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The “Natural” Family Planning Technique

WARNING: Some of the information contained in this post may or may not gross you out. So if you’re a guy (specifically my husband) or if you find human sexual anatomy gross in any way, you may not want to read anymore. Consider yourself warned.

I’ve heard this called many athings. I’ve heard “not trying, not preventing,” which in my book, IS trying–Which I may have been accused of in this post. But I beg to differ… I think people who may say “I’m not prevention at all, but leaving it up to the Lord” in turn will probably wind up pregnant, while those of us who are preventing still but say “If it still happens than maybe it was the Lord’s will” is kind of a logical statement. I think if you’re using SOME form of protection/prevention then you’re not expecting to get pregnant. However, I do understand that my methods now may not be as effective, I’m still doing my best to stay un-pregnant.

One way I’m doing that is researching the Natural Family Planning or “NFP” method and/or the Fertility Awareness or “FAM” method. For now, I’ve just been mapping it all using the rhythmic method. I’ve been charting my days and what not and have been trying to avoid–(Ya know)–on certain days. I even downloaded a free iPhone application from Fertility Friend to keep track. It’s REALLY helpful! Their website is nice too.
I’ve also heard of the ovulation/billings method, which seems a little more complex and takes more effort. You watch more for signs from your body, take your temperature a lot and check all sorts of nasty anatomy stuff. I bought a basal thermometer that I’m hoping to try to use, and map out my minor degree changes from day to day. If anything this should be a fun experiment right?

Here’s my plan: Track as much as I can so I know what days to AVOID, and in turn, when it’s baby makin’ time, hopefully I’ll have it down. But for now, I’ll try to count and figure out the days, and keep using the magic gel (every time regardless) and hope I don’t wind up pregnant for at least a few more months. I hear these methods work pretty well when used correctly.
I’m actually interested in finding more books on this topic. I know a lot of my friends tried this because they don’t like hormones. Most of them are pregnant now, but I think it’s because they weren’t trying hard enough. At least that’s what I’m telling myself so I have the confidence to make it though.

I hear this way of tracking is great for when you’re TTC too because you’ll know your cycle very well. Part of me doesn’t get that though… Can’t you just do it every day? That’s one way to try to make a baby. At least that covers all of your bases! That’s my plan at least.

I dunno, what do you think? Have you tried this method before? It work for you? Have any books or sites to recommend?


Mommy Bee says:

I hear this way of tracking is great for when you’re TTC too because you’ll know your cycle very well. Part of me doesn’t get that though… Can’t you just do it every day?
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For some people actually this is problematic. If the man has low sperm count, for example, they are more likely to get the little swimmers to the ideal destination if they only send them in every other day (because if they do it every day there isn’t enough to get very far).

Additionally, everybody has busy days, or they just feel tired (or they have other kids in the way!!!) and charting helps me know which days to make an extra effort, and which days it’s no big deal to just sink into bed and conk out. 🙂

Like I said in my post about NFP, there are two ways to use it–one is to abstain on your fertile days. That is 100% effective…but not many people are willing to do it. 🙂 The other is to use some barrier or spermicide or something on the fertile days–that has precisely the same failure rate as the method used. NFP can be exactly as effective as you want it to be. If you are really serious about not getting pregnant, then stay on the safe side, observe every little thing, and if you are unsure of your fertility status then assume you are fertile and take the necessary measures… if you’re sortof avoiding but aren’t being that careful (because you don’t actually really care that much), well, a lot of “oopses” happen to those folks. 🙂

Rixa says:

I love the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility.” I wish I’d known about it when I was in my teens (not that I was anywhere near getting pregnant, just to know what was going on with my body). Checking your cervix/cervical fluid isn’t actually that gross; I find it really cool to be more in touch with how my body works actually. But even using a basal body thermometer is really fascinating to see how your cycles work by tracking the rise and fall of your temps. Thing is, doing just temps and the rhythm/calendar method isn’t all that foolproof, but if you add in cervical fluid you really know when you’re fertile or not.

Mrs Cooper says:

You could do it every other day because the little swimmers last for 48 hours. So come up for air every other day. Watch, it’s going to be so easy when you are ready. I pray it happens on your first try.

Jessie Evans says:

My friend and her husband tried this method, but must not have been too careful because their baby is now 5 months 🙂

Mallory says:

I get really defensive when people make fun of me for using the NFP method and say stuff like “You know what they call people who use that method?…PARENTS! HAHAHA!” Ugh, so annoying! Anyway, I’m glad that you are studying this and that you are willing to try it out. It can be a lot of work, but when you are in touch with your body, it works. Of course, I WANTED to get pregnant right away after I got married, so I haven’t had a whole lot of time to try it out. (I, too, wish that I had learned about FAM when I was in my teens, just to be in touch with my body). And now I am using the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM), which goes along with this all, only is easier for after the baby (’cause it’s hard to, say, keep track of your temps when you maybe aren’t getting 3 straight hours of sleep!)

I like that you are interested in this stuff! Maybe you will become a crunchy mom! 😀

Jennifer says:

Wishing you good luck with this.

Sharon says:

Yay! I am so excited for you! 🙂

We have been successfully using NFP since we got married in 2003.

It has worked for us in both avoiding and conceiving pregnancy. We have learned different methods over the years-formally-and we prefer mucus-only methods to temp taking. (aka sympto-thermal)

I have learned SO MUCH about my body through practicing NFP. It really is such a great experience. (not to mention leaving those chemicals out of your body;)

One thing that we have recently started using is the OvaCue fertility monitor. It’s such an awesome tool. I use it in conjuction w/ the Creighton method.

People will tease and make fun of NFP, but from my experience, most of those people are uneducated about NFP, and more importantly, have never even tried it. So really, what grounds do they?!

LaCee says:

I think it makes everything to complicated. At least for me! I started doing this stuff when I was trying to get pregnant the second time around. It made me and my hubby crazy. Especially when the test came back negative! I think baby making should be spontaneous and fun;)

Christi says:

If you have somewhat regular cycles and you keep track then you should be ok. My cycles were anywhere from 21 to 40+ days, which makes charting impossible. Since we were TTC, it wasn’t as huge of a deal as it would have been trying to prevent.

Joy says:

I started mapping my cycles like this when we were planning on trying. I was only doing it out of curiosity and not really for birth control reasons but before I could get a good base line I was already pregnant. I’ll be curious to know if you get a good solid idea as to what your “hot” day’s are. It’s an interesting method for sure but I wouldn’t stop the friendly gel just yet. I also bought some test sticks, kinda like pregnancy tests, but to test for ovulation. (I never got to use those either and Walgreens has a great return policy might I add) They weren’t very expensive and I thought it would be fun to see what they had to say about it too and if they matched up to what the calendar said. Might want to try them out too. From what I remember you pee on a stick everyday for a week during the week that you determine is your “hot” week and then it tells you what day’s your hormones are highest. Or something like that.

Isn’t it kinda neat to figure out how the body works? I’m a geek like that.

Sarah says:

You are so brave to try this…I could never do this until I for sure wanted a baby. Although lately I’ve been changing my mind about when especially since I didn’t get into the Pharmacy School near here, which means I’m waiting to hear from the Online one. If I will be taking classes online I might consider having a baby sooner…And I think that my hubby isn’t really ready for a baby yet but if I wanted a baby then he would go for it. Strange. We had a chat in the car and I said if I go to the online school than I wanted to have a baby sooner…but that I wanted to work first…and he said ok! Usually he just avoids the whole conversation and says we should wait until I’m done school.

Kelly says:

You know, one day you will probably look back at this post and laugh your head off. It is hilarious to see new moms-to-be planning it all out. It is good that you are thinking about it, but you never know what will happen. It could work out for you or you may get very surprised.

I thought I would get pregnant just like that, but it took years, and then I had to see fertility doctors and do the whole IVF thing. Just don’t get your heart set on anything too much. Be open to any possibility. That is all I am saying. Have a great day and good luck!

I have moved into this phase too (NFP) now as well. I went off the birth control (mostly because the hormones were messing with me… making me FEEL pregnant… but I WASN’T, now I am all for being sick if I AM having a baby… but no baby.. AND going to school? NO THANKS!) So we are now in the.. I am ready for a baby.. whenever it feels like coming… now.. or in a year. So, Hello NFP! We will see how well it works! Anyway… love your blog! You always seem to capture some of my biggest fears/thoughts/questions but you write it so much better! Good luck!!!

Goldibug says:

As I’ve said before, I don’t have a problem getting pregnant yet I’m not taking any precautions either and I’ve been ‘bun’ free for two years now. I think it boils down to how careful your partner is. I’ve also been told that if you really do want to get pregnant it’s best to try every other day rather than every day so the ‘little swimmers’ have time to regroup so-to-speak.

Emmie says:

I have heard a lot of people use this method and I have tried to use it as well, because I have a blood clotting condition I went off of BCP for almost a year. I just avoided the days that I was fertile, and I went an entire year not pregnant. However, it drove me nuts always worried every month that I would be pregnant. It got old for both of us. I am now on the Depo shot, because it doesn’t have the same blood clotting issues as the pill.

And I agree with you, if you are doing nothing and not FAM-ing, then you are planning on getting pregnant. In fact, you are trying to get pregnant, the Lord’s thing is super annoying to me.

Becca says:

hey future mama! thank you soooo much for your sweet comments on my blog! I am so glad that I found yours yesterday, I’ll definitely be following along. best of luck!! 🙂

Becca says:

oh! and yes, I have read all of the twilight books! ha! I actually read them all 4 in about 4 days, lol!! I am going to add The Host (that is by stephenie meyer too, right?) to my list as well as Kite Runner, thank you for the suggestions!!

Molly says:

I used NFP for about 2 years, and I run pretty much like clockwork. It was really easy once I got the hang of it and I liked not having any side effects. I am still not really sure what happened…but there was a trip back to NY that included a wedding and lots of wine and 9 months later we had Cooper. My advice, don’t have more than 2 glasses of wine at once if you aren’t ready. Hehe. I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve found that if I avoid having FUN TIME when I WANT to, I stay UNpreggie longer… the times we’ve become preggie have been times when I WANTED to “get it on” but didn’t do anything about it and then hubby DID. I feel a LOT better about getting preggie when he’s totally comfy with it. Many of the signs of fertility do align with my desire for FUN TIME… makes sense. We’re sort of programed to make babies. So, when we WANT “lovin” is likely when something can come of it. (I think this may be especially true as I have more children – though only three so far – and have less energy and sexual ooopah than I used to in general.

You see, my hubby and I don’t use protection because we DO believe in accepting Father’s planning for our family. It’s been more perfect than my own desires would have been! We haven’t gotten preggie right away each time, though. So, when people say things like, “We’re not trying, but we’re not preventing,” (as we do) they could REALLY mean it! We certainly do.

Nichole says:

After my first preg (ectopic), I decided I’d better start paying attention. . . so I started tracking my cycles in my weekly planner. After my miscarriage, when we started trying again and it didn’t happen the first month, I consulted TCOYF (which your first commenter suggested) and found it to be an invaluable resource. I was determined to start charting if we weren’t successful on our second month. Thankfully, we were.
There’s a certain power in knowing what your body’s doing. . . kudos for wanting to be prepared.

Kristin Wood says:

My DH and I absolutely love NFP. We use BBT and cervical mucus observations. I learned it years before I got married, and even then it just felt empowering to know exactly what my crazy body was up to. Then by the time I *needed* it, I already understood it really well and knew my body inside and out.

Whoever said that NFP is impossible for women with irregular cycles: my cycle will fall anywhere between 27 and 40 days, but I never have the least bit of trouble figuring out my fertile and infertile days. My charts are always very clear. I think the irregularity of my cycle actually helps, because it keeps me from falling into a “rhythm method” mindset, which is the downfall of many NFPers. For instance, one of my best friends was using NFP, and literally *every* cycle she had was 30 days, ovulation on day 16. Well, during one cycle her thermometer broke right during those crucial fertile days. She decided to just forget about it and assumed she would ovulate on day 16 as always. Of COURSE, that was the one cycle with a delayed ovulation, and poof, she was pregnant.

NFP gets a bad rep for three reasons:
1. A lot of people who say they use NFP are only using calendar calculations, and they don’t fully understand the difference between that and charting your body’s symptoms (BBT and/or cervical mucus). If someone ever says that they got pregnant using NFP, ask them what rules they were following before you get too nervous!

2. NFP is highly promoted by the Catholic Church, who also instructs their followers to be open to life and only suggests postponing pregnancy for “grave” reasons. This of course leads to a lot of NFP Families with 9 or so kids, which doesn’t look too promising! But most of these families probably tried for 9 or so kids.

3. Although the sympto-thermal method has a very high “perfect” effectiveness rating (98-99% if you consistently follow the rules of STM), it has a pretty sorry typical effectiveness rating. But OF COURSE it does, since the nature of this birth control is distinguishing between fertile and infertile days. If you slightly deviate from the rules of NFP, thus having intercourse during a fertile day, of course you have a large chance of getting pregnant! That’s the point 🙂 Other methods of birth control are a little more forgiving. If a condom breaks, you still have a 2/3rd chance that you are in the infertile part of the cycle anyways. If you forget to take a birth control pill one morning, you still have the pill from the day before and the day after which will most likely supply enough hormones to suppress ovulation anyways. NFP definitely works, and it works well, but you have to be dedicated to it.

~Kristin Wood
http://unorthodoxmarriage.blogspot.com

Carrie says:

I’ve been married for over 5 years, have two daughters, and ONLY GOT PREGNANT WHEN WE TRIED. No ‘oops-es!’ here. I knew exactly when I was fertile and it made getting pregnant easy and stress-free. I didn’t have to even take a pregnancy test to know I was pregnant…(I did anyway to prove it to my husband.) I’ve used the FAM method and LOVE IT. The book is simple reading, really makes sense, and teaches you a lot about your body. It’s not a big deal at all to take my temp every morning, and just gives me an excuse to lay in bed for an extra minute. Check out this website… I hope it works for you! You’ll love it if you give it a try. http://www.tcoyf.com/

NFP is so much better than the rhythm method and not trying, not preventing has never made much sense to me (maybe because I AM in tune with my body and know when I am fertile so it would either be trying or preventing with me). Using NFP you know when you are fertile and know if you can get pregnant or not. If you knowingly have sex when you are fertile that isn’t not trying or not preventing. The rhythm method doesn’t work for a lot of people because even if you have a 28 day cycle it doesn’t mean you O on day 14 (as for me, with a 29 day cycle, I O on day 17 – and I know this thanks to NFP).

We have used NFP since before my oldest was conceived. That means we’ve been using it for over 10 years now! We have never had a surprise baby. We have four children all conceived the first month we tried. I knew exactly which day my period would return after the first three kids were born (breastfeeding does well to delay the return of my period for several months). I know that I have no O’d since my 10 month old was born, but my body is working on gearing up to it, so I likely will return to fertility in the next couple months. We use the sympto-thermal method. I check cervical mucous and take my temperature each morning.

I totally second (third, fourth, eighth, whatever) the recommendation of Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

Michelle says:

I gave a really good how to on this the week before…still under WFMW…did you read that when you were reading about the journal?

Taking charge of your fertility is THE book.

I will be doing more blog posts on TTC cause I am currently trying. but bc they are fun to do.

Nichole says:

After my first preg (ectopic), I decided I’d better start paying attention. . . so I started tracking my cycles in my weekly planner. After my miscarriage, when we started trying again and it didn’t happen the first month, I consulted TCOYF (which your first commenter suggested) and found it to be an invaluable resource. I was determined to start charting if we weren’t successful on our second month. Thankfully, we were.
There’s a certain power in knowing what your body’s doing. . . kudos for wanting to be prepared.

Kristin Wood says:

My DH and I absolutely love NFP. We use BBT and cervical mucus observations. I learned it years before I got married, and even then it just felt empowering to know exactly what my crazy body was up to. Then by the time I *needed* it, I already understood it really well and knew my body inside and out.

Whoever said that NFP is impossible for women with irregular cycles: my cycle will fall anywhere between 27 and 40 days, but I never have the least bit of trouble figuring out my fertile and infertile days. My charts are always very clear. I think the irregularity of my cycle actually helps, because it keeps me from falling into a “rhythm method” mindset, which is the downfall of many NFPers. For instance, one of my best friends was using NFP, and literally *every* cycle she had was 30 days, ovulation on day 16. Well, during one cycle her thermometer broke right during those crucial fertile days. She decided to just forget about it and assumed she would ovulate on day 16 as always. Of COURSE, that was the one cycle with a delayed ovulation, and poof, she was pregnant.

NFP gets a bad rep for three reasons:
1. A lot of people who say they use NFP are only using calendar calculations, and they don’t fully understand the difference between that and charting your body’s symptoms (BBT and/or cervical mucus). If someone ever says that they got pregnant using NFP, ask them what rules they were following before you get too nervous!

2. NFP is highly promoted by the Catholic Church, who also instructs their followers to be open to life and only suggests postponing pregnancy for “grave” reasons. This of course leads to a lot of NFP Families with 9 or so kids, which doesn’t look too promising! But most of these families probably tried for 9 or so kids.

3. Although the sympto-thermal method has a very high “perfect” effectiveness rating (98-99% if you consistently follow the rules of STM), it has a pretty sorry typical effectiveness rating. But OF COURSE it does, since the nature of this birth control is distinguishing between fertile and infertile days. If you slightly deviate from the rules of NFP, thus having intercourse during a fertile day, of course you have a large chance of getting pregnant! That’s the point 🙂 Other methods of birth control are a little more forgiving. If a condom breaks, you still have a 2/3rd chance that you are in the infertile part of the cycle anyways. If you forget to take a birth control pill one morning, you still have the pill from the day before and the day after which will most likely supply enough hormones to suppress ovulation anyways. NFP definitely works, and it works well, but you have to be dedicated to it.

~Kristin Wood
http://unorthodoxmarriage.blogspot.com

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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