Natural Family Planning

I’m getting a ton of questions about Natural Family Planning these days. I must have gotten mentioned on a Catholic website or similar somewhere, because I’ve never written about it before now. So here goes…
All forms of birth control, including Natural Family Planning, are extremely effective when done correctly. The weakness in any method, is the users who are hard wired to try and find ways to get pregnant, or get someone pregnant. It’s the “one time” you forget a condom that just happens to line up with her ovulation. It’s her flushing the birth control pills each morning. Even something like a Depo-Provera shot, you would think it’s pretty much foolproof, but it’s always possible to miss an appointment to get the next shot.
Or as Dr Ian Malcolm says, “Life finds a way.”
So while Natural Family Planning done correctly is extremely effective, it is also one of the most wide open methods of birth control to allow life to find a way. Ovulation does skip around a bit. Right when she’s most horny is when you’re not supposed to do it. You don’t have any other form of birth control available on hand to cover the moment of weakness.
I’d also mention that Natural Family Planning is the most perfectly created system of “birth control” to allow a husband to be cuckolded. It purposely keeps the husband’s semen well clear of the vagina during her fertile period, and a lover would be unimpeded in impregnating her. In this sense it is completely unnatural and major display of weakness for a husband to take part in. If she’s ovulating, you’re totally meant to be filling her vagina up with your semen.
That being said, the wives all crazy for Natural Family Planning are typically highly religiously motivated, and one hopes that they are likely to stay faithful if they stay true to form. They are also highly likely to have traditional values and want to get pregnant anyway. So ahhh… wife will find a way.
So anyway, my hunch is that if you’re in a Natural Family Planning relationship, the wife is pretty much running the show as she has total control over the sexuality of the husband. If you’re a husband, you’re having reduced frequency of sex, and having more children than you probably want. So all in all, a woman all excited for Natural Family Planning, is probably fairly questionable as a wife choice for a highly sexed guy.
Which is not to say you should rule out Catholic women as a whole… from Wikipedia…
Catholics for a Free Choice claimed in 1998 that 96% of U.S. Catholic women had used contraceptives at some point in their lives and that 72% of Catholics believed that one could be a good Catholic without obeying the Church’s teaching on birth control.[53] According to a nationwide poll of 2,242 U.S. adults surveyed online in September 2005 by Harris Interactive, 90% of Catholics supported the use of birth control/contraceptives.[54] Use of natural family planning methods among United States Catholics purportedly is low, although the number cannot be known with certainty. In 2002, 24% of the U.S. population identified as Catholic.[22] But of sexually active Americans avoiding pregnancy, only 1.5% were using NFP.[23]
Or put another way, it’s a religion/Catholic thing that most religious/Catholics think is weird/stupid. Not sure how else to spin that. If you’re a husband in a Natural Family Planning marriage, my advice is to simply assume that you’re going to become a father in short order and repeatedly.
Jennifer: All birth control methods have side effects and negatives, it’s simply a case for shopping for the one that works best for you as a couple.I’ve always done well on birth control pills, so we’re doing that. If I wasn’t, we’d find another option. Likely a Copper IUD would be our next option.


  1. Anonymous says:

    There's also the FAM method (fertility awareness method) which a lot of people use synonymously with NFP these days. It's the same thing but a barrier during fertile days (condom, cervical cap, diaphragm…whatever).

    In fact, in the religious circles I'm a part of, almost everyone does it like bunnies when they ovulate…they just use protection. But they all say they're using NFP.

    Otherwise, I think you're spot on. I have so many friends who "accidentally" get pregnant while using NFP/FAM. The fact that their spouse wanted wait and they wanted kids right away of course has nothing to do with it. ;-)

    My husband won't let us do NFP/FAM. I think a copper IUD is actually what we're doing next (I'm pregnant with our second and last now).

  2. Anonymous says:

    FWIW, we've been doing NFP for 4 years with zero babies (I'm fairly sure we're fertile). There are still plenty of things you can do during ovulation… And of course what Anon 11:57 describes as FAM is an option depending on your reasons.

    I will say though, I'm the wife and if anything the one who's been less interested in kids, so there's no risk of "accidents." I can see the danger in the opposite scenario! Even though offspring really need to be a mutual decision, IMHO. I guess life might find a way in spite of trust and decency, sometimes.

  3. Anonymous says:

    To bring up two other primary uses: 1) trying to conceive (a woman actively choosing to follow fertility to increase her chances at conceiving), and 2) using it as a form of following/understanding overall female health (particularly thyroid health).

    As the previous poster mentioned, it's easy enough to use a barrier. For me, the benefit of #2 (we aren't interested in #1) is really enormous. I'm better able to follow my hormones. i run slightly hypothyroidal, but my blood work always is "within normal ranges" but my secondary symptoms, and my fertility chart, show mild hypothyroidism. I can use diet, and various natural remedies to maintain my thyroid function, which in turn maintains my health.

    So, it has other benefits.

    We are looking at the copper IUD, as I wouldn't want synthetic hormones to mess with my cycle, but I question whether the IUD would affect the lining, and therefore my readings of certain "symptoms" or "occurances" that I use to help me identify if my hormones (via my cycles) are healthy or not.

    No one seems to know, so I'm thinking I'll just experiment. :)

  4. To add insult to injury, the Catholic Church forbids masturbation, blowjobs and anal sex. So if your wife is ovulating and you want to ejaculate, tough.

  5. alphapersona says:

    Athol, I'm going to come out of left field with an unrelated question.

    What do you think about men who don't need the red pill? I think of guys like my cousin, who is definitely alpha, his wife falls all over him (head over heels in love), she gets up every day and fixes him breakfast, etc etc. He takes charge of the family and she listens to him, but at the same time she tempers him. He's a man's man all around and seems to have near perfect "natural game". I think it would be damaging to tell him about the whole red pill philosophy – kind of a "don't fix it if it aint broke" sort of thing…

  6. Anna Beers says:

    Every single "We wanted to wait two years before kids" honeymoon baby in my circle has come from friends of mine trying this method. 'Nuff said.

  7. Ian Ironwood says:

    They have a word for people who use this method:


  8. If you have an Android based smartphone, there is a free app called My Days. It is a fertility tracker, and the longer you use it the more accurate it gets at predicting ovulation and mestration. We use it to getermine when condoms are necessary during peak fertility. We've been using it for the better part of a year and it has been very accurate.

  9. Anonymous says:

    My parents used this method. over the course of 25years they had 6 of us….


  10. Anonymous says:

    Alphapersona: check some of the recent previous posts. I think yoy'll find one or more people who have tried applying some of the gmap/game tactics on a healthy relationship, and it kinda backfired. There's a huge difference between self-improvement and game for extra fun in a relationship and using the escalation/ultimatium texhniques of the MAP. Your brother sounds like he's doing well. Focus on adding fun and keeping things hot. From my view, playing with the flirting techniques may not be advised. If she's madly in love with him, why.purposely destabilize her? That's just mean.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Sorry for the typos there… Screen is too tiny to proof on a smartphone. Plus the editing window doesn't like to scroll.

  12. I know Athol has reservations about it, but in the 11 years I've been married, having a vasectomy (about 4 years ago) has had a more positive and lasting effect on my sex life than anything else I've done, and took the least amount of effort.

  13. Anonymous says:

    You know, everyone talking about how NFP doesn't work is sort of pointless. Based on the stats Athol quotes, that's obviously the massive perception anyway.

    The thing is, it is effective (at 99.6%, according to the first study that popped up on Google: with zero side effects or chemicals *barring user error*. As Athol also rightly points out, the potential for user error is huge, so people who really, really don't want to have children should think hard before choosing that route. Spouses who literally can't keep their hands off each other (and I'm not saying that's a bad thing!!) might not be great candidates. But it DOES work, and yes, one of the main benefits is that you just know what's going on with the woman's body.

    Note that "rhythm," ie counting to day 14 and assuming that's ovulation, is not the same thing and does not work except through dumb luck. The science part is key.

    -Anon 12:24, whose parents also used NFP and had exactly the number of children they intended, when they intended (3, in close succession – originally wanted 4 and changed their minds after #3 was a handful, then successfully avoided having any more, ever.)

  14. Anonymous says:

    Actually, NFP can be combined with another method, such as a diaphragm, so that sex can continue during ovulation. Why use NFP at all if you're also using diaphragms? Well, it's much more convenient to not have to deal with them for most of the month, since they do hamper spontaneity. I, personally, can't use hormonal birth control because they are contra-indicated for PCOS, so alternatives are needed.

    NFP does not give the wife control over the sexuality of the husband because, as I said, you can use a back up method. It can, however, make a woman feel more in touch with her own sexuality, as she sees the ebb and flow of her sexual energy. It has definitely made me enjoy sex more, because it makes me feel like a sexual being. It has also helped him see me as even more of a sexual being than he already did, to see me so connected to my reproductive power, even if I'm using that connection to avoid pregnancy. This is a visceral experience, and I cannot put it into words directly.

    By the way, this is not something that I am in total control of with him on the sidelines. He has access to my charts at any time. And he is usually with me when I take my temperature and so on, because I do it just before bed. It's a transparent process.

    Theoretically, I could secretly "forget" to use a diaphragm during the at-risk days. However, if I was going to do that anyway, who's to say I wouldn't secretly "forget" to take birth control pills?

  15. Anonymous says:

    "Actually, NFP can be combined with another method, such as a diaphragm, so that sex can continue during ovulation."

    That would not be "NFP", but "FAM" which the frst commenter mentioned.

    Also, contrary to popular belief even today, NFP is not the "rythym method" of attempting to predict ovulation. Perhaps they were parallel yesteryear, but not today.

    You are right to point out that NFP is not a "wife's problem" but is a practice performed by both the husband & wife, giving both the ability to be more in touch with their sexuality & their spousal relationship. A big part of NFP is spousal communication, not just chart access, but discussions… "Well, looks like we're fertile today, how do we feel about potentially adding to our family?


  16. Dave in the cave says:

    If you're so religious that you strictly adhere to NFP, plus the "in her vagina or you don't ejaculate" method, then it's your religion that's in charge of your sexuality.

    Athol, it sounds to me like you're saying that real alpha men wouldn't tolerate NFP? How is that different from honoring your wife's religious beliefs in every other area of life? My wife and I are church every Sunday religious, and we agreed on NFP. Only our first child was an accident.

    The reason we don't use other birth control (we are not Catholic, by the way) is because we don't believe in it. Would I like to have sex sometimes when we can't? Sure! But you're saying my alphaness is hurt by not insisting that we do something that neither of us believes in? I'm confused.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Dave in the cave, my *guess* is that if it's your _choice_ to not have sex (see "not until tonight" for an alternative), you still maintain your alpha frame. "yes, dear, I know you wanna ride me cowgirl untik you scream, but it's blow job night." Still alpha.

    Beta is being responsible, planning the family with her, and sharing her religion, not just tolerating it.

  18. I believe that there is a VAST gap between the birth control people SAY that they are using and the birth control that they USE. There is a great deal of social pressure within families and religious communities to conform, but family size tells us that there are other pressures (financial) to keep families smaller.

  19. My wife started on the pill right as we got married. I think it totally screwed up our relationship and her libido that first year.

  20. Anon 6:16. I started the deposit shot right before I got married and it nearly did us in. It screwed with my hormones and made me psycho … well as infertile for another year after stopping it. That was from only one shot.

  21. Dang auto correct. That should be Depo not deposit.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I agree that the pill and other hormone contraceptives can really mess with a woman's libido. I had no idea until I went off the pill why I had very little interest in sex. The improvement was quite dramatic and unexpected, because I went off the pill for another reason.

  23. Anonymous says:

    CFC is not a membership organization but an advocacy group. It relies upon paid employees and committed volunteer activists that it selectively recruits in various regions.[21]

    In 2007, CFC had a budget of $3 million, increased from $2.5 million annually in the years leading up to 2003.[1] It is supported largely by secular foundations such as the Ford Foundation, Buffett Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Playboy Foundation.[1][19][35]

  24. Anonymous says:

    I was raised Catholic and we would always joke that you could tell which families used NFP usually they had multiple children all very close in age.

  25. Anonymous says:
  26. Looking back I'd say that natural family planning combined with non-intercourse forms of sex would be totally adequate and much preferable to surgical or chemical fertility control. It's such a short time until fertility wanes naturally anyway!

    I believe the main reasons people don't use natural methods is that they don't have the awareness, motivation and skills required and also have too limited a repertoire of sex practices.

    I found NFP helped me to understand my cycle and helped be become aware of my own well being. I found that a very positive experience and valuable life skill. However, the ex made a big deal of using condoms on fertile days and it did not really bring us closer! Sorry – no babies! Life DID NOT find a way.

    :-) C

  27. I chuckled a little bit about this. The reason we "use" NFP is because I refuse to wear a condom with her, and she doesn't like the effects the pill has on her hormones.

    With that said, its never really slowed us down. We already have kids and want more, so life finding a way isn't an issue for us. What we do when she's fertile is cum everywhere but inside. That way we don't miss out on the sexytime, but still reduce the risk. Once its passed, its business as usual.

    What I find most humorous about everything is that every time we've used contraception we've gotten pregnant, and I know I'm not using the condom wrong.

  28. pull and pray is highly effective as well, so long as you do it.

    my LTR has just gone off the pill at my request prior to us deciding to get married.

    we both want to experience each other 'naturally' with no artificial changes to her hormones before we commit to marriage.

  29. Gosh, I like this blog better when there isn't religion bashing. Seems like there has been so much of it lately.

    That being said, this Catholic couple has been using NFP successfully for 7 years. During the time of the cycle when we avoid pregnancy we do what Athol suggested a few weeks ago in the "Sexy Move: Not Until Tonight" post.

    Why is it okay to do if it's part of a Sexy Move, but "weird/stupid" if one is trying to avoid pregnancy?

    But, hey, thanks for giving people permission to marry a Catholic girl. Sheeeesh.

  30. Lmosskm: thank you! +1

  31. Anonymous says:

    This post should probably also get the "Body Agenda" tag.

  32. "Natural Family Planning". Jeez, whatever buzzwords will they make up next for the ancient Rhythm method.

    At least try to combine it with testicular heating to make it a bit more "foolproof".
    Or rather cuckold proofier.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Wow hans,

    Not particularly up on modern knowledge, eh?

    I suppose writing off anything you don't know about as "stupid" is easier than actually reading a book…


  34. Anonymous says:

    Lmosskm: thank you! +2

  35. I was on the pill for the first year our marriage (didn't start until a couple of months before the wedding) and my sex drive flatlined, no matter the formulation or dose level. We both hate condoms. We had been taught NFP as a part of our marriage prep, and since our sex life, and therefore our marriage, was really suffering we decided to give it a shot. Best thing we ever did- I wanted him again and he started to understand my biology a lot better.

    Re: Who is in control- He tells me when we're in a fertile period as he keeps the charts. He gets the final say since he's most familiar with the rules of the method.

    Re: Cuckolding- Even if I wanted to I'd have to be fool to run around on him with his eye on the charts. He knows the score when it comes to my cycle. It is no easier to cheat with NFP than with any other contraceptive method.

  36. NFP practitioners in the Catholic Church also usually refer to it as “The best kept secret in the Catholic Church.” A vast majority of Catholics never hear about it except maybe a mention of it in their marriage prep (pre-cana) classes, so it’s not really a surprise that the vast majority of Catholics don’t use it. Catholic marketing is really lacking in many areas.

    Also to anyone hearing NFP and thinking “Rhythm”: While rhythm is a natural method by definition, nobody who talks about NFP is talking about rhythm. They are talking about one of the various medically researched and scientifically sound methods, such as the Creighton model (NaPro):

    Catholic teaching in a nutshell is that sexuality has three intertwined and inseparable purposes: unitive, procreative, and pleasureful. IE: Should bond the couples without barriers (physical or psychological), should be open to life (if you are avoiding pregnancy screw up and have sex on your peak day (ovulation +/- 1, usually), you should be open to any new life created. Pleasurable should be self-explanatory.

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