Need help with NFP

For a variety of reasons, I went off the hormonal birth control pill about 3 months ago. I was on it for about 2.5-3 years with no breaks.

Finding a NFP method for us is turning out to be really difficult! We are waiting to have children right now because I wouldn’t be able to handle a pregnancy at this moment in time (financially, already overloaded with stress and little sleep, etc). I have found that temping has not worked for us these past months because I have an extremely erratic and hectic schedule. I work nights and also go to college full time and commute a bit of a distance to do all of these things. This means often there are times where I will go 48-72 hours with only a couple of hours of sleep and then after that I will get a 7 hour period of sleep, and then go without sleep for a long time again, etc. I actually feel fine most of the time with that schedule (I am fairly young still). So, even though I gave temping a try, it hasn’t worked for us because of my irregular schedule. The temps where all over with no consistent pattern!

I also have been trying to observe my CM, but there isn’t much of it so I find myself questioning what I am seeing.

Any suggestions on an easy NFP method to use for those with very erratic schedules? With the sleep deprivation - it needs to be easy! I like the idea of using some kind of technology to help me along as I am very tech-oriented. I read about the Marquette method which uses a fertility monitor and I have also read about lady-comp (though, I’m not sure that would be any more useful since it is still based on temping). But, I haven’t made the several hundred dollar investment yet because I am not sure if I would be able to use the methods with my chaotic schedule and the impact that has on my body.

Let me know what NFP method you think might work! I really really do not want to go back on birth control pills! Among the many problems associated with them, they made my have the worst psychiatric issues. Never struggled with anxiety and depression until I was on them (and I tried many different brands - all had the effect on me). Never again!

Google the Billings method. I believe it doesn’t use temps at all.

I really like the ladycomp machine, but don’t think that is a good option because, again, it would rely on temping.

What is the difference between Billings and Creighton? Based on what I read, they both rely only on cervical fluid observations and don’t use temping.

Does anyone know if an erratic, crazy, hectic schedule like mine can affect cervical fluid? Could it also affect the hormones in urine so the Marquette method wouldn’t work?

Each method has pros and cons, just not sure which is best for us yet! I just know temping hasn’t worked out so far …

Hi Gratitude,

I really believe that there is an NFP method for everyone who needs one, so I hope you’ll keep searching until you find one that works for you. With that in mind, a couple of thoughts:

Erratic sleep schedules can affect temps, which you’ve already realized. But some women have success measuring basal body temperature vaginally instead of orally, which seems to eliminate some of the variation that comes from eating at different times. Even if you only get four hours of sleep a night, are they the same four hours? That is, if you always sleep from 12-4, and sometimes you sleep from 12-7, you could consider always temping at 4 and just waking very briefly on the days when you get to sleep in to temp. Most digital thermometers can save your temp so you don’t have to record right away. You might try it for a few weeks to see if it could work for you.

Stress can affect ovulation, but it shouldn’t affect quality or observation of cervical secretions beyond that. That is, if you’re not ovulating, you won’t see the telltale egg white secretions, but if you are, they should be there. Certain medications can affect cervical secretions (for example, cold medications that eliminate nasal mucus can also dry up cervical mucus) and breastfeeding can suppress estrogen but if you’re not taking meds or nursing a baby, your body should produce signs and symptoms determining fertility.

Mucus-only methods (like Creighton, Billings, etc) are very easy, but I would recommend you take a class from a trained teacher because it can be confusing to try to decipher the rules and observations without any direction.

How regular are your cycles? Are they consistently between 26 and 32 days? If so, you could also consider the Standard Days Method, in which users simply abstain from intercourse between days 8-19 and use cyclebeads to track their progress. A lot of NFP proponents get upset when this method is suggested because it is not symptom based and so won’t work for women with irregular cycle lengths and so people worry that it’s not as effective. It actually is. Georgetown University has many published efficacy studies proving a 95% efficacy rate for women who, prior to starting the method, can say that their cycles are regular and come about once a month. An option to consider.

Marquette has a great website that has a lot of information about their method. At one point you could download the entire how-to booklet that describes the method in great depth (my internet connection is slow so I can’t check for you now, but you might try googling it). It uses a clearblue fertility monitor and if you decide to go that way, you can buy a monitor much cheaper on ebay. With Marquette, I recommend you find a teacher or take a class before starting; the method is very effective when you’ve had instruction in it.

Good luck!

By itself this May not help, but together with observing your cervical fluid it might help. It’s called ferning. You purchase a specially made handheld microscope (it’s less than $20 I believe) and every morning you put a drop of your saliva on the glass. Wait for it to dry ( a couple of min). The closer a woman gets to her fertile time, you begin to see a fern pattern. When you are not fertile there’s no fern. It’s actually very fascinating. Another of Gods intricate designs in regards to the female body! Google it.

I usually do not give NFP advice but we were exactly like you and the hormonal ABC can really do a number on your cycles and make it hard when your cycles return.

I cannot say enough about ladycomp. It is expensive and conservative at the beginning but it is accurate. I think a refurbished one is 500 but you get what you pay for. The watch, and the fern microscope we used as well but we used all of this in combination with both the lady comp and NFP.

The down side to ladycomp is the idea that a computer tells you if you are going to be intimate with your spouse that day.:shrug:

@nodito: Thank you so much for the info! To answer a few of your questions:

  • I don’t always get 4 hours of sleep a night and I sleep whenever I can. For example, last week I worked a 12 hour shift Saturday night, slept from 9am-11am (2 hours sleep), volunteered from noon to 6pm, then worked 7pm-7:30am that night, went to school to take a test, went home, slept 11am-3pm (4 hours sleep), got up to study and worked again that night, slept from 9am-1pm (4 hours), went to school for a meeting and studied afterwards, I think I tried to sleep 2am-5am that night, got up by 5am to drive to my clinical which is all day long … this crazy pattern continues ….
  • The only medicine I take is levothyroxine (synthroid) for hypothyroidism. This last cycle, I definitely noticed more cervical fluid than the cycle before that, but I wasn’t sure if I ever truly saw egg white.
  • I definitely have a high stress lifestyle, so maybe that is affecting things. Not breatfeeding, I don’t have any children yet.
  • If I decide on Billings or Creighton, I am worried that I wouldn’t be able to meet a teacher. I live in a small, rural town and according to the website the nearest teacher would be over an hour away. I saw that Creighton did distance teaching through Skype, has anyone had success with that?
  • My cycles have been a little irregular since coming off the pill, but I think they will get more regular as time goes on. For example, my first cycle was 34 days long, my second was 30 days, and I am on my third cycle right now. If I observed my cervical fluis signs correctly this month, I would have ovulated right on day 14. Before starting the pill, my cycles were consistently 28-29 days long. So, I think with a little more time they will regulate out.
  • I saw something about cyclebeads before, but I think I would want something more symptom based and more reliable, especially since stress may be affecting my cycles.

@Hoosier Daddy

  • Did you use the ladycomp with an erratic schedule? Do you have to temp at the same time every day?

There is a product that is supposed to be coming out next month called the TempDrop that is a thermometer you strap to your arm before bed, and it sends your lowest temperature while sleeping to an app and tracks for you. It requires much shorter periods of steady sleep than regular temping would, and delivers the data to the app for you. I’m on the waiting list.

Your temp should be in the morning, but the comp is not too strict on that. It might be a little conservative though, which you will probably want. The comp was by far the easiest and most reliable thing for us. As you use it you can also learn some fertility signs. It just takes away that risk of not getting it right.

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