Natural Family Planning is the general name for the various methods of family planning that are based on a woman’s menstrual cycle. A man is fertile throughout his entire life, while a woman is fertile for only a few days of each cycle during the child-bearing years. The stereotype still remains that NFP involves using a calendar to predict the fertile time. That is not what NFP is today.
A woman experiences clear, observable signs indicating when she is fertile and when she is infertile. Learning to observe and understand these signs is at the heart of education in natural family planning.
With Natural Family planning, the couple learns to observe and chart the woman’s cycle by taking classes or through one-on-one instruction with an NFP instructor. NFP can be used to achieve pregnancy or to avoid pregnancy. The couple can pinpoint a woman’s fertile time by various biological indicators. There are several methods of Natural Family Planning, and each couple can choose the method that is best suited to their particular needs. (see “Getting Started”)
Study after study has shown NFP to be up to 99 percent effective at helping couples to avoid pregnancy. A multi-year study in China with over 900 participating couples demonstrated an effectiveness rate at better than 99%.6 Another multi-year study involving 5 countries and more than 800 participating couples demonstrated a effectiveness rate of better than 96%.7 Numerous other studies, using large numbers of couples consistently demonstrate effectiveness rates at between 95%-99%.
Any married couple can use NFP! NFP can be used by any woman of any age at all phases of her reproductive life. You can use NFP regardless of your cycle length. You also can use the method effectively during the post-partum period, while breastfeeding, after discontinuing hormonal contraception, and during pre-menopause.
You can start taking classes at any time, but we recommend that you start charting/classes at least four to six months before you get married.