NFP after ten years


My wife and I are celebrating our tenth anniversary next week. We learned about NFP when we were engaged (CCL method), and have used it exclusively. Due to the nature of NFP, we have been more open to life, sometimes even spontaneously, starting a month after our wedding when we got pregnant. Despite the difficulties (C-section birth, etc.), our second child came the next year. We waited a couple years, then had our third. He had trouble breathing (now diagnosed as asthma), and my wife’s body was starting to get stressed out (pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes). But, we were still open to life, and although we considered adoption, she gave birth to our fourth healthy child in the 7th year of marriage.

Soon after that, my wife was diagnosed with chronic high blood pressure, diabetes and depression, and we are now in our 30’s. Whether or not those risk factors prevent us from having more children, it’s clearly time to be prudent, careful, and responsible. Still, due to our openness to life and the nature of NFP, we conceived again three times in the last three years. Each time ended in miscarriage. We are completely devastated, especially last year when she delivered our son Noah at 17 weeks; we had a funeral and everything.

Since this has happened three times in a row, it seems clear to both of us and our doctor that we are not meant to get pregnant again right now, as there is a high likelyhood that it could happen again. The question is what do we do to prevent another tragedy. Our last pregnancy probably should not have happened according to the NFP chart, and we do not really trust ourselves or that method anymore when the consequences are so grave. Of course we would never use artificial means to stop a new baby from entering the world… but since the babies are not entering the world anyway… it seems artificial means might be appropriate to stop another miscarriage. None of our parents are Catholic, and her parents especially would like to see her get a tubal ligation for her own safety (emotional and physical).

We have not yet talked to a priest, but I thought I would post here “anonymously” to see what you thought. The latest miscarriage was a month ago… her fertility should be returning any time now, so we need to make a decision soon about what to do.


I don’t know what the CCL method is supposed to be.

The Creighton method is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when used exactly as instructed.

The Creighton method is also used to diagnose hormonal imbalances and other gynecological problems long before there are enough clear symptoms for a woman to bring to a doctor.

Creighton, in my opinion, is an incredible health tool that all teenage girls should learn how to use to be empowered to know what’s going on in their bodies long before they ever get married. If you have never used that method before, I would encourage you to look into it.


My sympathies on the loss of your children through miscarriage. I’ve had two and I realize that it is not easy to loose unborn children. Yet those babies had eternal souls. While the Church teachings on what happens to babies who die without the benefit of baptism says little except that" we trust them to the mercy of God", I personally believe my miscarried babies are in heaven with God. One of the roles of Catholic parents is to help get our children to heaven.

As tragic as miscarriages are–and I do not take such things lightly–I believe it would be far more tragic for a devout Catholic couple who has lived within Church teachings for ten years to give up at this point and turn to artificial means of preventing pregnancy. While I completely sympathize with what you are going through, I pray you persevere with following the Church teachings on sex and marriage to the natural end of your wife’s fertility. Prayers for you both.


CCL = Couple to Couple League (

I have no doubt that the method is effective when used exactly as directed. It is ourselves that we don’t trust. My wife’s cycles are such that we often have to abstain for 2-3 weeks or more. Right now (1 month post-miscarriage) the most conservative rules would say to abstain until the next cycle (could be months away). This would clearly require a level of self-control that we have not demonstrated in the past.


I understand what you are saying. Do you have a pro-life doctor you are working with? If not you might want your doctor (note OB/GYN) to consult with the doctors at the Pope Paul VI institute. Dr. Hilgers uses the Creighton method which to my understanding is a lot like one of the symptoms used in the CCL’s sympto-thermal method.

One of the biggest differences as I see it is you have a paid couple you work with to whom you can consult on your charts.

We no longer chart although it is the sympto-thermal method my husband and I learned 30+ years ago. When we did chart we found the thermal shift the best indicator for us and then I started into peri-menopause and my temperatures started to be all over the chart!

My prayers for you and your wife as you seek the right NFP method for you two to use for avoiding right now.

I am going to repeat, get a consultation with the Pope Paul VI institute.

Brenda V.


The Creighton method, I am sure, would be enormously beneficial to your wife given her recent miscarriages and health problems because of the information it could provide Dr. Hilgers on how her reproductive system is functioning. You are correct, it does require abstinence. The first month of the Creighton method requires complete abstinence.

When you are using the system, you abstain during days of peak mucus and three days post peak, so for most women at least one week of the menstrual cycle requires abstinence.

Creighton sees abstinence as an integral part of the marriage bond that brings the couple closer together, because it requires you to develop non-sexual ways to share intimacy, and builds in a measure of communication, discipline and sacrifice into the marriage that positively effects all areas of your life.

I don’t know anybody who cannot abstain for a month or so if they simply make the choice to do it. It’s like anything else- going on a diet, quitting smoking- you just have to make the choice to over-ride your physical desire.


NFP isn’t the problem, it’s you and your wife getting “friskie” with eachother :smiley: I bet if you guys followed NFP properly, you would find that NFP works very well. :rolleyes:

All joking aside, yes it’s hard to abstain, but occassional abstinence is a good thing. Think of all the singles out there who are celibate (chaste) and are not engaged in sex at all. :eek: When my husband and I are abstaining, I concentrate on what the abstinence is doing to me as a person. It is bringing me closer to God b/c I pray more during abstinence to help me achieve it. It is teaching me to be disciplined. It gives me strength to say no to my husband during risky times without being cold or insensitive to his needs. I value my marriage more as I see it as a sacrament instead of a piece of paper. NFP even helped me overcome self “gratification” :blush:

It has brought us closer together in our marriage and I don’t understand why NFP doesn’t work for so many couples, but alas, everyone is unique.

I would look more at the two of you before God and ask yourselves why NFP isn’t working for you both. Ask God to help you both be strong during times of abstinence. In my humble opinion, people who cannot practice abstinence are in a way a little weak and immature (in that area) and they need to buckle up and be tough (no punn intended) :stuck_out_tongue:

Don’t let yourselves be weak and resort to ABC…you will feel disconnected from God. Let God remain a strong presence in your marriage.

Now you can help me with NFP postpartum…I am already freakin’ out and thinking HOLY ****!!! :smiley: I hope I can practice what I preach … :rolleyes:


Praying for you and your wife. I’ll send you a PM with some suggestions too.



My husband and I use the Billings Method, but with a little twist. I know that after a woman ovulates she is no longer fertile and can have sex without getting pregnant. I also know from experience that the lead in period into the fertile period as presented in the Billings method can be tricky. Sperm can live for a few days so even if the fertile cycle is not fully developed, there is a chance for pregnancy.

We avoid sex for a few days prior to our expected fertile period, and if there are any unusual situations (longer running period or variation in my menstrual cycle) then we avoid sex at the beginning of the cycle and wait until after I know that I have ovulated. The Billings Method helps with that very well.

My husband and I have been blessed with excellent fertility, and it is unfortunate that we did not meet sooner or we would have had a lot more children. My first child was born about 9.5 months after we got married, born just shy of my thirtieth birthday. I have since had four successful births and one miscarriage. Unfortunately, there have been difficulties with age - my first child nearly killed us both (due to larger size and a breach) (my fourth child and only daughter also arrived with an emergency C-section and nearly died from complications within a few months after that).

We have been open to life, but have used NFP to space our children and did not go for providentialism. There is nothing wrong with providentialism, but it takes greater faith than I have at the moment. We have tried to be responsible for the children we have, and have been very pleased with our occassional “surprises” - please understand that while I call them surprises, we knew we were taking chances, just not “trying”.

If children are too risky, and having lost three in a row and the additional health problems, I can see that this is a serious matter, then avoiding sex during the lead in period should solve that problem. This still allows for a sex life on a regular basis.

And taking care of the mother’s health is important.

I have been fortunate in that my own troubles have been primarily connected to the pregancy or actual birth - I have been borderline gestational diabetic, entirely controled by diet; and deliveries have on occassion been horrendous - 76 hours labour the first time out and having pain management systems fail and going into shock, nearly caused us to not have any more children. And one bout of baby-blues when my second child had a hard to diagnose case of lactose intolerance - no more than a few hours sleep each day for months while he screamed at every feeding. My forth had problems gaining weight and was loosing to the point where we had to supplement temporarily, but eventually all went well. But all this is nothing compared to what the subject mother has been through.

Sometimes, I think that it becomes more important to look after the children that are here, than to seek to have more children and risk leaving them without a mother. Most of us are not in that position yet - I may yet have more children although it would be risky, but the risks are not at the level experienced by some.


NFP isn’t the problem, it’s you and your wife getting “friskie” with eachother :smiley: I bet if you guys followed NFP properly, you would find that NFP works very well. :rolleyes:

As the wife of “NFP After ten years” I feel compelled to have my two cents worth. Your words offend me. That’s great that NFP has worked so well for you & your husband but you are correct when you say “everyone is unique.” Not everyone is able to use it for a variety of reasons. It’s not your place to judge those who have trouble with it.

In my humble opinion, people who cannot practice abstinence are in a way a little weak and immature (in that area) and they need to buckle up and be tough (no punn intended) :stuck_out_tongue:

While my husband and I are very aware of our weaknesses and downfalls, those are between us & God. He and only He has the right to say whether or not a person is weak or immature. The joking manner in your reply tells me that you have absolutely no idea where we are coming from, how it feels to deliver & bury a baby who just the week before you felt move in your womb. Not just one baby but TWO. Our first loss I was only a few weeks and my body took care of things on their own. You have no idea the mental, physical & emotional toll this has taken not only on my husband & I but on our 4 children as well. My 5 year old and 3 year old STILL talk about Baby Noah and Baby “Bean” as if they were still in my belly. My older two don’t talk about it at all.

We are devout Catholic Christians who love our God with all our hearts. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have the right to get angry, to question and to doubt. I am absolutely terrified to use ANY “method” because if I do “accidentally” get pregnant again I don’t know what is going to happen to my frame of mind. I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of a cliff and all it will take is for one small jab to push me over the edge. No, I do not believe in contraception and no I do not believe in couples purposely preventing life from entering their family. I feel as though I have no choice but to look at ALL my options. Whether or not anyone agrees or disagrees with me, they can keep it to themselves. I am open to hearing about other couples’ experiences but not their judgments.


I deeply apologize for having offended you. You have been through pain that I cannot understand. My humor was not intended to offend, but it did and I apoologize and am deeply sorry for your losses also.


Abraham, maybe after some time has past you can come back and read Serap’s post again. I had the impression her light-heartedness was intended to encourage you with her own experience and struggles, not discourage you.

What you are dealing with must be gut-wrenching indeed, and I appreciate you have at least tried to follow God’s intention to be open to life. This is obviously a cross for you.


Thank you everyone for sharing your personal experiences. It was my wife who posted the message earlier this afternoon, and you can see how strong her emotions are. Gardenswithkids, you really convinced me with your statement “I believe it would be far more tragic for a devout Catholic couple who has lived within Church teachings for ten years to give up at this point”. Serap, I appreciate what you’re saying, especially your honesty about your own experience, and I have to admit that you’re right. I do believe that truly practicing abstinence more seriously than we have in the past would make our marriage stronger. My wife said “I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of a cliff and all it will take is for one small jab to push me over the edge.” That is not your fault or my fault, that’s just the position she is in. It’s going to take all the communication skills we learned from Marriage Encounter plus all the prayer & fasting I can handle to guide us toward the right decision without pushing her off that cliff.


I felt sincerely terrible when I read your wife’s post. I think one of the hardest things a woman/mother could ever go through is losing a baby in the womb that she has bonded with and felt him/her kick and move around. I am 6 months pregnant and if I lost my son now, I would be absolutely DEVESTATED!!! I would be angry with God and deeply anguished with sadness. I can only imagine how your wife feels. She had every right to be hurt because her feelings are real and she is going through pain that is very real. How can someone like me truly understand? I have not endured that kind of suffering.

I admire you both for your tenacity and courage to please God. Life is a lot of suffering and you two have had your share two fold. I pray that the both of you can embrace this cross with suffering and walk with Jesus…that the two of you can muster the courage to continue with NFP and to find the strength to abstain during those risky times in your wife’s cylce.

I felt your wife’s pain in her post…it really came across and to be honest with you (maybe it’s my harmones) it brought tears to my eyes. I just hope she overcomes her sadness soon. God bless…


I would suggest going to a doctor who knows about such things and getting him or her to help. My wife and I were having similar problems with NFP: we were being very conservative with the rules and NFP was still not working. We went to different NFP gurus, and as much as they wanted to help they just didn’t have the medical expertise. Even more annoying, a lot of people just gave little obnoxious smiles and suggested that if we would just follow the rules like we were supposed to there wouldn’t be any problem. Anyway, come to find out my wife had an undiagnosed medical problem that made using NFP impossible. Just sayin, maybe it isn’t you.


ohh,but i still feel some confused



I get confused about the difference between L, W, and S, too.


Dear Abraham and wife,

I am so sorry for your losses. We recently lost our son William at 15 weeks in the womb. Nobody prepares you for even the physical part of such a late miscarriage (I didn’t know you actually went through labor!), not to mention the emotional distress. I really don’t want to go through that again, so I went to see my doctor about running some tests, as such late miscarriages are not very common. They’re testing for a group of blood clotting disorders called Thrombophilias. I don’t know what your situation is, but maybe this would be something to check out. Thrombophilias are one cause of the placenta detaching, which is what happened with William.

I don’t know if this info will be useful to you, but just in case you don’t know, CCL offers a new postpartum return of fertility class. If there is no teaching couple in your area, you can order the book from CCL.


I second the Pope Paul VI consultation. They’re very equipt and willing to work with you from a distance. It is absolutely amazing what they can see just from a few months of charting. They are far from being just an infertility clinic. They are absolutely dedicated to the true overall health of women, physically and emotionally. At least check out their website:

Just to give you an idea of how unique they are: I was four weeks pregnant with my son and spotting. They asked me to go to my GP and get blood drawn so they could check hormone levels. The GP’s office mistakenly did their own check and sent PPVI the results. PPVI immediately called me and said, “No, we need your blood. The level at which we test hormones is so much more intricate and detailed than a regular doctor’s office that their test results don’t mean anything to us.”

He (Dr. Hilgers) is adamant about the level of consistency with which you check and chart, he’s kind of like a drill sargeant. But he gets results, whether it’s helping the Creighton Method to work for you (avoiding or achieving), or figuring out exactly why it’s not.

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