Thursday, December 18, 2014

"I Gained a Better Appreciation of My Wife": Why NFP?

James and Karen join us this month in a "he said"- "she said" explanation of why they use Natural Family Planning (NFP). Karen experienced bad mood swings on hormonal birth control, which wasn't good for their relationship. Although they originally tried NFP and gave up on it, they eventually returned. Karen enthuses, "It's like a health checkup every month!" and James says that NFP has given him a greater appreciation of Karen -- "not just sexually, but about all of who she is." For more posts in the monthly interview series Why and How Natural Family Planning Works for Us, click here.

Hello, we are Karen and James, and we have been married for 12 years. We tried to use NFP early in our marriage, gave up, then came back to it. Since then, we have been using it for about 2 1/2 years. We have two living children ages 10 and 8 and one in heaven from an ectopic pregnancy. 

1. Why do you use NFP?

K: Health reasons. Birth control does not agree with my body.

J: Health reasons. She was having some health issues and we figured out that the birth control  was the cause of it.

2. Which method of NFP works best for you?

K: Billings Ovulation Method, but with a basal body temperature cross-check. So Billings-thermal. [Editor's Note: The Billings Ovulation Method works by tracking the woman's production of cervical mucus. Cervical mucus looks and feels different during fertile times. A woman's basal body temperature rises noticeably after ovulation, so tracking temperature changes can confirm that ovulation has occurred and the rest of the cycle will be infertile days.]

J: Karen has also used some of the cheap over-the-counter pregnancy kits that you can get on Amazon at 50 for $10. I don't know how reliable the kits are on their own, but they do a good job at confirming the other signs.

3. What are the biggest pros and cons of using NFP, in your experience?


Pros: I'm not crazy or moody or with PMS half the month. When we do get to have sex, it's really good sex. It's nice to know what my body is doing when. It's like a health checkup every month!

Cons: We don't get to have as much sex as we want. It is extremely hard to learn while sexually active, especially if barrier methods are not an option during the learning curve. Girls should learn this as teenagers, before they are sexually active.


Pros: Karen's a lot healthier and doesn't have the crazy mood swings she used to have. It's good to know how her hormones impact her mood so that I can be better prepared. The sex has gotten better, too. It's no longer something we take for granted.

Cons: The abstinence, especially when you don't know how long it's going to be. Also, it can take time to find a teacher you work well with and a method that works for you.

4. What NFP resources does your diocese have?

J: The Diocese of Charleston (South Carolina) is large in area, but has very few Catholics. The Catholic hospitals have classes and some individual teachers teach. The diocese supports NFP, but because it's so spread out, that doesn't mean classes/support/etc. are always accessible.

5. What NFP resources have been most useful to you?

K: The most useful NFP resources have been the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler and our teacher, Kristin Putnam, at

J: Kristin and her husband, Tim, have been extremely helpful. As for other resources, Google is your friend. And if you really want to get in-depth with the science, PubMed.

6. How do you think your marriage would be different if you used artificial contraception instead of NFP?

K: Since making the "switch" we have had better sex, but we don't always get to have as much sex as we want or when we want it. My birth control is no longer making me crazy, which obviously helps our relationship.

J: I have found that I've definitely gained a better appreciation of her, not just sexually, but about all of who she is. The sex is definitely is better—not only is it a lot harder to take for granted when you are using NFP, but the sex we do have is a lot more intimate. Although we don't have any plans for more children, I feel more open to the possibility and that was not the case when we were using contraception.

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