The following post is very personal, and is a big step for me in sharing my inner most experiences with NFP. Please note that I only speak for myself, and not for others. This is only a commentary on my reasons for using NFP, not other NFP users or even an attack on women who use artificial methods of birth control.
I hope by sharing this with you, you can gain an understanding as to why some people like me go to NFP and implement it into their lifestyle.
Why I use, and continue to use, NFP!
Hormonal birth control makes me queasy. The Pill was not a determining factor for me choosing NFP as my method of family planning; in fact, I have never used any hormonal method. However, there is no denying that I don’t like hormonal birth control and non-hormonal IUDs, and am SO glad a natural, effective alternative exists. Even when I was a young girl, years away from being Catholic and not knowing the controversy of the Pill, I’ve always wanted to be as natural as possible, and messing with my body was on the list as well. I was often teased as a tree hugger by my family for it! I still remember sitting there thinking during Pill commercials, “Are periods so bad you would only want them four times a year? How is messing with your cycle supposed to be healthy? I feel like I would get sick on it.” Just the thought of ingesting synthetic hormones or placing a foreign object into my uterus makes me sick to my stomach. I accept how my body was made and I plan on respecting that.
Barrier methods don't make for great sex. I've tried a barrier method before with my husband...and we didn't like it. At all. I won't go into more detail of the what, when, and why, but simply put: I'm never going back. We've used it multiple times in our past and all it did was make us anxious. We had to be mentally aware of it at all times, we had to prepare for sex, sex had to be stopped if something was wrong...yeah. It was a no go. All it did was make sex a battle instead of a moment of bonding. NFP, admittedly, requires abstinence: but the sex outside of that abstinence? It's great! We go with the flow and never have to worry about whether we are using the barrier correctly. It's all natural, and without the fear of a mishap involved.
NFP saves me money. Admittedly, NFP may have an upfront, pricey cost. However, the price to learn NFP varies depending on whether you get financial help to learn, self-teach through an affordable book and thermometer, and so on. When I first started learning NFP, my husband was going hungry just so I would have enough to eat to nourish myself and provide breastmilk for the baby. It cost no more than 20ish dollars to buy a book, thermometer, and charting app. Had I gone on the Pill, my husband would have had to add on even MORE monthly payments, or had to provide a hefty co-payment for an IUD. And while condoms and other barriers are cheaper, they still add up over the years; not to mention, the cheaper they are, the less effective they become. Instead, we charted successfully with just a book to teach us, and once we had the money, we spent $130 to pay for a class with a SymptoPro instructor online. I will be using NFP until I hit menopause, meaning I will have spent ~150 dollars for my family planning method. That's me using an effective method that will last me decades, and under $200!
Because I like knowing what my body is up to. I can’t tell you how far-off I felt from my periods as a teen. I had to make a calculated guess based on calenders and there would always be a week and a half period of time where I would carry around pads in my backpack or purse, worried about when I would finally start bleeding. I would mistakenly think that my vaginal discharge was just my body dumping out waste from my vagina, so I considered it a “dirty” part of my cycle. It made me feel dirty. But now, I can usually pinpoint the exact day my period will arrive, and I know that my “discharge” is healthy cervical mucus, telling me of my returning fertility. I know when to expect PMS, when to avoid certain trigger foods, etc. Had I had this knowledge at my finger tips in high school, I would be a lot less stressed out.
I like being flexible with my fertility. NFP can be used to not just prevent pregnancy, but also help achieve it when desired. And honestly, my heart is pretty quick to change wishes. My husband and I agree to approach the topic of a new pregnancy in the future, but who’s to say we won’t change our minds next cycle, or even this cycle? Life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, and I want my family planning method to keep up with the craziness that is our life together.
My body is a wilderness and I want to keep it that way. I have always viewed my body as a precious creation of God, equal to that of the sprawling forests or expansive oceans. We see the damage done to the wild through man attempting to control it for menial reasons; why should I limit my own body the same way? It is a lush, warm, natural Temple of God, an intricate part of myself that I can’t fathom putting under the control of synthetic hormones. And the body of my husband is the same: I can’t imagine making love to him with a man-made sheath between us. He has his own temple that I wish to explore and I don’t want a part of him missing when we are together so intimately.
Speaking of the wilderness: NFP is eco-friendly! Condoms cause deforestation (for those made of rubber) and clutter landfills (or even your local sidewalks...yuck). Pills have been shown to pollute local waterways and rivers, and causing infertility in fish populations. Contraceptives as a whole keep being remade to keep with demands, causing pollution and waste like nobody’s business. NFP, however, has much less of a carbon footprint, so to speak. Thermometers create waste, but only need to changed out every ten years, and batteries can be recycled. More and more people are using online/electronic charting apps, cutting down on usage of paper and pens. And not only that, but NFP is hormone-free! (Also, spacing pregnancies through breastfeeding cuts down on the waste produced by using formula).
Worse Case Scenario: I can still use NFP to my benefit. Imagine that the civilized world as we know it is turning upside down. Zombies maybe? Or extensive war? Or perhaps a totalitarian government steps in and decides that women don't deserve access to their choice of birth control. Whatever the worst case scenario, it may end up with women not having reliable and safe access to a family planning method. Well, as Hannah Ransom says on her own blog:
In addition to being so important as a fertility sign because [cervical fluid] can both open and close your fertile time, it’s also important for one other reason: It’s 100% completely your own.
You require absolutely no outside input in order to accurately determine when you are fertile.
I don’t know if it’s just the little person inside of me that likes to imagine the worst case scenario, but I can imagine some instances where birth control is taken away from women completely (or very difficult to access). If that happens, you always have your cervical fluid. They can’t take that away from you.
Worst case scenario: you always have your body and the signs it gives you about the comings and goings of your fertility. No zombie apocalypse or dictatorship can take away your own fertile signs!
God knew what He was doing when He created the female body, and I trust Him on that. Our Creator -- who knows every single hair on our head, hears and remembers our every breath, of whom the birds and oceans and even the smallest creatures sing of His Glory, who molded our very essence from the earth that proclaims His Greatness -- is not a neglectful engineer. He had the needs of us women in mind when He designed our menstrual cycles, and lactating breasts, to help us manage family size naturally, whatever that size may be. Unfortunately we live in a world cursed by sin, meaning some women suffer from menstrual-related illnesses, or go through difficulties in breastfeeding, a deviation from God’s original design. Yet, the knowledge of the female body and human fertility through NFP can be utilized in our medical care, and can still be used as a method of family planning reliably! God isn’t a fool, and my trusting of His craft of the female menstrual cycle is the farthest thing from foolish.
So, there you have it. Why I use and haven't given up using NFP. I hope you gained something from this and better understand why I would use and even promote this method!