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Natural Family Planning (NFP)

Natural Family Planning is considered a highly effective method of birth control that involves an active approach at knowing the woman's most fertile times by dissecting fertile signals regarding fertility and ovulation. Natural Family Planning is often associated with the charting method of birth control, which doesn't carry the best reputation for effectiveness.

The old joke goes, what do you call couples who practice charting? The answer: Parents. All funniness aside, charting and natural family planning are not the same thing. In fact, charting takes on only part of what it takes to ensure a successful method of birth control by using Natural Family Planning. This method of birth control also carries other negative connotations in that some think it is too complicated to follow or too time consuming. However, that is not the case. Usually Natural Family Planning methods become a routine part of a person's day just like taking the birth control pill or using other methods of contraception.

Natural Family Planning also is often synonymous with religious methods of birth control. While many religions encourage NFP, there are a variety of individuals that use NFP as well as altered versions of NFP like the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) in order to successfully avoid unwanted pregnancy and even achieve pregnancy if that becomes the ultimate goal. The best part about using NFP is that it is entirely natural and does not involve the usage of synthetic hormones and chemicals being used to help prevent pregnancy. Keep reading to learn more about Natural Family Planning (NFP) and how you can learn to implement this method of birth control if you find it might be the right decision for you and your partner. 

Natural Family Planning:

NFP is a method of birth control or family planning that can be used to successfully avoid or plan a pregnancy by using a woman's signs of fertility to help address the time in which she is ovulating. Women are only capable of becoming pregnant close to or during ovulation. This is only a few days out of a regular cycle (typically every 28 days). These changes that occur during the cycle indicate when a woman is most fertile and when she is considered to be infertile. By keeping track of when she is likely to be fertile and when she isn't a woman and her partner can plan for the times when it is safe to have sex and when it is risky based on fertility measurements.

A woman's menstrual cycle works by allowing a woman's ovaries to release an egg at one point during the month called ovulation. The egg then moves forward through the fallopian tubes where it can meet with viable sperm to fertilize. If the egg is not fertilized during this process, the uterine wall will shed resulting in the woman's period. If sexual intercourse takes place just before or during ovulation, the egg is more likely to become fertilized. 

There are typically two to three signs a woman needs to pay attention to when trying to avoid pregnancy during her most fertile times. First, cervical fluid is a great way to tell when the body is preparing to ovulate. Egg white cervical mucus is the type of cervical fluid to watch for when a woman is most fertile. However, there are other signs of cervical mucus to pay attention to that lead up to the egg white cervical mucus including watery and moist fluid. When a woman has no cervical mucus or fluid, those are the times when she is most infertile. During the times when a woman can be considered fertile the couple will abstain from sexual intercourse. Other alternative methods of NFP like FAM allow for sexual intercourse during fertile times, but a backup method of contraception must be used like a condom, spermicide, etc. 

The other tell-tale sign of a woman's ovulation and fertility pattern are measured through her basal body temperature. Using a basal body thermometer each morning after at least three solid hours of sleep, a woman can get an accurate reading of her body temperature. Once there is an increase followed by at least three temperature increases in the following days, that is indicative the woman has successfully ovulated. By watching and understanding these patterns, a woman can understand when her body is likely to be fertile. Other signs like breast tenderness, sexual drive, pain in the ovaries, bloating, back ache and other physical signs can also help a woman know when she might be fertile. 

Many couples are encouraged to take instruction on the NFP method when they are interested in learning this method of birth control because there is room for error. However, once the method has been accurately learned and understood, the couple can practice this method of birth control. Because the method allows the woman to become in tune with how her body operates, she can understand when is the best time to get pregnant as well, which is a useful tool to know when the couple is actively trying to get pregnant. 

Including the ease of use once the method has been learned, the best advantage of using NFP is the fact that no fake hormones or other risky birth controls like the pill, patch, IUD and others are being forced into the body to prevent pregnancy. To learn how to find an NFP instructor to help learn the method be sure to do a Google search to find online and in-person instructors and classes. 


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