NFP Users: How many days per cycle do you abstain when trying to avoid pregnancy?


I’m wondering how many consecutive days per cycle couples tend to abstain when using NFP to avoid pregnancy. I’d love to hear from users of different methods.

I’m currently using Sympto-Thermal NFP to avoid pregnancy and abstaining approxamately 23 consecutive days per cycle. (My fertile signs always start before day 7 and my cycles last about 38 days on average.) I get the feeling other couples abstain much less.


I’m not using NFP RIGHT NOW (since I’m pregnant :p), but when we were avoiding I’m pretty sure we usually ended up abstaining for 5-8 days, depending on the month and the fertility signs I was seeing…


Wow, 23 days is a LONG TIME to abstain for an ovulation that typically takes place over just a 36 hour period…??? :confused:

How long is your typical luteal phase (phase 3, after your temperature rise)???


Am I right to assume you have a 15 day luteal phase? 38 days is an amazingly long cycle. Are you sure you are measuring them correctly (i.e. the start of menstruation marks the beginning of the next cycle)?

23 days is a long time to wait. The “ideal” is 14 days: 6-7 days of menstruation, and ovulation around day 14. In a 28 day cycle, that means abstaining roughly half the time. I feel bad for you and your husband - if I had to wait 23 days, my wife and I would be having kids. :stuck_out_tongue:


You’re right, it is a long time. I’m just trying to be conservative as my body doesn’t seem to like helping me pin-point that 36 hour period.:rolleyes: For us, intimacy lasts up to, and includes cycle day 5. By day 7, I always have clear, stretchy mucus and I’m too nervous to rely on my own interpretation of my basic infertile pattern, so I wait until I’m sure I’ve ovulated (4 days of high temps) to resume intimacy.

My luteal phase, from the first day of my temperature rise to my last cycle day, was normally 10 days (9-12 day range). I recently eliminated both Nutra Sweet from my diet and all sources of light when I sleep. My luteal phase has increased to 13 days for my last two cycles, a nice improvement. (Sorry if I’ve defined luteal phase incorrectly.)


As I responded to Em, my luteal phase has been 13 days recently, and that’s up from my typical 10! I thought other women had long cycles too, but maybe mine are unusual.:shrug: I’m definitely measuring them correctly.

23 days is long but I feel better with conservative NFP use. (Maybe I should be seeking more solutions for my husband’s benefit.)


My wife had very short luteal phases, and this was corrected with over the counter progesterone creams administered every day of the cycle besides menstruation, and large amounts of B6 and Cod Liver Oil (normal dosages three times daily). Of course consult a doctor (blah blah blah), but this has helped my wife tremendously - in one month this regimen has made her luteal phase a normal length. There is a nutritional book CCL puts out, I forget the title, but you should go on their website and check it out. That’s where we got the recommendations for the B6 and stuff.


There is a sympto-thermal rule that allows you to take your earliest recorded day of temp rise (min. 12 charts, I think) minus 7 days for the end of phase 1. I forget what it is called but it is in the CCL book and is statistically very effective. You can always go minus 8 or 9 days to be safer. I seem to recall that this method is very effective when ovulation occurs very late in a cycle.

For example if you usually have the first day of temp rise on day 19, you could count the end of phase 1 as day 12 instead of day 6 or 7.

Don’t take my word for it, check the CCL book, but this can be a helpful rule to avoid 23 days of abstinence.


Interesting… okay, so since you have a “normal” luteal phase that’s good.
Sounds like you may need to get a better read on your fertility signs.
Have you ever checked your cervical position?

From my experience… my postpartum cycles were very screwy and I had LOTS of FERTILE looking mucous (similar to what you’re noticing, maybe?)… and I learned to master my cervical position check.
This took lots of practice, so it may take a few months to get used to the different positions and changes (because they can be very minute changes), but once I got a good feeling for that indicator we were able to increase the “safe” days since I was better able to determine exactly when I ovulated.

A good book to study is Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which is not spiritually based, so ignore the parts where it says to use condoms during your fertile phase :rolleyes:, but overall it’s a VERY good book about the biology and science of NFP…

HTH a little… thanks for your more detailed information, that helped!.. I do sympathize since I went through this for a short time… but the cervical checks really helped me!
Good luck!!!


Thanks nobeerinheaven. I’m not looking for any type of medical advice, just other couples’ experiences.

God Bless.


I will look that up, thank you. I’ve been keeping STM charts for 10 months now, so I’d be almost ready to consider using this type of rule.


The nutrition book from CCL is Marilyn Shannon’s Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition:
She recommends nutritional supplements and changes in diet to improve cycles, making them healthier, more “normal,” and easier to interpret fertility/infertility signs. There are also chapters on nutritional approaches to helping PMS and infertility.

Another poster couldn’t remember the name, but was referring to the Doering rule. Given sufficient number of cycles of history, you can use your first day of temperature rise minus 7 days as your end of phase 1. For example, if you have short luteal phases, a 30 day cycle with first recorded temperature rise on day 20: take day 20 minus 7 gives you day 13 as the end of phase 1 infertility and a much shorter period of abstinence during phase 2.

In general, NFP proponents will give 8-12 days of abstinence during phase 2 (any abstinence during menstruation is up to you) as the norm, but my experience has been a little longer than that. I have short luteal phases, too, normally getting a temperature rise somewhere around day 18, even later in special cases of return of fertility after childbirth, during extended breastfeeding. (12-14 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea, nice!) So with the Doering rule, we call day 10 the end of phase 1 and have about 14 days of abstinence until the beginning of phase 3. 23 days of abstinence definitely sounds unnecessarily long to me. Check with your instructor to see if you can use Doering rule or ignoring background patterns of constant mucus to shorten your periods of abstinence.

Best wishes,


My cycles are typically 30-34 days long, I have a 12 day luteal phase, and my earliest first day of temp rise has been day 20 so that was quite a bit of abstaining for us. I used to start seeing fertile-type mucus by day 6 or 7… then I started eating one large raw carrot a day. The extra vitamins in that single carrot have helped me not see fertile-type mucus until probably day 15. I agree with the advice to read over the end of phase I rules again. I was using the rule they mentioned earlier… doering or something I think the name is… and it worked fine for avoiding for us. Cervical checks are definately not something I have mastered (actually gave up after only one cycle because I couldn’t tell a bit of difference) so I can’t say they helped me very much. Check out your nutrition and if that doesn’t help, try re-reading the part in the manual about constant mucus flow.

edit: Christine posted at the same time as me and we basically said the same thing except she used the proper names :o If you are like me and don’t have an instructor to ask, but have the book available, there are a lot of couples on this forum that might be able to help answer your questions.


Thank you for taking the time to post advice, I wasn’t expecting it. :slight_smile: I do own TCOYF, it’s my second “bible” after the real one! If I decide to eliminate the need for some of the abstinence during my cycle, cervix position is definitely my next crosschecking option. I’ve heard others mention how helpful this sign is too, which is encouraging.

I’m interested in the reaction to the long periods of abstinence I mentioned. I thought there might be someone else experiencing these long periods too. I’m starting to think eliminating some abstinence may be worth the slight increased risk of pregnancy if it is so beneficial to a marriage.


We abstain until 3 days after ovulation. I typically have pretty short cycles & start getting fertile cm a few days after my period. I think the earliest I’ve ovulated is cd 12 & my period usually lasts 6 days. So, it’s just too risky for us to have do anything before I ovulate. My husband doesn’t have a problem with it, though.


In my personal experience, I gave up using the cervical sign at all before having children as I could barely (if at all) reach my never-given-birth-before cervix to check its characteristics. Others’ experiences may differ. Later, during highly irregular cycles during the return of fertility after childbirth, I found that use of cervical signs (softness, height, openness) was more useful for determining end of fertile phase than for beginning of fertile phase. I had an unplanned pregnancy due to over-reliance on the cervical sign, putting too little emphasis on hard-to-interpret mucus patterns, and did not get sufficient advance warning of approaching fertility. Again, others’ experience may differ.

As for the lengthy amount of abstinence, as I said before, 23 days seems unnecessarily long to me. The longest my husband and I have ever abstained to postpone pregnancy is three to three and a half weeks, during the special case of return of fertility after childbirth. You may need longer abstinence of six or seven weeks for physical recovery immediately after your first childbirth, fewer weeks after successive births, but that depends on your physical comfort level and not postponing-pregnancy reasons.

If you are taking your temperature as part of the STM method, you should have a good idea when temperature rises are taking place so as to use the Doering rule (again, after sufficient numbers of cycle history) to lengthen phase 1 and reduce abstinence there. And then some women have odd, all-the-time mucus which MAY be ignored under certain conditions. Please DON’T take my word for it. Look up all the conditions and caveats for when that latter approach can be used. And I, too, have heard of “a carrot a day” to help make mucus signs easier to interpret.

Best wishes,


I’m a Creighton user, yey

Mestruation 5-7 days

Ovulation 5-7 days (a couple of times I had some crazy signs so it ended up being 10 days… but that is a rare)

My cycles are anywhere from 27-36 days.


OP, I can definitely relate. Not married yet, but when I was using STM we were going to be abstaining well into the 3 week mark as well. My luteal phases were normal length bit it was such a long wait to see that thermal shift, and it technically was never actually high enough to qualify. So I’m learning Creighton. I’m hoping it will give us more “available” days, and if not I’m still happier with it being very clear, instead of open to interpretation. I’ve only been charting with Creighton for a month but my guess is we’ll have about 14 days to abstain (cycles usually 40++ days).


I generally eat well but your post is inspiring me to try my veggies raw for a while! Thanks.


I have a question for you ladies with three week long abstinences: Are you abstaining from day 1 of the cycle (beginning of menstruation) all the way until the beginning of phase 3? This could definitely be done for couples with the most serious reasons to postpone/avoid pregnancy, e.g. life-threatening health consequences for the mother (because most unplanned pregnancies are from end-of-phase 1 errors not beginning-of-phase 3 errors), but this is not necessary for the large majority of couples. For most couples some time at the end of phase 1 is available for intercourse, e.g. day 5, 7, 9 or 6, 8, 10 for me using the Doering rule giving me day 10 as the end of phase 1.

And abstaining during menstruation (temp. dip the day before to confirm it’s true menstruation, not breakthrough bleeding or shedding from a long cycle that can no longer sustain thick endometrium lining the uterus) is completely up to the couple. I know aesthetics make many couples abstain then, but that’s personal choice that could be reduced. Maybe use end of menstruation, light flow days, not wait until EVERY LAST DROP is finished? Make love in the tub or shower?

Sorry if this offends the squeamish. :blush: Just trying to help.


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