not for the openness to life and the use of NFP instead of contraception.
Increased Communication: NFP increases the communication between spouses. You and your husband both come to know your fertility signs and you talk about them! It is definitely uncomfortable at first to discuss mucus and basal body temperature, but soon you both learn to respect each other on a deeper level. And once you’re comfortable sharing these intimate body signs with your spouse, other areas of your life will be easier to share as well.
Increased Respect: Secondly, we are not pleasure objects to be used, we are women who have to respect the beautiful and wonderfully made bodies we have been given. If we start to respect ourselves, our husbands will follow. Your spouse should understand that by pumping artificial hormones into your body, you’re damaging yourself. Your spouse is not an object to be consumed daily, but someone to be regarded with respect and love. You can achieve the same effectiveness of contraception with NFP, without any of the terrible side effects.
Increased Intimacy: NFP does require a couple to abstain during fertile periods of the woman’s cycle. During these periods couples learn how to be intimate in other ways. This gives you the assurance that your relationship is not merely built on physical pleasures. The period of abstinence builds discipline and commitment within a marriage. As counter cultural as it sounds, sex is not as essential as water to our survival. Even though it is at times very difficult, abstinence makes you yearn for your spouse. And regardless, many NFP couples tend to be much more active during those non fertile periods which more than makes up for the temporary absence. NFP allows you to share all parts of yourself with your spouse and increase your intimacy, as the marital bond should be, not holding back your fertility.
My story: I can honestly say that being open to life and giving control to God regarding our family has led me to a closer relationship with Him. I no longer see my body as an object that is mine, but rather a beautiful gift that God gave to me. A gift I can use to honor and love Him. If He chooses to bless us with children so we can raise them to love Him, why would I say no?
A Change of Heart: It is definitely a change of heart to give Him the control we so desperately chase after in life. Being a Christian is not merely believing there is a God, it is changing your life to follow Him. God gives us the ability to work with Him to bring another soul into the world. The road is filled with sacrifices, just as Christ showed us the way when He took up His cross, but the eternal worth of another child is worth the sacrifices, joys and heartaches.
I pray this article makes you think about the alternatives to artificial birth control. Maybe this is the first time you have heard of NFP; if it is, please read more at www.iusenfp.com. Maybe you are very familiar with NFP but afraid to practice it, I hope this article helps to convince you. May we always remain open to life and the blessings God chooses to bestow on us.