NFP and anxiety disorder



I want to follow the Magesterium and be a good Catholic, but I have a dilemma…

I am a married 37 y/o mother of 3 beautiful children, ages: 8, 5, and 5 (twins). After the birth of my 1st child I suffered from severe post -partum depression and anxiety which greatly affected my ability to care for my son. I had just reverted back to the Faith after lapsing for a majority of my life. I then became pregnant with my twins, suffered a very complicated pregnancy and worsening of my anxiety/depression. My husband wanted a vasectomy at that point fearing for my mental and physical health- but I want to follow the church’s teaching and I was able to talk him out of it. We have been using condoms (I will never use pills as I see them as abortificants).
My problem:
I am too anxious to use NFP instead of condoms as I am not physically/mentally able to undergo another pregnancy and care for the children I have now. I have been told that NFP has a higher rate of efficacy than condoms , but my irrational anxiety leads to panic disorder when I think of “risking” it. I did confess this to my priest and he told me that “God understands” and not to worry about it. I am on medication and see a psychatrist for my disorder. My husband would never agree to NFP as he sees it as too high of a risk for pregnancy.
How culpable am I?
I love my Catholic faith, I love the Church,…

I’m sorry if I have been rambling…

Thank you for your thoughts.


How culpable are you?

You know it is wrong so you do have full knowledge. Your anxiety disorder may diminish your free will, but no one here can assist you in that area.

Your priest gave you questionable counsel and should have helped you more than what he did-- although the Confessional is not the place for extensive counseling. With your current mental issues, you may need a very well trained Catholic counselor and spiritual director to help you. I suggest you contact your diocesan offices regarding a mental health professional.

I suggest you take a course in NFP-- that will likely relieve a lot of your anxiety by just knowing how it works and seeing how easy it is to do it.

If your anxiety is regarding having another child, why do you **not **get anxious when engaging in intercourse using a condom, which is highly unreliable? Why only at the thought of NFP?


Thank you for responding.

I do get anxious at the prospect of getting pregnant using a condom, but my husband will not use any other means, AND anxiety disorder is not always logical.
I have been maintained on (and doing resonably well) medication I would not be able to use safely if I were pregnant. I have used NFP in the past to get pregnant so I am aware of how it works. As I said, not always logical.



Well, God bless you for striving for holiness. Keep praying, keep seeing a counselor.

I hope you will be able to overcome this disorder and embrace Church teaching.


I urge both of you to take NFP training even if your husband thinks it to be more of a risk. You will learn that this method IS RELIABLE and is over 99% effective both in deferring a pregnancy as well as being effective in helping those with trouble in conceiving. However, NFP should not be used to permanantly prevent conception.
God bless you.


Thank you, ke and Bill,

I appreciate your advice. I will continue to pray for obedience and aligning my will to God’s.



Condoms are only 85% effective.

The sympto-thermal method of NFP is 99% effective when used strictly and correctly. In fact, any correctly used modern method of NFP is much more effective than condoms.


This is not scientific, but if you use the sympto-thermal method and add a day or two to Phase III (after applying the rules) and use a conservative rule for Phase I, I would imagine that you would have a greater than 99% effectiveness.

Remember, condoms don’t need to work when you are not fertile, only when you are.


My heart goes out to you. Please get the very best advice from a competent specialist in medicine, continue with your therapy and be guided by his/her advice as well. It seems you are blessed with a wonderful priest. Those are your three guides that you should place your trust in until such time as you feel fully informed on the facts and risks. Your husband is a blessing to you. I will pray for you. God bless.


Thank you so much SpiritMeadow :hug3:


In the situation of the OP, doing so indefinitely (that is, until the mental health issue contraindication another pregnancy had been resolved) would be acceptable, and based on its duration, that is probably not going to happen…


The sympto-thermal method of NFP is 99% effective when used strictly and correctly. In fact, any correctly used modern method of NFP is much more effective than condoms.

I would imagine that you would have a greater than 99% effectiveness.

You will learn that this method IS RELIABLE and is over 99% effective both in deferring a pregnancy as well as being effective in helping those with trouble in conceiving

:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

Oh you guys just crack me up!

You cannot state this as a fact when it clearly isn’t. You are misleading someone and that can cause harm to their marriage.

Dove_of_Peace, please do some research on these figures and don’t take their word for the quited statistics.


PM - do you have studies you can point to that show us the error of our ways (those of us who have used NFP for years due to grave medical conditions)? Not anecdotal “this happend to a lady my cousin works with”, real published studies?


99% is NOT 100%… and the 99% is when it’s being used in the most conservative form.

I’m sorry that God may have called you to have a child when you were wanting to avoid… but that’s half the purpose of NFP… to leave that opportunity for God to step into our lives. If you don’t trust that God will not abandon you then why use NFP at all?

No, he’s just a little bitter because it happened to him. :rolleyes:



Well this is all about reducing anxiety, right?
You know that NFP is supposedly more effective than contraceptive methods, as you stated Rationally or Not. So, for whatever reason, you appear to believe condoms are effective – which is the root of your culpability.

So, if what you want to know is how is culpability related to the sin for a person with anxiety – I would say, we have to assume to worst. ( Because you will ).

So, the first thing I would suggest is asking your husband to hide the fertility gel, and pins he uses to poke holes in the condoms. (We wouldn’t want you to find out he is being an honest Catholic who is working with the psychiatrist behind your back)
Then the next thing to do, is to order lots of fertility monitoring sticks (Available cheap through various places such as Ebay).

You see, these sticks tell you when you are ovulating (unless you are on fertility drugs, which can mess them up.) since the ovulation only happens once per cycle, these little sticks are great to show exactly when you are ovulating. The have two pink lines which show up when there is a high risk for the next two to three days. ( If you really want a baby, but are scared to ask – those two days are excellent – but sometimes God doesn’t give you a baby anyway which takes all the fun out of being anxious to your husband. ). However, these pink lines make sort of a graph of when you are fertile – which is a great comfort to someone with anxiety.

Now, the next thing to do is continue using the condoms with the holes punched in them (MUCH less than 80% effective), and make sure your husband doesn’t tell you he is doing it (eg. Be sure to buy the other kind of condoms too.) – it would ruin things for your anxiety – but since you might guess that he is doing it – only have relations after the fertility monitor stick says you are finished ovulating + 2 days. 99%+ effective + condom (more effective, right?). (Of course if your husband doesn’t want relations at all, you can stop altogether – which is why I am assuming he is punching holes in the condoms – and you want the relations.)

Now, the thing is – you are closer to church teaching (although stil sinning) by only having relations in the infertile time with a holey condom. So I would assume that since you are making an effort to come closer to church teaching – that God will bless you appropriately.

Regardless of what your husband is really doing, this method is a sure fire way to at least reduce your culpability. And using the holey condom with NFP is certain to be more effective than the condom alone – which usually fail eventually.

Anxiety is most irrational.
Your priest is your friend.

God bless you.


Why? so that the guys here can just say that the stats are wrong due to “user error” or ineffective training, or it includes the old Rythm Method stats, etc… I have heard it all before.

I want to warn the OP that the stats are not always right or in pracitce it’s way different from quoted statistics.

And yes, there are countless people that can testify to this, including me. Not tuu sure about that lady that works with my cousin, I have not spoken to her about the effeciveness of NFP.


Does your husband know what the CDC (Center for Disease control) says about condoms? Condoms are practically useless if you fear getting pregnant.

Has he attended a workshop or class on NFP with you?


That is true for all statistics.

99% of anything means that if you have a room filled with 100,000 people who are TTA and are careful and follow the NFP rules to the letter every day, 1,000 of those people WILL become pregnant.

ONLY one thing is 100% effective 100% of the time for 100% of the population - abstainence. Pills or condoms, STM or Billings, Rythmn or throw it to the wind, each and every one of them is going to “fail” sometime for someone.

The bottom line, sex makes babies. If you engage in sex, at sometime there is a chance you will concieve a child.

When a fellow Christian asks for advice, is it not the Christian thing to offer them advice and support based on what the Church teaches?


And there are approx 99 times the number of “countless” people that could vouch that it does work for them. Without some sort of peer reviewd study to cast doubt on the 99% effectiveness rate, pointing to particular individual failures is only identifying members of the 1%, not a proof that the quoted ratio is incorrect. Your claim is wrong because you start it from a premise that the entire science of statistics is incorrect just because you ended up being one of the ones that experienced a failure in a system that had been statistically established to have a low failure rate.


True, but you have to give the advice together with a warning that if they REALLY cannot afford to conceive then they should not place all their trust and hope on NFP.

I’m not starting and ACB vs NFP thing at all. But there is far too much trust placed on NFP. It’s not that effective, people do get pregnant using it. Yes, just like other forms, but still. My feeling is that people promote it as the end all and be all of contraception.

The bottom line, sex makes babies. If you engage in sex, at sometime there is a chance you will concieve a child.

Now that’s true! thanks for being honest :slight_smile:

To the OP:

Here is an honest article written on NFP that doesn’t paint a rosy picture, just the facts:

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