NFP questions


This is kind of hypothetical question as I’m not married; however, I’ve met someone that has potential for being a keeper so that’s got me thinking :smiley:

I looked at one of the area church’s websites, and it seems they offer three different methods of NFP. I’ve kind of looked into what the different methods are, but I get kind of confused with all of the medical jargon.

I’m hoping I can get some good layman’s advice about the different methods, what works better for each person (knowing each person’s experiences will be different), and basically just info so I can look into what may work best for me in the eventuality we get to that point.



Those who know better, please correct me if I’m wrong here!

I believe there are really just 2 main “categories” for NFP methods…
~ The mucous-only methods (which includes Creighton, Billings, Marquette, etc)
~ The multi-symptom methods (which I believe is just the sympto-thermal method)…

NFP is just a method of reading a woman’s bodily “signs” of fertility. How you interpret those signs, and what signs you look at are the main differences between the models…

Really, I don’t know if there’s a universal way to say one method is best in this case VS another method is best in that case… it’s really a matter of trial and error for some women.
I just initially learned the sympo-thermal method, and that’s always worked wonderfully for me! But that doesn’t mean that the other methods wouldn’t have worked… I’ve just never been taught, nor taken the time to invest in classes since I already have a method that works! :o So it’s hard to say!

I personally enjoy the sympto-thermal method because it gives me lots of DATA to work with… it looks at more signs that the mucous-only, such as the cervical position and the basal body temperature. These additional data points just help me feel more confident of where my fertility is at any given point in my cycle.

HTH a little! Maybe talk to others in your area as to which classes they liked or preferred… sometimes the teacher can make or break the method, kwim?

Good luck! :slight_smile:


Sympto-thermal: observe muccus, cervix position with internal observation, and temp

Billings: observe muccus

Creighton: derived from billings, but more medical research, and standardized teaching, with teacher checkup

Marquette: mostly like Creighton with a fertility monitor (pee on a stick every night)

Observing mucous can be tricky at first…but when that is all one has to go on, one learns to be extremely astute in observations. I had health issues that made learning difficult at first, but once I learned the different types, I was set. Creighton is attached to Napro technology…Mucous observations can give lots of warnings about different potential health issues. I take my charts to my doc and he can see my probs.
Creighton is adamant about the need for scientific observation. ALWAYS…all the time….EVERY time. No exceptions

Sympto- is good for those who want to cross check different indicators. I know of some sympto users (and have read in the book about this too) who lax on observing a particular indicator at some portions of the cycle. This scientifically, can no longer be a reliable indicator then. If one knows their cycle and when to use the temp, it may work, but it is no longer a scientific observation. In order to use the temp indicator accurately, the woman must have regular sleep and take the temp at the same time every day. The temp indicator can also have variables from illness. Some women are uncomfortable with internal observations.

There is a major philosophical difference between Creighton and sympto. Creighton method is very clear that a particular day is either fertile or infertile. There are no “iffy” days…there are no “maybe “ days there is no “conservative“ avoiding… If you choose intercourse on a “fertile” day, you have abandoned the method for avoiding pregnancy, and employed the method to achieve pregnancy. If in research, even one woman conceived on a particular day (peak plus 3, for example), then they would pass that on to students…it is possible that you could conceive, so consider it fertile.

Sympto has “conservative use” . There are certain days in a cycle when very few women have achieved pregnancy on that day, so if you are not being “conservative”, but “kind of avoiding” then those days would be “safer”. (please bear with the language…I’m just trying to explain the ideas here). I know of at least one couple who used an “iffy” day …. They got pregnant. They resented NFP. It was a different psychological place that they came from because of “chancing it”.

So at first glance, it seems the only different methods are by indicators, but when more involved in it, there are deeper differences. At first, creighton was difficult for me because I had health issues that made the one indicator bizarre…but that fact made me have to be more astute and observing. I had the issues taken care of, and it is so easy now. Creighton is the chart that those NFP docs use.


I personally prefer sympto because I find my mucus signs very difficult to observe and I have never been good at subjective things.

I also find that I am producing mucus well into my luteal phase…and by another method I would not know I have already ovulated. Sympto thermal has also taught me that I have a short luteal phase, which would make it very difficult for me to concieve if I didn’t know about it and treat it.

It also helps when you have multiple peak days due to delayed ovulation; because you might think that you are heading towards infertility, but if your temps tell you that ovulation hasn’t happened yet, you know that it will still happen.

However, it does require a steady schedule…I get up at 6 am every morning to take it (even if some days I go back to sleep)…it also requires that you don’t stay up too late or drink too much alcohol the night before (however, once you are in the luteal phase, you can be a LITTLE more relaxed about that because you already know you’ve ovulated so it’s not as critical to get the temperatures).

During the preovulatory phase though, you DO have to be very sensitive to mucus, just like the other methods. I personally would never be lax on checking during that phase.


I have a Creighton question:

agapewolf, you said that Creighton is more exact about fertile/infertile? Does that mean that Creighton can actually pinpoint those days more precisely, or just that if there is any ambiguity it calls them ‘fertile’ even though they might not actually be fertile for a particular woman?



I use sympto-thermal, which I personally prefer, and I do not check cervix position or do internal observations. Just the external mucus observations and temperature taking for me. Many others on this board prefer Billings or Creighton. It does somewhat depend on the person.

Regular sleep is definitely a must, but adjustments can be made to the temperature if on occasion the woman wakes up early/sleeps in. We were instructed to add .1 degrees for every half hour if we woke up early, subtract .1 degrees for every half hour if we woke up late and never to exceed .5 in either case.

Also, I think I understand what you are saying about conservative and less conservative use of the sympto-thermal method. I am sorry that someone you know was not being conservative, conceived and then resented their child. It sounds like they should have been using the method more conservatively.

Personally, I enjoy the conservative/less conservative nature of the sympto-thermal method. Before my husband and I were ready to start actively trying to conceive, we gradually began to use “chancier” days. Once we realized we were doing that because we wanted a child, we stopped avoiding all together.


I didn’t say they resented their child. I said they resented NFP.

agapewolf, you said that Creighton is more exact about fertile/infertile? Does that mean that Creighton can actually pinpoint those days more precisely, or just that if there is any ambiguity it calls them ‘fertile’ even though they might not actually be fertile for a particular woman?

No, I didn’t say it was more exact about fertility. I said that it is either/or. If in the development of the method, it was determined that there was even the slightest chance of conceiving, then it is considered a fertile day. THere is no “chancing it” or “safer” days. It is one or the other.

Creighton method does say that when you are in doubt, consider the day fertile, but that is another subject altogether.


I am not familiar with this being a teaching in the STM. I have used it for 7 years. It has always been fertile/infertile, not “sort of fertile.” I think I am just misunderstanding your definition of “conservative use.” Conservative use, to me, means you do not have relations on fertile days. Those who conceive obviously had relations on a fertile day whether they acknowledged that day as fertile or not.

To the OP and in general:

I have found that some confusion on methods exist because of the limited availability of information. The Sympto-Thermal method was developed by the Kippleys in the late 1960s. There are people who observe all of the signs observed in the Sympto-Thermal method, but are not using the Sympto-Thermal method. They are using a self-taught method based on the signs.

Perhaps it is those who are misinterpreting the signs based on being self taught that has led to a confusion about what the ST method is and what it isn’t. The signs are there on all women. But interpreting those signs correctly is what makes a couple succeed with their method, whether TTC or TTA. The Sympto-Thermal Method is the interpretation of those signs.

I have found that I really like knowing and using all of the signs of fertility. Depending on circumstances I am likely to rely more heavily on one sign over another. Post-partum it has been my cervical observations that are the most reliable. My temps are the most reliable when not breast-feeding. I have often wanted to develop a more Creighton understanding of mucous, but there are no teachers in my area.

Of my signs, my mucous is the most unreliable, but it has led me to fix the health problems that make it so. When I am healthy, my mucous is easy to interpret. When I am sick, it becomes more difficult. I am so thankful for my temps since they led to my diagnosis of low thyroid. But, yes, getting temps while being up and down all night for breast-feeding can be frustrating. I chart my fertility all the time even when we aren’t TTC or TTA. I just really like to know what is happening with my body.

I still have hope that we can all overcome the “battle of the methods” mentality. There are pluses and minuses to all of them. If I had the money and the time I would study them all.


My husband and I started out using the Creighton model…three children later we are using the Sympto-Thermal through CCL. We went to a couple classes with a teaching couple and it was extreamly helpful. It may seem a little confusing at first but when it finally fits all together it is like a lightbulb goes on.

The thing that I would say about the Creighton model is that we were fine with it and knew that we might get pregnant with our first, but when I was breastfeeding it was almost impossible and so we weren’t able to space our children how we would have liked. Many of the couples using the CCL version have nicely spaced children.

I don’t resent anything. In hindsight I think I see what God was trying to do. I am a type A personality and He had to tie me down with three little ones to keep me here with them :slight_smile: . It all works out for the best and I think that is the attitude that I have taken away from the NFP experience. This is one of the reasons why it is so different from contraception.


I apologize. That was completely my error.

Again, I apologize for my misunderstanding. Unfortunately, I am still not sure what you mean to say.


The philosophical difference between Creighton and Sympto is the idea of “iffy” days, or “conservative” use.

Creighton is a black and white issue. If you are avoiding pregnancy, there are days you abstain. Period. If you use these days for relations, then you have absoutely abandoned the method for “avoiding” and are now doing “achieving” behavior.

For sympto method, there is different ways to approach…“conservative use” for when you are absolutely avoiding pregnancy, and then there’s achieving behavior, but there is also that “middle ground” (I don’t have the terminology). That middle ground…where its an iffy day…

Its not likely you’ll get pregnant, but a remote possibility. THIS is the approach that has led some couples to resent NFP. They use this day, because its “not likely”…thinking they won’t get pregnant. When they do, then they are surprised and resentful of the method, blaming NFP for not working. (I’m not saying everyone, but this has been my experience with a few couples).

Hey, if you’re ok with this philosophy, then thats fine that it works. I don’t care for it. I like the black and white. I also like that creigton is scientifiic with observations. Sympto is not.


This is identical to Sympto-Thermal Method. I am guessing the couples you know just didn’t realize the implication of their behavior. There are no “iffy days” taught in STM.

I also like that creigton is scientifiic with observations.

This is the part that I have liked about Creighton. As I said, I would like to develop a more Creighton understanding of mucous. Yes, STM understanding of mucous is subjective. From what I have understood, Creighton has objective standards. It would be helpful to me to learn those, yet I have no interest in abandoning temps and cervix observations. Temps and cervix are very objective in STM. Since Creighton is a proprietary method it is difficult to find someone who teaches it in some areas.

I think one of the areas that might have led to confusion is a term of mucous used in STM. It is called “less fertile mucous.” That is a term for people who are trying to *achieve *not for those trying to avoid. While it is fertile mucous, it is not an optimal day to try to conceive. The term is there for those where the husband has less motile sperm. I would guess that some who have learned the STM did not understand that terminology and interpret it as an “iffy day.” That could be where the couples you know were confused.


Except that the term conservative use shows that there IS a difference with philospohy. That is where the iffy day came from. It was not related to “less fertile mucous” It was more regarding 3rd peak day, and pre-peak time. It definately was a philosophy difference of “chancing it”.

The scientific observation from creighton is not just about the standard objective terms. It is about the observation method itself. EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME no exceptions.

I have never met one couple who observed any indicator scientifically in Sympto. If it is not observed scientifically.


“Conservative use” is not a term I learned in STM. Maybe I am the one who is missing something here. I didn’t hear the term until I came on CAF.

Since I don’t do science well, I think I am speaking a different language. I am not sure we can understand each other since we are using completely different terminology. Peak day plus 3 vs. peak day plus 4 might be what you are talking about, I am not sure. Pre-peak doesn’t change. Peak plus 4 is if one of the other observations was disturbed.

I am not sure we are going to be able to understand each other, but I do appreciate your concern. Someone who is frustrated with something is going to spread the word much faster than someone who is thrilled. Promotion of all NFP methods suffer when one couple suffers. Isn’t it funny that those of us who love NFP get called “NFP zealots,” but those who hate it (and spread the word just as passionately) don’t get called “anti-NFP zealots?” :wink:


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