Me and my fiance who has been with me for 3 years, have decided to wait until marriage to have sex. After discussing our options of birth control, we have both decide NFP is our most moral method and decided to use that. I have been charting since we got engaged and I think I have it pinned pretty close to when I’m ovulating. We are taking a class in a few weeks just for more knowledge but after seeing an OBGYN yesterday, I became very discouraged. When I told her our plans to use this method, she told me that because my cycles are so lengthy(6-8 weeks apart), this won’t work. (I blame the length of my cycles on the wedding stress but who knows!) The doctor went on to tell me that I better be ready for a baby right away-(super discouraging). But of course we are ready, because the vows say “accept children willingly from God” so of course it would be fine, just not exactly ideal. So does anyone have any encouraging advice? Has anyone had lengthy cycles and still been able to use NFP effectively? I would appreciate any advice!
NFP still works with long long cycles, but the amount of abstinence required seriously limits its usefulness/effectiveness. In addition it might put too much stress on your young marriage having to abstain for months and months at a time. You might want to reevaluate why you want to put off having a child.
Is the course that you’ll be taking through the Couple to Couple League? If so, they have a lot of great info about using NFP with atypical cycles. While we’re not allowed to give medical advice here, I want to mention that sometimes nutrition plays a key part in longer cycles and by adjusting your diet (and even using nutritional supplements) can assist in regulating your cycles. Marilyn Shannon has a great book that explains this:
NFP is for irregular cycles. If you had perfectly regular cycles, all you need is a calendar.
Since you have irregular cycles, Creighton method is the best way to go as it is connect to NAPRO technology. Unfortunately most OBGYN’s are seriously ignorant of effectiveness of NFP. lots of them love to just prescribe the pill like its candy.
Find an NFP only doctor
Mistake #1: talking about NFP with a non-NFP OB/GYN. Frankly, doctors are ignorant on this subject. No one teaches them these basics in medical school. Your doctor is most likely conflating NFP with the so-called rhythm method. They are not the same thing.
Your doctor is simply wrong.
Yes, advice is: come armed next time with facts to share with your OB and ask them to please educate themselves and stop spouting ignorant statements.
Next time he/she makes such a statement such as failure rate or that it cannot work with an “irregular cycle”, ask which method they are talking about. They will look at you like you have 3 heads. Then be helpful by saying, “you know, Marquette, Billings, Creighton, STM… Which one are you talking about?” Followed by blank stare from doctor… confirmation that your doctor was talking out of their butt and doesn’t know anything about your chosen method.
I have the opposite problem, my cycles are very irregular and often come twice a month instead of every two months. NFP can and does work just as well as the pill–I got pregnant twice on the pill (miscarried the first time, then got pregnant with fraternal twins and lost one of the babies and carried the other). I now know that is one of the problems with the pill but I honestly did not know then that it caused abortions. I never would have taken it if I had that knowledge early on. Then my husband decided to use condoms. I got pregnant two months later. Tried condoms again, those two babies are 13 months apart so obviously not worth the money we spent on condoms. After that we used NFP. Now I can honestly say that we have ONLY conceived babies we either planned on, or at least KNEW we were creating. There have been no more surprises, just happy blessings. We are so glad we had failures with the other methods and would not care if we had a failure with NFP either. But I started having some health problems so I really didn’t need to get pregnant for a while. To help us with tracking we started using an ovacue monitor. As soon as my health starting improving we planned a new baby, but for 4+ years NFP was all that was needed to prevent a new baby from coming. We switched from abstaining to planning and in only one month we were expecting again. You can’t get better than that with ANY artificial birth control method.
Being newly weds, it will be difficult to strictly practice NFP. Try to remember that God gives us nine months to plan and prepare for a baby, so even if you do become pregnant early in your marriage it isn’t as if you need to be ready over night. My husband and I always enjoy the fact that while pregnant we don’t need to worry about trying or preventing at all.
I also suggest locating an NFP doctor and/or a Creighton practitioner (you can check out fertilitycare.org and other sites; look around/ask them for more details on doctors, practitioners or resources for your specific geographic location if it’s not very apparent for your area, some of these websites aren’t kept as updated as they should be) for specific information regarding your personal health concerns.
It’s easy to read and read and read some more about effectiveness, other people’s medical case(s), etc (as I have for years), but until you speak with an expert who is as concerned and passionate as you are regarding your choice to practice NFP it’s all conjecture.
I found a wonderful NFP-only OBGYN practice (by calling up my diocese and asking for referrals) that requires me to rent a car as I live in a US-city without one and drive 45min-1hr to get there. The drive, and having to track fertility, especially with underlying medical conditions, can be cumbersome; but I have been able to mitigate some of those medical conditions with proper treatment thanks to NFP and have been able to grow closer to God as well. It is a cross that many have. I wish you well on your search.
As someone who has been on the pill before (long before deciding to become Catholic) there are other reasons besides morals I would recommend against artificial hormonal methods. It made me SO sick and the potential side effects are SCARY!
I also have 2 years of medical school under my belt (I’m now a stay at home mom, though) and from my experience in the medical field, I doubt many doctors even know what NFP is. Pills are easier to prescribe from their perspective. My husband and I have used NFP and we are now expecting, just as we planned it. Our children will be almost exactly 2 years apart. I guess God liked our plan!
Thank you all for all your advice. I appreciate you taking time to answer and love all the encouragement! I have checked out all the helpful links and no longer feel discouraged about our decision. Thanks so much to all of you!
I also recommend the book, “Taking Charge of Your Fertility.”
It’s not written by a Catholic. It doesn’t talk much about morality, but it really helped me understand the science behind NFP.