Creighton NFP encouragement please


Hi all! Just wanted to get some opinons, encouragement, advice, etc. from those who practice NFP.

I’ve been charting since May (Creighton Method) and because I’m still breastfeeding my readings have been all over the place. We have only been able to safely have marital relations 5 times since I began charting and hubby isn’t very happy with our situation but he’s not pressing me to do anything artificial either so that’s a good thing.

My teacher said that after I began menstrual cycles again I’d have many more dry days. Well, my first cycle finished over 2 weeks ago. According to my teacher I have to count any mucus as fertile now (I was a yellow stamper for pretty much the last 3 months) and use a white baby stamp. I had an appointment the first week after my period ended and told her that I’ve had the same kind of all over readings like before. She said we’d have to wait until I went through at least one more cycle to get a better feel for what’s going on with me but in the mean time continue to use the white baby if I see any mucus readings.

Well, I’ve had 6LPC, 8CKL, 10CKL, every day. Most of the time I’m at a 6PC or 8C then I’ll get one or 2 more fertile readings. I’ve not had a dry day since I got stung by a bee in July and took benadryl to reduce the swelling…and that’s the only dry day I had since I began to wean the baby.

Hubby isn’t all that great when it comes to SPICE. He’s not even read the book we were given at the first class.

Basically we’re frustrated (DH even more so) and although he’s never ever pressured me to do something I’m not comfortable with, I can tell that he’s not happy that he can’t have his wife again for weeks or months at a time. We had to abstain for my entire pregnancy because of an incompetent cervix. It’s not like he’s not used to waiting for me…but it’s not easy for a man to resist temptations when his wife is not safely available. We have 4 children already in a single room (we have a 2 bedroom home). Our circumstances prohibit us from moving, we signed a rehabilitation agreement 3 years ago that binds us to our house for 15 years or else we owe back 30,000 dollars…we didn’t even pay that much for our home! Our income is less than $25K a year so trying to build a room or two in our house is impossible, we’re barely squeaking by. Risking having another baby right now is just not going to happen.

Our situation is hard enough as it is and not being able to come together as a married couple to share a way of escape together is really burdening us. We’re in marriage counseling right now and even our therapist (who also taught NFP) agrees that we’re in a pickle. He’s trying his best to help us but when your husband isn’t willing to live in a sexless marriage, well…it gets a bit stressful for me. DH has a LOOONG way to go to learn how to be intimate and loving without being sexual.

So has anyone gone through this? DH even talked about a vasectomy, something he adamently refused to do in the past but now it doesn’t seem so bad to him. The NFP teacher, therapist and me keep saying it won’t be long until I’m in a good pattern with dry days, etc…It’s discouraging though.

Any words of wisdom from Creighton followers?


We are going through something similar right now, though our reasons for abstaining are medical/health-related. I’m nursing our almost six-month-old and cycles have not resumed. My teacher has put me on yellow stamps as well.

I feel fortunate that my husband is very open to SPICE and finding other ways to be intimately connected. It’s very difficult, however, and I definitely understand how much of a burden this is upon a marriage. I was on pelvic bedrest for much of my pregnancy, too, so that is another similarity between our situations.

It sounds to me like maybe your ‘job’ right now is to encourage emotional intimacy with your spouse and all the other ways in which the two of you can physically connect without it culminating in sex. For us, just making time to hold one another, kiss, touch and talk, talk, talk–whether it be about anything or seemingly small, insignificant stuff–is so important.

We’ve made it a goal to consider this a time in which we reconnect and woo one another again. It actually has it’s moments of feeling like we’re discovering each other and things about one another for the first time again, as cheesy as that might sound. Tonight we just spent almost three hours talking on our bed, laying there chatting and I am so happy about what we discussed. We feel like it’s honing our communication really well, since our physical communication is somewhat limited right now. We also make it a point to discuss and evaluate where we are at with the abstaining on a very regular basis, as we feel it’s part of the ongoing discernment about what God is asking us to do in our marriage. It helps to talk about the frustration, too. Sometimes we make jokes and other times it’s serious and we offer each other a little pep talk.

Would you be open to talking to your husband about mutually trying to connect more on an emotional level and non-sexually in a physical manner? Even if he rejects it in frustration, there’s no reason you can’t still go ahead and try to improve the situation yourself. For us, we’ve tried to up the little ways we show each other our love for one another and it’s been kinda fun.

Anyway, I’ll keep you in my prayers but just know you aren’t the only one abstaining and trying to do the right thing for your family at great personal and mutual sacrifice. PM me if you need to!



I am so sorry you are having a difficult time. As a FCP, I am confused about a few things. First, why, if you were on yellow stamps, have you only had 5 days in 3 months? Second, are you asking your essential sameness question? Third, are you meeting with your practitioner every two weeks? Fourth, has she addressed the lubrication issue?

While YS’ing, you should have had instructions for end of day, every other day, so over 3 months, you should have had more than 5 days. Your practitioner is correct that you need to reevaluate, but you and she need to stay on top of everything together.

I can’t help more without seeing your charts. Please PM me if you have any further questions.



Dear Kelly,

We were in a similar situation - needing to abstain for most of my pregnancy, followed by very long periods of abstinence post-partum. My mucus readings were all over the place, due to breastfeeding, too!

There are a number of different methods of NFP. Each are beautiful because they don't artificially contracept the marital act (a non-medically necessary vasectomy is a form of contraception, so also unallowed in the Catholic faith), but each have different strengths and weaknesses. We found the Creighton method was not the best method for our circumstances, and changed to the Marquette method. Here's why:

  1. The Marquette method is a newer method (2002), while Creighton began in 1985. The Marquette method was designed at the request of German bishops who wanted a scientific method as reliable as the pill in avoiding pregnancy when the couple wished to avoid. So the researchers have used a variety of technologies, which means there are more tools available to the couple. Let me explain:

With the Creighton method, we were only able to use external observations (you know, flat tissue wiping). Internal observations (the cervix check) is not allowed in the Creighton method. However, I ran into a lot of NFP-practising women who said that the internal observations were very helpful in the post-partum breastfeeding stage, when external observations were all over the place. The Marquette allows internal observations as optional.

The Creighton method, using only external mucus observations, makes it difficult to determine the end of the peak phase, particularly if a breastfeeding woman continues to have seemingly peak type mucus observations, even after the ovulation (and peak mucus) has passed. The Marquette method uses basal body temperature monitors to help accurately detect peak mucus and its passing. (Also used in the sympto-thermal method.) This means that it's possible to determine when ovulation has passed, and thus any "dry" or "non-peak" days following the end of ovulation can be used without the whole "count of 3" rule. The count of 3 rule post-peak is one reason we were unable to come together as a couple for a long time post-partum. A mucus-y day every so often and BAM extended abstinence.

The Marquette method also has as an option, the use of the ClearBlue Fertility Monitor. This measures two different hormones (one from the pituitary gland and another from the ovaries) that indicate fertility. This is an extra layer of security. It's easy to use. The researchers have done their best to make this a convenient system. The charting is also much clearer than the Creighton method. The ClearBlue Fertility Monitor does cost (as do the test strips - it works by a urine test) - but you can get these much cheaper on ebay.

Finally, the Creighton method (at least in our area) required us to meet with our NFP instructor often. Due to our instructor's and our own work commitments, this meant in the evening. With a young family, this just wasn't reasonable any longer. We had to drive an our each way during our baby's bedtime, and he'd have a meltdown. There were only 4 Marquette classes, and scheduled at more convenient times. After that, we could keep in touch with our instructor by phone and email. Much more achievable.

The Marquette method is taught by the Boston Archdiocese. Do a google search and make some calls to find if it's available in your area. We have found it to be far superior for our circumstances than the Creighton method. I'm sure the Creighton method works well for some couples, but why not make sure you have the method most suited for your situation?

Marquette gives you more tools to accurately determine peak time/ovulation and then you're safer in having sex post-peak. It may allow you and your husband some days of intimacy you'd otherwise lose.

Marquette also allows internal observation (cervix checks) that will help better determine the start of peak time/ovulation. This is important when you are able to start having sex again. We had a close call one cycle when we were still on Creighton, because we were able to have pre-peak sex on dry days and I had a cycle where no peak mucus showed the whole time (except 2 days before my next period, which clearly wasn't ovulation time.) I religiously observed at every bathtime opportunity and before bed, but external observations simply didn't cut it.

Then I had another cycle where the same thing happened. No peak-type mucus! And we conceived, on a "dry" day. Beware of pre-peak sexual intercourse if you need to avoid pregnancy! If I'd had more to rely on than the external mucus observations (in Creighton) we had a better chance of avoiding.

Marquette's guidelines for pre-peak intercourse are, we found, safer than the Creighton approach. And the method's better ability to determine the end-of-peak time means that even if you abstain more in pre-peak (where the chance of a surprise conception is greater... pre-peak is the time where the few method-related failures [rather than user-related failures] occur) you should have more opportunities for intercourse post-peak.

Some of the rules are flat-out different. For example, Creighton does not allow intercourse during the period, but the Marquette method does. Of course, not every couple will wish to come together during a woman's bleeding, depending on their aesthetic preference, but it is a change to be aware of.

Good luck! I hope things improve. And I hope that your counselor encourages your husband to look into SPICE (or anything similar). It cannot replace sexual intimacy, but it does help endure the wait and strengthen your relationship, giving a sense of closeness.



Do you know if there is a list of Marquette Model teachers anywhere? I clicked around their website and couldn’t find one.


My experience with Creighton postpartum was also challenging. We also used yellow stickers but had a lot of anxiety so abstained more than we technically needed to. My first 2 postpartum cycles, 11 months postpartum, were also confusing (and back to white babies for the 1st one). My instructor told me to be patient. After those 2 months charting became totally clear and couldn’t be easier to interpret. Right now, we’re really, really happy with Creighton (and I’m still breastfeeding). But I’ve also thought about looking into Marquette for the next time we’re postpartum (God willing).

Best of luck.


[quote="Iowander, post:5, topic:53263"]

Do you know if there is a list of Marquette Model teachers anywhere? I clicked around their website and couldn't find one.


We didn't find a list either, so what we did was contact Mary Schneider at the Marquette University College of Nursing in WI. She's listed on the university contact page, with a phone number. Here is her email address: mary dot schneider at mu dot edu

She was able to refer us to the NFP instructor at the Boston Archdiocese. I hope she'd be able to refer you to Marquette instructors in your area.

Good luck!


This may be off topic, but I figure you guys might have some good knowledge about NFP my wife and I are currently researching NFP. One question I have is how long you have to go without having relations while learning. Do you have to go through a few cycles before you can have relations? Sorry if it's a dumb question, but I don't see the answer aynwhere.



It's not a dumb question at all. In fact, when we started NFP we didn't realize might have to abstain for a few cycles while starting out. In our case, we did. But our case was complicated by the difficulty with my cycle due to the hormone fluctuations of post-partum breastfeeding.

How the initial phase of abstinence is handled varies by method and by the couple's circumstances. In the Creighton method, a couple in more ideal circumstances are asked to abstain for the first cycle or two, to allow the woman practice in mucus observations, without the complicating factor of seminal fluid. The woman needs to become confident in making observations.

In the Marquette method, there are other tools supporting the use of external mucus observations, so the abstinence period may be shorter. Don't take this as gospel, because your circumstances may be different. There are different rules for women just coming off the hormonal pill, just had a baby etc.

If you're using the ClearBlue Fertility Monitor in the Marquette method, the first cycle you must assume that fertility begins on day 6. (Day 1 is the first day of the woman's period, so, you could have intercourse during the first 5 days of her period.) Then you would need to abstain until you could confidently determine the end of fertility by finding the last peak day on the cycle and counting 3 days from there. After that, you can resume sexual relations. You may not be able to confidently do this in the first cycle, but would pick it up quickly. Don't forget, this method is used in conjunction with mucus observations and perhaps the temperature monitoring too. If you are getting conflicting readings, you may need to consult with your instructor and abstain more to be careful. After 6 months of accumulated data, there are various rules of thumb that "loosen" the requirements a little. (Eg. if you are unable to determine the final peak day - say the monitor didn't catch the ovulatory hormone surge and instead read 20 days of high mucus, you can determine the end of fertility by taking the latest peak day in the previous 6 months and adding three to that.)

Basically, be prepared to abstain more in the first few months (perhaps even completely the first month or two, depending on your method), while you settle into your method of NFP. (Because of our circumstances, we had to abstain completely for 3 months and then were only able to have intercourse a couple of times a month for several months after that!) You'll be encouraged to find other ways of expressing closeness and affection. These are not sex replacements, of course, but they do enrich the relationship and help you through times of abstinence. As you settle into your NFP method, you'll still need to abstain periodically (obviously) but couples using NFP tend to have as much sex as couples not on NFP - it's just to a different pattern each cycle.

I'm writing from a woman's perspective, so I'll throw in some advice my husband's spoken to me about. He says the other forms of affection are important, and helpful, but it can still be frustrating to abstain, particularly in the beginning, when we're not practised in it. He recommends some way to expend energy and constructively expel frustration for guys... physical work or sports or something. :-)


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