Interest in natural family planning growing


In the last 50 years, the available options for family planning have expanded, but, recently, one of the oldest forms of conception, natural family planning, has begun to regain momentum.

“It’s for people who are looking for something other than the birth control pill to help them plan their families,” says Brooke Gonzalez, executive director of the FertilityCare Center of Kansas City. “It’s such a natural method of achieving or avoiding pregnancy with no side effects or introducing anything else into the body.”

Natural family planning, defined by the World Health Organization as “methods of planning or preventing pregnancy based on the observation of naturally occurring signs of fertile and infertile phases of the menstrual cycle,” has historically been associated with the Catholic church, but mainstream interest has been growing in recent years, Gonzalez says.


It’s 100% green. No hormones ejected into the environment, no tampering with the organs. Cheap, too. While contraception is meant to avoid pregnancy, NFP can be used to avoid and *achieve *pregnancy, too. It’s simply knowledge.


I’d always thought that NFP would be much more popular now, if it had originally been promoted not by the Catholic Church, but from a feminist perspective of controlling one’s own body and reproduction, and not relying on chemicals, physicians (who are still mostly male, though this is changing rapidly in certain countries), etc…many women, even “pro-choice” women, would be lapping it up. I can see NFP appealing to many women who do see their reproductive choices as their own, who are suspicious of OB-GYNs and “medicalized birth”, want their own “birth plan”, question the need for vaccinations for babies, etc.

Optimally, though, in order to market NFP to the “granola mommy” crowd, we’d probably need to come upon (or just make up, yes I know don’t ends justify the means for Catholics but many secular people don’t agree) some traditional matriarchal society, evidence of it suppressed by those misogynist male anthropologists, where NFP use is the norm.

Indeed, I have heard Catholics claim that the Catholic Church does have programs to teach women NFP in the “developing world” as a means towards the ends of not just responsible family planning, but female empowerment, the idea that women are not just sexual objects to be used at will by men with no regard for their dignity, health, etc.


The only problem I have with teaching NFP is that it needs to be taught to both men and women as it requires men being willing to let the woman say No, this is not a good time. Unless the men buy into that, it doesn’t work.

This is coming from someone who used NFP in the 80’s. If my husband hadn’t been willing to follow the program, it wouldn’t have worked.


I know a lot of women who use the rythm method–including atheists and those who are pro-choice and those whom you would consider “feminists”…because they don’t like to put hormones into their bodies.

No need to make up another society.



Exactly, this is nothing new.
Natural FP is even used by many environmentalists who are very conscious about what happens to the sterols and steroid-like derivatives that enter lakes, oceans etc. as a result of these hormones from pills.


I can’t help thinking that if it wasn’t associated with Catholic wives (and so therefore, according to a particular narrative ‘backward and un-feminist’ (of course it’s neither in reality), it would be one of the most popular means of spacing births already.

Of course for those who are already blessed with a child, breastfeeding can to an extent be another natural contraceptive even if it’s not wholly reliable - and one definitely shouldn’t continue it just for that end.

Also while it’s only hearsay evidence a few of my (organic-kale-sweater-weaing!) married friends have switched to natural methods for all the sorts of reasons already cited in the thread - so can testify to the article also being true in Britain. Even were artificial contraception fully endorsed by the Church (for the record, I do not think it should be even if it were possible to change this doctrine) - I would not particularly want to fill my body with more hormones/etc than it already is.


I can’t help thinking that if it wasn’t associated with Catholic wives (and so therefore, according to a particular narrative ‘backward and unfeminist’ (of course it’s neither in reality), it would be one of the most popular means of spacing births already.

Even if artificial contraception fully endorsed by the Church (I do not think it should be) - I would not particularly want to fill my body with more hormones/etc than it already is!


I’ve long felt very conflicted about NFP because while Church has said it is perfectly fine, I feel (and this is very much not a judgement on anyone, I want to stress!), it has always been a little bit of a cop-out.

Of course the Church cannot endorse artificial contraception, quite rightly, for a host of reasons with which I’m sure we are all familiar - one reason being that the ‘contraceptive mentality’ fundamentally changes our views of sex and family life (leading to all sorts of potential problems, as well as temptations to sin, etc, etc).

I am all for women (and men) having a good knowledge of their bodies’ inner workings, especially I think within a marriage, but surely NFP inherently implies the same sort of mentality, though maybe to a smaller degree, as any kind of sinful means of family planning? It seems technically ‘open to life’ but the great hope of only being intimate at certain times is that the possibility is as tiny as can be managed.

I do not want to go into personal details (and I’m sure you’d not want that either :stuck_out_tongue: ) but my DH and I both feel that if we as a couple are not entirely open to the possibility then we should abstain. Otherwise it sort of feels that for us we are flouting the ‘spirit of the law’ if not its letter. It doesn’t mean marital intimacy should only be procreative at all of course! - but deliberately timing things so that it is almost certainly not is kind of skirting the edges of things - in our view anyway. It is our decision to be open to the possibility, or not, and God’s as to whether it is fruitful.

I’m not condemning any couple who practices NFP whatsoever - it’s definitely in every conceivable way (pardon the pun!) a better alternative to artificial BC - and each couple has to make their own decisions about what is possible and advisable. The news in the OP should be celebrated in my view. There’s nothing wrong with it at all - just giving another slightly different perspective.


Sadly I think that the Church actively promotes NFP as a way of keeping couples who might otherwise use contraception ‘in the fold’. But whilst mutually agreed abstinence whether periodic or long term cannot be regarded in itself as a sin, carefully (increasingly scientifically ) planned periodic abstinence, designed solely with the expressed intention of allowing the couple to have sex, with minimal chance of conception must surely be sinful.

If there are solid medical or other personal reasons to delay or prevent conception then surely the first and best option is simply abstinence. IF however this might result in a greater evil (divorce, adulterous behaviour, masturbation etc) then the Church permits a couple to use NFP. But it is still a second choice after abstinence and it is not a lifestyle choice.

NFP is not, for example, supposed to be available to allow a healthy, couple, well able to support their kids, marry but to ‘have a few years together before kid’. It is not a substitute or exclusion to the vow we make when we marry to welcome children and it is not a convenient way of adhering to the “we’re done” mentality.


Well said - as a couple we would wholeheartedly agree with you, but I’m afraid it is not a view which will be popular here.


As a way of spacing kids out a little bit - intending to be fruitful but just to give the parents (especially the wife on whom it takes the biggest physical toll!) a proper break - it seems acceptable to me. In any case anything is better than a tacit (or less than tacit) encouragement of contraception.


As long as in ‘spacing’ there is no actual intention to prevent, the couple remain totally open to and accepting of God’s gift. But why not just wait before resuming intimate contact ?


I certainly hope that you tell your friends that the “rhythm-method” is decidedly UNRELIABLE.

Better to use NFP.


This is a very good post. :thumbsup:

NFP is perfectly licit when used for important (“grave”) reasons; what those reasons are depend, of course, on an individual couple and their particular situation. However, if openness to life is denied for less-than-important reasons, then NFP (like everything else in life) is open to abuse.

The first approval of NFP (in a response of the Sacred Penitentiary, during the Papacy of Bl. Pope Pius IX) was "to avoid the detestable crime of ‘onanism’ (= coitus interruptus, and by extension ABC). This teaching was never contradicted by all subsequent Popes, who, however, have also affirmed the importance of openness to life and the prime importance of offspring as a good of marriage (as exemplified in Pope Pius XI’s excellent enyclical ‘On Christian Marriage’ - somebody make him a Saint, soon! :))

Because of a somewhat unfortunate phrase in Bl. Paul VI’s “Populorum Progressio” (the “conscience clause”), NFP has sometimes been used for less than honourable means, drawing stern responses from those who remember the earlier teaching. But it was never meant to be used that way. :slight_smile:


We are very interested but there aren’t any classes in the area that fit our schedule. I’m guessing we’ll have to do a self study which is disappointing.


That’s some really interesting background - thank you :thumbsup:

I’m not looking to be ‘proved right’, and apart from anything else no one else is in a position prudently to judge the needs and demands of the particular situation of every other couple, so as I said before no judgement whatsoever is intended or made

I think there is something in a modern interpretation of the (as you point out, unchanging) teaching, which does not entirely square with what what has actually been said or intended, though.

That’s a great shame :frowning:

I think regardless of whether or not it is a method a couple chooses to use - it can certainly be very important and informative in either event. It’s something that probably benefits from being class-based or at least with instruction: I hope there might be a class in the new future in your area that is at a helpful time! I’m quite sure it’s very possible to learn well ‘on your own’ (or as a couple, rather), though :slight_smile: Good luck!


I think that the $$$ generated by ABC has been overlooked. NFP does not make certain people rich. $$$ is one of the forces driving it and not what is best for anyone.

I remember the pill in the 60’s and it was marketed as being safe. Yet I read where all the women using that pill had contracted cancer later. $$$ speaks loud and clear and not truth.


I was once advised, in preparation for a 4-day camping trip with school friends, that the best thing with which to keep matches dry was a condom. (Presumably the teacher who ran the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition had never heard of zip-loc plastic bags…).

If we could find such practical uses for all the various forms of ABC, then everybody wins - sin is not countenanced, and no one who works for Bayer, Pfizer, GSK, Durex, etc, is going to be out of a job either. Smiles all around. :cool:



I understand, I understand … the Easter bunny is alive and well. :thumbsup:

I heard that on April Fools’s day the makers of condums stick a pin in all of them. :smiley:

And of course the maker’s of the pills, our of their good hearts, just make all those pills and set them on the self just in case someone might want one. :wink:

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