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"Natural" Family Planing?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I've been hearing a lot about NFP in correlation with using/relying on many not-so-natural tools. I don't know that much about NFP, but the name makes me think of a more natural method than what I've seen (though I haven't seen much.) Is it that without these newer tools it is less effective?
I'd like to talk about it, especially if anyone has done it naturally (for lack of a better word.)
post #2 of 17
You can do nfp with only a thermometer. I guess technically you could do it without it, but you wouldn't be getting it on very often.

I use the fam (fertility awareness method), and I use the thermometer and condoms on my fertile days.

I guess "natural" just refers to the lack of mechanical or chemical birth control, not to the lack of anything physical at all (other than your body). It's certainly more natural than the other methods, because it is a record of what your body naturally does, with nothing added.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
I just reread my op, and I think I sounded a little b*tchy! I don't know why, that's not how I meant it at all!!!
Thanks for your reply, happypants! I've only heard fo fam, I've never heard anything about it. Did you want to tell me a little about it???
post #4 of 17
I didn't even use a thermometer.

I used the Billings method for 2 years (Ovulation method) to not get pregnant and it only took one try to get pregnant when we wanted to. Just do a search for "Billings method" and you should find his site.

This is the method that the Catholic church approves of and I got my book, which is just a small workbook with stickers for $6 at the Catholic book store. We are not Catholic or really very religious at all, so we used condoms during "high risk" times.

I found it easy but I think it helps that my periods were very regular.

We use condoms all the time now b/c I have no AF still from breastfeeding.

post #5 of 17
my basic understanding is that NFP relies on the calendar and your temperature. FAM relies on those two, with the addition of monitoring cervical fluid and cervical position....leading to greater accuracy than just temp and date alone. The book Taking Charge of Your Fertility in one very good work on the subject, there's another whose title is escaping me. How Billings fits into that I have no idea. However, NFP is also taught in catholic churches so maybe they are different words for the same thing? or some sort of evolution. FAM and NFP would both be appropriate for Catholics. The "rhythm" method was an earlier iteration...I think it used just the calendar?

technically, a calendar rather than just drawing slashes on the wall or marks on a stick, is artificial too. Requiring literacy, printing, a knowledge of astronomy. So how far you want to go? (I am kidding...)
post #6 of 17
I was under the impression that nfp is the same thing as fam except with the former you abstain during fertile times and with the latter you use some sort of barrier method. So with nfp it's "unnatural" to use a barrier, that's why you would abstain. With fam you only want to avoid catching the egg, so you know when it's coming, and when it is, you keep the spermies from getting to it.

post #7 of 17
I really do think FAM is the addition of using cervix position and fluid to chart fertile times...as to what to do during fertile times, that's a personal decision that doesn't matter on method. Plenty of FAM people abstain, and I am sure many NFP people use a barrier method.
post #8 of 17
Billings (not sure how it fits in with FAM or NFP) uses awareness of cervical mucus. No temping necessary. it was designed that way so that it could be taught in 3rd world, where not everyone could just run to Walgreens and get a thermometer. The title of the book I have is "The Ovulation Method: Natural Family Planning". It is anti-barrier, being a Catholic pub and all, but that is to be expected. I just skip that part

post #9 of 17
Clarity, I think you are correct that many NFP and FAM couples mix the two methods ---albeit unknowingly---but by their definition, NFP promotes abstinence during the fertile phase of a woman’s cycle.

NFP is the Sympto-thermal method(STM), meaning that it charts a woman’s fertility sign ( primarily cervical fluid/mucus, but also the cervical position) and crosschecks those signs with the basal, or waking, temperature. The opening of the cervix, the os, will give a 1-2 day lead time on changes in cervical fluid. FAM also instructs how to gauge the fertility signs. I am not aware of any research showing that FAM is more effective than NFP. The failure rates for normal condom use would indicate the opposite. (The Billings folks, the Families of the America’s folks and the CCLI folks provide efficacy data to those interested). The MAIN difference between NFP and FAM is that NFP promotes abstinence during the fertile period, called Phase II. Another difference is that the world’s major religions accept NFP. The Billings method is ovulation-only and has been successfully used all over the world, promoted by the WHO. Interesting note: Mother Teresa taught natural family planning to her nurses in her hospitals and those who followed her instructions were excluded from India’s mandatory sterilization program. How about that for effectiveness : ) FYI, there is yet another method, the Creighton model.

While any natural method is easier with a *regular cycle*, very few women have a 28 day cycle every month, year after year. Most women observe some fluctuation in overall cycle length of 2-5 days; however, their luteal phases remain fairly constant each month. Broadly speaking, the luteal phase is the time from ovulation and the onset of menses. Charting provides women with a detailed look at what’s going on in their cycle, regardless of the method.

Hope this helps : )

post #10 of 17
My dh and I used the sympto-thermal method of NFP to avoid pregnancy for the first two years of our marriage. In June, we got pregnant on our first cycle ttc.

Technically, NFP consists of the sympto-thermal method (temping with mucus and cervical position cross-checking), the Billings method (mucus only), and the Creighton method (mucus only, I believe). FAM is the same as NFP's sympto-thermal method, except it encourages barrier use during the fertile time rather than abstinence.

Palmetto seems to have explained this pretty well, but I thought I'd throw in a couple extra details since others had things a little turned around.

The sympto-thermal method has been shown to have 99%+ effectiveness when used correctly. I think the mucus-only methods have 97%+ accuracy. Notice that both are higher than most every other method of contraception, and sympto-thermal has a similar effectiveness to the Pill.

Personally, I found that my luteal phase varied by 3-4 days from cycle to cycle, and my cycle lengths overall varied from 21-27 days (I have shorter than average cycles).

The sympto-thermal method uses a variety of cut-off days to determine one's fertile time. Although any of them should prevent pregnancy, if one has a crucial reason to avoid pregnancy, the most conservative rule can be used. We erred on the side of conservative, and usually had around an 11-12 day fertile time in my average 24-25 day cycle.
post #11 of 17
The opening of the cervix, the os, will give a 1-2 day lead time on changes in cervical fluid.
So, does this mean that your cervix will open and then 1-2 days later your cervical fluid will become more fluid and your cervix will still be open?
post #12 of 17

You've got it. The cervix generally opens, softens, and raises during the fertile period in your cycle. Some women who have difficulty distingishing less-fertile cm (sticky/tacky/viscous) from more-fertile cm (eggwhite/stetchy/clear/creamy) find that checking the cm near the opening of the cervix will give them a 1-2 day "preview" of what cm is on the way. So, let's say you have a 30 day cycle, and you usually ovulate around day 16. On day 11 you might notice the hint of stickiness, but you're not sure if this signals a fertile period or not. Checking the cm at the cervical os should let you know. After 4-7 days, when you notice less-fertile cm, the cervix will be firm, closing, and lower.
Pretty cool, huh?
post #13 of 17
Very cool! THanks!
post #14 of 17
We just check CM and that's it. I have a microscope to look at my saliva but rarely use it. I feel pretty confident using just mucus checks.

Did want to add though: When DH and I were learning this, we used spermicidically lubricated condoms. I observed NO fertile CM at all for months. The spermicide CAN interfere w/your observations of EWCM. Just thought I'd add that since lots of people mentioned condoms. ALso, personally, I wouldn't use condoms during my fertile period, since if they fail in some way, your chances are really high of conceiving. Just MHO. We just abstain or have non-seminal intercourse. And it's not for any religious reasons, we just hate condoms and most of the time are VERY serious about not getting pregnant. We're WAY to fertile. LOL

HTH> I guess you can be as "natural" as you want, KWIM? I am just way too lazy to do things like take my temp or even check my cervix. We just steer WAY clear of my fertile period. I do however, keep a chart up in the room so that we both know when things will most likely start looking fertile, and when they won't too!
post #15 of 17

WOW -- I am just getting started in NFP or FAM -- I am NOT even sure. This all sounds so complex; worse than college.

: : : :
post #16 of 17
I guess then that using an ovulation predictor kit wouldn't be considered NFP??? Even if you use it in combination with looking for symptoms and reading your tempature?

post #17 of 17
lunar forest

My husband and I used NFP with the billings method and didn't use any condoms or any barrier methods. We simply abstained on my fertile days.

It was a wonderful tool for our marriage! I felt so in touch with my fertility and cycles and it helped my dh to be more aware of it.
It was truly wonderful. Right now we are simply relying on LAM until I get pregnant again.

I was just thinking today about how beautiful it is that woman's lives function in cycles. If you don't use birth control there is a beautiful repeating cycle or pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding that goes on uninterrupted. ( of course for those times when it really is not possible for this cycle to go on there's NFP )
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