It was a few years ago when my interest in Natural Family Planning (NFP) was sparked. I was intrigued by the concept of truly understanding your body and its happenings while also being able to identify fertility markers.
But as much as I thought it all sounded interesting, I never imagined that I’d dive into that world until I was close to marriage.
After all, it seems like everyone learning NFP is over here like:
And I’m here all:
That all changed when I attended the Vita Institute.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Vita Institute, it’s an intensive interdisciplinary training program for leaders in the national and international pro-life movement. A program of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, the Vita Institute was one of the most incredible weeks of my life. Not only was the educational material top-notch, but the community fostered between myself and the other participants is unmatched.
Following that lecture, I decided that I needed to learn how to chart via Creighton. I know a bit about most NFP models, but Creighton was the one that has come most highly recommended from friends and family.
And so, in February of 2015, I began to meet with a Fertility Care Practitioner (FCP) to learn the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. I’ve been charting for about 5 months now and wow. So cool.
My reasons for learning Creighton stemmed from past complications in my cycle and the desire to learn more about my fertility. When I was in college, my doctor decided to put me on the pill because my irregular cycles were due to a lack of ovulation. Yet, the pill suppresses ovulation. Hormonal birth control is often prescribed to “fix” a problem, when it actually just masks it without digging to the cause.
Additionally, I know many couples who had a quick engagement and between preparing for marriage, planning a wedding, etc., they also threw learning NFP into the mix. More often than not, I’ve seen friends either stressed by the pressure to learn NFP in a short amount of time, or neglect their instruction amidst the buzz of planning.
Basically, I don’t want to do that. I have no idea when marriage will become a reality in my life, and I also have no idea if my future husband and I will have grave reasons for avoiding pregnancy. Regardless, I intend to enter into marriage as prepared as possible. I desire to be equally spiritually, emotionally, and fertility-y prepared for marriage.
So, this is for any single lady who’s been thinking about learning an NFP method, or anyone who thought that NFP was only for married people. I’ve been in both camps and I want to make a few points.
1. Reading about NFP methods online and from friends is not sufficient for effective use.
I have friends, married and single alike, who haven’t been formally trained in any particular NFP method, but “get by” with borrowed materials from friends and/or online research. From my experience, you will never be able to fully learn any NFP method without formal instruction. I went into my first appointment with my FCP thinking that this would all be a piece of cake. But several follow-ups later, I am convinced that having a practitioner who gives me, my chart, and my questions individualized attention is much better than any Google search.
Do yourself a favor and seek out an instructor before teaching yourself a wonky version of NFP.
2. It IS NOT unethical for unmarried women to learn NFP.
This question was asked in a Facebook group for unmarried ladies who are interested in NFP. Considering that NFP is often misjudged as “natural birth control”, I can understand the worry that using NFP will only encourage promiscuity.
But truly, all NFP methods are focused on learning the unique rhythm of each woman’s body. While you are taught how to identify days of fertility and infertility, NFP is NOT natural birth control. Creighton, in particular, is taught in a way that is cognizant of the human person as mind, body, and soul. NFP sees fertility as a part of health, not a disease to be fixed. Learning NFP can also help to identify biomarkers of abnormalities, which are useful for any woman.
3. Learning NFP is worth the investment.
I’m not familiar with what cost is associated with learning NFP methods other than Creighton, but I’m sure there’s something. It’s my understanding that each instructor is responsible for setting their rates, but I could be wrong. Additionally, I’ve heard multiple instructors say that they never turn away someone because they can’t afford the session fees.
As a single lady trying to live my life off of one income, the price tag attached to learning Creighton was daunting at first. But ultimately, I know that whatever I need to pay to learn Creighton is an investment in knowledge for the rest of my life. After your first year of instruction, follow-ups are more spread out and the majority of the cost comes from materials (once every 6 months).
Additionally, depending on your health care plan, you may be able to get reimbursement for out-of-pocket charges through a flex-spending account or the like. Look into how you can make this work! Giving up Starbucks twice a week would cover my follow-up fees, and isn’t that worth a lifetime of knowledge?!
4. Why wait to learn something that you can implement today?
Sure, NFP is an awesome tool to be utilized within marriage for family planning. However, there is so much more to learning NFP than just knowing when you could make a baby.
Through the observation you’re taught, hormonal imbalances, issues like PCOS or endometriosis, and more is able to be detected. In this information-obsessed society, it seems natural that women would want to know as much as possible about their own bodies as possible. For me, I was interested in learning Creighton so that I can detect potential fertility issues now rather than down the road whenever marriage comes into play.
5. The human body is AWESOME.
How incredible is it that without any high-tech tools, I can monitor where I am in my cycle and my current fertility? Like, talk about being a crunchy hippie. I’m serious about my faith and chastity, but it’s still fascinating to know on certain days: “Huh, my body could maybe make a baby today.”
Just by learning how to make observations and evaluate them, you can take charge of your fertility. NFP gives patients the chance to have a hand in understanding and tracking their health, something that most modern medicine cannot say.
I encourage anyone who’s even remotely interested in learning more about NFP and how to begin learning to check out some of the resources below. And if I didn’t convince you to dig deeper, maybe Kelly can.
Originally posted at Follow and Believe