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July 15, 2009
Couples tell of benefits using natural family planning
July 19-25 marks NFP Awareness Week
By Ann Walker
Not only does natural family planning work, but couples who have switched from contraception to the Church approved method for birth regulation say NFP is empowering and healthier for women and enriches a couple’s relationship.
July 19-25 marks this year’s observance of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, a national educational campaign of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. July 25 also highlights the anniversary of the papal encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love and responsible parenthood.
To bring awareness to the truth and beauty of Church teachings on birth control and natural family planning, two couples shared their experiences regarding the decision to switch to NFP after years of using artificial birth control.
Jill and Greg, married in 1995, never received any instruction on NFP or Church teaching on contraception during their marriage preparation. As a result, the newlyweds used birth control for several years.
“We never heard anything about NFP prior to being married so we never thought anything of it,” Jill said.
Several years into their marriage, Jill and Greg began their family. After the birth of their third daughter, Jill decided she no longer wanted to use birth control. After receiving the sacrament of reconciliation and talking with their priest, the couple began using NFP.
“Had we known sooner, we would have used it from the beginning,” Jill said. “I truly believe the Holy Spirit was at work, our knowledge of the Catholic Church and its teachings began to really take off— everything we read said that contraception was evil.”
The decision to use NFP has had a positive impact on their marriage and on Jill’s personal health and well-being.
“We are more open to life and I have personally found NFP to be empowering,” she said. “It makes me more aware of my health—I have fewer migraines and believe the complications with my last pregnancy were caused by previous use of contraceptives.”
Jill and Greg are so convicted by their use of NFP that they hope to become NFP teachers with the Couple to Couple League in Denver.
“After being ignorant for so long I feel a need to help others understand the simplicity and the strength of NFP,” Jill explained. “I don’t know why anyone, even those who aren’t Catholic, wouldn’t embrace NFP in their marriage. It gives knowledge, self-control and can even improve self-esteem.”
Michelle and Zach had been using different contraceptive devices for years, most notably the intrauterine device (IUD). After complications including migraines, an ectopic pregnancy (a fertilized egg implanted outside of the uterus), two expelled IUDs and overall poor body image, Michelle went to her priest in desperation to learn more about NFP.
“I was so disconnected from my body and really struggled with the guilt from my ectopic pregnancy,” Michelle said. “I was preventing my body—physically and chemically—from doing what it was created to do.”
Michelle was directed by her priest to the Archdiocese of Denver’s Marriage and Family Life Web site for more information on NFP. Michelle and Zach were quickly connected to a Creighton FertilityCare practitioner to learn the Creighton method of NFP.
“I can’t even begin to explain how much this system has helped me feel more in touch with my body,” Michelle said. “For the first time in my life I feel like I belong in my body. It’s a real blessing!”
Although the effectiveness of NFP is as high as 99 percent, many couples still have a fear of using it to avoid pregnancy. This was the case for Michelle, who was worried there was no logic behind the process.
“I began to get the hang of the observations and charting, and I was amazed at how my body was responding,” she said. “I can tell when I’m fertile and really understand my body. It’s been an emotional and mental victory for me.”