Although the recent decision of the HHS to mandate that religious groups have to pay for birth control against our beliefs is very disheartening, one positive thing that has come about as a result is that many Catholics who did not understand clearly the Church’s stance on artificial contraception, do now. Many people, perhaps for the first time, are hearing those in the Church discuss this important issue.
However, we know that making the transition from contracepting to using NFP can be scary without all the information. So, we wanted to take some time during this NFP Awareness Week to debunk a few of the NFP Myths that are out there.
Myth 1: NFP is not effective.
Many people are not aware of how effective NFP can be.Although multiple studies have shown the effectiveness to be around 99% when used to avoid pregnancy, the popular misconception exists that NFP is not very effective, or that only women who have regular cycles can use it.
The Reality: Women who have regular cycles, irregular cycles, women who are postpartum or breastfeeding, women who are coming off of artificial contraceptives, and women in premenopause can all use the method.
Myth 2: Abstinence can’t be good for our relationship.
Some people have concerns about the abstinence involved with NFP. Although this can take some adjustment, we encourage people to be not afraid! Also remember, that brief periods of abstinence are only required if you are choosing to avoid pregnancy.
Many couples have found great blessings that have come to their relationships when they have used NFP to avoid pregnancy. It seems like the times when we have the best conversations, and we have a profound relational intimacy, often corresponds to the times that I am in my fertile phase and we are abstaining.
The Reality: Studies show couples using NFP have at least as much, if not more frequent marital relations than those in the general population, and that periods of abstinence are actually good for marriages.
Many NFP couples find that using natural family planning is actually quite liberating. Check out this testimonial from one woman:
The knowledge I have of my body is empowering, and knowing that my husband still wants to be around me and spend time with me even when I am not sexually available to him, has been a great gift to me and I feel it has protected me from experiencing many of the pressures that so many women face in our culture to look perfectly stunning at all times.The gift of expressing that each partner is loved for who he or she is, I feel is something that NFP encourages.
Of course, those who are not in favor of NFP aren’t the only ones perpetuating a few myths. Consider yourself and NFP advocate? Than be careful not to spread any of these myths.
Though NFP is natural and healthy, we at Elizabeth Ministry International know that it is something that people need support in if they are to be successful at it. As users of NFP, we know that other users are sometimes hard to find. As Instructors, we’ve witnessed the many obstacles that those transitioning to the NFP lifestyle sometimes have to face. Many receive no support from their doctors; many have no support from their families; some don’t know another person who uses NFP; and some have all of these combined.
Wouldn’t it be great to provide an opportunity for NFP-users to get together? We at EMI have chosen to create a group just for women because we want those attending to feel free to discuss details of cervical fluid or anything else that they have questions about without feeling inhibited by the presence of men they are not married to Although it might be beneficial to have an NFP instructor present, we don’t feel this is an absolute necessity. The essentials are an inviting space for people to gather, and the people themselves! We know that everyday women can be of great help to one another.