Why Are Only 3% of Catholics Using NFP?

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Why Are Only 3% of Catholics Using NFP?

Why Are Only 3% of Catholics Using NFP?

Since Natural Family Planning is the only acceptable method of family planning within the Catholic church, we have to ask ourselves WHY are only 3% of Catholics actually using it?

This is not an article to convince you die hard NFP fans of the benefits of NFP.  We know that you get it, you understand it, and you embrace it.  But you are only 3% of the Catholic population, and truly are an anomaly.  This is an attempt to dig deeper.  So far we have been unsuccessful as a church, and we have to look at why?

We ran a family practice clinic for many years, in which we encouraged NFP, and even offered classes within our walls.  We never offered another option, because other methods are not healthy for the women, or the couple.  Remember that phrase “First do no harm”?

With so many easy options for birth control out there, it’s no wonder that people don’t want to take the time to learn a method, and then figure out when to abstain.

These are my observations and conclusions based on the women I have encountered over the past 10 years.

1.  Cost.  Even though the cost of birth control is expensive, and doctor visits are even more costly, we have found that the cost of NFP classes has been a significant deterrent for couple choosing how to plan their families. NFP classes can range from $110 and up.  Follow up classes with instructors can cost $40-$60 or more per session.  And even if you offer the class for free, you won’t get flocks coming to you, because if it’s free, it’s probably not of significant value right?  This is the mentality of so many, and we have to understand where people are coming from, and meet them there.

2. Time constraints.  Most methods require the couple abstain for one month minimum while they learn the method.  And how many couples are in favor of that plan?

Yes…true, if you are reading this article, you are probably in the category that did abstain, did take the classes, and maybe waited until marriage.  Again, we must meet people where they are at, and make an invitation.  This is the lesson I have learned from Mother Mary.  She always invites.  There is no coercion, no threats; its always an invitation to a better life.

In addition, the woman/ couple must make time to go to the classes.  Classes can take several hours, and meet at least 3-4 times.  While it is appropriate to do this, it is still a deterrent.   I believe that couples should learn about their own bodies and their fertility.  But let’s face it: if it’s too time consuming, the couple will choose a path of less resistance.

3. Confidence in their ability to do the method.  Some couples might not  even attempt to learn the method, because they already doubt their ability to follow the method.  And even those who take the time to learn the method, have their doubts about how well they are actually doing it.  If they are trying to avoid pregnancy, these fears drive them to more main stream methods of contraception.

And now to be perfectly frank, not all people have the capacity to learn and retain the information so well.  They are going to be even less motivated to try and learn something that they fear they can’t achieve at.

4.  Several Methods?  Which one do you choose?  We were trained in all the methods, Billings, Sympto-Thermal, Saliva Ferning, Cervical position, and Creighton, and learned about Marquette on our own.  All are valuable, and we applaud the scientists who discovered the correlations between fertility, and the different biomarkers.  Couples new to NFP usually don’t have a science background, or medical background, so they are a bit concerned about which one they should be using.  If they are motivated enough to even be trying to figure that out, then they are probably going to have a higher chance of actually learning a method, and trying to follow it.

5. Accessibility.  Are there classes at the time you want to take them?  Is it in your language?  Are there enough teachers in your area, that teach the method that you have determined is best for you?  Is there an online program?   Currently we are only aware of one online course for one of the methods.

6.  Natural Family Planning. Maybe the name has a bad rap?  Maybe it’s time for a facelift, and repackaging?  Organic Family Planning appeals to those who are headed down the Yoga, Granola, Whole Foods, Green, Lululemon, healthy lifestyle path.  And if we make it technologically advanced, and visually appealing, it could take on a life of it’s own.  I think that a new NFP movement began within the last year.

7. What about support?  Is there enough ongoing support ?  Is anyone offering support to those who might have attempted NFP, or had a bad experience, or are afraid to try it?  We have to use empathy in all these situations, and meet them, support them, encourage them.  This is a similar model of a crisis pregnancy center.  We know you are going to make a bad decision if you are operating out of fear, and do not have support.  So let’s offer that support and see what a difference it makes.

Our thought was this: What if we addressed all those concerns in an app, and a website?    A charting tool that teaches the couple to observe their biomarkers, and saves their data online for them?  So we did.  We decided to address all the concerns that might prohibit a couple from even attempting to learn NFP if they had the inclination.

  • MyFertilityMD app and www.Myfertilitycycle.com made it Affordable:  $9.99
  • MyFertilityMD made it quick: even if you watched all the instructional videos contained within the app, and website you could be charting within the hour, or as little as 15 mins.
  • The charting method is EASY.  MyFertilityMD ask the questions, client answers, and PRESTO…your fertility Status is available to you.  There is no need to learn all the rules if you are not inclined to learn all the rules of the methods of your choice.
  • Even if you have learned all the rules of your desired method, MyFertilityMD app removes the need to keep a paper chart.  It’s with you all the time on your smart phone, or available online.
  • Accessible?  If you have access to the internet, or a smart phone…then you are set!  And that is pretty mainstream !  MyFertilityMD is online at www.myfertilitycycle.com , and will soon expand to Chinese and Spanish.  Following that will be Vietnamese and Tagalog.  And as MyFertilityMD grows, so will the number of languages we are able to offer.
  • Confidence?  You can trust that if you have made the observations throughout the day, that MyFertilityMD algorithm will give you a science based answer that takes into account any combination of biomarkers that you have chosen to follow.
  • Support?  MyFertilityMD has got your back.  From those women coming off the pill, to postpartum, and breastfeeding, to never tried it before and have no experience.  Have infertility?  Let’s walk you through some true options, and restore your fertility.

Again, MyFertilityMD is not intended to replace any of the current methods of NFP, or replace NFP teachers.  MyFertilityMD is an Organic Family Planning Tool.    We must broaden our reach to those couples who were not even interested in NFP previously, and address the road blocks.  As a matter of fact, at MyFertilityMD we have received many, many letters from women abandoning their IUDS, abandoning NuvaRings, quitting their Depo-Provera injections, and coming off the pill.  These are people who are looking for a healthier, cleaner way of living, and may have never taken a NFP class otherwise.    We must meet people where they are at, and encourage them.  They may become inspired enough to take a class and learn more.

What if we set a goal ?  What if we set our sights on 25%  of the Catholic Population using ” Organic Family Planning?”   I think it could happen, and with that, we will likely see shifts in divorce rates as well.  Let’s set that ripple effect into action, and watch with wonder!

Copyright 2013 Marya Jauregui

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About Author

Mommy to 3 high energy children, who demand my constant attention, and direction. Co-creator and spokeswoman for MyFertilityMD a natural family planning app, which hosts www.myfertilitycycle.com, and manager for SupportiveCare Medical Group, which cares for those with life threatening illnesses. I have worked in Medicine (Ultrasound), Pro Life ministry, and Natural Family Planning minitry since my early 30's. And when I am not working, I am taking the family for a nature walks, working out, on an adventure, or at the movies. I live in Southern California, and absolutely feel so blessed to enjoy the beauty of this area everyday.

15 Comments

  1. It’s a bit higher than 3%. I believe Mary Hasson found 13% of women follow Church teaching on contraception, 27% among women who attend mass regularly. Of course, if you are currently expecting, you aren’t using NFP.

    http://whatcatholicwomenthink.com/

    Many Catholic women haven’t been taught contraception was wrong. Many clergy have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about it and some others dissent from Church teaching.

    Many other Catholic women are, as you say, skeptical of whether the methods work. They assume that it’s the same rhythm method that their grandmother used, which didn’t work.

    The other side of this, which JUST showed up on my twitter feed before this article, is that the drug companies really PUSH prescription contraception on women. The Birth Control Movement was once closely tied to the eugenics movement and many of those old patterns of thought are still there. (The comments are revealing.)

    http://feministing.com/2013/07/03/guest-post-the-freedom-not-to-choose-birth-control/

    http://menstruationresearch.org/2012/12/12/8989/

    • I’m wondering if this 3% statistic also includes women who don’t practice NFP OR use artificial birth control – I think using the above statistic of “women who follow Church teaching on contraception” would make less of a statement, but be a little more accurate :) After all, the other 97% aren’t necessarily using contraception, but may be pregnant, infertile, menopausal, or simply not trying to avoid or achieve pregnancy at the moment, but leaving it in God’s hands!

    • Thank you for your added insight. I tried to find the most recent statistic, and it seems that it could be some variance based on sample population. Would love to get a copy of that study!

  2. When NFP is introduced in marriage prep classes, it is often presented as the Catholics alternative to birth control, but this is not what the Catholic Church teaches. The primary purpose of marriage is for the procreation and rearing of children in the faith. When the traditional Catholic interpretation of “…be fruitful and multiply…” is watered down and couples are taught that there is a way to get around the doctrine, something deep inside of them recognizes that they are not hearing the voice of their Savior. The only way that NFP is ever to be considered a valid practice, it when there is an extreme hardship, such as the kids are starving. Until NFP is taught in this way, faithful Catholics will reject it out of hand and lax Catholics will view the practice as much ado about nothing and embrace the pill.

    • Actually it says grave or just reason but doesnt outline exactly what that could mean. Instead the couple with God is supposed to discern. To say only when your children are starving is an extreme exaggeration.

      • Agreed. There are lots of different reasons that can be considered grave. Including mental status, other children’s special needs, and the Church leaves it vague so that the couple will discern the right time guided by prayer.

    • We do not practice NFP. We do not have a ‘grave’ reason to NOT conceive. I do like the app though to help keep track of the ‘in between’ times.

      • Yes, approximately 1/3 one third of MyFertilityMD users are “documenting only” for health reasons. It’s an excellent way to just be aware of what is going on with your cycle, and if there might be any health related issues that need addressing.

  3. Kelly Guest on

    Great idea! Hope it takes off and you are reaching that 25% mark in no time. I’ll be sure to let young Catholic parents know about your app and website. Is there a flyer or something I can print out to give them? (I teach Baptism classes at my church,)

  4. Margaret Chang on

    I am so excited to come across your article. My husband and I are from Taiwan and have been living in the USA for 19 years. I don’t think there is a modern NFP method books out there in Chinese. Language barrier and the process of explaining the knowledgable and the various rules (we use Sympto Thermo) have always been big obstacles when we want to share NFP with our fellow Chinese Catholic couples back home. When will your Chinese version available? I cannot wait to let our friends and priests know! God bless your work!

  5. Hopefully by the end of this year we should have the Chinese version available. We need some test pilots before we release it to the general public of Chinese speaking individuals. Let me know if you are interested, and send me your email.

    Thank you for your interest

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