These methods differ from the notoriously unreliable "rhythm method" which relies on counting calendar days, on the assumption that every cycle follows a textbook pattern.
NFP is useful for couples who need to space their children, who wish to achieve pregnancy, and who wish to assess a woman's health when facing reproductive problems ranging from PMS to infertility.
The charting methods involved can also be useful for single women who wish to monitor their cycles as part of their overall maintenance of their health.
The three most commonly used methods are:
Symptothermal Method (STM)
Creighton Model Fertility Care System (CrMS)
Billings Ovulation Method (BOM)
Each method employs different charts, and examines the signs of a woman's fertility in its own way. Each method also involves its own rules for when spouses who wish to avoid or achieve pregnancy should observe periods of abstinence or activity. Depending on their unique needs, couples may find that one method may suit them better than the others. Sometimes these needs change, and couples find it worthwhile to switch methods.
It is also important to note that for the best results when beginning to use a new method, it is crucial to seek support from well-trained teachers and to follow the "rules" very closely. Finding a doctor who is familiar with one's charting method is wortwhile as well, especially if there are health concerns involved.
Natural Family Planning Resources
- Book: Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon (STM-but a good read for anyone)
- Book: The Art of Natural Family Planning (STM)
- Book: The NaPro Technology Revolution: Unleashing the Power in a Woman's Cycle(CrMS, but a good read for anyone)
- California Association of NFP
- Couple to Couple League (STM)
- Creighton Model
- Family of the Americas Foundation (BOM)
- NFP and More
- NFP Resource Manual (PDF. from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston)
- One More Soul--includes a directory of medical professionals familiar with multiple methods of NFP.
- Pope Paul VI Institute (CrMS/NaPro)
For more on why the Catholic Church approves of NFP, and the differences between NFP and artificial contraceptives, read this article at Envoy Magazine.