My wife has a very irregular cycle, and she has trouble believing that she would be able to effectively use NFP. I do know that NFP is effective for all women, even those who have very irregular cycles. I’ve read information that says this is true. I am trying to learn more about NFP methods. Does anyone have some advice on how NFP can be effective even for a woman with very irregular cycles? Thanks!
Hi, and welcome! I sought out NFP because of my highly irregular cycles. I use the sympto-thermal method of NFP. My temps are my most reliable symptom. I highly recommend the book, Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon. It can be found at www.ccli.org under their book section.
My cycles were very irregular during my entire adult life. No regular doctor wanted to help my health, they just wanted to mask my symptoms using the Pill or Depo-Provera. Oh I can’t tell you how much I hated those years! The artificial hormones did nothing to help me…they just shut me up so I would stop bugging the doctors!
My irregular cycles (and infertility caused by endometriosis) was helped through charting. The Creighton model used by practitioners at The Pope Paul VI Institute has a higher success rate at helping people achieve pregnancy than the costly IVF methods.
On a practical level the NFP methods are great! A woman who is committed to charting and practicing real NFP can expect the high success rates. When I say “real NFP” I mean understanding the amazing blessings that can happen with periodic abstinence. NFP isn’t saying no to sex, it is saying yes to God! For those of us who suffer “irregular cycles” NFP gives us a window into God’s plan for our lives.
By regular, old, standards I am still considered “irregular.” My cycles are never a perfect 28 days. Since using NFP though, I am extremely regular by my standards. I can predict to the day when my period will start, and at the beginning of the fertile phase I can know if this might be a long cycle or a short one based on my current symptoms. (Please feel free to PM me for details on how it works, or I can discuss it here if you would like.)
Due to health reasons I will chart until menopause. You couldn’t pay me to give up the knowledge of my own gift of fertility. My husband loves NFP too! He just quietly shakes his head when he hears men bemoaning their wives’ “craziness from PMS” or “psycho mood-swings” from the Pill. He tells them to try NFP and they just won’t. He tells them that PMS can be overcome through charting. They just don’t believe it.
Sorry, I went on and on just like I usually do when this subject comes up. NFP was my lifeline to health. NFP brought me into a deep understanding of the Church’s teaching on sexuality. And most importantly, the periodic abstinence inherent to NFP has brought my marriage great joy!
First, *every *woman has an irregular cycle. Even those that people would say are “regular” – like me-- because from month to month your cycle *does *vary.
I’ve been tracking my cycle for several years, so I can see those slight variations (caused by stress, catching a cold, or just my body’s ups and downs) such as ovulating one month on day 12 and the next month on day 17. One month my cycle is 25 days, the next month 30 days. Cycles 24 - 35 days in length are considered “normal”. Yet, I know each and every day whether I’m fertile.
Secondly, can you describe what she means by “very irregular”? She might have hormonal imbalances or other treatable conditions that are causing her cycles to be “irregular”.
As to why NFP works, it is because each day you make an observation of your fertility signs. You **KNOW **each and every day if you are fertile or not. There is no guessing or using averages. You are not predicting when you might be fertile based on past cycles. Your past cycles play no part in determining whether you are fertile today, right now.
Even if you have no idea how long this cycle is going to be, you can still observe it, know when your signs of fertility begin to appear, and know when they end.
I suggest you look into a Creighton or Sympto Thermal class. And, get the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility-- which explains the physiology very nicely. Once you actually learn the method, it’s obvious why it works.
I don’t have much to add to above posters, but I’ll say I totally agree with them! NFP is very possible to use with an “irregular” cycle. Mine have been long and irregular since we converted and I came off the pill. If you are diligent about charting (if you want to space babies) then your dw shouldn’t have any problems. Any NFP teacher worth their salt, will help you learn effective charting and be a support during the learning phase, no matter what method of fertility awareness you use. We use CCLI’s sympto-thermal method when we need to space our babies and it works great.
I’d suggest Creighton method, it goes on the most obvious fertility signs and you check several times a day, so you can’t miss it! Easy to learn, very effective. Any would work, but Creighton is actually aimed at those of us with irregular cycles. I know at any time if I may be fertile or not, even if I haven’t had a cycle in months.
Nothing to add, just that everyone is right!
I think NFP works even better for those with irregular cycles because of the constant attention to fertility signs.
Ask your wife to attend an NFP class with you (usually 4 classes over a 3 month period) and take part in the charting used during the class. After that, leave it for the Holy Spirit to take.
By regular, old, standards I am still considered “irregular.” My cycles are never a perfect 28 days. Since using NFP though, I am extremely regular by my standards. I can predict to the day when my period will start, and at the beginning of the fertile phase I can know if this might be a long cycle or a short one based on my current symptoms.
This is very true you will find that you have your own standard of regularity as I did.
Another “irregular” cycle here using NFP with ease!
I’ve been tracking my cycles since we were married over 6 years ago. They widely vary from 27 to 56 days… but never have I been concerned about their “regularity” (or lack thereof)…
I’m always aware of what phase I am in within a given cycle thanks to the sympto-thermal method of NFP. It’s VERY easy to use once you learn the method. It may take a little upfront “investment” of educating yourself (though classes and self reading), but once you understand how to use it, it becomes second nature like a daily habit… you just KNOW where your cycle is…
No worries! Take some classes and have confidence that an “irregular” cycle will not lessen the chances of using NFP effectively!
I’m not married, so I don’t need NFP for obvious reasons, but I am on the pill. I don’t like it because it makes me gain weight, but it’s good to regularize my cycles (which varied from 2 weeks to 3-4 mos) and my horomones (my “symptoms” of depression went away when I went back on the pill, and my migraines are more predictable).
So, my question is, can NFP offer a natural way to keep track of the cycles and keep my horomones under check?
What accurate tracking will do is help an NFP-friendly doc (e.g. Creighton / NaPro / FertilityCare practitioners) identify and treat the underlying reason your hormones are causing you problems rather than just keeping you on the pill indefinitely, and will also give you the tools to “suggest” particular tests even if you don’t have a good NFP doc within driving distance (Things like untreated or under-treated hypothyroid conditions can be “suspected” from patterns of symptoms, other symptom patters can point to endometriosis, etc.)
The pill does not “regularize” your cycle. It supresses your cycle and replaces it with a fake cycle and fake hormones.
Please seek treatment from an NFP or Creighton associated doctor who can get to the bottom of your hormone issues and migraines.
Yes, there are ways to treat serious PMS symptoms. Dr. Paul Hayes writes about it for American Life League, here.
I’ll also recommend Fertily, Cycles and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon at CCLI ccli.org for those having PMS or other cycle irregularities. Sometimes suppliments and a change in eating habits can help our cycles be more regular and relieve symptoms. The pill doesn’t cure anything and doesn’t regulate your cycle. The bleed you get every 21 days is a hormonal “withdrawal” bleed having nothing to do with a normal cycle. You cannot use NFP while on the pill as it suppresses fertility signs (no ovulation, no mucous, no temp change, etc). When you try to chart after coming off the pill, it can truly mess with your fertility signs for months and months.
popepaulvi.com is another resource for helping you find the root causes of cycle problems.
Yes, so true! The pill only masks symptoms. Whatever your problem is IS STILL THERE. The pill does NOTHING to FIX any problems, only makes you ‘regular’ so your doctor doesn’t have to hear any more complaints :rolleyes: . You need to find out WHY you are having these problems. Get a Creighton trained practitioner at www.popepaulvi.com for real help, not just a cover-up.
I almost missed this part! Oh dear, yes please get to a good doctor and do the research for learning to chart. My migraines were “predictable” on the Pill too. BUT, through charting and learning about my thyroid troubles from my temperatures, I have very few migraines anymore. On a separate note, I also went off wheat and that helped the regular headaches.
I also support seeking out the Pope Paul VI Institute, but I strongly recommend using the Sympto-Thermal Method for thyroid diagnosis. Low basal body temperatures will be a very easy indicator of low thyroid. The research cited by Marilyn Shannon shows that doctors have found that any BBT (Basal Body Temperature) below 97 degrees indicates low thyroid. Low thyroid can be a cause of migraine headaches.
God bless you in your search for a doctor who will treat the root cause and not just mask your symptoms.
Thank you all for your help! I will definitely check out those sources–and if insurance will let me I’ll find a different gynecologist (sp?). And I’ll see if I can get off the pills–they’re kinda expensive.
“The pill does NOTHING to FIX any problems, only makes you ‘regular’ so your doctor doesn’t have to hear any more complaints .”
You’re right! Now I’m connecting two and two, I realize that my current doctor is always “too busy” for my concerns and dismisses them too quickly.
Really? Well that might explain my problem! My BBT hits 95.9 sometimes.
I have had my thyroid checked 3 or 4 times, but it always comes out fine.
Any suggestions when I go to the Doc and tell them I need my thyroid checked?
Fine as in low “normal” according to the infamously inaccurate range on the TSH test? Has your doc also been checking both free T3 and free T4(if not, your doc isn’t even looking a the metabolic issues commonly co-morbid with hypothyroid TSH results)?
Read up under-treated hypothyroid conditions. stopthethyroidmadness is a good place to start when wanting a rundown on where treatment in practice is often sub-par compared to what is known from research.
Be prepared to have to find another doc if you get the feeling your concerns are being dismissed without being listened to and you still have quality of life symptoms that are symptomatic of a hypothyroid state.
Thank you to everybody for all of your helpful information. Like I said, I am trying to better understand the workings of NFP and help my wife to understand why the Church teaches as it does, how NFP can work, how effective it truly is, and ESPECIALLY I need to help her to understand that even though she is very irregular she could still effectively use NFP. Let me give some additional information, and maybe you all could give further insight. As a young married couple, we’ve been married for only a couple years. Not long after marriage my wife did check into NFP. She tried the thermometer practice for two months and has told me that it didn’t work for her, there was no pattern. I don’t know the best way to put it, but however it is supposed to work it did not work for her. Was she doing it incorrectly or does that particular method not work for all women? She has not tried any other NFP method, such as checking the mucus and other bodily signs, or the Creighton Model. Also, she is VERY irregular. Sometimes she will go even 1-9 months between her periods, it is a totally random thing and she never knows when to expect it. I am trying to understand this situation better and I appreciate any clarification and insight you all could provide me with. Thanks!
I would definitely recommend she learn a cross-checking method by taking a class or learning from a private practitioner. When your wife was experiencing no temp pattern a few things could have been happening. If she was coming off the Pill she would have no real pattern. The suspicion I would see most likely is that she was anovulatory during that time. When I was struggling with infertility my husband called my temp chart “the Rocky Mountains.” What makes the temps change with a pattern is the presence of and levels of estrogen and progesterone. I had enough estrogen that I would start to show fertile mucus and my cervix would start to rise as if entering the fertile phase. But, because of my low thyroid, I didn’t have enough estrogen to release an egg. If an egg is not released, there is no corpus luteum (think “egg shell”) left behind to release progesterone.
Temps drop with estrogen and then rise sharply after an egg is released and progesterone is present. When the progesterone wears off the temp again drops sharply and menses usually begins that day. The estrogen phase lines the uterus. The progesterone phase sustains the lining for implantation. If implantation doesn’t occur, the progesterone wears off, and sloughing of the lining begins.
If you, the husband, were to take your temp each day, yours would look like hers did during her confusing time since you don’t ovulate. With charting it is very interesting to watch what our bodies do. I was anovulatory for 6 months yet had enough hormone levels to bleed each month. I ovulated one month, then was anovulatory for another 6 months then ovulated one more month and we conceived our son (happy happy, joy joy!) A breast-feeding mother would have a chart that looks like your wife’s did.
I really like the cross-checking method of Sympto-thermal because it has you look at all the signs of fertility. I have often said though, is that I wish sympto-thermal users would get a more “Creighton Method” understanding of cervix and mucus. You want to know cervix and mucus? Talk to a Creighton user! You want to know temps? Talk to a Sympto-Thermal user!
My guess, and this is only a guess because I am not a practitioner, from the symptoms you present here is that your wife has some estrogen releasing and the uterus is building a small bit of lining. There is not enough to release an egg and the lining is not getting thick. After many months she is finally getting a thick enough lining that it can no longer sustain and finally releases. I would be very interested to know what her cervix and mucus are doing during those times.
During my wildly irregular cycles my temps are most reliable in helping to conceive. My cervix and mucus were the most reliable in watching for the return of fertility after childbirth and breast-feeding infertility. My temps are also the best indicator of the months I need to add more iodine (kelp supplements) to my diet to get my thyroid right.
There I went…on and on again…Sorry. I am just on a mission that every woman know the amazing gift of fertility. I think if more women understood the gift of fertility, more women would want to embrace that gift and have more BABIES!!
Learn a method with more than one symptom. Get help. You have some good resources to check out here.There are new scientific things like charting software to help as well. No offense, but two months is not a long time to persevere at something. I can understand her frustration if she had no support.There might be biological reasons why it did not work well for her or she needs to learn to watch the chart better. Either way if she had no support it’s no wonder she gave up.
Learn together . Do this together. Don’t let it be your wife’s responsibility alone. Don’t forget the prayerful discernment part. You should be praying every month about the choice you are making. In fact start praying with her now that God will direct you to the help you need.
She ought to be seeing a doctor to get checked out to find out the reason for the menstural irregularity. It might be something easily fixable. The charting can help with the diagnosis in some cases. The charting might be essential for when is trying to conceive as well.
Pray you get the help you need.
Call your Diocese as well and see what resources they have.