How do you practice NFP when you are irregular?

hi everybody…my girlfriend and i have been discerning marriage and last night we brought up contraception. now we are both very catholic, come from catholic family’s and high schools and catholic colleges. we agree on most things but she believes in the use of condoms for married couples…(she does not believe in premarital sex) when the wife is so irregular. in other words, if my wife is so irregular in her cycle how do we practice natural family planning when we never know when she will get her period? my girlfriend only believes in the use of contraception for these reasons, and well…i’d like to find a way to talk her out of it…thanks so so much…

That’s the beauty of NFP; it doesn’t matter if your cycles are regular or irregular, as you are noting the signs of fertility during each particular cycle - not relying on past cycles (à la the old-fashioned “rhythm” method).

It’s very important that you contact a good NFP teacher (investigate the various methods first) and that your future fiancée becomes familiar with her own cycles and signs well in advance of the wedding date. There are also fertility monitors, ovulation test kits, etc., that didn’t exist in the past, all of which may help boost your - and her - confidence in the method, and which are all acceptable.

Bet wishes.

thats great news…i didnt know that NFP could be used if your wife is irregular…i’m going to try to look into it a bit more… but thanks for that update

Yup. Fertility signs are fertility signs, no matter when they occur. Your girlfriend will know when her period is coming once she learns the method. :slight_smile:


DH& I have been using NFP for 13 yrs. to avoid having a child because I have serious health issues. I have been perimenopausal for the last 2 yrs.and my cycles are all over the place.

I thought it would be difficult to chart but it’s not. I still can tell when I have fertile days (they are getting shorter) and infertile days (getting more of these).

We have an awesome NFP RN practitioner that I can talk to at any time if we have questions or concerns. Definitely look into NFP. It’s the best thing ever!!! :smiley:

God bless,

I would also like to encourage you in this. NFP is, for many women w/irregular cycles, a literal God-send when it comes to trying to conceive. If you use NFP on a regular basis, you’ll both be more in tune with her cycles and when you decide to start your family, you may find that to be very helpful in achieving that goal.

Just as an FYI, barrier methods are not acceptable for any reason according to Church teaching – regardless of the woman’s cycle regularity or irregularity.

From Humanae Vitae, Part II: Doctrinal Principles, number 14, titled Illicit Ways of Regulating Birth:

"Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible. "

The part in bold was my own emphasis because that refers to the use of anything prior to the conjugal act which I believe would include condoms or other prophylactics. Humanae Vitae also addresses NFP (without using that term as it was written in 1968 and I believe NFP is a more recent term) by talking about taking advantage of naturally infecund or infertile times to space births or avoid conception for grave reasons.

Now, I’ll quit rambling. Hope this helps! God bless you and your future fiancee!

This basically says your girlfriend (and you) don’t know anything about NFP. Natural Family Planning teaches you how to observe your fertile signs each day. You know when you are fertile or not because you observe the signs. It doesn’t matter how “regular” or “irregular” a person is because observation is ongoing. Really, what is irregular anyway? Doctors define a normal menstrual cycle as between 25 and 35 days. Each person is unique. NFP doesn’t rely on any averages, it is all your data.

Then she doesn’t really understand contraception either. It’s intrinsically disordered, meaning by its very nature.

True, but there are truly women who are irregular, and don’t follow the rules of “normal” or “regular” or whatever one wishes to call it; women who spot in the middle of a cycle, women who don’t truly cycle, etc. and women who don’t manifest the “normal” signs of ovulation.

So while NFP is the only acceptable form of family planning, it’s not a panacea and we have to be diligent in not presenting it as such (not that you are doing so, 1ke).

There are different levels of irregularity. NFP teaches you to read certain signs that are common in most women- most being the key word. There are some people out there who simply can not use NFP.

I’m not sure I understand what you mean about different levels of irregularity. Would you please clarify your meaning and give some specific examples?

Which type of NFP have you and your husband been using?

thanks again yall, i really like the advice and encouragement from most everyone…1ke i like that youre at least honest with me but i think you might be alittle quick to judge…i guess now my question is really, how do i convince her that this is the right way to go, the right way to think, and yes, i know that condoms are intrinsically wrong…but how do i say all of these things in a loving caring way, so as not to look like i am forcing all of this on her?

None of those things you list are an impediment to using NFP.

NFP is the name for a group of methods that allow the woman to know when she is fertile, without having to look at the calendar. For example, the Billings Method of NFP teaches her the signs to look for in her cervix. When she is not fertile, there will be nothing coming from her cervix; when she is getting close to becoming fertile, it will be thin and runny, and when she is fertile, it will be thick, like mucous. The Serena method involves taking her temperature, and noticing that when her temperature goes up by one degree, she is likely to be fertile. A combination of methods (both Billings and Serena, for example) would give her two signs to watch for, which would ensure greater accuracy.

Of course, both methods require that she communicate with her husband and let him know what the signs are telling her, so that they can make an informed decision together, whether they want to get pregnant that night, or not.

Maybe you can just get her to choose and learn a method as an experiment, and let the method itself convince her. You said she supported the use of condoms when the wife is irregular. Once she learns that irregularity is not necessarily a real obstacle, she may conclude on her own that she doesn’t need condoms. That’s way better than your trying to convince her by lecturing or persuasion or whatever other method you might choose. And of course, you pray for her.


You are correct. They may be roadblocks, however, to the successful use of NFP.

Try using two methods at the same time, for checks and balances - and to double-check that you’re using the first one correctly.

go here for a good list of NFP teachers and doctors in your area. Most women with irregular cycles will be able to use NFP successfully but you never know until you give it a try. :slight_smile: Good luck and welcome to NFP club.

You might start with the pragmatic reasons to use NFP.

For example, she might appreciate being able to tell 14 to 16 days ahead of time when her cycle is coming, if she has irregular cycles (more on this further down). This was a huge benefit of NFP for me, even before we married. I will teach my daughters NFP solely for this purpose as soon as they reach puberty, so that they don’t have to get surprised by irregular cycles for years, like I did.

There are also health benefits to knowing more about her body. Lots of the women I know who use NFP have used it to help them diagnose a health condition.

Finally, NFP is highly effective when learned and used properly. Much better than condoms. Women who cannot use any form of NFP are pretty rare.

If her fears about NFP are soothed and she can see its usefulness, she might be less defensive and more open to hearing about the theological reasons to use NFP.

I think that encouraging her to try a method before you get married is a very wise idea. At the very least, encourage her to start taking temperatures when she wakes up (at the same time each morning). Most women will see a clear one-degree shift in their temperature for the last half of their cycle. You should definitely take an NFP class together before you get married to learn all the details, but the temperature shift is fairly easy to record and see, and she can benefit within a couple of months by knowing when her period is coming. The luteal phase, the period of time between ovulation and menstration, is consistently the same number of days for most healthy women . . . so once she knows how long her luteal phase is (usually 14 to 16 days, if I recall), which she’ll know after one full cycle, she can watch for ovulation - then count forward the right number of days to figure out when she will start menstrating once she sees it. That might be enough to convince her that she wants to understand NFP better, and you can schedule a class that teaches a method that uses thermal signs. The Sympto-Thermal Method (STM), taught by the Couple to Couple League, is probably the most common choice.

Also, Christopher West is a speaker about the Theology of the Body. Most people find that he gives very accessible explanations about the writings of Pope John Paul the II and the Catholic church’s teachings on sexuality and contraception. You might want to take a look at his book, “The Good News About Sex and Marriage” to get ideas on how to discuss the topic with your girlfriend - or even better, ask her to read it or read it together.

My cycles are wildly irregular ranging from 36 days to six months. So I never know how long any given cycle will be. But we are able to use NFP successfully.

But for me, “successful” is defined as “I know when I’ve ovulated and when I haven’t”. Thanks to NFP, I know that some of my cycles were not really cycles at all. I’d have spontaneous bleeding but have not ovulated. If I were on the pill, I never would have known this was going on.

If NFP “isn’t working”, more than anything else, it’s probably because I have a health concern that should be addressed. If you are getting frustrated because you’re not able to see where ovulation may have occurred…there is a very real possibility that it’s simply because she/you are not ovulating.

Because of NFP, I have greater awareness of what’s going on with my body. I can tell my gyno in greater detail how my cycles are and not just how many days they are. The time between menstruation and ovulation is sooooooooo LONG for me. But time between ovulation and menstruation is totally normal. It took a lot of the guesswork out of trying to pinpoint the source of my irregularity, which turned out to be PCOS.

It can be hard…but DH and I are in this boat together. I’ve benefited so much from NFP from a health standpoint alone, I wish I learned all of this when I was much younger…

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