Short Question about NFP

Dear CAF,

I was watching an amazing video of Jason Evert explaining the Church’s teaching on NFP (natural family planning). Near the end of the video, he said that NFP is very painful to do, and he and his wife do not like it. In other words, Jason Evert said that NFP is NOT an easy thing to do, but that it was very difficult. He then explained the need to carry our cross, and that there is sacrifice needed in marriage.

My question is this. From my understanding, couples who practice NFP have to abstain from sex for only about a few days (maybe a little more than a week) from sex. Correct me if I am wrong, but is it true that couples who practice NFP have to abstain for only a few number of days throughout the month. So… I don’t understand why Jason Evert would say that NFP is extremely painful or that it is extremely difficult. How difficult is it to abstain from sex for only a few number of days? Is it that hard for a married couple to not have sex for about a week or so? How is that painful or hard? If couples who practice NFP have to abstain from sex for only a few days each month, then how is NFP that overly difficult? Abstaining from sex for a little over a week - that sounds so simple and easy.

For all the married men and women out there - do you find it extremely hard to abstain from sex for a few number of days? Sorry if this is not politically correct, but for married couples, how many weeks/days can you go without having sex until you really want to be intimate again?

Dear Forum Administrator - if there is anything on this post that seems to be impolite or not appropriate - please feel free to edit or delete anything. I do not mean to be offensive.

My wife and I practice NFP and have done so ever since our marriage. In a culture that offers sterilization on demand and blocking of the life giving aspect of sex by a shot or pill or what have you… he may be simply appealing to our highly sexed society or the fact that many want things when they want them and don’t like being told what to do.

But I will say that yes there is a sacrifice being offered in that it calls the couple to be responsible (to track and to talk things out). Also, When the woman is most fertile … I can attest to the fact that she looks more beautiful at that time than the rest of the month! They’re more playful, their skin and hair has that shine etc etc LOL…if you know what I mean. The couple both being more sexually…awake, active and intimate and it DOES become a little harder to have some self control.

But yes, you are correct in that it’s only a several day period out of the month that you would have to abstain.

God bless

Michael

My husband and I have used NFP since the beginning of our marriage.

Looking at my charts…we have to abstain between 10-13 days every month. This is when we follow the rules of NFP exactly. This is when I first starting to notice any kind of mucus change all the way to the third day after my temperature drops. I wouldn’t call that “a few days” at all.

Keep in mind…it’s much harder to abstain during those specific days because the most fertile days up until ovulations means hormones change in the woman. She wants marital relations much more at this period of time…as does her husband because his body can tell she is ovulating. He wants her that much more during this time.

I’ve used the pill (before I converted) and have practiced NFP. It’s seriously amazing how different our bodies are supposed to naturally work. Natural sex is far more pleasurable then sex while on ABC…especially for the woman.

I can attest it is difficult to abstain for those days…not because it’s a long period of time…but that is the time that I want my husband the most.

There have been days where I’ve literally ached for my husband. I knew I was fertile and I could feel it. He could too. I’d catch him checking my charts or he’d just come out and ask how many more days.

We wanted to abstain for about a year before we started trying for child number two. We did wait a year but I think that was God giving us a break…because we didn’t always follow the rules exactly.

So, in conclusion. I wouldn’t say it’s the number of days you need to wait…but the specific time you are abstaining. You just want your spouse that much more during this time you have to wait. Your body is fertile and your body wants to procreate because it feels good to procreate.

I think it’s easy to wait 10 days…so does my husband. But not when I’m ovulating. That is the hard part.

Sorry to side track :o

To the original question, yes, it can be very difficult to abstain. Arousal can actually reach the point of physical ache and pain for both men and women. The body wants sex, the mind wants sex, the heart wants that closeness and bond…all reaching a peak during the very time you cannot indulge without risking pregnancy.

Yes, this is how my wife and I experience it, too.

All good points thus far. I’d also note that some women have very unusual cycles in terms of length or signs. My wife has had cycles as “short” as 30 days and as long as 45+ days. So the period of abstinence is sometimes shorter and sometimes longer… but figuring it out is also tougher from time to time. Those 45+ day cycles are particularly aggravating because, well, you don’t know that it will end up like that. Phase III is always 12-14 days but Phase I can be anywhere from just a couple of days to two weeks!

So sometimes the abstinence is 10-12 days. Sometimes it’s more like 20 days. And yeah, I mean… 20 days is a lot. It’s not impossible or anything silly like that, but yes, that is tough sledding.

All good points thus far. I’d also note that some women have very unusual cycles in terms of length or signs. My wife has had cycles as “short” as 30 days and as long as 45+ days. So the period of abstinence is sometimes shorter and sometimes longer… but figuring it out is also tougher from time to time. Those 45+ day cycles are particularly aggravating because, well, you don’t know that it will end up like that. Phase III is always 12-14 days but Phase I can be anywhere from just a couple of days to two weeks!

So sometimes the abstinence is 10-12 days. Sometimes it’s more like 20 days. And yeah, I mean… 20 days is a lot. It’s not impossible or anything silly like that, but yes, that is tough sledding.

That’s nothing - my cycles are 40 - 80 days. Phase 1 can be anywhere from 20 days to 50 days.

The abstaining can be part of the “pain”, yes… for reasons others have mentioned above…

The rest of the “pain” is the REASONS you are finding it necessary to use NFP in the first place. The church teaches that we can use NFP for just reasons… not just because “I want an ideal family of 2 kids only and now we’re done!”…
They have to be *serious *or *grave *situations going on in the marriage to begin with.
Financial pain.
Physical/Medical pain.
Emotional/Spiritual pain.

Normally there is a lot of praying for those REASONS to be taken away… and they may never be taken away. It can be very difficult to persevere in life with heavy burdens… and then adding on top of that the sacrifice of having sex - which is an incredible stress-relief outlet for couples to bond during those already difficult times. The very best unitive outlet that a married couple can turn to is what has to be sacrificed. So yeah… it can be tough at times.

Looking over past charts, I can also say we need to abstain about 10 days or so. I wanted to mention that what others have said is right on-this phase is difficult to practice abstinence simply because it is when the woman’s body is most receptive to sex. But I also wanted to add that NFP can and will be exceptionally difficult if one spouse is not fully supportive and onboard with it. If hurt feelings or feeling of rejection come into the picture…it’s hard. The benefits of NFP to a marriage, however, are amazing.

I don’t know about the context of the video that you were watching, but I’ve certainly not found anything painful about NFP. We have to abstain usually between 6 and 9 days to avoid a pregnancy, but some women have more days with fertile signs and it can be much longer for them. At worst, it might be frightening for a couple who have been taught their whole lives that unplanned babies are the end of life as they know it, especially when they first start using NFP. It does take a good dose of trust. But I can’t think of why someone would describe it as painful. Maybe if one party is not on board with using it and they argue over it? That’s the only possibility I can think of.

We all have our cross to bear. For Mr. Evert, it seems his is the practice of NFP. Mine is different.

I have had no problem with practicing NFP, so it is not a cross to me (though some fleeting moments are indeed struggles). I rejected contraception as a concept when I was still young, though I understood the need to space births for whatever serious reasons. Therefore, I sought a way to embrace my whole self, fertility and all, while meeting other needs. NFP provided the solution when I learned about it shortly before meeting my bride. Thankfully, she has been on the same page with me.

I don’t find it particularly difficult. This does somewhat depend on the woman, my cycles are fairly predictable. I know for some women who have very long or irregular cycles, it can require a very long period of abstinence simply because she can’t predict when she will ovulate, it could be at day 10 of the cycle or day 40 or later. A woman with a more average 27-30 day cycle will not require anywhere near that length of abstinence.
We’ve been married 12 years and have two young children, and we both work full time jobs, so in complete honesty, we don’t have the drive to have relations on a very frequent basis. We love each other very much but time, age, family responsibilities, work, and exhaustion take their toll. For us anyway, perhaps not for everyone.

Wait - so you have practiced NFP for 12 years and you only have 2 children?!? wow - that’s amazing - i have heard that most couples that practice NFP have so so so many children - like 9 or something. In your opinion - does NFP work well?

Often, NFP practitioners have more children because they are more frequently talking about whether their life situation would allow them to accept another child. Contracepting couples rarely have such a conversation.

My wife and I have been practicing NFP for 9 years and our first two children are well-planned (meaning, we were seeking to conceive at the time). We conceived a third when we decided we could accept another child. Sadly, we lost that one. Our circumstances have since changed, so there has not yet been another.

NFP works very well.

We’re working on 2 children in about 3 years. Why? Because we planned it that way.

We’re also looking at practicing NFP for a longer period of time (something like 3-4 years) before we’ll be ready to try for another child. I’m absolutely confident that we can make this happen. I had no issue using NFP for an entire year before we conceived child number 2.
We used NFP only to conceive child number one and then used NFP to wait out child number 2.

Couples who practice NFP really are discussing whether they are ready to try for another baby. It allows them to be more open to life.

Couples who use a form of birth control never discuss this. Most have the obligated 2 children and then are “done” without any further discussion. It’s just understood that way.

NFP gives the couple the chance to look at themselves and their lives and see exactly what they are able to afford, provide for and accommodate…both for themselves and their children.
They can have children now and take a break and practice NFP. But life moves on…someone might get a promotion, someone might recover from an illness and the couple can discern that they can be open to another child.

From what I’ve seen with couples who practice NFP…most are just more open to life then realizing that NFP has totally failed them time and time again.

To the OP-keep in mind that one of the times that it is usually “safe” to have sex is during the wife’s period, and IMO, as a woman, that’s a yucky time to have sex, not only because of the cramps and bloating, but because it’s just messy! So remember to add the period abstinence to the 10-12 days of other abstinence. That’s a lot of abstinence, hence the “painfulness.”

I have been using NFP for 16 years and have 1 child. I have a life threatening heart condition that makes another pregnancy fatal. You don’t break or bend the rules when you know it could leave your only child motherless. It is hard at times but life can be at times.

@OP and “NFP couples have 9+ kids” Implicit in your statement is that the couples did not want “9+ kids” and that NFP is therefore unreliable. One, I do not think you could know this from the outside, and two, many NFP families have more kids b/c they want and/or feel called to have more kids. As other posters have noted, NFP promotes an ongoing discernment about what the couple is called to by God, about their responsibities to each other, to the existing family, and to society. A couple needs a serious/just reason to postpone pregnancy, and the ongoing discernment helps to determine how serious a reason a couple has, and if that serious reason can be worked on to eliminate it or not.

Wait?! So now there is not only just 10-12 days but in addition there is also the abstinence from the period? How many days is the period? This is SO confusing! I don’t understand anything about the woman’s cycle. I don’t understand anything about this whole technique of NFP. How many days of the month do you abstain? How many days of the month do you not abstain?

Furthermore, i still don’t understand why it would be painful to abstain for only 10 days out of the month? I mean, that doesn’t sound like a lot of days to abstain. If a couple were to wait for marriage to have sex, that means that they were abstinent for the first 25 years of their lives (assuming a couple would have married at the age of 25). If you have abstained from sex for 25 years of your life, then what is 10 days? This is so confusing.

Avoiding relations during the period is just Cat’s own opinion. There is no moral reason for a Catholic couple to avoid relations during the wife’s period.

NFP instruction offered by the Couple to Couple League includes enough information about physiology to explain how everything works.

You’re also correct about how a couple who have abstained for decades in their premarital life should find it relatively simple to abstain a few days each month. Whatever they did before tying the knot to remain continent should also work afterward.

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