Natural Family Planning: How to get started series!
Breaking from our normal Frequently Asked Friday format this, and the following several posts, will be done as a series. Please consider sharing your experiences and helpful tips in the comments below!
So you’ve decided to start charting your fertility! That’s awesome! But now what? Well…Let me find my inner Julie Andrews and we’ll start at the very beginning and work through this together!
Whether you are single and charting for health reasons, or are married and in serious need of postponing pregnancy, the NFP world can be a very confusing place with the different options, methods, and providers, to sort through. For the NFP newbie and even some of us veterans it’s hard to know where to start and which direction would be best for us. And that’s the thing! There’s no one method that is best for every. single. person. What method is best for you depends on your own personal needs, limitations, and complicating factors. As there are no absolutes the below information as well as future information in this series should not be taken as “gospel” but rather should be considered encouragement in the thought process needed to make an informed decision.
Step One: Know your options!
You can’t discern what may or may not work for you if you don’t know what your options are. So to start out there are two things I would suggest.
First – Take some time to learn about the various NFP methods available. While you do this consider the following:
While charting multiple fertility signs can mean more clarity for some, for others, it can also mean more confusion. It’s common for the NFP newbie to assume that the more symptoms they track the more effective or reliable their charting will be but this often just isn’t so. As you research, try to not to make any assumptions about one method being more effective then another based on what symptoms it tracks or how it tracks them. All modern NFP methods are highly effective in perfect use (every rule applied accurately, every time), so choosing a method is more about finding one that compliments your personality as well as any physical limitations you may have. It’s about finding a method that you fit best with so following the rules is made as easy for you as possible.
You can learn about some of the NFP Methods available through the following links:
- Our LTS NFP Methods Directory – You will notice there are 3 main categories of methods (Sympto-Hormonal, Mucus Only, and Sympto-Hormonal) with several providers for each method type. We have described (In a very basic way) the symptoms each method-type tracks as well as provided links to a page about each method where you can learn more and be directed to the provider’s business page for further detail. Over the next couple of posts in this series we will talk more about the differences between the methods and how that may affect your choice.
- Catholicmom.com has a write up from Sarah Fox Peterson which contains a more observation based description of the method options. Note: we will only be recommending commonly used methods that are based on daily observations and are approved but the USCCB. This sheet gives a nice overview however of what is out there.
- iusenfp.com also has descriptive write-ups on many of the options currently available. These descriptions go even more into detail about the daily observations made by each method category so definitely make time to check it out!
Second – While most methods now have online options or can be taught virtually, most NFP instructors and users who have worked through any amount of charting difficulty, will tell you that being in close contact with a knowledgeable instructor is invaluable. Whether you are Catholic or not, I would highly suggest contacting your local Catholic Church. Find out if they are aware of any instructors in the area and ask if they have any information on who you could contact at the Diocese for more information. Unfortunately not all Diocese have an official NFP office however, most should at least have a contact person with a general idea of instructors in your area. In addition you can go straight to the methods. Most have an instructors list or will respond to a quick e-mail for options in your area. In my opinion, if all else is even close to equal, I’d err on the side of working with a knowledgeable, in-person, instructor if at all possible. That being said if you are limited in the methods available to you locally don’t lose hope! In the digital age we live in, working long distance is easier then ever before. In our next post we’ll look at several of the most popular NFP methods today and review how they’re using technology to benefit their students and streamline their method. We’ll also review common costs involved with start-up as well as any monthly expenses that may be incurred.
Is there something you would like discussed moving forward? Something you are curious about or you feel would have been invaluable when you were just an NFP novice? Leave a comment below or contact us and we’ll be sure to cover it in future posts!
To see the rest of this “How to get started series” Click Here!
I can only imagine how frustrating the irregular and uncomfortable cycles associated with PCOS are. I think it is wonderful that you are starting down this road with education on your side.