They are a group of methods based on observations of the feminine menstrual cycle. During a normal cycle, a woman is fertile only for a certain number of days. Her body, in preparing to conceive a new life, sends out signals that can be observed :
- the rise in basal body temperature by a few tenths of a degree after ovulation.
- the presence of a substance called cervical mucus (see Q. 24) at the vulva (which is observed and noted).
- These signs allow the woman to chart the fertile and infertile phases of her cycle. If the couple wishes to conceive a child, they will try to do so during the fertile period. If the couple does not wish to conceive, they would have sexual relations only during the infertile phases.
- This method brings a couple to different “moments of love”: times of physical union and times when their love is expressed differently. The great majority of couples using NFP have acknowledged that it leads to self-control, more dialogue and mutual comprehension. Respecting each other’s capacity of giving life, on the part of the woman and the man, leads to a greater and more profound love. The desire, instead of becoming dull, is renewed.
- When the methods are used correctly, their reliability is excellent. Of course, we need to be faithful in charting the signs as they are observed and the husband needs to be supportive – his role in the use of the method is indispensible. Isn’t it extraordinary and so much more healthy to understand what is happening in our body and to live in rhythm with it?
For more complete information on NFP consult the following sources :
1. Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D., The Scientific Foundations of the Ovulation Method, Pope Paul VI Institute Press, 6901 Mercy Road, Omaha, Nebraska 68106, U.S.A., Copyright, 1995 (Tel: 402-390-6600)
2. The Art of Natural Family Planning, John and Sheila Kippley, published by the Couple to Couple League, P.O. Box 111184, Cincinnati, Ohio 45211, U.S.A.
3. Pope John XIII Center for the Study of Ethics in Health Care, 186 Forbes Road, Braintree MA 02184-2612 U.S.A. (Tel:617-848-6965)
4. No-Pill, No-Risk Birth Control, Nora Aguilar, Rawson Wade Publishers, New York