WHAT IS NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING?
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and postpone pregnancy. These methods are based on the observation of naturally occurring signs of the fertile phase of a woman's cycle. Couples using NFP to achieve pregnancy engage in intercourse during this fertile time. Couples wishing to avoid pregnancy simply abstain from sexual relations at the fertile time. Natural Family Planning reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of every child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP enriches the bond between husband and wife.
ISN'T NFP THE SAME AS RHYTHM?
NFP is NOT "Rhythm." The Rhythm, or calendar, method in use decades ago was based on the assumption that ovulation occurred at the same time in every cycle. Modern NFP methods, based on forty years of research on human fertility, recognize that each cycle, like each woman, is unique. NFP is based on day-to-day observations of the signs and symptoms of fertility and infertility in the current cycle. By understanding their own fertility, couples can achieve or avoid conception. NFP is thus the complete family planning method.
IS NFP EFFECTIVE?
When couples are taught by a competent teacher and follow the rules of the method carefully, NFP is highly successful in achieving their intended family plan. Numerous studies, including one by the U.S. government, show that NFP methods are 97%-99% effective for avoiding pregnancy. That's as effective as the Pill and far more effective than barrier methods. (cf. Contraceptive Technology, 17th revised edition, Robert Hatcher, Irvington Press, NY 1998)
One Couple's Story
Natural Family Planning Week
Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is a national educational campaign. The Natural Family Planning Program of the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops develops a poster each year with basic supportive materials. It is the individual dioceses , however, that focus attention in local churches on Natural Family planning methods and the Church teachings which support their use. The dates of NFP Awareness Week highlight the anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (July 25), which articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love, and responsible parenthood. (Please contact the NFP Office, below, for a copy of this encyclical.) The dates also mark the feasts of Saints Joachim and Ann (July 26), the parents of the Blessed Mother.