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


Thanks for sharing your experience with the cervical sign. Even if I were to use it, it would only be as a crosscheck. When I’m trying to avoid pregnancy, I just can’t ignore fertile-type mucus, no matter what my cervical sign might indicate.

I have no STM instructors in my area so I rushed to look up the Doering Rule in my CCL manual after reading your first post. I had a short cycle (29 days) about four cycles ago which eliminates Doering for me, unfortunately. I think I would have the same reservations about the rule as I do with cervical sign, though. I can’t be confident of infertility in the presence of fertile-type mucus.

I do own Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition and I am working through Shannon’s suggestions for normalizing cycles. I know my best bet for reducing abstinence is to try and clear up phase one “background mucus” especially since it presents itself as fertile. Until I do, I’ll keep abstaining through most of phase one just to be safe.

Wouldn’t a carrot a day turn your skin a bit orange?


Christine, you must be an NFP instructor! Regardless, I’m glad you’re posting.

I refrain from intimate contact during the first three to four days of my cycle to avoid the heaviest menstrual flow. I try to use either days four and six OR day five (and sometimes day seven if it’s still truly dry, which is rare) for intimacy. I think those days are important as I know we have a long stretch of abstinence ahead.

Of course I would use more days in phase one for intimacy if they were truly dry or if my basic infertile pattern was the less fertile-type mucus.

I hope this thread isn’t offending anyone. It’s really just biology. How else are we going to learn if we don’t talk about it? (In a respectful manner, of course.:slight_smile: )


Hi, I’m not an NFP expert. I learned Billings on my own, with a work book.

But, would you be able to backtrack? I mean chart, check when your period comes, then go back 2 weeks and see what symptoms you had around that time? Those symptoms indicate when you ovulate, so you can focus on them and adjust accordingly.

Because, it seems like you have a longer cycle, so you would have more safe days at the beginning of the cycle.

I’m not an expert though, so take my advice with a grain of salt;)


I have a dumb question related to the previous “squeamish” one. DH and I have yet to make love during menstruation, but not because we’re grossed out (he’s not, and when I’m not passing out in pain, I’m quite in the mood) but because a loooooong time ago, my mom told me that if you have sex during your period, it can push the tissue up inside, and give you endo (I already have endo, but I don’t want to make it worse). She also told me that if my then future husband was uncircumsized, the cells could get under the foreskin and give him problems. DH is uncircumcised. This all sounds sketchy to me, but I don’t want to tempt fate. Is my mom right, or is this an old wives tale?

We practice what we call “lazy-***** NFP”. I don’t think you can call it practicing. I studied/tried STM, and my temps are all over the place (I have immune system and neurological problems that make my body make no sense at all). I read a couple books on Creighton. Math makes me cry. Basically, I just keep track of when my period starts (it’s rather regular) and when I notice anything on the paper when I go to the bathrool (also rather regular). And if I notice mucous, we do or don’t, just like any other day. We’re not actively trying to conceive, but we’re open to it. Am I practicing NFP at all, or should I stop bothering since I’m doing so little anyway?


To answer the OP question we abstain about 7 to 10 consecutive days during an average cycle. We are also currently very conservative in our use wanting to have a bit of time for us to raise the first three kids we have before the next set arrives (not that we would ever turn more down).

We have been doing NFP for 9 years now (started from the wedding night actually). We started using CCL/Sympto-Therm which worked ok although we really didn’t chart too well at the time. After our third we switched over to Creighton which while being more expensive also put us in contact with an actual licensed instructor who will do chart reviews with us several times a year. Having an outsider objectively evaluate our charting, while being a bit awkward at first, was the best thing that happened to us. It’s easier for her to point out where we “cheated the chart” and we can learn from that. Plus there is no math in Creighton, you observe the signs throughout the day (write them down if you have a poor memory) and you record the most fertile signs at the end of the day and finally put a colored sticker on your chart to clearly indicate what the days fertility level is.

For us Creighton also had the benefit of the “Yellow Stickers”. My wife has a great deal of peak type symptoms and using this adjusted set of rules we were able to reduce abstinence times from 25~30 days to about 7~10 days. We have been very pleased with the program, and our instructor is willing to work around the money to help us if we need it. You might find the yellow stickers would help you identify your cycle a bit better.

At the end of the day no matter which program you choose to use if you are concerned with postponing right now seek out a professional instructor to help you analyze your chart and I think you and your husband will be able to reduce those consecutive abstinence days within about 3 months times to something a bit more average.


First of all, if your cycles are usually that long, you may want to get checked out medically to see if something is wrong with you hormonally. However, beware of GYN’s who want to throw birth control pills at you to make your cycles LOOK normal outwardly, without finding and treating any possible underlying condition.

Secondly, if you’re waiting a long time for your ovulation – let’s say your usual cycle is 40 days long, with ovulation at day 26 (you said you have normal length luteal phases) – you could definitely use the Doering rule after sufficient numbers of cycle history (day 26 minus 7 days equals day 19 as end of phase 1) to reduce phase 2 abstinence. However, day 19 for end of phase 1, day 26 ovulation, and 40-day cycle lengths sound borderline abnormal to me, but I’m no expert.

Thirdly, if your thermal shift “technically was never high enough to qualify,” look at STM rules that put more emphasis on mucus drying up and less emphasis on thermal shifts. Look up “strong” thermal shifts or “overall” thermal shifts instead of “full” thermal shifts.

Caveat: I am not an NFP teacher, just a promoter for Couple to Couple League, but I just finished a refresher course in January. (Now where are my class notes so I can give you exact summaries of rules and definitions of strong/overall/full thermal shifts?) Let me know if anyone wants the latter. I may be assuming too much that everyone here understands these terms. Other methods or other instruction programs may use different terminology.

Best wishes,



Wow, I have NEVER heard anything like that. My mom told me years ago, “If you want to make love during your period, you just pull your tampon out, make love, and clean up afterwards, no big deal.” Forgive the biological details here, I’m trying not to be too explicit, but the husband’s organ goes into the wife’s organ only so far during intercourse; it never actually enters the cervix up into the uterus. The woman’s uterus still has its cramping and contraction motions to flush the endometrial lining out and keep things moving in the proper (outward) direction. In a healthy woman, things move in the right direction. Remember how the Fallopian tubes have cilia (sp?), hair-like projections that wave in the correct direction to move the egg from the ovary towards the uterus?

As for the husband being uncircumcised, with today’s sanitation – plenty of soap and warm water available, daily showers are the norm for most folks – I don’t believe male hygiene is a concern anymore, just the aesthetics of love-making during menstruation, and he’d certainly want to wash immediately afterwards. It sounds to me like your mom passed on an old wives’ tale to you, but by all means, ask your doctor to put your mind at ease.

Are you “practicing NFP?” If you’re not following any rules to achieve or avoid/postpone conception – did I understand you correctly? – it sounds to me like you’re “just letting children come as they may,” which is a perfectly acceptable, moral approach to this area of your married life. Who says you have to use NFP to postpone children until the perfect moment (dangerous goal, that)? By all means, continue to take personal observations so that you can notice if something odd or abnormal develops, and definitely chart (IN WRITING) at least your start of menstruation so you can have accurate dates for an obstetrician if/when you do become pregnant. The point of NFP is fertility (and woman’s health) AWARENESS. Whether you “use” that information to seek pregnancy or not is up to you and your husband, in prayer and with a properly formed conscience, i.e. not “frivolous” reasons to avoid children, which is not your case at all. However, you may want to clear up your fertility signs (Mucus sign with Marilyn Shannon’s nutritional approaches? Temp. sign with a doctor for your immune and neurological problems?) and learn accurate interpretations just in case you have some serious reason in the future to postpone pregnancy? You may not need this fertile/infertile interpretation information to deliberately postpone children right now, but you might in the future. Just a thought.

Best wishes,


Thank you, Christine! You’ve helped me a lot :slight_smile:


Yeah I have been meaning to get a gynecologist for a few years…:blush: but I wasn’t really concerned since I don’t have really painful periods or anything. I have the CCL book and I read all those rules but honestly all the numbers were hurting my head and I didn’t know how much I trusted all the rules. That’s why I like Creighton, it’s either you are or you aren’t, instead of having to remember. But it’s still early, things could change depending on what my instructor says.


You caught my interest with this. I consider it yet another push to investigate Creighton.


It took my wife and I 5 years to finally agree to spend the time and money on a Creighton class. It has been well worth it. My wife hated dealing with the thermometer so a system that didn’t require that was a big plus for her. Plus now that we have learned two methods it helps us as promoters to.



My husband and I use Taking Charge of your Fertility, and we typically abstain 12 days. BUT he travels for work, so if he’s on a trip at just the wrong (or right:) ) time, sometimes we miss out on the window of safe days.

It is hard. We’re both Catholic, but it was my idea to do NFP. He’s not as serious about practicing the teachings of the church as I am. He’s on board, but sometimes I feel guilty for the long lapses. But I think overall, it’s been good for us.



I did the yellow sticker thing. THen my doc did a procedure that made the need for yellow stickers to go away almost completely! Makes interpreting way easier.

I highly suggest an NFP-only doc found at


I actually like charting temps and I’m greatful for the crosscheck it provides so I can be sure ovulation is over. I do think Creighton might give me more insight into my early cycle fertility which could help reduce the need for so much phase one abstinence.


I use that book too (in a Catholic way;)) and I really like it. I can identify with the guilt you are feeling. My guilt has little to do with my husband but rather, stems from my own desire to be a “perfect” wife. I keep trying to remind myself that I’m not called to my own imaginary standard of perfection but to real love. I have to remind myself of that a lot some days.


No NFP doctors in my area, I checked. :frowning:


Interesting, I’ll have to ask my doc about that when I go see him. I started Creighton a few months ago and my instructor is leaning towards putting me on the yellow stickers next month.

Right now we’re looking at at least 14 days of abstinence per month, but that has been varying month to month. Hopefully we get it all settled by the wedding! :thumbsup:


Go to the Creighton Model FertilityCare website and search for an instructor there:

If there still isn’t anyone in your area, then I’d suggest calling up your diocesan office of family life to see if they can give a referral–if not to doc, then to a local NFP instructor. Most Catholic dioceses have lists of local NFP instructors because classes are required for those getting married. Any local NFP teacher should be able to identify at least NFP-friendly docs in your area, if there aren’t any NFP-only ones.


What are these yellow stickers you all speak of? I use sympto-thermal method and am unfamiliar with that terminology.


In creighton, we use different stickers to indicate fertility. White baby are days of peak type muccous. Red is the obvious. Green means go, etc.

Some women have conditions that have constant muccous that when not looked at closely, appears as peak type muccous. HOwever, it isn’t…it is a symptom of something else. For me, it was a cervical aversion. When observed closely, one can see a difference between this and fertile muccous.

The yellow stickers are used when needed for that.

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