Stardust

Writings from my little corner of modern domesticity.

NFP

Went to our first NFP (Natural Family Planning) class yesterday evening, and overall, I’m rather impressed.Our teaching couple and the class itself were a bit less dynamic and interactive than I’d hoped for, but as for the method itself, I don’t have the doubts I did before.

It’s a scientific approach to using what you’ve naturally been given- the use of my personal fertility cycle to either postpone or attempt pregnancy via daily charting of symptoms. A combination of basal temperature, mucus symptoms, and cervix status are charted to determine which phase of the cycle a woman is in- whether it’s a fertile or infertile time – and then timing sex accordingly. The nutshell is that if you don’t want kids, don’t have sex during the fertile bits. If you’re trying, make sure you have lots of sex when fertile. If you’re indifferent, then heck- do it whenever’s good for you two.

—This is your ooky warning: If periods and stuff weird you out, this is where you want to stop reading. —

I’m also super glad for two things: I don’t have to take those damned pills anymore, and I’m actually going to have an idea of what my cycle looks like and be able to anticipate my periods. That was absolutely impossible for me pre- birth control- my warning was a massive cramp right around where the gush began. And then it’d last for however long it darned well pleased, and then be back whenever it felt like it. I had lengths of anywhere from 12 days to 4 months (seriously) between periods and I never knew what it would be any given cycle.

An additional perk to the charting with NFP is that I’ll be able to tell what’s coming next. Each woman also has symptoms that lead into menstruation which can be observed through the chart on a consistent basis, even if her cycles are irregular, because her symptoms will be patterned regardless. And not a “Women generally observe XYZ before their menstruation period” type of patterned- a “Before I bleed, I have seen that XYZ happens in my chart.” Specific to a woman and her individual cycle. And then when you visit your gynecologist, you have specific information you can share with them that they wouldn’t otherwise get that can help you get better care. My problem at the doctor’s is always the “When was the first day of your last menstruation?” question- because even on pills, I couldn’t always tell you. Charting it, I’ll definitely remember.

———————Ookiness over——————-

The specificity and individuality of it is what separates it from the rhythm method. The rhythm method was based on a general model- the idea that a normal woman experienced periods of infertility a certain number of days within her cycle. It was based on a 28-day cycle and a 3-5 day period, and if your cycle deviated from the norm, it wouldn’t work for you, because your numbers were different. Since most women aren’t actually on 28-day cycles, the rhythm method failed miserably, leading to the bad rap it now passes on to NFP. They are different, and it frustrates both me and my statistician husband that they lump them together when discussing % effectiveness for comparison to other forms of birth control, because one is something like 30% effective, and the other 99% , both with perfect use. It’s like if you were going to lump mechanical sterilization with IUD’s, because they’re both something you have stuffed in. Doesn’t make sense.

But as a science person and one who went in skeptical from the get-go, I have to say that I’m a fan. I’m not enough of a fan to say it’s idiot-proof, because it’s definitely not, and that’s maybe the one advantage pills have; that you just have to take them in the right order and take them all, while NFP actually requires you, at a minimum, to check your mucus production and make sure you take your temp within a half-hour of the same time every day. But I am excited for this- getting of the additional hormones (which I’m convinced is what makes women crazy these days) and back to what I am by Nature’s design.

Now, the problem I’m facing is how to set things up for ease-of-use. I want the chart next to the bed so when I take my temp in the morning I can record it and just roll back over and go to sleep if I want, but I also want it mobile. The student guide, with all its handy reference info in it, needs to be somewhere accessible. And I’ve used up all the good spots with those criteria I think, haha!

It’s kind of timing out well for us, though- we were just talking about how starting tomorrow, we’re going to add days to our schedule that involve us getting up at 6am, going for a walk/jog (eventually run) and watching the sunrise. Our routine is shifting, and since it’s shifting anyway, it’s a good time to add this in.

I’ll get back to you on how 6am does as a waking time instead of a wow-that-was-a-really-great-night bedtime, though!

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2 Comments

  1. I’m sure you already know the line, “What do you call a couple that has been using natural family planning for three years?”

    Parents.

  2. Starskim

    Haha, I’ve heard that one, yeah- our teaching couple actually used it. Except that they were married and using NFP for 7 years before they planned their first kid. And then another 3 before the second.

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