So, you're curious about Natural Family Planning but don't know where to start. I understand the feeling. When I decided to finally dive in to the world of NFP, I was overwhelmed with information, assumptions, misunderstandings, and straight up lies. It took a lot of research on my part to determine what I needed to know and what I needed to know was incorrect. But should you have to deal with the same confusion I suffered through? Nah! To help you out, I've listed the top NFP myths below, and what you need to know...
1) Natural Family Planning is for Catholics.
If you've read the news lately (or even glanced at social media) then you've read about the debate between women's rights and religious liberty. Many Catholic Bishops have been speaking out about how we should be free NOT to pay for other people's contraception since it goes against Catholic beliefs. (If you want to take a gander at my views on this topic, you're welcome to read Birth Control, Hobby Lobby, and this Catholic Mama.)
However, religious beliefs aren't the only reason people are choosing to use NFP. There are other factors enticing people to take the plunge these days, and most of it has nothing to do with your feelings on the Pope. Learning about our bodies and choosing a healthier form of pregnancy prevention is for EVERYONE.
(Feel free to read Why We Use Natural Family Planning to read more.)
2) NFP is just leaving it up to God.
From personal experience, I can definitely say that if practicing NFP was just "leaving it up to God" then I would be perpetually pregnant FOREVER! I am like the poster child of Fertility. So, we practice NFP because we want to be responsible, financially stable parents to our children, and that means we simply can't be the baby making factory of Texas right now.
The truth is, some people believe God made our bodies, and some people believe that God doesn't exist. This post is in no way meant to be a debate about that. But my point is, regardless of your religious beliefs, we can all recognize that science can explain our cycles, our fertility, and the process of making a baby. So why not use that knowledge to our advantage? NFP isn't about throwing up your hands to a higher power. It is about using our knowledge of how our bodies work to achieve or prevent pregnancy month to month as we see fit.
3) NFP = the Rhythm Method
So, you've heard of the rhythm method, eh? Then you know a tinsy bit about the history of NFP. HOWEVER, Natural Family Planning is NOT the Rhythm Method. The Rhythm Method was created in the early 1900's and is based on the idea that ovulation must happen the same day every cycle. So, simply calculate how long your cycle is to estimate when ovulation occurred. The problem with that concept is that women's cycles are rarely that predictable, as a variety of health and stress factors can fluctuate one's cycle from month to month.
Natural Family Planning takes a scientific approach of recognizing biological signs that one is either fertile or infertile throughout the month. NFP has even gotten so advanced that some methods use fertility monitors that can predict fertility using saliva, cervical mucus, or urine! It's actually pretty awesome.
4) NFP is basically abstinence!
Let me tell you right now, if NFP was abstinence, I'm not sure I could be on board with that! After all, I chose marriage over the convent for a reason.
I will be honest and say that it takes time to learn your body, and during that learning time you will probably want to be more conservative with your times of intimacy. However, ask any couple practicing NFP and they will let you know that they didn't have to give up their sex lives to do it.
5) NFP doesn't actually work
This one is rather disheartening. When practiced correctly, NFP methods are between 94-99% effective. Those numbers are right on course with any artificial birth control. So why do people keep spreading rumors that NFP doesn't work?
This rumor most often seems based on the lack of belief in one's ability to practice self-control. Natural Family Planning does not offer the convenience of having sex whenever, and for that reason some people scoff at the idea of it actually working. However, it is effective in pregnancy prevention, and it has the added awesomeness of making us more knowledgeable in the how's and why's of our workings of our bodies.