NFP: A Few More Thoughts

Probably I’ll come back to the subject eventually–it is part of my life, after all–but for now, just a few more things.

I talk about NFP because it’s what we practice and because it was an awareness week, but really I’m mostly just trying to encourage general non-hormonal methods that are actually reliable (sorry, condoms and withdrawal). So, in my book, if you’re looking into FAM, that’s awesome.

“But you’re Catholic aren’t you trying to take away all my pills ISN’T THAT YOUR REAL AGENDA?” asks the reader of this blog who’s new around here.

I don’t want to take away pills so much as I want to encourage a worldview where a woman’s fertility is something to be celebrated, not dreaded or feared or dismissed, and as long as the Pill is an assumed norm that’s probably not going to happen. Also, I want to encourage education and knowledge and freedom and taking charge of one’s self. Also, I weep for those mothers who feel like they have to put their daughters on birth control just in case they get raped. Talk about the exact opposite of female empowerment. (I vote for the spike-toothed female condom in that instance, myself.)
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NFP Awareness Week: Why It Matters

A day late and a dollar short, but don’t let anyone tell you I haven’t been thinking of you!

“Okay, Jo,” says the invisible voice of the assumed reader of this blog, “you’ve made me aware that NFP exists, and maybe I read enough or clicked on the links to acknowledge that yeah, okay, there’s some scientific merit to these methods, but it still sounds like work and I’m still not convinced I should, you know. Care.”

I’m not here to tell you that NFP is easy (though if you don’t have any health problems, the basics of charting should not escape you). I’m not even here to tell you to do NFP instead of FAM. I just want to encourage you to THINK about why, maybe, a rational human being would choose non-hormonal methods of family planning and why, maybe, the constant quest to ridicule and dismiss that choice is one from which you should dissociate yourself, if not actively seek to silence it.
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NFP Awareness Week: Common Misperceptions

Here’s the thing. I’m having trouble figuring out where to begin with this because on the one hand I came to NFP because I’m Catholic but on the other hand it’s something I feel so incredibly passionate about above and beyond the calling of my faith, and that’s what I want to communicate. So let’s skip the conversation about the morality of hormonal birth control and talk about why NFP (and the women [and men!] who use it) deserves consideration and respect. So maybe let’s start with some misconceptions? Yeah. Let’s start there.

1. NFP doesn’t work.
There’s a statistic that’s been quoted to me that non-hormonal contraceptive methods are less than 75% effective (worse than condoms!). My understanding is that there are several reasons for this:

  • Many studies on the subject don’t provide responders with the opportunity to specify that they use NFP; instead, they’re just given an “other” option.
  • In that vein, the “other” option often includes those who do nothing to either prevent or encourage pregnancy, a state of affairs that generally leads to yup you guessed it pregnancy.
  • Also in that vein, there’s no room for distinction between the various NFP methods OR between NFP and the “rhythm” method (more on that in a moment).

Obvious anti-non-hormonal-contraceptive-methods bias aside, if you go to any of the NFP methods you’ll see that they’re all 99% effective, just like hormonal birth control (and way better than condoms). And beyond statistics, I can offer you hundreds of examples of women (and men!) who have used NFP with that 99% effectiveness not just on a monthly basis, but on a yearly or even decadely basis.

“Oh sure,” people will say airily, “but that’s perfect use, and nobody could possibly use an NFP method perfectly.”

Well, all of those 99% effective statistics rely on perfect use. If you forget to take a pill you lose that 99% effectiveness just as surely as if you decide to have sex when you are clearly ovulating out the wazoo. Furthermore, you’re insulting the intelligence and self-control of a whole heck of a lot of people with that statement, which leads me to…
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Categories: feminism, NFP | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

NFP Awareness Week: An Introduction

First of all, I would like to apologize for my absence these past few weeks. Family troubles intervened, and I am very bad at sticking to a schedule when disruptions are introduced. The latter is my fault entirely and also something that this blog is supposed to help me correct; at the very least, I am forcing myself to return to the project instead of hiding my face in shame for having been silent for so long, so that’s progress, right?

Anyway, to the post at hand. It’s Natural Family Planning Awareness Week! If you have any devout Catholic ladies on your Facebook newsfeed then there’s a chance you’ve seen #iusenfp or any number of signs or banners talking about how awesome women are and how great creation is. If you don’t, well, here are some links to give you an idea of what’s going down.

For my part, I’d like to take this week to address various aspects of NFP, starting today with the most obvious:

What is NFP?
Natural Family Planning (and its barrier-friendly cousin the Fertility Awareness Method) is a non-hormonal method of family planning. Instead of using somebody else’s hormones in the form of a Pill (or IUD or whatever you want to call Nuvaring), NFP users rely on the hormones naturally present in a woman’s body and the signals they give off as a woman naturally progresses through her cycle. Armed with knowledge of these signals and what they mean, NFP users can know exactly when a woman is ovulating and decide whether or not to have sex accordingly.
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