Advantages of natural family planning:
Natural family planning is a healthy method of fertility regulation, as there is no interference with the normal physiology of the menstrual cycle, and therefore it protects future fertility. It is also:
- Eco-friendly – no hormones or chemicals are used that pollute the environment or that may harm the body.
- Highly effective – and it can be used to achieve as well as to avoid pregnancy, and can be used at all stages of a woman’s reproductive life.
- Free from side effects – as there are no drugs or devices needed
- Easy to learn and use. After only three cycles each woman can confidently undertake self-observation and apply it to regulate her fertility.
- More independent- the couple have control of their fertility and are independent of outside agencies for prescriptions or devices.
- Improving communication between the couple as both partners agree to share the responsibility for fertility regulation. “Couples find that living with their combined fertility changes their relationship to one of greater mutual consideration and respect”.1
- Morally acceptable to all, irrespective of religion or culture.
- Intuitive – women become familiar with the natural patterns of their menstrual cycle and can readily notice any unusual change from the normal.
- Inexpensive – it’s cheap, the cost being nominal only, a thermometer and charts.
Disadvantages of natural family planning:
- Abstinence may be a problem for some couples, and may require a change of life style.
- Fertility is shared, therefore living with NFP requires that both partners be motivated and agree to use NFP as their method of fertility regulation.
- It requires training from a qualified NFP teacher, and it usually requires charting for about three cycles for the woman to become completely familiar with her own cervical mucus symptom, basal body temperature (BBT) and cycle pattern.
1 Klaus, Hanna; ‘Natural family planning – Is it scientific? Is it effective?’ see page 15; Newman Lecture Series 1-May 21, 2000. (internet; google ‘natural family planning, Dr Hanna Klaus’).
Does it take long to learn Natural Family Planning and to achieve Autonomy?
Natural family planning is an educational rather than a technological approach to fertility regulation. After charting for three cycles using the ‘symptothermal method of natural family planning’, most women will be confident in their observations and will become autonomous, irrespective of educational background.
What does autonomous mean?
Client autonomy means that the couple have learned natural family planning and they are now self-reliant in applying it; this achievement of autonomy will depend largely on their motivation and mutual support.1 The autonomous natural family planning client will :
- correctly observe and chart the daily signs of fertility.
- understand and recognize the fertile and infertile days of her cycle.
- will adjust sexual behavior to correspond with family planning intention, i.e. will use periodic abstinence if pregnancy is not desired.
- express satisfaction with the method.4
The couple can always contact the natural family planning teacher if they have a query e.g. if there is a change in their situation as after the birth of a child, or during the pre-menopause.
The World Health Organization field trial of the ‘Ovulation Method’ of natural family planning found that 90% of women were able to distinguish their mucus pattern during the first cycle. Most women are proficient by the 3rd cycle unless they are discontinuing anovulant medication or lactating. After three to six cycles have been experienced the onset of the fertile phase and ‘peak day’ are easily recognized by most clients.2,3
- Klaus, Hanna; ‘Natural family planning – Is it scientific? Is it effective?’ see page 15; Newman Lecture Series 1; May 21, 2000. ( on the internet if you google ‘natural family planning, Dr Hanna Klaus’);
- Klaus, H ; Natural Family Planning : A Review 2nd Edition. July 1995, page 12,13; NFP Center of Washington, D.C. Inc., 8514 Bradmoor Drive, Bethesda, MD 20817-3810.
- World Health Organization; ‘A prospective multi-centre trial of the Ovulation Method of Natural Family Planning 1; The Teaching Phase’; Fertility & Sterility; Vol. 36, no 2, Aug 1981; p152-158.
- Kambic RT, Martin MC; ‘Evaluating client autonomy in natural family planning” Adv. Contracept. 4 (1988) 221-231
To be most effective, the woman must be taught the Symptothermal Double-Check Method of Natural Family Planning by a qualified natural family planning teacher.