Practical use of NFP


#1

I have a question for those of you who use some form of NFP, and I hope it doesn't fall into the "TMI" realm. :o My question has to do with the amount of non fertile or "free" time verses fertile time a couple has in a given month.

Currently, my husband and I use STM, and we've got about 2 weeks of fertile time. (Pretty regular cycles, by the way.) That "long" time period frustrates my husband from time to time, so we use the less conservative rules for determining if we're "go" or "no go." I'm just wondering if that is a normal amount of fertile time. Or would other methods give us more "free" time? (We've only ever tried the one method, but I'm open to trying new ones if it will work better for us.)


#2

Two weeks of fertility per month sounds about right to me. I've heard of slightly shorter fertile periods; myself, I've experienced longer due to some hormonal imbalances. Particularly if you're including all of menstruation as fertile, two weeks is definitely not outside the realm of possibilities.

The length of the fertile period/the time of abstinence is going to vary from couple to couple, based on an individual woman's fertility, the method she is using, and in some cases the strength of the couple's commitment to avoiding pregnancy.

That said, if you're not happy with CCLI, feel free to look into another method. I have friends who switched from CCLI to Creighton and who are happy with Creighton. They're in the tricky postpartum phase, so time will tell if they get more "free" time with Creighton, but Creighton has the clarity that other methods often lack. While you say you and your husband are making a judgment call and using "less conservative" rules to add days, this would not be possible with Creighton--either it's fertile or it's infertile.


#3

My wife and I use NFP and two weeks is about right. I feel his pain, but it is worth it.

Just for clarification, two weeks is an average for us. With Creighton, days do not matter, but observations do. We choose abstain from day seven (assuming no peak type mucus on that day) to three days after her peak day. That is usually two weeks, but it was 22 days this last month. You just have to be prepared. If you choose to count days rather than observations, you are choosing a less effective method and move to the 'trying to achieve' camp.


#4

For my regular cycle ours was around 7-9 days depending, on what my body was doing.

We also used NFP to get pregnant and it definitely worked for us, both in prevention and conception.


#5

Two weeks sounds pretty long to me. (asterisk, I am an engaged man and only learning myself with my fiancee).

Here's a link to the Marquette Model of NFP. Go to the NFP Planning user manual or the "quick instructions." They say sperm can live a maximum of 5 days under ideal conditions and an egg one day. So that means a maximum of 6 fertile days per cycle where one can get pregnant, assuming you can accurately know when ovulation occurs. Possibly you might abstain additional days to be safe if it were very desirable to avoid pregnancy, but 2 weeks sounds pretty long.

nfp.marquette.edu/


#6

[quote="danserr, post:5, topic:226691"]
Two weeks sounds pretty long to me. (asterisk, I am an engaged man and only learning myself with my fiancee).

Here's a link to the Marquette Model of NFP. Go to the NFP Planning user manual or the "quick instructions." They say sperm can live a maximum of 5 days under ideal conditions and an egg one day. So that means a maximum of 6 fertile days per cycle where one can get pregnant, assuming you can accurately know when ovulation occurs. Possibly you might abstain additional days to be safe if it were very desirable to avoid pregnancy, but 2 weeks sounds pretty long.

[/quote]

Your "maximum" is not quite right. You're only taking into account the lifespan of the sperm and the eggs, and not taking into account the fact that you just can't know exactly when the woman is ovulating. There may be a maximum of 6 days on which conception could actually take place, but we cannot identify ONLY those 6 days as fertile by reading a woman's signs of fertility.

In Creighton/Marquette and as far as I know in Billings and sympto-thermal, a woman charts days on which mucus is present as fertile days, up to identifying a peak day. The peak day is not necessarily the day of ovulation--ovulation takes place within a window of 24-48 hours on either side of the peak day, hence the need to abstain in the days prior to the peak when fertile signs are present as well as P+3 days (until the evening of the 4th day after the peak). And you really do need to wait until the evening of the 4th day if you are trying to avoid pregnancy; standard advice to couples using NFP to conceive is to be sure to use days both before and after the peak.

To get to six days of abstinence, then, you have a woman with two days of fertile signs pre-peak, which is not normal (or healthy). I'm trying to remember what "normal" is, and I believe it's at least 5-7 days of fertile mucus--though it could be 8-10. Right there you have two solid weeks of abstinence (10 days pre-peak + 4 days post-peak). Then you'd need to add the heavy and moderate days of menstrual flow as additional days of fertility, so two weeks is probably still about right.

I realize that Marquette uses the ClearBlue monitor to detect ovulation, but even this just measures the LH surge and identifies ovulation as occurring within 24-48 hours before or after the measurement is taken. Not to rain on your NFP parade, but I know at least one couple who trusted the LH surge tests, what they thought they knew about the lifespan of sperm and eggs, and threw out almost all other NFP rules, instead using what they thought was the "actual" window of possible conception: 6 days or so. They conceived--twice--using their reasoning.

Technological innovations that help NFP users are great, but we need to remember the principles at work and the limits of technology.


#7

[quote="SummerSmiles, post:1, topic:226691"]
I have a question for those of you who use some form of NFP, and I hope it doesn't fall into the "TMI" realm. :o My question has to do with the amount of non fertile or "free" time verses fertile time a couple has in a given month.

Currently, my husband and I use STM, and we've got about 2 weeks of fertile time. (Pretty regular cycles, by the way.) That "long" time period frustrates my husband from time to time, so we use the less conservative rules for determining if we're "go" or "no go." I'm just wondering if that is a normal amount of fertile time. Or would other methods give us more "free" time? (We've only ever tried the one method, but I'm open to trying new ones if it will work better for us.)

[/quote]

Do you also do the cervical position check? I know many sympto-thermal users aren't comfortable with this sign and tend to miss out on it's accuracy. Personally, I could ONLY go by the cervical position sign - and that would be enough.
To me, 2 weeks of fertile time seems a longer than anything I have ever experienced. My MAX has been ~9 days. Typically I'm more like 6. This is combining the data from both my mucous and my cervical position.


#8

Thank you for all the replies. I just wasn't sure if this is just the way my body cycles, or if another method might be able to give me some more clarity and/or more "free" days.

[quote="Rach620, post:6, topic:226691"]

In Creighton/Marquette and as far as I know in Billings and sympto-thermal, a woman charts days on which mucus is present as fertile days, up to identifying a peak day. The peak day is not necessarily the day of ovulation--ovulation takes place within a window of 24-48 hours on either side of the peak day, hence the need to abstain in the days prior to the peak when fertile signs are present as well as P+3 days (until the evening of the 4th day after the peak). And you really do need to wait until the evening of the 4th day if you are trying to avoid pregnancy; standard advice to couples using NFP to conceive is to be sure to use days both before and after the peak.

To get to six days of abstinence, then, you have a woman with two days of fertile signs pre-peak, which is not normal (or healthy). I'm trying to remember what "normal" is, and I believe it's at least 5-7 days of fertile mucus--though it could be 8-10. Right there you have two solid weeks of abstinence (10 days pre-peak + 4 days post-peak). Then you'd need to add the heavy and moderate days of menstrual flow as additional days of fertility, so two weeks is probably still about right.

[/quote]

With STM, the first sign of mucous is charted as a fertile day. Usually, I have between 9 and 12 days of mucous before peak day. I'm not including days of menstruation as fertile days. If I did, we'd probably be abstaining closer to three weeks in any given month.

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:7, topic:226691"]
Do you also do the cervical position check? I know many sympto-thermal users aren't comfortable with this sign and tend to miss out on it's accuracy. Personally, I could ONLY go by the cervical position sign - and that would be enough.
To me, 2 weeks of fertile time seems a longer than anything I have ever experienced. My MAX has been ~9 days. Typically I'm more like 6. This is combining the data from both my mucous and my cervical position.

[/quote]

Yes I do use the cervical position check. Some months it's more useful for me than others. I've had a few months where I've been able to tell a definite difference between fertile and non fertile symptoms. Other months, my cervix seems to change positions multiple times even during the same day of observation. :shrug: But on the months when I can figure it out, it works great! Just a quick question about combining cervical position and mucous observations: what do you do when you've got one sign saying "fertile" and one saying "not fertile?" For example, at times I'll have some mucous but my cervix position will be definitely in the infertile position. Do you chart that as fertile or infertile?


#9

[quote="SummerSmiles, post:8, topic:226691"]

Just a quick question about combining cervical position and mucous observations: what do you do when you've got one sign saying "fertile" and one saying "not fertile?" For example, at times I'll have some mucous but my cervix position will be definitely in the infertile position. Do you chart that as fertile or infertile?

[/quote]

That depends on where I am in my cycle.
If I'm right at that transition from infertile-phase-1 into fertile-phase-2, then I always assume fertility and abstain. However, if I'm seeing mucous AFTER a *clear *transition into the infertile-luteal-phase-3, then I ignore the mucous.


#10

[quote="SummerSmiles, post:8, topic:226691"]

With STM, the first sign of mucous is charted as a fertile day. Usually, I have between 9 and 12 days of mucous before peak day. I'm not including days of menstruation as fertile days. If I did, we'd probably be abstaining closer to three weeks in any given month.

[/quote]

Nine to 12 days sounds reasonable to me, if not a little bit long for a buildup of CM. I do know that the quality of observations of cervical mucus are different between sympto-thermal and Creighton (or Billings or Marquette, which are both basically mucus-only methods). So if there are qualitative changes in the CM between day 1 of CM and day 12, Creighton may be able to help you better differentiate between them and free up a few more days.


#11

[quote="Rach620, post:10, topic:226691"]
Nine to 12 days sounds reasonable to me, if not a little bit long for a buildup of CM. I do know that the quality of observations of cervical mucus are different between sympto-thermal and Creighton (or Billings or Marquette, which are both basically mucus-only methods). So if there are qualitative changes in the CM between day 1 of CM and day 12, Creighton may be able to help you better differentiate between them and free up a few more days.

[/quote]

This is a good point - in addition to what I wrote just above I do also differentiate between pre-fertile (sticky-thick) mucous and truly-fertile (egg white, slipper stretchy). I take the pre-fertile mucous as a warning sign, not a "fertile" mucous.
Therefore, if I see pre-fertile (sticky-thick) mucous and a closed cervix - we do not abstain.
If I see fertile mucous and a closed cervix (very rare that these happen together) - we do abstain.
If I see an open-soft-high cervix... I'm clearly ovulating.

I transition from pre-fertile mucous to true-fertility (open cervix and fertile mucous) in just hours, so I have to monitor my signs on those transition days a few times a day.


#12

TMI ALERT

I know this is a stupid question, but my NFP teacher doesn't use the cervix position for NFP, so she was useless when I asked her this (she is pretty much the worst teacher EVER for other reasons). How do you find your cervix? I think I found it, but it seems too easy to find. It is like right there like a quarter inch in. But it feels like the tip of my nose. And my book was pretty vague.

On a side note, I hope CCL has us evaluate the teaching couple, I'll rip them a new one. I'm trained as a teacher, and my cat could teach NFP better than them.


#13

[quote="CountrySinger, post:12, topic:226691"]
TMI ALERT

I know this is a stupid question, but my NFP teacher doesn't use the cervix position for NFP, so she was useless when I asked her this (she is pretty much the worst teacher EVER for other reasons). How do you find your cervix? I think I found it, but it seems too easy to find. It is like right there like a quarter inch in. But it feels like the tip of my nose. And my book was pretty vague.

On a side note, I hope CCL has us evaluate the teaching couple, I'll rip them a new one. I'm trained as a teacher, and my cat could teach NFP better than them.

[/quote]

Alright... here's your TMI response. ;)

I normally have to bear down a bit to be able to reach my cervix, but yes - it DOES feel like the tip of your nose with a small indent at the opening - this is how it feels during the INFERTILE phase.
When you are fertile, you'll notice that indent/opening will open up... normally mine opens up at least 1-2cm, and it's VERY soft and subtle (like the softness of your lips).

I'm personally able to detect most of the change RIGHT at the opening - whether it's open or closed...

HTH!


#14

[quote="Rach620, post:10, topic:226691"]
Nine to 12 days sounds reasonable to me, if not a little bit long for a buildup of CM. I do know that the quality of observations of cervical mucus are different between sympto-thermal and Creighton (or Billings or Marquette, which are both basically mucus-only methods). So if there are qualitative changes in the CM between day 1 of CM and day 12, Creighton may be able to help you better differentiate between them and free up a few more days.

[/quote]

I think I might check into Creighton a bit more. I think there is a teacher that is within 50 miles of me who makes trips into town from time to time. That's the reason I didn't learn Creighton to begin with. There was an instructor for STM who would do an internet/distance learning at the time I learned. But it sounds like I could probably benefit from some additional training and useful information.


#15

[quote="CountrySinger, post:12, topic:226691"]
TMI ALERT

I know this is a stupid question, but my NFP teacher doesn't use the cervix position for NFP, so she was useless when I asked her this (she is pretty much the worst teacher EVER for other reasons). How do you find your cervix? I think I found it, but it seems too easy to find. It is like right there like a quarter inch in. But it feels like the tip of my nose. And my book was pretty vague.

On a side note, I hope CCL has us evaluate the teaching couple, I'll rip them a new one. I'm trained as a teacher, and my cat could teach NFP better than them.

[/quote]

Just to add to Em's response a bit. It's much easier to find your cervix when you're infertile (because it's lower) so I suggest starting your observations during one of these times. It feels like a little circle of skin gathered together. When it's more open, I find that it's just enough for the pad of my finger to "nest" in. (So it might feel more like an indentation than an actual open hole in your body.)

I remember when I first learned the cervical position check--everything was vague to me. It's like the instructor and the book were too worried about TMI, so they purposefully left out some details that would have been helpful.


#16

Countrysinger, weren't you learning creighton method? They are not CCLI...

Creighton method does not use any symptoms except cervical mucous. There are no internal observations at all.


#17

[quote="agapewolf, post:16, topic:226691"]
Countrysinger, weren't you learning creighton method? They are not CCLI...

Creighton method does not use any symptoms except cervical mucous. There are no internal observations at all.

[/quote]

I'm learning the STM method. I get to make fun little charts where it likes a zig zag (one high, one low). I like the cross checks, since my body gives conflicting information all the time. I think I'm in phase 3 (aka fun phase), but I could be wrong. I've gotten more help from posters here than my textbook and my Teaching Couple combined.


#18

We usually get 4 go days a month and we were told that is "normal" range so talk about the death of our sex life but at least we are in favor with the church.


#19

I also have to bear down to find my cervix. I squat down and bear down like you need to have a BM. I know now that mine isn't straight back, it's off to the left slightly.

For me, it feels like a hill, with the indentation, but around that hill is a ditch, like a moat.

Although everyone is different, some people their cervix isn't so high. But at least I know I'm not missing it, my OB even commented on how high it was lol!


#20

[quote="convert38, post:18, topic:226691"]
We usually get 4 go days a month and we were told that is "normal" range so talk about the death of our sex life but at least we are in favor with the church.

[/quote]

Who told you that's normal? That sounds EXTREMELY abnormal to me!
A healthy woman has an infertile luteal phase after ovulation, which normally lasts at least 9 days.
If you're only able to have 4 days I would try to find a new instructor or method... or talk to a doctor about an underlying medical issue... because that's certainly not "normal".:o


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