NFP is Hard

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"NFP is hard" (CatholicMom.com)

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Frustrations from an NFP-following mama

My period was three weeks late last month for no apparent reason.

NFP is hard.

In marriage prep, it was implied using the Creighton model was the only method, but my mucus is incredibly inconsistent.

While breastfeeding our first baby we were told until fertile mucus returned, we were infertile. We followed this advice and got pregnant with our second within nine months.

A friend recommended saving intercourse for the week after and before my period. My cycles vary between 7-10 days, we had sex on day 14, and learned to count a week from my longest cycle after getting pregnant again.

NFP is hard.

As a convert, it feels like my family and friends view our using NFP as an ignorant, “why didn’t you pay attention in Sex Ed?” decision.

When my cycle goes late, I am weighed down with self-imposed guilt that I failed in figuring out my cycle puzzle yet again.

NFP is hard.

While I’m incredibly thankful for the gift of every child, every pregnancy announcement feels like a NFP lesson learned.

The Woes of The Un-Textbook Cycle

Nothing is textbook about my cycles and I know I’m not alone here.

While my cycles average around 35 days, they vary between 31-55 and my ovulation date is always a crap shoot. When I chat with friends who know they ovulate on the 14th day in every cycle, I want to pop them upside their head. Out of love, of course …

But for us, ten years and four kids into marriage, we’re still stumbling to find the NFP approach that works for my inconsistent cycles.

I tried Creighton, but medications and breastfeeding altered my mucus.

I switched to the Ovacue monitor but taking saliva and cervical readings at the same time every morning and night was infeasible with traveling and life with little kids.

I woke up at 6AM every morning to track my temperature, only to find no thermal pattern.

Currently I’m loving the ease of the Marquette monitor (pee in the cup anytime between 5-11 AM), but when my cycles are longer than five weeks, its 20-day limit of testing fails to measure when I actually ovulate.

NFP is hard.

Why We Should Vent On NFP

Let me be clear here.

I love my kids.

I stand in line with the Church teachings on why we use NFP.

And I recognize being fully open to life, or really being open to anything, comes along with releasing our tight grip on control and certainty.

But the uncertainty, guilt, and feeling like you’re looked down on that comes along with NFP is hard. Not remembering the last time you had sex with the man you’re married to is hard.

And I don’t know what the perfect solution is, but I do know we, as a Church, as women, and as spouses struggling to stay faithful to Church teachings need to start having that conversation more.

Here what comes to mind from this faithfully Catholic, convert mom four babies in:

  • Let’s start NFP education at a much younger age so girls can figure what works for their unique cycles before they put a ring on it.
  • Let’s discuss all forms of NFP in marriage prep rather than assuming a cookie-cutter approach fits every couple in the diocese.
  • And, most importantly, let’s be more open to venting about why NFP is hard without being judged as awful human beings for wanting to actually plan our families.

The fact that this article was written anonymously says everything.

Trying to use NFP to avoid pregnancy doesn’t make you any less of a pro-life Catholic.

These are my thoughts on NFP, but I’d love to hear yours. Let’s not be afraid to start the conversation.


The author of this article remains anonymous by request.

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6 Comments

  1. I totally agree with teaching BEFORE marriage. As a single woman I wanted to learn and the deacon said the Couple to Couple League wouldn’t teach me until I got engaged. I understand some of the thoughts behind it, of course, but, like you, I just wanted to start learning about my body on a different level. I was charting my period but that was the only thing I knew then.

  2. Yes, yes, and yes! The rose – colored glasses approach to NFP does so much harm! There is so much good about NFP, but let’s be real, it sucks sometimes. I am right there with you! Let’s NFP, but by all means be real about it. Simcha Fisher wrote The Sinner’s Guide to NFP and I found it a really refreshing read when I was struggling with NFP. One of the lines from that book stuck with me, NFP is the worst method of family planning, except for all the others. Other methods of birth control can seem better from the outside, but have their drawbacks too. Thanks for sharing! We can be faithful and still be honest about our struggles.

  3. Thanks for your honesty and for following your conscience even when it’s hard.
    Ironically, NFP can be hard on the other side as well. It’s hard knowing the signs that your body should be fertile, seeing those signs following the textbook example of perfect fertility, and not conceiving month after month.

  4. I agree! NFP Is very hard. My husband and I practiced the Creighton method for most of our marriage and I became pregnant with my daughter after my period was over. However, my grandfather had died the month before, adding to the stress in my life so I ovulated early. Baby#3. She was born 18 months after our second son.
    I too, felt as if we were looked down on; “Was she planned,” “Don’t you know about birth control?”. My husband decided to have a vasectomy and it was a choice that I have had to confess and discuss with a priest. If anything, at that point in our lives it kept us sane and loving.
    My cycles were very long and irregular, sometimes 38 days, and I had breakthrough bleeding mid cycle which the doctors tried to prevent with progesterone injections. Although I am now in menopause and my children are in their 20’s, I would still promote NFP. It takes a lot of work and a VERY patient, loving husband. Mine abstained for a month when we were learning and went to all of the classes with me etc. It was hard on us because of my strange cycle.
    In closing, I commend you and I’m sure our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph is smiling down on you and your family. I wish they would teach NFP in doctor’s offices and hand out brochures to families early in their children’s preteen years. Somehow it needs to be marketed better.
    Blessings to you and thank you for your honest article!

  5. Thank you for a candid and honest article, my cycle hasn’t settled into anything regular a year after our first baby, so we can relate to this. We’re abstinent after only a couple of years of marriage, which is a challenge.

  6. NFP was also difficult for me especially as you get into your 40s, in your Cycles are all over the place. I’d have periods that were 28 days 19 days 14 days 26 days etc etc. So I would go my 14 days watch my mucus then wait and they 19 have a. And we have to wait all over again. But now in our 50s my husband has prostate cancer and he is having ED, so here we are not doing it either because of him. It’s been a very long time since we’ve been intimate. I wish there was something better for us women and our Cycles

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