I’ve got a question i know many women asks themselves, let’s says she’s a married woman, she wants a family, she’s planned on having 2 or 3 kids, she’s planned the whole thing (as a Christian that’s the right thing to do) and to be able to accomplish this plan she needs to keep an eye on her menstrual cycle, but she’s irregular, she’s doesn’t always have a 28 days cycle, her cycle changes, now how does she follows her plan? she can’t use contraceptives and she can’t go around having 15 kids either (contrary to what many believe, that is not what the Catholic church preaches, ask the priest) the human body is not always an exact science, the whether changes your body changes, your rhythm changes your body changes, your nutrition changes your body changes, even one small problem at work can change the whole thing on someone who’s irregular, now the question is, what should she do?
You might ask the National Catholic Bioethics Center about this. Here is a link to their site:
Natural Family Planning isn’t the rhythm method, so the fact that her cycles are irregular doesn’t matter. Using NFP, she can determine with great accuracy which days are likely to be fertile and which aren’t, even though her cycle is irregular. Not only that, but NFP and a good NFP-knowledgeable doctor could possibly identify and treat any medical issues that might cause unusually irregular cycles.
So using a good NFP system would allow her to either avoid or achieve pregnancy when she and her husband believe it is appropriate to do so. No contraceptives, reasonable spacing of children and/or avoidance of pregnancy when necessary, etc.
And while the Church doesn’t teach that she needs to have 15 kids, it’s probably not a good idea to have a set number of kids in mind ahead of time either. Using NFP to achieve her ‘planned’ two or three kids and then stop might be morally questionable if there isn’t a serious reason not to be open to more (medical, economic, spacing between children, or whatever). She and her husband have to judge that based on their own situation. Planning things out is okay, within reason, but we must always be open to *God’s *plan…which might not align with our own.
You seem to have a misunderstanding of what couples are called to in the way of generosity towards life and what is the “right” thing to do as a Christian. We do not make a plan, determine a preset number of children, and follow “the plan”. We prayerfully discern what God is calling us to do each day, each month, each year. We do so together with our spouse. We are called to respond generously.
So, your underlying assumption is not a Catholic assumption.
First of all, a “regular” cycle is anywhere between 25-35 days, biologically speaking. Anything shorter than 25 or longer than 35 should be evaluated by a physician.
Secondly, there is no “plan” as indicated above. There is discernment on an ongoing basis.
If through discernment a couple has determined they should postpone pregnancy for a time, they can do so through periodic continence and observation of the signs of fertility, which has nothing to do with a “28 day cycle”.
This is a false dichotomy.
Nor does the Church teach the “plan” approach you mention above. They teach responsible stewardship and generosity towards life.
She should learn more about natural family planning, because based on the above comments she is not very familiar with female biology and signs of fertility.
That could be me. Sometimes I feel like if there is a new and annoying way for my cycle to be abnormal, my body will find that way and do it. Using NFP can be very helpful not only as contraceptive, but for self-awareness. I have used it to diagnose some problems that otherwise may have gone unnoticed. In fact, forget the word “may” - they DID go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for fifteen years before I finally found a great NFP doctor. I’ve only been seeing him for a few months and he’s already made way more progress than any other doctor, and I was able to get a prescription that is helping.
I use the Creighton method. I used to use Sympto-Thermal. I rarely have a regular night of sleep and I had a hard time reading my fertile signs, it was not a good match for me. Charting first thing in the morning was inconvenient. Now I use Creighton. You chart at the end of the day after registering fertile signs throughout the day. You make notes of things like extreme stress, exercise, insomnia, diet changes, prescription medications, skin changes, cramps, headache, and so on. After a while you begin to see how stress and other exterior factors can affect your cycle.
Used properly, NFP is as effective or more effective than artificial contraceptives. In the years that I have used it, I have never gotten pregnant when I was trying to avoid pregnancy. As soon as I stop trying to avoid, I become pregnant. Creighton is 99.7% effective with perfect use or 96.8% effective with typical use. Compare that to the condom, which is only 85% effective with typical use. The pill is 92% effective with typical use. Think of it this way: Most NFP-using families are open to life, therefore choose to have large families. Not everyone uses NFP to avoid pregnancy. Some use it to monitor fertility or to try to conceive. We can’t assume that “NFP = huge family” because it is a useless method; it is more likely because the couple chose to have those children by purposely using fertile days, either because they wanted another baby or because they decided they really REALLY wanted to be intimate. Making a mistake in charting may result in an unintended pregnancy, but don’t consider that the norm.