Natural Family Planning: Introduction
Having recently qualified as a Natural Family Planning (NFP) teacher ,I have been inundated with questions around the topic. And understandably so, since this is a type of contraception that not many people have heard of. In this article I will aim to answer some frequently asked questions. What is NFP? NFP or the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is simply a means of understanding human reproduction based on observation and charting three scientifically-proven fertility signs. These signs essentially determine whether a woman is fertile or infertile on any given day. They are as follows: basal body temperature (BBT) or waking temperature, cervical fluid and cervical positioning (the latter typically being an optional sign that supports the first 2 signs). By plotting these signs on a chart, we can achieve or avoid pregnancy in a completely holistic way, using nothing invasive and with zero side effects.
SIGN 1: Basal body temperature (BBT)
It must be taken the first thing in the morning, at the same time every single day for this to work. This sign charts the body’s lowest resting temperature which changes depending on where you’re at in your cycle i.e. after ovulation occurs, the BBT will rise, and this clear jump in temperature shows you if you are ovulating and exactly when. SIGN 2: Cervical fluid
Cervical fluid is so important for fertility management. After all, for pregnancy to be achieved, the sperm need a conducive environment to thrive in and to be transported to the uterus. But unlike men (who are fertile all the time), women’s cervical fluid is only fertile a few days in the cycle and being able to identify these days can be crucial.
In essence, the fluid changes under the influence of oestrogen; when oestrogen is present, the fluid slowly develops into a fertile liquid. And as oestrogen decreases, the presence of fertile fluid does too.
SIGN 3: Cervical positioning
This sign is very hit-and-miss. Many people can feel uncomfortable with the idea of tracking this sign, which is fortunate because it is the only optional sign out of the 3. However, even if you choose not to track this sign, I do believe it is still important to understand it. As with the cervical fluid, the cervix prepares itself for a pregnancy every cycle by repositioning into an ideal state through which the sperm can easily and efficiently pass through to find the egg. When the cervix is in this “optimal” position, it is soft, open and higher than usual, so it is closer to the uterus. After ovulation, the cervix will revert back to it’s “infertile” state by become low, firm and closed. This means that the likelihood is sperm passing through to the uterus is significantly lower. CHARTING At first glance, this can all sound very daunting and intimidating. But, like with anything, practice truly does make perfect. And eventually, charting the signs will become a part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth and showering.
All in all, the thing I love most about NFP is that unlike any other form of contraception, it takes bio-individuality in to consideration. Each body is completely unique. No two menstrual cycles will ever be the exact same and not everyone ovulates on the same day. Our fertility deserves unique attention and care, and I truly believe NFP does just that.
DISCLAIMER: For NFP to work best, I highly recommend getting in touch with a qualified teacher to explain each sign in depth, and walk you through the charting procedure.