Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tell Me My Choices

After having taught 3 different NFP methods over the past 6 years to about 100 couples, I have to admit that abstinence is the hardest part to sell. Couples can get on board with the natural, hormone free, organic nature of NFP. They like the increased communication, the health benefits, the awareness of their fertility. The appreciation for children, the appreciation for each other, the reverence for life and how we cooperate with God to bring new life into the world.

But abstinence. Oh, abstinence. You crazy, fun-hating beast of burden who just waltzed into the bedroom with your muddy feet, swarm of flies and hot, stinky breath.
Yes, abstaining from genital contact during the fertile phase of your combined fertility cycle can be the worst of all bad bummers. It is even harder when your fertility signs are muddled and difficult to read and you desperately need to avoid a pregnancy and the abstinence stretches on for weeks and months. It can make you ache. It can feel like it is tearing your marriage apart.

If you struggle with long periods of abstinence due to health concerns or obscured fertility signs when using NFP, please, please, please make seeing a physician who will support you in your use of NFP a priority. NaPro doctors (choose Find a Medical Consultant on the left navigation) are specially trained to identify and correct health issues in ways that support the normal, healthy functions of your reproductive cycle. If a NaPro doctor isn't available near you, check for a health care provider at the One More Soul website or check with the local Catholic diocese to see if there is a doctor in the area to whom they can refer you. A healthy cycle is easier to interpret and can help reduce the times of abstinence when you need to avoid a pregnancy.

And while it can be difficult for many people to abstain during the fertile phase of an "average" or "normal" cycle, there is a light at the end of the fertile tunnel.
If you are happy with your NFP method - AWESOME!!!!!  I am so glad you have found a method that works for you and your spouse at this time in your reproductive life. Keep on keepin' on.
If you are not happy with your NFP method - let's find you a new one. There are so many effective, reliable methods available today to suit your needs. Your needs may change over time and what was once your dream method may become a nightmare for you and your spouse. Don't be afraid to switch to something that works for you now - you can always change your mind later and go back or change to another entirely different method.

There are ones that are highly regimented and the instruction is completely tailored to your unique fertility (Creighton - especially for people with known health, reproductive & fertility issues). Plenty of unmarried women chart simply for the information they glean about their health status from their charts or to manage their health in a holistic manner.
 There are methods that combine 2 or 3 major signs of fertility to determine times fertility (Couple-to-Couple League Sympto-Thermal, Northwest Family Planning, Serena). There are methods that only use 1 sign of fertility (Billing Ovulation Method, Family of the Americas, Temperature Method. There are methods that use monitors to test for Luteinizing Hormone (Marquette Method). There is a method that uses a monitor to track your Basal Body Temperature only (Lady Comp) and compares it to a database of more than 900,000 cycles of data points to determine times of fertility. There are mobile apps to track your cycle; there are cycle beads to track your cycle; there are ferning microscopes where you can observe your saliva or cervical mucus to watch for developing fertility. There's the 2-Day Method, the Temperature Method, the Boston-Cross Check method, Marquette method, Billings Ovulation Method, Family of the Americas Billings Ovulation Method, and the Standard Days Method. Many diocese and Archdiocese teach their own version of STM or OM.

There's even a great quiz that can help you figure out which method might suit your current needs. This is especially awesome if you have no idea where to start.

There are online courses, instructors who will teach long-distance, instructors who will meet with you in person or on the phone. There are group classes and individual private sessions. There are instructors who can work with you on the cost of instruction and there are instructors who only charge for materials, and I know some dioceses have scholarships for couples who need it. There are books (Taking Charge of Your Fertility, The Billings Method). Basically, there's a way to learn that can work for you.

If you like your method, but don't connect with your instructor - find a new one! I think most of us NFP teachers understand that not everyone can be best friends and our feelings will not be hurt if you switch to a different instructor or method. A good NFP instructor just wants you to find a method that works for you and your unique fertility and circumstances and will do what it takes to help you do that.

Most importantly, if you feel like you just can't do NFP anymore because it's too hard and too much and too difficult and too UGH - don't give up. As the great Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning (which I cannot recommend enough) says, "It's the worst possible method, except for all the others."

Welcome to Natural Family Planning Awareness Week! I have a couple posts about NFP this week. Please know that I am not speaking with a condemning tone towards anyone or towards the way anyone practices NFP. I am not putting down anyone's experience with NFP. As an NFP user and teacher, I have encountered people in every walk of life living NFP in difficult circumstances on all parts of the infertility/subfertility/average fertility/super fertility scale. In fact, I've moved along this scale myself over the years. Please know that you and your spouse and family are in my prayers. If you are using NFP - I admire you - not many have the courage to go against the grain and commit to such a radical view of and respect for their fertility.

NOTE: These are NOT affiliate links. I do not receive any compensation for sharing this information with you. I just thought you'd like to know. 

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