I have a question on Natural Family Planning and birth control. I have taken the NFP class with my future wife and we both agree and understand the NFP method. My fiancé has been of birth control for more than 3 years now and her cramps and pains continue to get worse. She is going to get back on the pill for medicinal reasons and in good faith and a clear conscience between both of us we have decided for medicinal reasons it would be best. We know the temptation is there to abuse the system when married, but our question is to be in proper accordance with the catholic faith do we need to obstain from sex during times when she is fertile if she is on the pill for medicinal purposes? We will still continue to plot with the NFP chart, but in good conscience are we only allowed to have sex during her non fertile times? I would like to know the proper action as a Catholic and really want to do the right thing and not abuse this. She really needs the pill for her medical reasons and we understand it will limit us and we would like to know Catholic stance on this particular situation we are in… Please help….
You cannot use NFP and the pill at the same time. The pill suppresses ovulation. Charting tells you when you ovulate. So, unless the pill isn’t working, she will not ovulate. You could certainly choose to abstain for a week or so each month as a spiritual sacrifice. But it is not necessary.
Nova is right. When a woman is on the pill, there is nothing to chart with NFP.
I am sure that you both have put due consideration into making your decision, and have consulted the counsel of a good priest, but if you are open to seeing if the Pill is really necessary for treating your future wife’s issues, I would definitely suggest meeting with a Catholic NFP-only OB/GYN in your area (here or here), or getting in touch with the Pope Paul VI Institute.
God bless you both as you continue to prepare for marriage!
(1) I hope that your wife will work with her doctor to occasionally go off the pill to see if her body has stabilized. I used to share your wife’s symptoms (on the pill okay, off the pill miserable, back on the pill okay), but recently I went off the pill for good and my menstrual pains and flow have never been lighter! This should be an ongoing conversation between your wife and her doctor. ALSO, PLEASE have her tested for blood clotting disorders. My doctor paid little attention to my family history until one day, after years on the pill, I asked her if my father’s Factor V blood disorder was something I should worry about. She FREAKED OUT and had my blood tested immediately, only to find that I do have Factor V which is a HUGE no-no to combine with hormonal contraceptives. Also, encourage your wife to avoid tampon use. Tampons can make menstrual pain worse. I believe one of the main reasons my menstrual pain/flow is lighter is because I have avoided tampons for a full year. There are lots of alternatives and, because her pain is so great, there is NO excuse not to try them out: Diva Cup, traditional sanitary napkins, cloth sanitary napkins. She could even have cloth sanitary napkins custom made to fit more comfortably (just one, of MANY custom shops). Be aware that her libido is likely to drop (perhaps plummet) by being on the pill, so this may add another “cross to bear.” Not debilitating, but be prepared.
(2) I think it’s very admirable that you want to continue charting. Because the pill basically simulates pregnancy, she will never be fertile and there will be no fertile time to chart (so her temperature won’t spike and her mucus symptoms will flat-line), but continuing the habit of taking a daily temperature and charting days is a good habit to stay in. Stay in the habit because, hopefully, this will not be a permanent solution and when she is ready to try going off the pill again, you won’t have the “oops I forgot to take my temp again” days as you get back into the habit.
My prayer for you both is that your wife can someday stop medicating and be “au naturale.” It is such a liberating feeling to be free of medication AND free of debilitating pain (let’s face it, we’ll never be totally free of pain, thanks to Eve!)