Welcome to National NFP Awareness Week!
Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is an educational campaign among the Church in the United States to celebrate God’s design for married love and the gift of life, and to raise awareness about the natural, moral, and safe methods of family planning available to help couples effectively achieve or postpone pregnancy. This week, we’ll be answering all your NFP questions, highlighting the best resources, and showcasing real life NFP stories! We hope you’ll follow along with us!
Resources to get you started:
* St. Catherine’s has a specially curated NFP website with lots of info! www.stcatherinercc.org/nfp-ministry
* Find out more about NFP and the science behind it: https://www.usccb.org/topics/natural-family-planning/nfp-science
* Read Humanae Vitae, the short 1968 document from Pope Paul VI that clearly defines Church teaching on married love and human sexuality: https://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae.html
What is NFP and why does it matter?
NFP is the general term for the use of scientifically-proven methods that teach women to understand their bodies and identify their fertility by tracking their menstrual cycles. These methods help couples to safely, effectively, and morally avoid and achieve pregnancy (these are not your grandma’s rhythm method!). NFP also unlocks the deeper meaning of the female body’s beautiful design, and in a special way offers to women (teens, too!) empowering body knowledge. NFP doesn’t include any artificial measures (like barriers or the Pill) and relies on abstinence during the woman’s fertile time. It's a beautiful tool that works with (not against) male and female fertility, and respects the full and total gift of self that spouses offer to each other in the marital union.
To more fully understand why the Church asks married couples to embrace NFP as a way of life, it helps to have a vision of what married love is meant to be in God’s beautiful plan. The Church’s teaching on family planning is deeply rooted in the understanding of human love and sexuality, the meaning of the body, and marriage as a sacrament: Marriage and procreation, Scripture teaches, are gifts from God. When spouses conceive new life, they participate in the Lord God's creative power. This is an awesome privilege and sacred responsibility! To learn more about these beautiful teachings on marriage and family, visit https://www.usccb.org/topics/natural-family-planning/church-teaching.
How to choose an NFP method that is right for you:
Did you know that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to natural family planning? There are many methods and instructors to choose from, and couples are encouraged to learn a method that fits their lifestyle! When choosing a method, it helps to know how NFP works. A woman observes and records her daily patterns of fertility, called biomarkers: cervical mucus, basal body temperature, and/or hormone levels. Specific protocols are then followed to determine her fertile days. Methods vary, but each relies on the "charting"(observing + recording) of these biomarkers. There are three main method categories, based on biomarker observations:
Cervical fluid methods: Cervical mucus observation - involves observing and recording the patterns and changes of cervical fluids throughout the month. Sympto-hormonal methods: Estrogen and LH levels combined with mucus observations - use of ovulation test kits and/or electronic monitors that measure reproductive hormones in the urine, along with the observation of cervical fluids. Sympto-thermal methods: Basal body temperature and cervical mucus observations - combines daily waking temperature, cervical fluids, and other minor signs of fertility.
Explore your method options here: https://fabmbase.org/method-overviews/.
And find local instructors here: https://bit.ly/instructors-atl.
NFP is for every woman!
Not married? Ladies, NFP is still for you! Fertility awareness — which is simply the observing and recording of a woman’s signs of fertility — is the basis for natural family planning. But equally important, it’s also a springboard for women to track and maintain their overall health. Your cycles are a vital sign — like your blood pressure and pulse — giving you information about your body as a whole. When you know the parameters of a healthy period and ovulation, you can also quickly detect when something is abnormal.
Fertility awareness gives women and teens (yes, teens!) invaluable body literacy by helping them understand and interpret their cycles. Instead of overlooking the mechanisms that make you uniquely female, you can be empowered to master your cycles and become an informed participant in making healthy choices for your reproductive health. This is a gift!
Learn more here: www.naturalwomanhood.com. Looking for a local Catholic provider who specializes in problem cycles? Dr. Nick Kongoasa (tag RHM gynecology??) is a wonderful gynecologist whose team is skilled at helping women at all stages of their fertility to achieve health. Check them out here: https://www.rhmgyn.com.
Benefits of NFP and stories from real life
Contrary to what the culture tells us, NFP isn’t a teaching imposed on us by an archaic Church to make us miserable. NFP is actually good for your health, good for your marriage, and good for your family life!
But don’t just take our word for it! Check out some stories from our own parishioners about how NFP has been a blessing in their lives: "Much like the journey of faith, Natural Family Planning is a daily, weekly, monthly commitment, a walking side by side and arm and arm with God. It requires a unified front with a shared goal and cannot be achieved without a deep, personal relationship between spouses and our Creator.” www.stcatherinercc.org/nfp-ministry
NFP is a share in the Cross :
We hope this week has given you a new awareness of the beauty of natural family planning and how it can benefit you! NFP is a radical and noble call to live out the Gospel within our marriages — but the Gospel cannot be separated from the Cross. The Cross has to be embraced, endured, received, and loved — day in and day out. This process is refining and life-giving, and impossible without God’s sustaining grace! So on the days that you feel burdened or weary from embracing NFP, know that you’re not alone and turn to the Lord for help and strength. He’s waiting to pour out His grace upon you and your marriage!
"The teaching of the Church regarding the proper regulation of birth is a promulgation of the law of God Himself. And yet there is no doubt that to many it will appear not merely difficult but even impossible to observe. Now it is true that like all good things which are outstanding for their nobility and for the benefits which they confer on men, so this law demands from individual men and women, from families and from human society, a resolute purpose and great endurance. Indeed it cannot be observed unless God comes to their help with the grace by which the goodwill of men is sustained and strengthened. But to those who consider this matter diligently it will indeed be evident that this endurance enhances man's dignity and confers benefits on human society.” — Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae
You’re not alone in the struggle! Check out these short videos from Jackie and Bobby Angel on Ascension Presents:
Why We Love NFP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zurYP8yj26U&t=153s
Why We Hate NFP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgXKbF4Q5A0
NFP in your life..
Thank you for joining us during NFP Awareness Week 2022! We hope you’ll continue to learn more about living natural family planning and how to make it a beautiful reality in your life! Below is a list of our favorite resources to encourage and inspire you on the journey to holiness in your marriage and family life. And St. Catherine’s NFP Ministry is here for you! Stay tuned for upcoming new offerings and events, and feel free to reach out anytime: