What is Natural Family Planning (NFP)?
Natural Family Planning is an effective, scientifically based method of family planning that treats fertility as a normal, healthy process. NFP is based upon observations of changes in the woman’s body that reliably reflect her fertility or infertility. The couple using NFP interprets this information and then either has intercourse during the fertile time or abstains during the fertile time, depending upon their family planning intention.
What are the signs of fertility observed for NFP?
Couples using NFP may observe changes in the woman’s cervical mucus, her awareness of changes in vaginal sensations, changes in the cervix itself as well as changes in her waking temperature. Additionally, there are some slight indicators known as secondary signs that may be observed. One that many women are familiar with is intermenstrual pain (mittleschmerz).
Are there different methods of NFP?
Yes. Different methods have been developed. Some NFP systems utilize just the cervical mucus observation. Others include an awareness of vaginal sensations. The Sympto-Thermal Method incorporates observation of the cervical mucus, vaginal sensations, changes in the cervix itself, as well as the woman’s waking temperature.
How is NFP different than "Rhythm?"
It’s not Calendar Rhythm which was a guesstimate. Modern methods of NFP are based on daily observations so any variation (earlier signs of fertility or delay in fertility) may be taken into account. It can be used after childbirth and discontinuing hormonal contraceptives and during premenopause.
Are there any fertility devices or tests that can be used for NFP?
There are a number of devices and hormonal tests that are marketed with FDA approval for identifying the fertile time of the cycle. To date, none of them have been FDA approved to help avoid pregnancy. Such approval expects a high standard of technological effectiveness to identifying fertility and infertility. Right now, learning the method through classes is the most effective way to practice NFP. Some women find the devices and tests reinforce what they have learned in classes.