What is Natural Family Planning? 5 Things You Should Know

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Mention natural family planning to a friend or relative.

See what they say.

“That doesn’t actually work, does it?”

In reality, modern Natural Family Planning is over 99% effective – as good or better than any contraception.

Yet modern Natural Family Planning is also fundamentally different from physical or pharmaceutical contraception.

Modern contraception methods block the body’s fertility with either hormones or physical barriers.

Modern Natural Family Planning, on the other hand, gives couples a precise awareness of their fertility, and allows both partners to work together to choose the best direction for their family.

Natural Family Planning, or NFP, is not for everyone. It requires careful habits, good communication, and personal discipline, from both partners. Natural Family Planning won’t work for all relationships.

To better understand whether NFP will work for you, consider the following five things:

1. When practiced consistently, NFP is over 99% effective

Consistent and correct practice of Natural Family Planning is at least as reliable as any other method of preventing pregnancy.

According to a major study published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and backed by the World Health Organization and others, modern NFP is over 99% effective when used to prevent conception.

When used for this purpose, NFP is comparable in reliability to medical methods such as birth control pills, hormonal implants, intra-uterine devices, and even male or female sterilization. Numerous major studies have confirmed these results.

Modern NFP is also significantly more reliable than common physical, non-prescription birth control methods, such as male condoms (98%) and diaphragms (94%).

2. NFP can be used to either prevent or encourage pregnancy

NFP is not strictly a method of ‘birth control.’

Instead, NFP allows couples to monitor their fertility potential. If the couple prefers not to have a child at that time, they may use this knowledge to avoid pregnancy.

However, if the couple does wish to have a child, they may use this knowledge to greatly increase the likelihood of conception.

3. NFP requires shared responsibility for family planning

Many common methods of family planning require one partner to take primary responsibility, either for using physical contraception or taking a birth control prescription. When prescription drugs are used, family planning decisions must be made in consultation with a doctor.

NFP requires both partners to share in decisions about family planning, and to fulfill certain responsibilities in cooperation with each other.

In most cases, NFP allows couples may make decisions independently, without needing to consult outside counselors or professionals.

4. NFP works best in a monogamous relationship

NFP is truly a method of family planning, and not simply a form of birth control.

To practice NFP successfully, couples must have a strong, shared intention for the direction of their relationship.

Couples with only short-term goals, who do not have a shared intention to raise a family together, will likely have difficulty practicing NFP in their relationship.

5. NFP requires consistent habits, good communication, and firm commitment from both partners

Natural Family Planning requires shared decision-making, and a level of awareness and responsibility that many couples may find unfamiliar. For many couples, this can be intimidating, and difficult at first.

The practice of natural family planning requires couples to adopt a set of habits, some as a part of their daily routine. While not difficult in themselves, these must be practiced consistently for a couple to fully understand the cycles of their fertility.

Among the most important of these habits is open communication.

Couples who practice NFP must be willing to discuss their fertility and family planning choices, and must do so regularly. In general, NFP only works when both partners embrace the practice.

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